Guardians Of The Galaxy: 25 Things We Learned On Set

Orlando Parfitt

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is Marvel Studios’ most risky but excitingly leftfield project so far, and a welcome gamble from the comicbook behemoth.

A brightly-coloured “space opera” comedy, it's based on an obscure comic series with no obvious links to the phenomenally successful ‘Avengers’ franchise (though they are connected). So for that reason, it could be a tough sell for audiences.

[Who are the Guardians of the Galaxy?]

But when Yahoo Movies visited the film’s London set in August 2013, the cast and crew were bullish about delivering something refreshingly different, not just from the Marvel canon, but from popular sci-fi in general.

In the first of our two-part behind-the-scenes look at the project, here’s some of the intriguing things we learned about ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’...

1. Peter Quill’s spaceship, The Milano, is the film’s ‘Millennium Falcon’, according to production designer Charles Wood. It’s inspired by NASAs “very early and dangerous” space exploration from the 1960s.

2. Quill’s joystick in The Milano is based on an old Ronson lighter.

3. The look of the film was inspired by the paintings of science fiction artist Chris Foss (see his website here), especially the way he used strong primary colours. He eventually contributed concept art to the film. Orange and blue were the key complementary colours that director Gunn requested for the film’s production design.

4. Marvel are so cautious about story leaks that they don’t let any actors auditioning for roles read the script.

5. Marvel boss Kevin Feige told leading man Chris Pratt that footage of him playing Peter Quill (AKA Star-Lord) reminded him off “a cross-between Han Solo and Marty McFly”. No pressure there, Chris.

6. Pratt assumed he’d have no chance of landing the role because he was “too fat” after playing Brett in the Vince Vaughn film ‘Delivery Man’. He weighed 300 pounds (over 21 stone) and was only cast when he promised Marvel chiefs he could lose significant amounts of weight.

7. It took Pratt 8 months of training to get ready for the role. He said: “[Marvel] set me up with a nutritionist, two personal trainers in LA who I worked with like it was my job, 4 hours-a-day at least and that’s not counting food prep and all the hours I spent not drinking. Becoming sober was a full time job! My world became solely dedicated to this.”

8. Funnyman Pratt, who starred in hit comedy series ‘Parks and Recreation’, was allowed to improvise some scenes and wasn’t bound too closely to his character’s comic book origins. “I think that’s something I bring that other candidates for the role didn’t,” he said.

9. Much of the comedy in the film will come from subverting superhero movie conventions. Pratt said: “Our movie does a good job of taking those big epic moments and flipping them on their head. It’s easy to create irony and comedy when someone expects one thing and you give them something else.”

10. Because Star-Lord listens to the same tunes on his Sony Walkman, Pratt decided to listen to the same - mostly 80s - tunes in real life. He ended up hating them all! The tunes include ‘Come And Get Your Love’ by Redbone and ‘Ooh Child’ by the Five Stairsteps.

11. Director Gunn’s brother Sean acted the part of Rocket Raccoon on set to help the actors, but he will be CGI in the finished film.

12. Several action sequences were shot on “badass” Phantom cameras, which shoot a whopping 1200 frames-a-second and use up an entire mag of film in around five seconds. Pratt said that the Drax the Destroyer action scenes shot on the Phantom will make audiences “freak out”.

13. We’ll see Quill “enjoying his time in space with some femaliens… in a very PG-13 way,” according to Pratt.

14. James Gunn said he was asked to make his first draft of the script “more James Gunn” and said we should expect some of his brand of twisted humour in the film (see his inky-black comedy ‘Super’ and you’ll know what we mean).

15. Gunn thinks ‘Iron Man’ was “far riskier” for Marvel than ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’.

16. The 2008 Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning ‘Guardians’ comics are the “lynchpin” of the film. “It's less about taking [their] story and more about taking the essence and feeling and spirit of this series,” said Gunn. The duo even visited the set.

17. Pratt was cast as Quill in the hope that he could emulate Robert Downey Jr.’s work on ‘Iron Man’ and bring some of himself into the character. Pratt was the actor Gunn “fought the hardest for”.

18. Gunn draws every shot and sequence himself in advance.

19. The director said that if the Avengers are the ‘Beatles’ of the Marvel universe, then the Guardians are the ‘Rolling Stones’.

20. The chief villain is Lee Pace’s Ronan the Accuser. Says Gunn: “He is a really twisted guy. He has a very religious bent, a sick vision of morality. He believes that strength is virtue and weakness is sin and that’s what he lives by. He’s very scary because of that”.

21. Michael Rooker, who plays Yondu in the film, knows more about comics than anyone else in the cast. He is also one of Gunn’s best friends.

22. Contrary to some rumours, Dave Bautista was the only actor offered the role of Drax the Destroyer.

23. Bautista was cast, according to Gunn because, the ex-wrestler “carries pain around him that I think is real”. In the story Drax’s family was murdered and he is seeking revenge.

24. The voice of Rocket Raccoon needed fast talking patterns, humour and heart. The filmmakers tested lots of big name stars and voice actors for the role, but found it difficult to find someone who ticked all three boxes. Bradley Cooper eventually landed the part.

25. The evil Nebula, played by a shaven-headed Karen Gillan, is Gunn’s favourite character, because “she is so f**ked up”, he said. The character and fellow "femalien" Gamora (Zoe Saldana) were not in the original script by Nicole Perlman.

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is released in the UK on 31 July 2014.