It may well have wound up one of the best-loved blockbusters of the year, but writer-director James Gunn has confessed to having particular difficulty with one aspect of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy:’ Marvel’s insistence that he include super-villain Thanos.
Introduced very briefly, with no dialogue, in the end credits coda of ‘Avengers Assemble,’ the cosmic titan is slowly but surely being developed into the pivotal antagonist of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, set to really take the spotlight in ‘Avengers: Infinity War.’
Given that ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ was intended to open up the cosmic side of the MCU, it made sense that Thanos (Josh Brolin) should factor into that - but Gunn (who reportedly re-wrote the screenplay from an earlier draft by credited co-writer Nicole Perlman) admits he was a little anxious about having to include him.
Speaking to Vulture in their regular column ‘The Toughest Scene I Wrote,’ Gunn says, “There’s pressure with Thanos because you’re setting up this gigantic character that, in one way, isn’t really a part of your movie.
"His presence doesn’t really serve being in ‘Guardians,’ and having Thanos be in that scene was more helpful to the Marvel universe than it was to ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.’
"I always wanted to have Thanos in there, but from a structural standpoint, you don’t need him. So that’s part of it, and then part of it is the fact that you’re setting up this incredibly powerful character, but you don’t want to belittle the actual antagonist of the film, which is Ronan (Lee Pace). You don’t want him to seem like a big wussy. So how do you make that work?”
By all accounts Gunn is far from the only director to struggle with the pressure to make his film serve the MCU. Jon Favreau is said to have been unhappy with studio demands to make ‘Iron Man 2’ help set-up future Marvel movies (hence he stepped down as director on ‘Iron Man 3,’) and more recently Evangeline Lily has suggested that Edgar Wright quit ‘Ant-Man’ for similar reasons.
Happily, Gunn was able to find a way to make it work, re-asserting Ronan’s dominance by having him kill Thanos’ aide, The Other (Alexis Denisof, previously seen in ‘Avengers Assemble’):
“I thought that was interesting, because we’ve had the Other, who’s obviously very powerful even in comparison to Loki, and then we see Ronan wipe his ass with him. So that I liked, but even that was sort of difficult, because it played as funnier when I first wrote it, and the humor didn’t work so much.”
Gunn is currently at work on the script for ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 2,’ set to hit cinemas in May 2017. Whether Thanos will return in this film is uncertain - but we will most definitely be seeing him in the two ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ movies, set for May 2018 and May 2019.
Picture Credit: Marvel, WENN