Enemies of space beware; the Guardians of the Galaxy are back and ready to kick more ass than ever before.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is the sequel to the 2014 box office hit directed by James Gunn and starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, and the voices of Bradley Cooper and a bite-sized Vin Diesel is here to ensure Guardian fans that the Marvel reign at Disney will be a long and prosperous one (something James Gunn officially confirmed that day)
Audiences rejoin their favorite team (and some favorite villains) as the Guardians attempt to keep their new family together while Peter Quill (Pratt) faces struggles of his own in attempting to understand and accept his true parentage, taking them all to the furthest corners of the galaxy, meeting up with some new and exciting characters.
The interview room is buzzing with excitement as the first panel guests settle in. Strangely male dominated, many familiar faces are there; Chris Pratt (Starlord/Peter Quill), Michael Rooker (Yondu), Director James Gunn, producer Kevin Feige; along with a couple new faces, Kurt Russell (Ego) and the solo female of the group Elizabeth Debicki (Ayesha). There’s an air of familiarity with the group, familial almost that one picks up on through the slightest actions, a shoulder nudge between Pratt and Russell, a fist bump between Pratt and Rooker. From the panel’s body language it seems as though Pratt is either the son or the brother everyone else in the cast has wanted at some point, which fits of what Guardians of the Galaxy represents. Family. Belonging. Acceptance.
“You know I’m a little punk rock kid who, you know likes sort of edgy stuff, and thought what I like might not be what the entire world likes, but I’ve come to trust what I like is what works,” said Gunn. He later went on to say, “For me, it’s a personal film, I have always felt like I didn’t belong and fortunately I have some people around me help me feel like I’m not completely alone in the world…I was this little kid in Manchester, Missouri who felt like he was completely alienated from all his peers and by hearing music and watching movies I felt a little bit less alone and I hope that’s what The Guardians does for people, it’s a movie about outcasts, for outcasts.”
And if anyone on the team questioned James Gunn’s ability to create the Guardians’ world, you wouldn’t be able to tell. “New comer” Kurt Russell spoke to joining the cast and being fully enveloped into that world.
“I do feel like I have a special relationship with Disney, but the truth of the matter is, by the time you go to work you gotta make the team, it doesn’t make any difference what movie, what television show, whatever it is, you have to go in there and hopefully make them feel good about the decision they made to hire you, that’s just the way it is,” said Russell, “…You’re only as good as your last at-bat, I wanted to make the team; wanted to be helpful, wanted to be good and I was very, very fortunate to run into a team that had a terrific manager (Gunn) he really knows this world, he also knows how to execute; he has cast these people perfectly.”
“He talks a lot, he wants to discuss everything,” Feige laughed, remembering Russell’s first few weeks on set, “It’s like wrestling with a playful bear every morning on set.”
“You mean even more than me?” Rooker pipes in.
“You…are like trying to tase a badger. He’s a playful bear, one’s a lot more painful than the other,” answered Feige to the delight of the audience.
The playful banter passes like a ball of electricity from cast mate to cast mate throughout the panel, an energy and airy-ness, unforced and natural, a vibe that they all say was a commonality on set.
The lone woman on the panel, Elizabeth Debicki, has been virtually silent for most of the press conference. In all fairness, she’s a new character so no one has asked her a question yet, but to counter that, that didn’t stop anyone from picking Kurt Russell’s mind.
A man from the audience asks, “…We see that today we’re facing a year that men are being objectified in movies…so I want to hear from Chris Pratt and Kurt Russell, who was a sex symbol back in the day, is there a double standard for sexual objectivity for men and women if it helps or hurts their career.”
The audience is a mix of uncomfortable laughter and groans. Most men on the panel go on to answer the question, sincerely and thoughtfully.
“…We’re props and as a man I can say that, but I have to be careful because for generations-for millennia women have been objectified in ways that there’s a pretty horrible past behind it so it’s is different, I don’t know if you should call it a double standard, but you have to deal with them separately because there’s a history of objectification that’s a separate issue.” said Pratt, “I can say objectification is good for me, because when I turn my body into an object that people liked, I got paid a lot of money…but you have to be careful about that because also there are probably, a lot more great roles that have been classically written for men than there have been for women.”
“Yeah, that’s part of the issue,” chimes in James Gunn, “that it’s not about being sexually attractive or being a thought of as a beautiful object even, it’s about the fact that many women in films today are reduced to being only that and when Chris Pratt looks beautiful on screen…people take that and still say, ‘What’s that guy like, what’s his personality?’ Chris Pratt is great because he’s funny and he’s sexy and he’s got this vulnerable side and there’s all these other attributes about him, where as men take these women in films and all they’re about is this one aspect of themselves, that they’re sexual beings, everything else about their personalities is negated…”
After the men had their say, Elizabeth finally spoke up, “As the woman on the panel, I wanted to say that I think it’s a really interesting question, but it always has to be about context and for me as an actress, whenever I’ve made the choice to do something like that, it’s always about the context we’re shooting it in, about the story, about what you’re trying to say…I, personally, never felt objectified, but it’s interesting when people ask if you do, because you have to understand…I always take it with a grain of salt, it has to have purpose, it has to progress story or relationship or the image of whatever your character is on screen. But it was and it is lovely to play Ayesha because she’s powerful and she keeps all her clothes on.”
So what’s next for the franchise and their reputation of badass characters? James Gunn let the cat out of the bag ever so briefly about the new team being assembled in one of the end credit scenes by Sylvester Stallone (Stakar Ogord) which heavily alludes to the 1990’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Along with Sylvester Stallone, there’s also Ving Rhames as Charlie-27, Michelle Yeoh as Aleta Ogord, and a not yet credited Krugarr and Mainframe who are officially in the group and have been cast.
As the saying goes, no deal is done in Hollywood until all the deals are done, but it’s safe to assume that Marvel and Disney will have a long and profitable relationship from this point on.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will be orbiting near you starting May 5!