James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy is easily one of the best Marvel films made, but that doesn’t mean it was easy.
Gunn wrote an op-ed for Vulture digging into the script-writing process, specifically focused on the hardest scene he had to write. Not surprisingly, it’s the scene that’ll likely carry over into the next half-decade of Marvel films: Thanos’ introduction. Considering he’ll likely be the future mega-villain of a two-part Avengers film, that’s definitely a tall order.
The scene in question found Ronan coming to meet Thanos, and Gunn said it was so hard to strike the balance between making Thanos properly intimidating and still keeping Ronan as a formidable villain in his own right for Guardians. The trick to making it all work? Having Ronan kill “The Other,” Thanos’ assistant who carried over from Loki's deep-space interactions in The Avengers.
Check out an excerpt from Gunn’s explanation below:
“The hardest scenes to crack were all the character introductions. Those were really difficult, whether it was the introduction to Ronan, the introduction to Thanos, the introduction to Rocket and Groot … those scenes changed a lot throughout the writing process, the shooting process, and even the post-production process. I wrote those scenes again and again and again in different ways. The Groot/Rocket introduction, I’m okay with that one now, but the first thing that comes to mind as the hardest thing to write is the Thanos scene. That was really difficult.
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. You don’t want him to seem like a big wussy. So how do you make that work?
And that’s why Ronan kills The Other. 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. But the scene does have what’s probably my favorite Nebula moment in the movie, when she’s strutting out of there saying, ‘Thanks, Dad.’ And she’s also saving Ronan’s ass, because she knows that Ronan’s a hothead.”
What do you think of how Thanos was handled in the script? Well done, or did it feel shoe-horned?