Marvel's biggest director had a small hand in shaping Guardians of the Galaxy, but maybe not in the way you'd expect.
Shortly after it was announced that Joss Whedon would return to direct the sequel to his billion-dollar blockbuster The Avengers, it became clear that Whedon's role at Marvel was bigger than simply writing and directing another superhero team-up flick. The company announced a little more than two years ago that he would also be developing live-action television (which became Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as well as "contribute creatively" to the entire next phase of Marvel's cinematic universe. Basically, Whedon's Marvel deal meant that his fingerprints could be on every film the company releases through June 2015, including Guardians of the Galaxy. So, did Whedon influence that film at all?
Various media outlets this week are revealing what they learned during their visits to the Guardians set, including Superhero Hype, who asked Guardians writer and director James Gunn what input Whedon had on the film. Gunn revealed that Whedon did indeed influence the script, but not by adding a bit of Whedon to it. Apparently Whedon altered Guardians by encouraging Gunn to be himself.
“After I wrote the first draft of my screenplay everybody seemed to be very excited. They seemed to really love the screenplay and Louis D’Esposito and Kevin Feige and everybody was coming to me and telling how great it was," Gunn said. "Then Joss came in and Joss was happy, but he wasn’t as happy as everybody else and I was like, 'Whoa man!' and he’s like, 'Well I really loved this and this is great, and the story’s been cracked, but you know I just really want there to be more 'James Gunn' in a script. There’s things that are too conventional and I want more James Gunn in it.' I was kinda’ like sittin’ there and then Kevin and Lou were like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah' and I was like, 'All right, your funeral.' Then went home and I swear to God, I wrote a a 7-page scene where the guys are in the spaceship arguing about something and it’s all dialogue and we’re about to shoot it on Friday.”
It's not hard to imagine Marvel Studios as a place where filmmakers spend a lot of their time conforming to a kind of "house style," a studio vision in which the overall branding of the films takes priority over creativity and individual vision, particularly after the Ant-Man debacle that unfolded a few weeks ago. Here, though, we seem to have an example of a filmmaker being encouraged to get a little more personal with his interpretation of these heroes, and that's certainly heartening. We'll see how much Gunn we see when Guardians of the Galaxy arrives in theaters on Aug. 1.