The Guardians of the Galaxy are back but things will truly never be the same.
James Gunn returns as writer and director for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the third and final film in Gunn’s trilogy. Yes, it’s certainly possible another movie with Guardians branding will eventually arrive from Marvel Studios, but even before Gunn took his massive new job co-running DC Studios, he’d made it clear he was giving his specific incarnation of the Guardians team a proper conclusion of some sort. Not to mention, some of the original cast – including Dave Bautista (“Drax”) and Zoe Saldana (“Gamora”) – have also indicated they’ve decided this will be their final film in their respective roles.
Fandom spoke to Vol. 3 cast members Karen Gillan (“Nebula”), Pom Klementieff (“Mantis”), Chukwudi Iwuji (“High Evolutionary”) and Will Poulter (“Adam Warlock”) about delivering a satisfying conclusion, the possibility of working with Gunn again on one of his DC projects, and more – including just how notably goopy the visuals in Guardians 3 get.
The Slither-y Side of the Galaxy
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the story involves Rocket’s origins and his ties to the cruel geneticist known as the High Evolutionary, including the Evolutionary’s often messy and graphic experiments, in a movie that definitely has some dark elements to it. Then there’s a sequence set on an organically created complex, the Orgoscope, where everything the Guardians encounter, from the walls to the equipment, has a surface that is notably fleshy or covered in liquid or goo.
When I mentioned this to Karen Gillan and Pom Klementieff, asking if it felt like Gunn was particularly intrigued by making his sets and props notably tactile, Gillan replied, “It’s actually so funny you say that,” with Klementieff explaining, “Yeah, because he [recently] told us he likes certain textures and other textures he doesn’t like. He’s very specific with that!”
Added Gillan, of Gunn’s description, “He’s like, ’I hate that sort of texture. And I love that texture.’ He’s very opinionated on exactly all of this stuff. So it makes perfect sense that the movie is filled with [that] stuff.”
Iwuji meanwhile noted this isn’t unusual in Gunn’s work overall, pointing out, “Well, here’s the guy who did Slither, right? He loves that stuff. And it was great. It was actually really interesting.”
There are some pretty visceral and graphic moments in Guardians 3, and Iwuji remarked, “Some days you had to remind yourself ‘Okay, we’re still in a Marvel movie, right?’ Because we went to places that we have never gone before in this world. But yeah, he liked the goo and it was just part of the world he created.”
Poulter, who plays the newly born but notably powerful Adam Warlock, had high praise for Gunn’s skill at combining the offbeat and unusual with funny and heartfelt material, saying, “It’s amazing as well, no matter how gooey or gory or crazy things get, there’s always a point of entry for the audience. One of my favorite scenes of the movie, avoiding spoiler territory, but there’s almost like a kind of water cooler office chat scenario that takes place between a bunch of alien gods in a kind of like space lair. And to be able to recognize that as something so kind of mundane and every day in that context is amazing. And it’s the reason it’s so hilarious. And it’s just typically James Gunn.”
When I asked Gillan, who’s been with the Guardians films since the 2014 original, if the cast got used to coming to set and finding something bizarre that the set or prop department had built they’d be interacting with, she replied, “Basically, yeah. ‘What squishy thing can I find and touch?’” She then caught the potential awkwardness of what she’d just said, cracking up as she exclaimed, “That sounded wrong! Oh no!”
On that set for the Orgoscope, an unusual, membrane-type entrance was incorporated at a door, requiring someone to place their hand inside, and Klementieff amusingly remarked, “It felt so nice to do it. I kept just putting my finger in it!” She also laughed at herself, as she elaborated, “Putting my finger in it, and my hand, and I loved it! It was such a nice texture…”
LANDING THE ENDING
Part 3s are notoriously tough for trilogies when it comes to delivering for the audience but Klementieff said while everyone involved wanted this Guardians to satisfy, they felt confident from the get go, because, “James wrote such an incredible script.”
Gillan agreed, saying she felt the consensus for the cast was, “I think we just need to honor the script that he’s written because he knows how he wants to end this and this is his story. So it was about delivering the best version of what [James] wanted.”
Iwuji said if Gunn was ever nervous, he hid it well, describing him as “a guy that leads with confidence. He knew the film he wanted to make, in all fairness to Marvel, and from what I got, they knew the film was in great hands with him and he rolled with it and his entire team believed in the vision. Every head of department believed in the vision.”
He elaborated that he saw a keen interest in the storytelling from all involved in the production while Guardians 3 was being made, in a way he rarely does on sets, remarking, “Crew often get on with what they have to, do you know what I mean? They have jobs to do, whether keeping things in check and working, but the crew seemed very, very engaged with it. So there was a real commitment across the board for this project. All I was thinking is ‘Please let me not be the one to screw it up,’ because everyone else is right on key!”
Said Poulter, “The care factor was as high as it could possibly be and that started with James. And I totally agree with Chuk that the confidence and the boldness with which he went forward and led… it imbued all of us with a sense of confidence in what we were doing.”
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 had some extremely notable delays from what was originally intended, thanks to James Gunn being temporarily fired by Disney – and Gunn taking another job to direct The Suicide Squad before he was rehired – leading to it opening quite a long time after Vol. 2’s 2017 release.
Said Klementieff, of finally getting back on set with Gunn to begin production, “We had been waiting to do that movie for years. So we were so happy to be back on set together.”
Gunn’s cast had all signed a letter of support for him after he was fired, and Gillan remarked, “We had quite the journey to get James back with us. And so it felt pretty momentous that he was back and everyone was reunited and we were going to finish this thing out together.”
THAT DC FUTURE
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 opens as Gunn is saying goodbye in a much bigger way than anyone could have imagined when the film was in production, given his new role as co-CEO, alongside Peter Safran, of DC Studios, which will obviously keep him from doing any more Marvel projects for the foreseeable future. However, Gunn is notably close and loyal to those he works with, frequently reusing actors, and has already said he’d be happy to include Guardians cast members in DC projects as well.
In one case, with Iwuji, he’s already participated in both worlds, given he and Gunn first worked together on Peacemaker, where he played Clemson Murn. But that doesn’t mean he couldn’t play another role for DC, given Gunn has Linda Cardellini – who already is in the MCU as Laura Barton – playing an otter in Guardians 3. So do the Guardians cast have roles they’d love to tackle at DC with Gunn moving forward?
Said Iwuji, “You know, I would never, ever suggest [anything] to James ultimately, because it just would be weird. He has a world in his head. I mean, look, I can’t be too greedy!” He added, “I just can’t imagine asking for more than seeing what comes next, does that make sense? I’m pretty happy!”
Unlike most of the cast, Guardians 3 was Poulter’s first project with Gunn, and he remarked, “I feel very, very grateful. I’m lucky with the one role that I’ve been given. And yeah, like [Iwuji], I do not want to get ahead of myself. But I do wish James, certainly, the best of luck. Not that he needs it! But just because I think he’s so incredible and he’s got so much ahead of him. “
Added Iwuji, “He’s probably one of the only directors that if he said ‘Come do this’ I’d probably see yes before I’ve read it. I trust his instincts. Whether it was Murn or the High Evolutionary, he has this ability of surprise. That’s the best roles for me, as an actor, is when someone offers you something that you didn’t in a million years think you were right for and they say ‘No, you’re the one for that.’ Those are the roles you want to attempt.”
Klementieff, who had a quick, background cameo as a dancer in The Suicide Squad, said that when it came to possibilities with Gunn in DC, “We’ve been talking, so we’re trying to make plans and we’ll see what happens. But I want to keep working with him, I want to keep hanging out with him, being friends with him and everything. So yeah, any movie he wants me to do, I would be down, basically!”
Replied Gillan, “Same. If he wanted to play like a weird two-headed alien in the background I would do it because it’s James! I love working with him. I mean, honestly, any role that he wanted me to play I would feel completely honored to take on.”