During a production tour of the concept art room at the Pinewood Studios set of Guardians of the Galaxy, much was revealed about the film, the characters appearing in it, and just how far-reaching into the Marvel Cosmic world the Marvel Cinematic Universe would be going.
A producer took the small group of press invited for the tour around the room, plastered nearly floor to ceiling with concept art designed by Charles Wood and his art team. It was a comic book fan’s dream, seeing 3D renderings of characters like Cosmo the telepathic Russian dog that had been lost in space, now living on Knowhere. There was Knowhere itself – a giant hollowed-out head of a Celestial, an ancient and nearly all-powerful race of beings that has tinkered with life throughout the universe in Marvel Comics lore. “That’s where we’ll meet the Collector, played by Benicio del Toro,” the producer teased. “We’re going to learn a lot about our world, our universe from the Collector and his amazing museum, which I think fans of the comics will appreciate,” he said teasing “tons” of easter eggs for fans to find in his collection. There’s also a major action/chase sequence in the decapitated Celestial head.
A holographic image of Thanos, the Mad Titan, projected on the deck of the Dark Aster, Ronan the Accuser’s ship, showed the direct connection the two will have and implied a much larger role for Thanos than has previously been teased. Ronan is on bended knee in the shot, clearly reporting in to his master.
And of course there were designs for the main cast, for the Nova Corps, and even for the “necrocraft,” the fleet Ronan controls that crowd around the Dark Aster and can be seen briefly in a few of the trailers. They’ll be heavily involved in the final battle sequence, which will also feature Yondu (played by Michael Rooker), Nova Prime (played by Glenn Close) and of course the main principal cast. “In terms of scope, I think it’s going to be one of the biggest things we’ve ever done in a Marvel movie,” he said. “But there will be beats for each of the characters,” he promised, a lesson they took from the Battle of New York in The Avengers.
Xandar is the homeworld of the Nova Corps, and where Rocket, Groot, Peter Quill, and Gamora all meet for the first time. “The four of them have an amazing chase sequence through Xandar,” the producer said. That’s where we see Rocket and Groot for the first time, as well, and it was shot partially in real architecture in London, including the Millennium Bridge, to compliment the CGI used to create the world.
“We had a vision of what we wanted this world to be, then looked at where in the world we could create that feel and get that tone. So we tie in the Millennium Bridge, we tie in the train station in Brussels, and we tie in parts of Singapore and all these other cities. Then we create the landscape that we wanted.”
The Kyln was another set we saw in the concept art room. That’s the prison the assembled characters are brought to - and where they meet Drax, already an inmate in the prison. The prison was the largest 360-degree set ever built for a Marvel Studios film, and shows the characters first real team-up in a prison break, as shown during the IMAX 3D sneak peek on Monday July 7, 2014.
All these sets were “very important” in order to show the universe. “We need to make all these disparate science fiction locals exist in the same world.” The designs were largely pulled straight from the comic books, something the team focused on directly for this film.
“There’s such a history to the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe. So much of this comes directly from the comics. We were really inspired by Abnett & Lanning’s run, there’s a lot of fun beats to draw from, a lot of tone, and we pulled directly from that for the movie.”
As for that tone, Marvel Studios went into this film’s production with the goal of “making a movie that’s not a super hero movie. It’s a big space opera, a huge space adventure, and a genre we really haven’t explored before. But it has to still feel, tonally, like a Marvel movie. It still has the same contemporary sense to it and feel like the other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but from a genre standpoint it’s totally new and different, and that’s what’s exciting about it.” The movie will “take itself as seriously as it needs to,” while also being “the funniest movie we’ve ever done.”
As for other cameos, Peter Quill’s father J-Son of Spartax is a “definite maybe,” he reluctantly teased, while stressing the additional easter eggs throughout the film, from Xandar to the Collector’s Museum and the rest of Knowhere and beyond.
“We all had an idea of the story we wanted to tell and the characters we wanted to base it around. Every Marvel Studios film is based around character. Once we knew we had a movie about Peter Quill and Rocket and Groot and Drax and Gamora, we were able to start picking and choosing the other characters and elements that make sense to tell a story with these guys.”
There are “pieces of the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe” that will pop up in and out of Guardians of the Galaxy, as well, but what or who exactly, Marvel wasn’t saying.