JAMES GUNN Clarifies Original STAN LEE Cameo in GUARDIANS

Stan Lee's stand-in for unused Guardians of the Galaxy scene
Stan Lee's stand-in for unused Guardians of the Galaxy scene
Credit: James Gunn

Update: Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn took to Instagram this week to clarify some reports coming from his appearance at DragonCon this past week (see our original story below). Some websites reported that Gunn said Stan Lee’s original planned cameo for Guardians of the Galaxy was killed by Disney, but Gunn clarified saying that it was his decision to scrap Lee’s first intended cameo – and was done so for “creative reason.”

Gunn describes the original cameo as taking place during the first visit to the Collector’s museum by the Guardians, after the Easter egg appearance of Cosmo.

“Rocket looks over and sees Cosmo the dog in one display case, Quill looks over into another display case and is surprised by a tentacle slapping against the glass, and Groot looks over and sees, in another display case, Stan Lee,” Gunn said on Instagram. “In one take, Stan Lee just slowly turns up his finger, flipping off Groot.”

Gunn says they filmed the scene with a double of Lee, intending at the time to catch Lee later to film him and insert him into the scene. But upon reflecting on the scene after filming, Gunn decided to do in a different direction.

“Although I thought the cameo was funny, I thought the flipping off joke was too similar to the moment earlier in the film where Quill flips off the Nova Corps, so I excised that part of it immediately. A couple of the guys at Marvel thought Stan Lee in a case was too broad of a joke in general, and that it took the audience out of the movie. I argued about it for a bit, but we ended up not keeping it in the film.”


Original story: Coming off of being named the biggest movie of 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy director, James Gunn, along with his brother Sean, held a panel at Atlanta's annual DragonCon. Newsarama was there live to watch the Brothers Gunn talk about process, what surprised them most about Guardian's success, as well as James' love for Marvel's Thunderbolts.

The brothers started the panel with some audience participation, which included a video of them screaming "You suck, Rooker!" Rooker, Guardian's Yondu, was not in attendance (he was at Toronto’s Fan Expo and is a long-time personal friend of James Gunn), and then had them add "No one likes Rooker!", just to add another playful jab. The floor was opened to questions with the first one being from a fan asking what was it like working with one another and if their brotherly relationship affected how things worked. The brothers replied that there is nobody else they would rather have worked with. James also added that there is no one he trusts more than Sean, and that he is thankful to have him around professionally.

Another fan asked right away about Marvel's production of Thunderbolts and if James is still involved. James quickly said Thunderbolts was the something he wanted to do at Marvel for a time and went through the details of his pitch. He then mentioned at MorrisonCon he was asked which comic properties he would love to adapt and the one that he mentioned was WE3 (coincidentally, a Morrison story). The second film he talked about was adapting Hit Monkey (an even more obscure Marvel property than Thunderbolts). The third he talked about was Thunderbolts, which, as Gun stated, would have to be put aside on the backburner while he has to concentrate on Marvel's cosmic repertoire.

Next question was about female superheroes and if Gunn plans to incorporate them in his works down the line. Gunn stated that he's pretty much "steering clear of earthlings" for the time being, giving Chris Pratt's Peter Quill the one and only tether to Earth. He did concede that Carol Danvers will more than likely appear in the MCU sooner than later, but said that there are numerous other female characters he can introduce to the GoTG-verse and will as soon as he can.

Up next was a fan asking why Gunn made Quill a "womanizer". The Gunns replied with the fact that Quill was sort of an all-around "a-hole" from the start, and it was important to keep those qualities. It was important because keeping those less than stellar characteristics gave them a chance to grow after their collective journey; they would find themselves in a different place.

Following that, a fan asked if James' mentor and Troma Pictures’ Lloyd Kaufman would make a return in the Guardians sequel. Gunn said “probably not,” because while Kaufman had a brief cameo in the film, there was a deleted scene where he was brutally killed during the prison riot. So because of his unseen death, more than likely not.

A fan then directed a question towards Sean and asked if the scenes he filmed as Rocket were replicated in post or if they were shot from beginning to end. Sean offered a story about having to be constantly kneeling in order to have Rocket's line of sight, in terms of interacting with the other characters. He then said that the scenes were filmed from beginning to end and reittirated that he did not do motion capture. He said the only character that had required motion capture was Josh Brolin's Thanos, but Brolin had provided the facial expressions for the Mad Titan.

Next a fan asked about the significant changes that were made to Yondu, since his MCU and comic version are vastly different. James responded that he was mainly influenced the Marvel's Ultimate line and plans to change a few things along the way, just to give them a modern touch. James then said that Yondu wasn't even in the original script, but something wasn't working in the third act, so he added Yondu to act as Quill's mentor and it just fit better.

The brothers were then asked about keeping a serious tone of the story, but mixing in the proper amount of humor without it coming across as campy. The brothers admitted that the balance was actually kept in check by Rocket, as they believe he was the “heart and soul of the film.” Having brought Rocket to life and it being taken seriously they felt was something in the same vein as Frankenstein and The Island of Dr. Moreau. They mentioned that the most important scene in the movie, to them, was Rocket exposing his wounds from being experimented on.

Stan Lee body double filming a scrapped cameo
Stan Lee body double filming a scrapped cameo
Credit: James Gunn

James had a few interesting anecdotes as the panel started to wind down, including how he was so suprised he could keep the line about Jackson Pollock. That segued into a story about a conversation dealing with Marvel and what decisions he won, and which he lost. One of the losing choices involved Stan Lee being held captive in the Collector's exhibition room and having the Man flip off Groot once he got too close to his cage. Gunn explained that Marvel never even saw the scene they shot (with a double, as Lee wasn’t able to travel to London for the shot), but thought it might pull people out of the story too much, and went with the other Lee cameo.

Lastly, Gunn they were deep writing the script to the sequel and said it was coming along nicely. With Guardians of the Galaxy being acclaimed (both critically, and financially), it was clear that fans in attendance were ready for more.

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