(Text) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 screenplay complete

I love James Gunn. He’s the kind of screenwriter that I want to be – engaging with those enthusiastic about his work, and explaining how the industry works without sounding patronising or over-complicating it. I do really appreciate everything he does. On Facebook, he announced that the screenplay for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is complete, posting an image of the title page:

12507661_10153105699521157_6044513474395244250_nUnlike Guardians of the GalaxyGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was written alone. The white draft was submitted on 2nd June 2015, the blue draft on 28th September, the pink draft on 26th October, the yellow draft on 17th December and the green draft on 10th January. Gunn was even considerate enough to explain the concept of draft colours:

When a crew or cast member gets a screenplay, it is white.

Every additional draft is assigned new colors so they get only the pages that changed printed on a new color, that they can insert, not the entire screenplay.

As we can also see, the screenplay is copyrighted to Marvel Studios, LLC. Gunn also explained in various comment replies that:

I always make very tiny changes along the way, but this is essentially the final draft.

This is an incredibly small amount of drafts for a mainstream movie. And when it says “five” it’s actually 100, which almost all screenwriters do. The drafts are the easy part. By the time I started I had a 70 page treatment I had gone over and over for a year.

As the director, Gunn is able to write the screenplay is a more descriptive style than most screenwriters would get away with. As the Guardians of the Galaxy films are popular for their 1970s compilation soundtracks (Awesome Mix, Vol. 1 became the first soundtrack to top the Billboard 200 without any original songs), and the selected songs are annotated on the screenplay. Gunn also revealed in another post that the Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 screenplay features a David Bowie song. Bowie’s Moonage Daydream (as originally featured on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars) featured in Guardians of the Galaxy, and after Bowie’s death on 10th January Gunn posted a status describing his love of Bowie.

This post also described how the scene featuring the Bowie song had at that point been committed, but that Gunn would attempt to reinstate it, making David Bowie the only musical artist to have a song featured in both Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.

Screenwriter’s Dispatch: James Gunn’s The Belco Experiment

On his Facebook page, James Gunn announced his new project, The Belco Experiment. South America’s The Belco Company is sealed-off and the employees told to kill each other or be killed themselves, leading to an escalation of violence revealing truths about The Belco Company’s employees. Gunn said

It’s a script I wrote a few years ago, for which I have always had a deep love. Believe it or not, it’s a film that first came to me in a dream, and I woke up and wrote the first draft in a two-week fugue state binge. One of the first people to ever read the script, Jonathan Glickman, carried it around with him for years until becoming President of MGM, when he approached Peter Safran and I about financing it. I was all for it, providing two things: 1) Although it has the heart and humor my films have all had, it is also the most intense and uncompromising script I’ve ever written. It would need to stay true to that. 2) I’d only do it if we found the right director – which, in some ways, I thought was unlikely.

Reporting on producer Beryl Vertue’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the Edinburgh International TV Festival, Radio Times mentioned Jed Mercurio‘s next project to be an adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

According to The Hospital ReporterG.I. Joe 3‘s added Aaron Berg to join D.J. Caruso.

Deadline reports Alex Ross Perry has been hired by Disney to write a Winnie the Pooh feature with an adult Christopher Robin, who imagines the characters, returning to the Hundred Acre Wood.

Bill Prady and Bob Kushell are reportedly writing a pilot episode of a new Muppets show, in-which the Muppets gather at ABC Studios to discuss their new show. Miss Piggy needs to sign on for production to go ahead, but her relationship with Kermit The Frog is becoming complicated. Fozzie’s girlfriend and her parents are said to be guest stars.

Stephen Volk is writing a three-part adaptation of Midwinter Spirit. Vicar Merrily Watkins’ investigations into the occult and supernatural lead her to helping police investigations with a crucification connected to a hospitalised animal abuser while dealing with her failing marriage. Producer Kieran Roberts said

We’re very excited to be going into production on Midwinter of the Spirit, especially with such an amazing cast. We’re also thrilled that Stephen Volk’s superb adaptation of Phil Rickman’s gripping and chilling novel is one of the first original commissions for ITV Encore.

Ricky Gervais is writing a remake of satire French Correspondence about journalists who fake their own kidnappings during a South American uprising. Gervais said

It’s great to be part of the changing future

The British Television Academy have announced the nominations for the House of Fraser British Academy Television Awards:

  • Jeff Pope‘s Cilla is nominated for Mini Series.
  • Peter Morgan‘s The Lost Honour of Christopher Jeffries is nominated for Mini Series.
  • Sally Wainwright‘s Happy Valley is nominated for Drama Series.
  • Harry Williams and Jack Williams‘ The Missing is nominated for Drama Series.
  • Jed Mercurio‘s Line of Duty is nominated for Drama Series.
  • Chris O’Dowd and Nick Vincent Murphy‘s Moone Boy is nominated for Scripted Comedy.
  • Harry Enfield‘s Harry & Paul’s Story of the Twos is nominated for Scripted Comedy.
  • Mackenzie Crook‘s Detectorists is nominated for Scripted Comedy.
  • James Cordon and Matthew Baynton‘s The Wrong Mans is nominated for Scripted Comedy.
  • Andrew Davies‘ A Poet in New York is nominated for Single Drama.
  • Regina Moriarty‘s Murdered by my Boyfriend is nominated for Single Drama.
  • Jimmy McGovern‘s Common is nominated for Single Drama.
  • Peter Bowker‘s Marvelous is nominated for Single Drama.
  • Nick Pizzolatto‘s True Detective is nominated for International.
  • Beau Willimon‘s House of Cards is nominated for International.
  • Jenji KohanSara Hess and Sian Heder‘s Orange is the New Black is nominated for International.

Screen Daily reports James McEachen has written climber George Mallory biopic In High Places. Mallory’s body was discovered in 1999 800 feet from Mt. Everest’s summit from a 1924 expedition. McEachen said

I have been fascinated by George Mallory for as long as I can remember. That led directly to my own Himalayan climbs in the 90s, including leading an expedition to 27,766 foot Makalu in 1992. It was this direct experience that gave me a deep-seated respect for the bold imagination and war-hardened bravery that Mallory and his companions displayed in their quest for the summit of Everest – long before the age of Gore-Tex and titanium.

It’s been described as “an epic story about the uncompromising nature of character and the sometimes overwhelming power of dreams”

Deadline report Carl Ellsworth has been hired to write the remake of Gremlins.

They also report Peter Craig is writing an adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey.

The Guardian report Sky has commissioned Simon McDonald‘s Fortitude for a second season, featuring characters that survive.

According to The Hollywood ReporterJames Wood has adapted Jacked: the Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto, chronicling Grand Theft Auto executive producer Sam Houser’s battle with anti-videogame activist attorney Jack Thompson, and the rise of the series into populist infamy as a world of controversy and satire.

Radio Times report Peter Bowker has written a three-part adaptation of the novel Capital by John Lancaster, about the accomplished and unaccomplished of Pepys Street receiving a note reading “We Want What You Have”. Executive Producer Derek Wax said

John Lanchester’s wonderful, comic epic of London life, Capital, has been brilliantly adapted by Peter Bowker. I am so delighted that our production has attracted such a terrific cast.

Badass Digest report Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely are writing Avengers: Infinity War Part I and Avengers: Infinity War Part II.

Deadline reports Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner are writing the first draft of an adaptation of The Gunslinger, Stephen King’s first book in the Dark Tower series, based on the relationship between Roland and Jake, blending horror and fantasy.

Variety reports Brad Bird has begun writing The Incredibles 2. They quoted him, saying:

I’m just staring to write it, so we’ll see what happens

According to The Hollywood ReporterJ.D. Payne and Patrick McKay have rewritten Flash Gordon.

TIME have voted Richard LinklaterAmy SchumerJill SolowayKevin HartChristopher Nolan and John Oliver as their most influential artists of the year.

At Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, the amended title and synopsis for Chris Weitz and Gary Whitta‘s Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One has been released:

A rogue band of resistance fighters unite for a mission to steal the Death Star plans and bring a new hope to the galaxy.

Mark Gatiss has spoken to Radio Times about the upcoming Sherlock special, set in 1895, which he’s co-written by with Steven Moffat:

Over the years we’ve always been across each other’s Sherlock scripts because we want it to be holistic, but the upcoming episode is the first time we’ve actually written together. It’s been a real joy. I think it will carry on for the next series.

At the Tribeca Film Festival, Meryl Streep revealed she’s funding a writing laboratory for over-fourties females run by New York Women in Film and Television and taking place in North New York. Named the Writing Lab, it will be accepting from 1st May to 1st June, with eight winners to be announced 1st August. Mentors participating this year are Gina Prince-BythewoodKirsten Smith and Jessica Bendinger.

Deadline reports Jeffrey Bell and Paul Zbyszewski are writing the pilot of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s spinoff.

They also report Wes Craven is adapting We are all Completely Fine, about psychologist Dr. Jan Sayer gathering five horror scenario survivors, and discovering their dark past through support groups, as well as the monsters within and around them. Universal Cable Productions Executive Vice President Dawn Olmstead said

Wes is an icon whose films have captivated audiences for decades. We’re thrilled to be working with him and to be able to bring his enormous talent and unique blend of horror, humor and intelligence to television.

Craven’s also co-producing an adaptation of The People Under the Stairs, written by Michael Reisz, which reveals the secrets of a manor house after a death occurs there.

According to The Hollywood ReporterChad Hayes and Carey Hayes are re-writing The Conjuring, allegedly the true story of Carla Moran, who was physically and sexually abused by a supernatural demon, despite a doctor considering the abuse self-inflicted based on past trauma.

Entertainment Weekly reports Akiva Goldsman is collaborating with a new team of writers to expand the Transformers series into a cinematic universe. Hasbro Chief Executive Officer Brian Goldner said

We have in fact brought in Akiva Goldsman to lead a group of writers to really create a strategic plan around Transformers. We think there are any number of stories to be told from the brand that has been around for 30 years with amazing canon and mythology.

Deadline reports Simon Beaufoy has written Battle of the Sexes, based on the tennis match between Billie King and Bobby Riggs, after several years of writing in collaboration with King. Meanwhile, David Auburn has also written a screenplay around the same event, as is Steve Conrad.

Indian Country Today Media Network reports the Navajo actors of The Magnificent Seven spoof The Ridiculous Six walked-off the set due to what they interpreted as an offensive script by Adam Sandler and Tim Herlihy. Examples given include the character names Beaver’s Breath and No Bra, a Navajo character sitting and squatting while smoking a peace pipe and feather inappropriately positioned on a teepee. Actor Loren Anthony said

One thing that really offended a lot of people was that there was a female character called Beaver’s breath. One character says “Hey, Beaver’s Breath”. And the Native woman says, “How did you know my name?” When we did speak with the main director, he was trying to say the disrespect was not intentional and this was a comedy.

Goldie Tom said

We talked to the producers about other things in the script and they said “It’s in the script and we are not going to change it.”

Marvel Entertainment have announced Captain Marvel‘s being written by Nicole Perlman and Meg LeFauve.

The Hollywood Reporter claim Fifty Shades Darker is to be adapted by the source material’s writer’s husband, Niall Leonard, and that he worked in Fifty Shades of Grey but was uncredited. Producer Michael De Luca said

Niall is an outstanding writer in his own right, with multiple established credits, and we are lucky to have him join Team Fifty.

Doctor Who Head Writer Steven Moffat‘s commented to Radio Times on the way the Doctor will be written in Series 9 and the decision to make the season consist of two-parters:

There is a temptation if you go into a second series with a Doctor, you think, “last series, that’s major”. You’ve got a new guy – what’s he going to wear, what’s he going to be like, is he good in those scenes, is that close up working for him? Everything is new and you solve all that. And there could be a danger that you go, “ah, it’ll be easy now”, because you’ve got an established Doctor so you’ve got to make it difficult again. You’ve got to do something different. What you always have to do with Doctor Who is not relax, is not to think we’ve cracked it now. We’re continuing to develop his Doctor which is a thing he’s very keen on. He doesn’t just want to come back being the same Doctor. He wants to move it on. That 45-and-out rhythm has served us incredibly well for ten years, but there is a slight sense sometimes – about 35 minutes into the episode, you expect the hero music. They’re not all two-parters – sometimes they’re just linked episodes. It’s just making you slightly unsure you’ll get through the story by the time the music comes up. We’ve all got to be on our toes, can’t be relaxed.”

Deadline reports Thomas Schnauz is writing Beanstalk, the Jack and the Beanstalk installment in Disney’s live-action universe.

The Verge reports Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are writing the treatment for an animated Spider-Man standalone.

Variety reports Robert Gordon‘s adapting Galaxy Quest for television.

After Valiant Entertainment announced its plans to adapt its comic books, details have now emerged from Variety:

  • Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer are adapting Bloodshot, a government-resurrected soldier turned into a memoryless killing machine.
  • Heisserer is also adapting Harbinger, philanthropist Toyo Harder’s foundation pursuing superpowered beings.

The CW Television Network’s released the synopsis for Ben Sokolowski and Brian Ford Sullivan‘s Arrow: This is Your Sword:

AL SAH-HIM TAKES HIS FINAL STEPS TO ASCENSION; ROY AND THEA REUNITE — Oliver/Al Sah-him finishes his training and is left with two final tasks to become the next Ra’s al Ghul. Ra’s threatens Nyssa and delivers some shocking news. Meanwhile, Malcolm makes a surprising offer to Team Arrow and Thea goes to see Roy.

Radio Times report Julian Fellowes is adapting Anthony Trollope’s Doctor Thorne into a TV drama trilogy, about the character as he lives in Greshamsbury with his wife Mary, who grew up with her siblings Auguster Beatrice, Alexandrina and Frank, who mother Arabella’s discovered desires Thorne’s niece after his father abandoned the family with no money. Fellowes said

My own favourite among the great nineteenth century English novelists and certainly the strongest influence over my work that I am conscious of. It is tremendously exciting and satisfying to know that my adaptation of one of his best-loved novels is coming to ITV. I could not be more delighted.

ITV Drama Director Steve November said

We’re delighted to be working with Julian once again on the drama Doctor Thorne. It’s a rich and multi-layered story of class and social standing and a timeless love story which Julian has brought to life brilliantly with his inimitable wit and warmth.

The Daily Mail report Peter Morgan‘s writing a two-seasoned, twenty-episode bio-drama of the royal family, The Crown. Subjects covered involves the relationship between Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street and co-operation of constitutional matters. One such topic is King George Windsor granting Princess Elizabeth Windsor permission to marry her third cousin and deposed Greek heir apparent Lieutenant Philip Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, which generated controversy for being considered a financial deal or an untraditional mix of nationalities within British royalty. Episode one is focused on the wedding and its drama. It’s hoped the twenty-episode run this will begin will expand to sixty episodes to cover Elizabeth’s entire reign as Queen, and George’s heir apparent. A decision is reportedly still being made on whether to write Elizabeth’s mother and George’s husband, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon as comic relief or a tragic figure.

The BAFTA TV Craft Awards have awarded Writer: Drama to Sally Wainwright‘s Utopia and Writer: Comedy to Mackenzie Crook‘s Detectorists.

Avatar composer James Horner’s revealed to Hey U Guys James Cameron‘s screenplay details for the rest of the the series:

A lot of it will take place underwater. Right now, Jim has a script that he’s got – he’s got four sequels, script-wise, and he’s trying to keep it to three. He’s got so much going on, how do you keep that from expanding into a fifth sequel?

Netflix have announced Jared Stern‘s adapting Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham into a thirteen-part series.

Jeff Pope will be awarded The Alan Clarke Award on 10th May, it’s been announced by BBC News. British Television Academy Committee Chairman Andrew Newman called Pope

one of the finest exponents of his craft

while Pope said

I tend to always to be moving forward onto the next thing, so if ever there was going to be a moment to stop and look back at the work I’ve done, this is it. Writing is all about facing down the tyranny of the blank screen, but my message to all aspiring writers is that once you’ve hit that first key, you discover it’s really not so difficult as you’d imagined.

The Hollywood Reporter has revealed allegations relating to the approach taken to screenwriters by DC Entertainment:

In the early going, some in Hollywood are questioning whether Warner[ Bro]s has acted too much in haste without having fleshed out the world on which so much hinges. Grumbling among talent reps came especially in response to the studio’s strategy of hiring five writers to compete for a job on Wonder Woman, which has a June 2017 release date. On Aquaman, set for 2018, sources say Warner[ Bro]s commissioned scripts from three writers, one of whom followed the studio’s direction only to be told the rules governing the universe had changed and his work no longer was usable. Another writer has been on hold for the film for months as the studio works to define its vision. “They just haven’t been thorough about their whole world and how each character fits and how to get the most out of each writer’s time by giving them direction,” says a rep with knowledge of the process. On Wonder Woman, Warner[ Bro]s hired five writers not to work together but to compete. Each was given a treatment and asked to write a first act. Based on those efforts, the studio winnowed the number to two: Jason Fuchs (Pan) and another writer whose name the studio declines to reveal. A source not involved in the films but with close ties to the studio says the process on Wonder Woman “felt like they were throwing shit against the wall to see what stuck.” Before the five writers were brought aboard, sources say [producer] Roven asked Kelly Marcel (Fifty Shades of Grey, Saving Mr. Banks) to work on the script, though a Warner[ Bro]s insider says she was never officially hired. Sources say she decided not to proceed based on her concern about the number of players who were involved — particularly when Warner[ Bro]s hired director Michelle MacLaren, whose vision contrasted sharply with Marcel’s. MacLaren subsequently left the project and was replaced quickly by Patty Jenkins, who, ironically, had been dropped by Marvel on Thor: The Dark World after being heralded as the studio’s first female director. Warner [Bro]s has had several writers pen scripts for Aquaman, set to star Jason Momoa, who will feature in November 2017’s Justice League movie. Those writers include Will Beall, Jeff Nichols and Kurt Johnstad, who now is on hold until the studio is ready to proceed.

The Wrap reports Lucia Aniello and Paul Downs have been hired by Sony to each write the next two installments of the Jump Street series: an all-female version and a crossover with Men in Black21 Jump Street was a satire of reboots, 22 Jump Street of sequels and 23 Jump Street is to be of shared universes.

IGN reports Michael Green‘s been hired as the newest Wolverine III screenwriter, working either to or from a draft by David James Kelly.

What the Marvel/Sony deal could, does and should mean…

Marvel Entertainment released a press statement today, confirming that, after a long series of negotiations with Sony Pictures Entertainment, who own Spider-Man’s live-action rights, the character was finally to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, alongside characters such as Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

First, it’s been confirmed that this Spider-Man will be a new incarnation, which will likely require a recasting. The top names reported are Logan Lerman – Sony’s second choice after incumbent Andrew Garfield – and Zac Efron, though America’s Matt Smith, Donald Glover, is a popular choice as well. If Glover were cast, it’s possible Sony would have chosen to start a new Spider-Man series with the Miles Morales identity rather than Parker. Personally, I find that unlikely, since it’s probably a soft reboot with little continuity than the basics, and that would mean the new Spider-Man will still be Parker. Which isn’t to say the series won’t develop into Morales being involved, but that’s only likely to happen once the new Parker’s already established. If Morales were to be featured eventually, I wouldn’t say no to Glover being cast. But I would protest to him being cast as Parker, because he’s much more suited as an actor to Morales. He’s a much more interesting character, and Glover’s probably a decent actor, so it would be a shame to miss that opportunity for combination by wasting the potential just to cast Glover as the de facto Spider-Man, rather than a character far more suited to him. Regardless of who’s cast as Spider-Man, there are a lot of actors capable of doing it. Someone we’ve seen before isn’t necessarily a stunt cast, but could help ease the transition to a new version. And a name we haven’t heard before could work, but Sony might not expect the audience to accept a completely new face. SPE Motion Picture Group President Doug Belgrad said,

“This new level of collaboration is the perfect way to take Peter Parker’s story into the future”,

implying Parker will still be the cinema version of the character.

But that doesn’t mean we’ll have to experience his origin story for a third time. The press release states the new Spider-Man will first be seen in a Marvel Studios production as part of the Cinematic Universe. The implication seems to be that he’ll debut in the solo release of another character. The next MCU release, Joss Whedon‘s Avengers: Age of Ultron, has finished principal photography, so it’s likely this appearance will be in Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely‘s Captain America: Civil War. Leaked Sony emails reveal negotiations were already in place for Spider-Man to appear at that point, given his significant role in the comic book storyline Civil War. As these negotiations have finalised, it’s likely to still be the case, especially as it isn’t too late to rewrite the screenplay. Black Panther’s already been confirmed to debut there as well, as it was speculated that the character’s presence was a Spider-Man substitute. Would there be space to add Spider-Man as well? Maybe not and maybe so, but if it turns out to be true, it would be interesting to see how accurately it follows the source material. From what I hear, Civil War‘s major event is Spider-Man revealing his secret identity to the press, which would be a difficult event to reverse if Sony change their mind. What is confirmed about this release is that it’s going to happen before the 28th July 2017, which means, if not Captain America: Civil War, it would be either Jon Spaihts‘ Doctor Strange or James Gunn‘s Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Making his debut Doctor Strange would be a good idea, as Benedict Cumberbatch would already have attracted audiences, and that would provide maximum exposure. I honestly can’t see it being Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which takes place throughout the Milky Way and far from Earth. I like to think they won’t come to Earth because we already lots of other characters for that. Doctor Strange would be the most effective, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 would be the most unlikely, Captain America: Civil War would be the most likely, but there’s still the possibility of a post-credits cameo in Avengers: Age of Ultron. If the MCU Spider-Man’s pre-established, he’ll have already experienced his origin story. But there should still be one for clarity’s sake, and a post-credits sequence would be the best opportunity for that. We’d be able to see it, it would officially introduce the character, but it wouldn’t take up any unnecessary time in his solo release.

Which is what the 28th July 2017 date’s now reserved for, shunting future MCU releases along futher into the future. There was a five year wait between Sam RaimiIvan Raimi and Alvin Sargent‘s Spider-Man 3 and Steve VanderbiltAlvin Sargent and Steve Kloves‘ The Amazing Spider-Man. Following Alex KurtzmanRoberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner‘s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, there’s now a five year wait again. As it happens, we’ve only discovered this with two of those remaining, so that’s something. Plus, Marvel Studios are very efficient at manufacturing an assembly line of releases, and two years seems like a good length of time before releasing it, because that’s the average between announcement and release.

What’s pleasing is that Spider-Man‘s being produced by Marvel’s Kevin Feige and Sony’s Amy Pascal. They tend to be the equivalents of each other in their respective companies, and actually having a face to the discussions is comforting. I already know them, and respect them, and the fact that this blog post is even being written is testament to their ability to work together.

That being said, Sony still own the character’s cinema rights, and will be financing and majorly controlling future cinema releases for Spider-Man, which is slightly worrying. Sony aren’t as big a company as Disney, and from the way the agreement’s worded, it sounds as if Disney legally can’t fund any Spider-Mans because of Sony’s ownership. If Disney fund it, that gives them a right to grossing shares, and that changes their agreement. The last thing that needs to happen at this stage is for Marvel to violate that agreement, even in a small way, because that would give Sony the power to revoke their agreement. And the fact that Sony still own the character is quite disappointing, but then that’s how it would inevitably turn-out. Spider-Man’s the highest-grossing fictional character, and the MCU’s the highest-grossing cinematic series. It makes sense to unite them. But it’s for that same reason that Sony wouldn’t want to just give up the character, so them coming out of negotiations still owning him makes sense, even if I wish they’d just leave it alone and let Marvel use him how they want without having to stick to any guidelines. It’s this same agreement that says Marvel can’t fund it. And even worse, there’s Sony’s ability to overrule Marvel on any decisions made regarding the character. How Marvel expect to ingratiate the character into their own continuity while also letting Sony have the final say on that character’s releases’ creative decisions is worrying. Can this really work? I don’t know. But I’m just hoping it does. Generally, I think, since Sony need this investment, but Marvel are better at handling their properties, Sony’s only interest will be in making money. So that should mean that the only decisions they’ll be overriding are ones they think will compromise a Spider-Man‘s grossing. But given Marvel’s also a part of it, I can’t see them making the kind of decision that would do that. Hopefully, this will be a case of Sony letting Marvel do their own thing, but overruling them whenever they consider it necessary. And that kind of relationship works for me. If Sony are wise, they’ll use their major creative control to let Marvel do what they know they should.

Interestingly, the agreement specifies that Sony will only have that control over the new Spider-Man series. What that sounds like to me is that whenever Spider-Man appears in a non-Spider-Man, Marvel can use him how they like. So when Spider-Man appears in his debut, which will be part of another series, Marvel have full control. The solo release will then be controlled by Sony, but if Spider-Man then goes on to feature in Avengers: Infinity War — Part I, Sony won’t be involved in that. Which also works for me. A character in the MCU is two things – their own character, and crossover potential. Marvel are likely to care about the crossover potential more than that character’s own solo outings, which makes their compromise more satisfying than it could have been, and also more realistic.

The release also states other MCU characters will appear in the Spider-Man series. How this works between Sony and Marvel is anyone’s guess, but it could be the reverse of what we already have here. Meaning that if Sony wanted to include Antony Stark in Spider-Man 2 (which would be a good move, he’s the MCU’s highest-grossing individual character), he’d only appear on Marvel’s terms. I don’t really see that being a problem, since this agreement has already happened, and I believe in the combined power of Feige and Pascal. They’re like the Infinity Gems and the Infinity Gauntlet – put them together, and you unlock literally endless possibilities.

Guardians of the Galaxy — review

Marvel are one of the most interesting motion picture studios there are right now, because everything they release is an adaptation of their comic book lines. In adaptations, source material doesn’t matter. I’ve never read a Marvel comic book, so I’ve never known what to expect. I can also say that I’ve never felt alienated by that, and have never needed to research characters to understand the plot. Guardians of the Galaxy is their strangest release yet, because –  I’m informed – not even Marvel readers knew of them. The small number of followers the line has is all that prevents this from being an original production from Marvel, that instead launches a line rather than promoting it. But I only know all this because I follow these kind of circles, and make it my business to know these things anyway. Most people will assume that Guardians of the Galaxy is just as well read as Captain America Comics or Avengers. And because Marvel Studios always hold the interest of Most People, rather than fans, they didn’t need to do anything different this time. By treating Guardians of the Galaxy with the same respect they’d give Avengers, they were able to introduce the audience to more characters for their cinematic universe without them ever knowing they were a special case.

As with every team-up, what their first appearance has to do is introduce the members. What I like about the Guardians of the Galaxy more than anything is the diversity: there’s only one Human. And the other non-Human members don’t look Human either. Which is convenient, since that makes Peter Quill the surrogate character: through him, we experience the galaxy, and the expansion of the MCU.

 

Quill is extremely likeable, because he isn’t a cliched hero. In fact, he isn’t a hero at all. He’s an idiot. He’s the guy more focused on the music playing in his headphones than the battle taking place around him. But you like him for it, because you know you’d only be doing the same. Casting is the most important factor in the story of a galactic misfit team, and Chris Pratt inhabits the role in a way that shows you, without modesty, that this is a role only Pratt could play. He’s like Henry Jones meets Han Solo meets Chris Pratt himself. You can see that there’s so much of him in the role, that it’s as if the role was created for him. Either way, he’s the first to bring Quill to life in live action, cementing himself in the minds of anyone who saw it as the character. You really want to believe that it was meant to be.

Gamora… honestly, I didn’t find Gamora memorable at all. Zoe Saldana is well-known to fans of science fiction cinema, having featured in Avatar and the Star Trek reboot. I remember Grace Randolph describing her as “Zoe Saldana in space”, and there isn’t really anything I can say to add to that. (Of course, that doesn’t mean I agree with everything she said in her review, but that also doesn’t mean I can’t still like her as a person.)

Drax now. I liked Drax more than I expected, since actor Dave Bautista’s a wrestler, and that made me really skeptical. But I found him entertaining in what we got of him. Bautista intelligently underplayed Drax to make the character work. Rather than him being a raging fighter with anger management issues (basically, Space Hulk), he gave us a fragile soul in a powerful body. Which isn’t to say I find him a sophisticated actor, but Bautista admits that he only has so much range. Director James Gunn should be congratulated for bringing-out the best of what Bautista could offer, and he became a character that you really grew to like. He’s the biggest achievement of Guardians of the Galaxy, I feel.

Rocket Racoon! He was by far my favourite member of the team, since he’s, without sugarcoating it, a modified racoon that can speak, has an attitude, likes drinking and builds weapons. He’s pissed at his own forced existence, and feels that he has no place in the galaxy, since there really ain’t no thing like him ‘cept him. It’s difficult remembering any one character without the others, but Racoon is the one that just edges forward to be the one that won me over with this one. Plus, I also found him to be closest to the winning idea of Guardians of the Galaxy: that even if you feel as if you don’t belong, there’s someone out there who wants to meet you, and make you feel wanted. He gets by far the best character development, and by the end has learnt to use his anger for good. He’s the story’s character.

And finally, Groot. Groot is the most well-executed character in all of this. The humanoids don’t need to convince us they’re real, we can see that. A talking racoon isn’t too far a stretch of the imagination, but a sentient tree that can grow its roots as weapons and shields requires the most dedication to be convincing. And it worked. By God, it worked. Groot’s earned a worldwide following since his premiere, and that’s totally understandable. I was distracted by Racoon, but Groot is more popular by consensus, especially in the child demographic. I like Groot for no other reason than him being so well realised.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy‘s most important contribution to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is its expansion of that Universe. The Thor series was the first to be inter-planetary, but this is the first time a story’s focused on a planet other than Earth. Thanos was a very interesting villain, and definitely made me excited for Avengers: Infinity War Part 1, even if that was his single purpose. The Infinity Stones are also a fascinating concept, and I’m glad the Guardians of the Galaxy were allowed to be part of something significant, rather than a jolly about the galaxy. They’re now very important characters, as the only people that actually know about the Infinity Stones, and must surely have a role in the future of the MCU. A crossover’s inevitable. Gunn denies it, but they can’t not simply because of their place in events.  Not only that, but it proves an ensemble team-up, especially in the superhero genre, don’t necessarily need to have their origin prequel. It’s far more satisfying to see them all being seen for the first time together, and feeling as if you already know them. Which is the only really origins really happen. It’s something I wish would stop cluttering-up the MCU, since the team-ups are far more interesting than something made just to set up events for the main event.

Of all the Marvel releases I’ve encountered in my viewing, this is the most… awesome.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy: best example of ensemble characters. 8/10