It's been almost 10 years since we saw Parks and Recreation star Chris Pratt transform into Star-Lord, Peter Quill in Marvel Studios' first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and now we've reached the end of James Gunn's trilogy with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (in theatres May 5).
While this is certainly the end of an era, with Gunn's time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) concluding to take on his new role as the co-head of DC Studios, Pratt had an interesting way of closing out the last day on the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 set.
"The thing that you want to avoid is regret," Pratt said at a press conference ahead of the film's release. "One day looking back and thinking, 'Why did I just let that go by without trying to enjoy every moment? Why didn't I savour that?' And I knew that going into it, so I'll never have that thought in my head."
"I was present and it still felt like a whirlwind. For the most part, the feelings that I was sort of writing down in the back of my mind about the experience were ... gratitude and just being grateful to James. I wanted to be the guy who reminded everyone how far we've come and all the things that we'd overcome. So I read a few reviews from people who had said that Guardians was going to be the first big flop."
'The goal has always been to do justice to the audience members'
To mark the final film in Gunn's tenure at Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is easily the best of the trilogy. The Guardians movies have always held their own in the MCU, largely because they often had a more comedic tone, with exceptionally specific and enticing use of music set into the narrative. That's still very true in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 but Gunn amps up the emotion as well. It really showcases Gunn's ability to craft a dynamic and robust story.
The film jumps between time periods, essentially giving us a coming-of-age or origin story of Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 begins with Peter reeling from losing Gamora (Zoe Saldana). When Rocket's life is threatened, the Guardians spring into action, coming up against one of the MCU's cruelest villains, The High Evolutionary, played by Chukwudi Iwuji.
When Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, was asked at the press conference if he gets "nervous" about approaching these Marvel stories that have so much lore, that so many people are knowledgable about, outside of the films, Feige said it does make him nervous, but there is a central goal to guide the narrative.
"The goal has always been to do justice to the audience members who have loved these characters their whole lives, and to audience members who've never heard of these characters, or who heard of them for the first time in the trailer, in the poster," Feige said. "Which for Guardians, in particular, was certainly the majority of the audience."
"Now on the flip side of that, there are people who go, 'Well people don't really know the Guardians so you really have a lot of leeway to do new things.' Which you do. But James was constantly going to the comics and constantly referring to the comics, and constantly building off of the storylines."
'This is different and this is interesting, and we need diversity'
Gunn also plays around with these character in a way that makes them better suited for film, like Pom Klementieff's character Mantis, for example.
"The character [is] so different from the comic books," Klementieff said. "I think it was so interesting to give a different version of Mantis.
"In the comic books she was great too, she was very powerful, but kind of similar to a lot of other female characters in the Marvel Universe or in other superhero movies. So I think it was so interesting to give a different take on the female character, and give more comedy and more awkwardness. ... People always say, 'Oh yeah, bad-ss female characters.' I love that and I love playing that, and I love watching that, but this is different and this is interesting, and we need diversity."
As Feige describes, Guardians movies just "feel different" from other Marvel films and this trilogy is something that he remains particularly proud of.
"Guardians really was the first movie that was completely outside the realm," he explained. "It tied in with Thanos and Infinity Stones, but the Avengers were not in it, and we weren't setting up Tony Stark's next adventure or Captain America."
"It was really our attempt of saying, we don't want to just do superhero movies. ... It worked in a crazy way, it worked entirely because of James Gunn. So it does feel like this trilogy and James writing, directing all three of them, it represents something unique within the pantheon of the MCU that I'm very proud of."