The process of storytelling can be very discouraging. No matter how often one does it, there’s always a feeling that you’re doing something wrong. Given the subjectivity of art, there’s always this feeling that you could do something better, or that if one group of people aren’t happy, then you’ve failed. This is true for even the best of storytellers and biggest filmmakers, even if they boast big, bold voices.
Perhaps the most distinct voice in the Marvel Cinematic Universe right now is that of James Gunn. Between Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, he’s managed to retain his own style and voice, even while working in the big machine that is Marvel Studios. Surprisingly enough, that almost wasn’t the case. While the following story isn’t exactly new — former Marvel Studios architect Joss Whedon shared it from his perspective a few years back, but it’s always encouraging to hear tales like this.
In an essay published for MovieMaker, Gunn revealed what happened when he showed Whedon the first draft of the first Guardians of the Galaxy script.
“When Joss Whedon read the first draft that I had written of Guardians of the Galaxy, he thought it wasn’t ‘James Gunn’ enough. I had actually been holding back. I was afraid that to make a huge commercial movie, I had to make it like other movies. Joss said, ‘I like the parts that are “James Gunn.” Just make it more “James Gunn.”’ And that’s what I did. I was glad he gave me that vote of confidence.”
Of course, the rest is history. Guardians of the Galaxy went on to make big bucks for Marvel Studios, creating yet another big franchise within the bigger Marvel Cinematic Universe. Of course, it is worth noting that while the voice of Gunn is ever present in his Marvel films, the overall structure and character building are very Marvel, for better or worse. Although they encouraged a unique voice, at the end of the day, their approach to story is deeply embedded in the tried and true style of traditional storytelling.
What do you think of Joss Whedon’s advice. Do you think the end result was a film that truly stands out from the rest of the Marvel Studios flicks, or is it something that’s still not quite different enough? Let us know your thoughts down below!
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is in theaters now!