Behind the Scenes on the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY TV Series, Part 1

Behind the Scenes on the  GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY TV Series, Part 1

Premiering tonight on DisneyXD is the animated version of Guardians of the Galaxy. What follows is the first installment in a behind the scenes look at the making of the show, told through the words of its cast and creative crew. The premiere runs one hour, consisting of the first two episodes.

Written & Copyright Edward Gross

The global success of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy took pretty much everyone by surprise, not only by far surpassing box office expectations, but in the way it turned its quintet of characters into Marvel’s latest superstars. At the same time, it reignited the audience’s interest in deep space adventures and paved the way for a new animated series based on the film that premieres tonight at 9:30PM on DisneyXD.

Guardians, released in 2014 (with a sequel due in 2017), brought together Peter Quill/Star-Lord, a human/alien hybrid who becomes leader of the team; Gamora, the green-skinned assassin trained by Marvel uber villain Thanos, who is seeking personal redemption; Drax The Destroyer, a warrior seeking to avenge the death of his family at the hands of Ronan and, ultimately, Thanos; Groot, a tree-like humanoid with a number of remarkable abilities (not the least of which is limb regeneration), and whose vocabulary seems to be limited to the words “I am Groot,” but whose meaning is so much more; and Rocket Raccoon, a gun-toting, tough-talking raccoon who is around as the result of a number of science experiments, and he’s the only one who understands Groot perfectly. Together, they’re searching the cosmos for adventure, walking the line between being heroes and outlaws.

In these exclusive interviews, cast and crew provide us with a behind the scenes look at the series.

(Voice, Peter Quill/Star-Lord)

The first time I saw the film, it was the most fun I'd had a movie theater in as long as I can remember. People were cheering, yelling at the screen. It was a blast. I walked out saying, "I want to go see that again right now!" It's like a great book that you finish and start all over again. There are a lot of superhero movies that have come out and I'm a fan of the genre, they're great, but they start to take on kind of a darker sense. In Guardians, here come these five characters that are anti-heroes. They need each other and they form this really bizarre, dysfunctional family. That just resonated with people; they're heroes unlike any that anybody had ever seen before.

(VP Current Series, Marvel Animation Studios)

I think what they hit in the movie is what comic fans have known for fifty years: Just how much personality drives the Marvel superhero universe. It doesn't have a lot to do with their powers. It's about their stories. The powers are great and they're fun and, particularly for little kids, they can play along with them. It's really that at the core we're a company about characters and what their story is and what their struggles are. With Guardians, other than the Marvel logo, I don't know that Guardians of the Galaxy looked like a superhero movie to people. It was really about these five ne're-do-well outcasts and how they were going to work together. There's something about that that's universal to people. It's just fun to see the characters bounce off of each other. And Guardians really has scored. Even with our fan base with just how deep the struggles are for these characters. And their personal stories. They end up being heroes in spite of themselves.

(Co-Executive Producer)

And they're pretty funny, which is refreshing because the action genre can be pretty grim and serious at times. And these five losers are a breath of fresh air; the way they play off of each other is really fun to watch and listen to. We wanted to capture a lot of that in the animated series as well.

Something that's really at the core of all the Marvel characters, and it's something that Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby discovered in 1962, which is that with the best Marvel characters, what happened to them as a superhero actually makes their personal life worse. There's a price for using those powers. I think that comes through with Guardians as well. They've got to find their way through trying to be heroes and doing the right thing, although it affects them personally.

(Voice, Drax The Destroyer)

Guardians of the Galaxy speaks to diversity and speaks to acceptance. They are some wonderful beings coming from diverse worlds. It shows you can bring a diverse group together to form a team made up of equal respect. I would like to see more of that in the world.

(Voice, Rocket Raccoon)

I hadn't seen anything like Guardians in a long time. A lot of people say that when they saw the movie, it was like watching Star Wars for the first time again. Certainly that was my experience of it.

People ask about connections between the films and animation. Obviously so much of what we do is directly inspired by the films, and we try very hard not to contradict them. The continuity is not shared, but similar enough that they're very recognizable. It's more about not contradicting each other and being inspired by some of the fun stuff they're doing. But then doing what we need to do to deliver good stories to kids.

What we're able to do is, because we have so many more hours of storytelling, get deeper into the Marvel Universe, so at the end of the day our shows are sort of a hybrid of where the movies are - because that's what people recognize - and then go deeper into the Marvel Universe from comics or even television.

Our link to the feature universe is really through Joe Quesada, our Chief Creative Officer, who touches all sides and can lead us in a direction if we're going to do something that is so very different from the movies. But we had started on this animated series and development and production long before the second Guardians film, so this show comes right out of the first movie. Even just looking at the script for that first movie was magic.

That was really all we had when we started, the script. We started before we'd even seen a screening of anything. The different worlds aren't meant to be perfectly aligned. Just as an audience member for any of these entertainments, you're meant to be able to come in and understand generally where you are. But, from TV to movies to animation, it all gives you a different sense of the world.

The Guardians as they appeared on Ultimate Spider-Man

(Co-Executive Producer)

The movie has really given us a lot of inspiration and motivation for the way we approach the series. They're just strong characters. It's good fortune that we've got characters that no one has really seen or worked with to a great degree. We don't have any rules in particular; we want to stick to the personalities of the movie as we push forward, expanding them from what we saw in the movie.

The fact that the movie was successful didn't really surprise me, because there's a track record and the audience trusts Marvel enough to at least check it out. But the level to which it permeated pop culture was amazing. The fact that my mother knows who Rocket Raccoon is, is absolutely nuts to me. I can't even wrap my head around the fact that my mother has uttered the words "Rocket Raccoon." That's highly unusual. These characters are well known now. I didn't sense it would have this kind of cultural resonance.

The music was an important component of the film. I was shocked when I read the script, because the songs are actually listed in it, so I would play the songs on YouTube as I would read those pages for that scene, and I really did get goose bumps. I don't know that I predicted the level of popularity, but I certainly understood that Rocket and Groot would become really popular characters with kids, and I knew the audience would love it and be really surprised by it.

Cort hit on something. The music is where I sort of knew we had something super special, because the audience just had never seen the context of science fiction, out-there adventure with music that people recognize. It grounded everything so much. Music has been a big part of the development of the new series, too, as you can see from the very first episode. Cort has been the spearhead of trying to get that together.

We had some classic '70s pop in the first episode. It's something very unique and different for us to do. There may not be music in every episode, but you will hear a lot of it where it makes sense. In the pilot there were two great opportunities to do that. But it has to serve story and have a great moment where we have time to do that.

It's also the first time we're doing original songs as well. We've got a bunch of catalogue songs that are popular and that people know, and some new songs, too. Music is a big part of this show the same way it was with the film. That's one thing we're pulling over directly.

(Supervising Producer)

The music was like a Christmas present. When they said they were thinking about doing that, we were, like, "Yes, please!" We've only got animation back on the first five episodes and we've seen it cut into just a couple of them, but, boy, it works so good and puts the show in such a different caliber from everything else around in kid animation. In the movie, the music does a great job at grounding this far out cosmic movie in the real world, in our world. It just does a great job of setting the tone. 


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