GOTG Vol.3 Cast And Crew Look Back At Their Characters And The Past 10 Years

After three film chapters and saving the galaxy many times over, the Guardians of the Galaxy has reached the end of their journey under the guidance of director James Gunn. But even as the team and fans celebrate the success of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, few recall that the space adventures of this team of misfits, comprising thieves, killers and mercenaries, started on a shaky premise, and was even expected to become a flop. 

Instead, the adventures of Star-Lord, Gamorra, Drax, Rocket and Groot have won audiences over, and become the best film trilogy from one director to emerge from the massively successful Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). 

The franchise, which includes several appearances in other MCU movies, changed Chris Pratt’s career from TV actor to big-screen superhero, established WWE wrestler Dave Bautista as a serious actor, and placed Gunn on the map as your go-to director for all things comic-book-related. To say it’s been a life-changing journey would be an understatement for the cast and crew, who were filled with emotions at the movie’s global press conference.

“I felt like the world kind of needed a space fantasy that was different from ones we had seen before, so I was very pleasantly surprised when my greatest hopes did come true,” said Gunn on the franchise’s success since 2014, and now, having to say goodbye to it. 

Late last year, Gunn took on the role as co-CEO of DC Studios over at Warner Discovery.

“It’s changed me in so many ways… I’m gonna miss the characters. That’s the saddest part for me. I really, truly love these characters. I love all of them. I think there’s certain ones that I have a special fondness for, especially Rocket,” continued the 56-year-old director.

“The saddest part of all of this – I’m gonna see all these people again, they’re all friends of mine – but I’m not gonna see the characters. I’m not gonna be writing the characters again, at least not in the near future.” 

Pratt played team leader Star-Lord in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and led the likes of Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, Vin Diesel as Groot and Bradley Cooper as Rocket. The roster has since expanded to include Karen Gillan as Nebula, Sean Gunn as Kraglin, Pom Klementieff as Mantis and Maria Bakalova as Cosmo, and even though this is not the end for Star-Lord, it currently feels like it.

“I read a few reviews from people who had said that Guardians was going to be the first big flop. Don’t know how those ended up in my notes for the past nine years, but it was just important to me. I have had the experience of being part of things that have come and gone. I remember on Parks and Rec, after seven years, it’s like the last day of summer or last day of school before summer and you’re not going to be coming back to school together. It’s that summer camp vibe of like am I ever going to see these people again? It’s an emotional feeling,” said Pratt about wrapping up the Guardians threequel. 

Star-Lord has had quite a journey as a self-appointed leader of the Guardians. He has a sassy sense of humour, is courageous and whether members of the team would like to admit it or not, is quite a charming rogue. But underneath his warmth is a person who is lost and seeks a sense of belonging, support and respect from those around him, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 finally addresses – and resolves – this aspect of his personality.

“He’s a guy who needs to learn how to swim. He’s been hopping from lily pad to lily pad, woman to woman, and relationship to relationship. I think that’s a pretty human condition. In the beginning, he was running away from the death of his mother, but he got to pretend to be this character based on these pop culture icons of his childhood of the late- 80s and he was dancing around, he had found himself there but it was kinda B.S., you know? And then he found himself with the Guardians of the Galaxy and then he thought he could find himself with who his father was,” elaborated Pratt. 

“So he’s a guy who’s constantly been searching for who he is, and then he found it again in his relationship with Gamora and so, when that’s stripped away from him, he’s a guy who’s realising that all of these various people that he’s found that are Quill, none of them have been the real him.” 

Pratt’s Star-Lord isn’t the only one who’s experiencing change in their identity and self. Gillan’s Nebula is a complex character whose sense of self has been heavily influenced by her relationship with her sister Gamora, and her villainous father Thanos. Her time with the Guardians has allowed her to seek comfort and safety in a community that cares for her and in return, Nebula has learnt to show that same amount of care back. This is evident in her rollercoaster of emotions when trying to save Rocket from imminent death in the third movie. 

“I think post-Thanos being eliminated from her life, she’s starting to flourish a little bit more and she’s starting to have a lighter personality and she’s a little more willing to show vulnerability,” said Gillan of her character. 

“Nebula was always the kind of bitter one, so jealous of Gamora and then, I guess she evolved and Gamora kind of helped her gain some compassion along the way. And now they’ve kind of switched places in a way, which has been really interesting to play around with but yeah, it’s been really beautiful to kind of watch their relationship evolve and become what it is. It’s been amazing.” 

A character that is perhaps just starting on her journey is Mantis. The character was first introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. She later joined the Guardians and fought alongside them and the Avengers in Endgame. Mantis’ power of regulating emotions may not seem impressive at the start, but she’s the only hero that could actually incapacitate and control Thanos, making her a pretty unique female character. 

“Mantis’ journey, she evolves so much throughout the movies and she gains so much confidence. At the beginning, I was bug-like, doing little hand gestures like Mr. Burns or like a fly and then she spent more time with the Guardians so she’s less doing weird stuff, and she’s walking and fighting,” said Klementieff. 

“It was so interesting to give a different take on a female character and give more comedy and more awkwardness and something different, you know? People always say, ‘Oh, yeah, badass female characters’, I love that and I love playing that and I love watching that but this is different and this is interesting, you know? And we need diversity.” 

At the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Mantis strikes out on her own without the team. In some ways, Mantis’ journey mimics the French actress’ own career. Klementieff made her American debut in 2013’s Oldboy but it was her role of Mantis in the MCU that changed the trajectory of her career. Klementieff is grateful for the experience and is happy to teach audiences a thing or two about empathy through her character. 

“James changed my life! I love playing this character and I’m so grateful for James to have given me this opportunity, and to get to play with all these incredible actors,” shared the actress. “I remember James telling me that Mantis was kind of like the glue that kept the Guardians together in some ways. I think it’s beautiful and I think the world lacks a lot of empathy too so it’s a beautiful message.” 

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This journey of mirroring is an experience that Sean Gunn also went through via his character Kraglin. Kraglin first started out as plucky comic relief but has become a foundation of support for the Guardians. If the Guardians ever needed something, Kraglin would be the person they counted on. The younger of the Gunn brothers always felt like an outsider when he first joined Guardians of the Galaxy, but have since felt welcomed into the family. 

“I think that, just like all the Guardians, Kraglin had to kind of figure out what his place in the family was and one thing that really impresses me about the movies is how I do feel like, in a way, that the journey of the cast has mirrored the journey of the characters,” shared Gunn. 

“For me, being there in the first movie and feeling like, ‘Oh, I’m the director’s brother’ and I’m here and I’m kind of on the outside and Kraglin is just kind of on the peripheral and he comes in and says his things here and there. And then learning that, over the course of the movies, that I felt as much at home with all these people, you know, that I felt fully accepted and, like, a full member of the cast and of the group.” 

Speaking of joining the family, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 adds Will Poulter and Chukwudi Iwuji to the cast as Adam Warlock and the High Evolutionary respectively. Both stars were warmly welcomed to the extended Guardians family. 

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“I was nervous from the outside looking in. I think because I was a really big fan of the Guardians movies. You look at something as a fan, and you think, ‘That’s cool!’. To be able to appreciate that as a fan for what it is, you don’t imagine yourself being a part of it so that in itself was exciting,” shared Poulter. 

He continued, “I think the thing that I shared with Adam Warlock was probably just that sense of trying to work out what the hell was going on. Like Sean said, when you find a parallel between your character and your own experience, it’s really quite interesting and it can be something to kind of latch on to. I was the new kid on the block arriving on this set, very much like how Adam Warlock was kind of arriving into the world, trying to sort of find his way and work out the rules.” 

Joining a superhero franchise is not new to Iwuji, who plays Clemson Murn in DC’s Peacemaker streaming TV series based on the DC character of the same name, and created by none other than Gunn himself. 

“We’d just finished doing the dance sequence for Peacemaker and James said, ‘Can I have a word with you? I have something I want to talk to you about’. He started with ‘I don’t know what your schedule is but I would like you to play the High Evolutionary in Guardians of the Galaxy Three’. So I sorta blinked for a while and mumbled something and he said, ‘It’s great. I’ve already spoken to Kevin about it’.” 

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The High Evolutionary has been dubbed as one of Marvel’s best villains by fans. A villain with a god complex, fans find the character evil and arrogant for what he’s done to the beloved Rocket. Getting into the character was a rather dark process for Iwuji, but it seems like all the hard work has paid off if fans love to hate the character. 

“The first thing that’s written when you meet him is him listening to Space Opera. If he’s listening to opera and he’s this mad scientist sort of person, I just thought of someone that doesn’t sleep, someone that’s obsessed,” said Iwuji about getting into the character. 

And of all the trilogies that Marvel Studios has put out, Guardians of the Galaxy is undoubtedly special, and that accolade was presented by none other than Marvel Studios’ head, Kevin Feige himself. 

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“You know, we’ve had trilogies before. We’ve had a number of them, actually, and I was thinking, ‘Why does this feel so different and so much of a passage of some sort?’, and it’s because Guardians really was the first movie that was completely outside of the realm. It tied in with Thanos and Infinity Stones, but The Avengers were not in it. We weren’t setting up Tony Stark’s next adventure, or Captain America and it was really our attempt of saying, ‘We don’t wanna just do superhero movies’!” said Feige. 

“We don’t want to just do Iron Man movies or Avengers movies. We wanted to do, as James said earlier, a big space movie and it worked in a crazy way. It worked entirely because of James Gunn so, it just feels like this trilogy, and James’ writing and directing all three of them, it represents something unique within the pantheon of the MCU, that I’m very proud of.” 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is now showing in cinemas.