“I look around at us and I see losers,” Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord says, trying to get a ragtag, nihilistic group of interstellar ruffians to commit to a risky act of heroism. They have a chance, he tells them, to “give a shit.” It’s a pure character moment, simultaneously moving and amusing, with no standout visual effects — except for the fact that two of the characters, feisty, rodent-ish Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and ambulatory tree Groot (Vin Diesel), are entirely digital creations.
“They’ve come to life by that point,” says Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, a key creative force behind the studio’s entire output. “So you don’t even consider them visual effects.” Guardians was Marvel’s boldest bet. “Everybody told us it was too weird,” writer-director James Gunn told Rolling Stone, “and that because they were unknown characters, the movie was going to be Marvel’s first bomb.” (It wasn’t.) An early draft of this scene prompted Marvel to push Gunn to get weirder. “We gave James the note, ‘Wait a minute, we need more scenes like this,’ ” says Feige, “ ‘more of your purely character-based fun. Basically, we need more James Gunn.’ ”