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James Gunn Gets Honest About Comics, Marvel and Which Galaxy His Guardians Guard

The answer may surprise you!

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 24: James Gunn attends the UK Premiere of "Guardians of the Galaxy" at Empire Leicester Square on July 24, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)

There’s a lot about making Marvel movies that is shrouded in mystery, thanks to the studio’s strict spoiler policy and desire to control their brand and narrative, which is fine. So when a Marvel (and in this case also DC) director talks honestly with fans about the process and their thoughts, it’s a treat and a really interesting peek behind the scenes. This is exactly what Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn gave us when he gamely and honestly answered fan questions on Twitter this week.

The conversation got going with an answer that blew my mind, just a bit. Maybe this was common knowledge, but I guess the Guardians of the Galaxy are not guarding our Milky Way galaxy? They’re over in Andromeda????

You heard it here. They’re Guardians of the Andromeda Galaxy!

That’s wild to me. But what’s even more interesting is hearing about how Gunn and other directors function within the larger Marvel structure and how much freedom they have to tell their stories as they want to tell them. It turns out they have more room to play than we might think.

This brings up the questions of which characters he got to pick, and what control of any he had in their fates, and in the case of Gamora, their deaths, in other Marvel properties.

He also shared how he does previs … and schooled a Twitter rando who disagreed.

But back to killing off characters. Now we get to one of the most interesting things Gunn said, which was about making character deaths stick and making them meaningful. In our IP and franchise-driven media landscape where magic and sci-fi can make death feel less meaningful, it’s very hard for a character to truly die and for that to matter, which Gunn understands.

He’s not wrong here. And he’s also right that the way death has become so temporary in comics and genre media has made it not as dramatic. But he also feels the feel that we all do with these stories.

This is absolutely true, though it’s really hard to hear for a lot of us in fandom. A good story often needs a good ending but comics … don’t end. Nor do cinematic universes built on major IP, so there’s always the temptation to bring someone back for more. Luckily with movies, it seems this may not happen as much as it does in comics and TV, but character deaths do need to mean something, even if it hurts.

I’m glad Gunn is open to talking honestly about this stuff and sharing these opinions, because not only is it interesting, it can be enlightening and start bigger conversations.

(via:, image: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.