James Gunn and Groot at Dragon Con

Until next year, Dragon Con…

This past week, Geek Smash writer Jeff Kaminski and I have been sharing some of our stories from this year’s Dragon Con, which took place in Atlanta, GA over Labor Day weekend. Kaminski already covered some of the press conferences and panels we attended featuring Karl Urban, Terry Gilliam and Tricia Helfer, and I told you about some of the panels featuring the cast of “Arrow.”

While this year’s DCon definitely wasn’t lacking in the cool and interesting celebrity guest department, there was one particular guest whose appearance at the con has been making a big splash on the ol’ internets as of late. Director James Gunn was a HUGE hit at Dragon Con this year, having chosen the convention as his last stop on his “Guardians of the Galaxy” press tour. I’ve already shared with you the awesomeness that is Gunn’s World Record Grooting Session and now, in the last part of our Dragon Con 2014 coverage, I will cover the GotG panels featuring James and his brother Sean Gunn (who played Kraglin, as well as performing motion reference for Rocket Raccoon on the set).

"Guardians of the Galaxy" Panel (from afar)

As I sat in the packed Marriott ballroom (way near the back), waiting for the panel to begin, it seemed as if there was something in the air. I don’t know what it was. Maybe I was just glad to be indoors after standing outside in the pouring rain in a line that wrapped the building, or maybe it was the fact that the audience started chanting “Ooga Chaka, Ooga Ooga Ooga Chaka” as showtime drew nearer, but something told me things were about to get awesome! And I was not disappointed…

– In one of my favorite moments of the panel, James Gunn talked about the fact that not only were the central characters in his film a group of outcasts brought together for a common goal, the cast and crew were also in a similar boat. “My last movie cost $3 million to make… Chris was the chubby best friend from TV, Dave was just some wrestler and Zoe was some scrappy chick from Queens… And it went on to be the biggest movie of year.” I found this comment to be tremendously inspiring.

– James talked about how he and Chris Pratt share a similar raunchy sense of humor. He stated, “Chris Pratt and I would whisper dirty things in each other’s ear,” before laughing after realizing how that sounded, much to the audience’s delight. He said that he and Pratt got along so well that the actor moved in next door to the house the Brothers Gunn rented for the duration of the shoot and that the three of them and Michael Rooker would hang out constantly (they actually started the panel off by filming the audience shouting, “You suck, Rooker!,” in response to him not being there).

– On the topic of working with his brother Sean, James stated that “there’s no one I would want to work with more.” Sean then talked about how this was the first time in one of James’ movies where his character didn’t meet a bloody demise. Sean added, “he definitely picked the right one not to kill me.” I’m sure we’ll be seeing Kraglin, as well as Rooker’s Yondu, again in the sequel.

– Speaking of, James confirmed that they are currently working on the script for the sequel and that the film probably will not shoot for another year or so. After a question about whether or not the character Nova might appear in the sequel, James spoke about how the great thing about what they did on the first film was bring in a bunch of characters that no one really knew anything about and in keeping with that strategy, the new characters introduced in “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” may not be the ones that we would expect.

– My favorite James Gunn quote from the panel: “No one ever, ever, ever said, ‘G**damn, we need a Groot movie.'”

James Gunn at Dragon Con

Both brothers were incredibly funny and charming (just like their film) during this panel. Unfortunately, I was only able to make it to the Saturday GotG panel, as other commitments kept me from attending the brothers’ Sunday panel, which from what I’ve heard was just as awesome. Here’s a few select tidbits I’ve gathered about the events of that panel:

– The biggest bit of news that’s been all over the internet lately was in regards to Stan Lee‘s original cameo in the film, which would have seen the legendary comic book creator in one of the cubes in The Collector’s museum. In the scene, Groot would have peered in at Lee, who would respond by giving him the finger. It has been speculated that Disney/Marvel disapproved of this idea, but Gunn has recently clarified that he himself decided to cut the scene because the joke was redundant after Chris Pratt’s middle finger bit, which they liked better. This image of Lee’s stand-in is the closest thing we’ll probably ever get to the deleted cameo…

Deleted Stan Lee "Guardians of the Galaxy" Cameo

– When asked about whether he might be introducing Carol Danvers, aka Ms./Captain Marvel, in the sequel, he stated that he wanted Pratt’s Peter Quill to remain the only “earthling” character in the films. He did add that he wanted to introduce other female characters into the GotG world as soon as possible (Mantis? Quasar? Moondragon?!).

– In both this panel as well as the previous one, the Gunns reiterated that Sean did not actually perform motion capture for Rocket in the film, which is a common misconception. In actuality, Sean provided motion reference and was required to constantly be kneeling in order to provide an eye level so the other actors know where to look. He was also in character as Rocket, even improvising with the cast (James’ favorite Sean improv was Rocket’s “bunch of jackasses standing in a circle” line). Everything was filmed so that the animators could use Sean’s performance as a visual reference for the character.

Astonishingly enough, James was signing autographs for free for DCon attendees, something that is damn near unfathomable at Dragon Con or most other big conventions, but unfortunately every time I tried to line up for his signings the line was capped several hours before he was scheduled to arrive. Nonetheless, the Brothers Gunn provided a whole lot of fun for all of the fans that came out to Dragon Con this year, and after the events of last weekend, I’m looking forward to the “Guardians of the Galaxy” sequel that much more.

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This concludes our coverage of Dragon Con 2014. On one final note, I would like to thank Dragon Con’s Media Relations team. They were extremely helpful and accommodating. It is overly apparent that the fan experience is their number one priority. In all of their communications with the press, they stressed one key point: Unlike other conventions (*cough* San Diego Comic Con *cough* ahem, sorry about that), where the press tolerates the fans, Dragon Con is a fan convention, where the press is tolerated. And that is exactly the way it should be.

You can check out some of our pictures from Dragon Con 2014 on our Geek Smash Facebook page. But enough about us, how was your Dragon Con experience? If you attended, share your stories in the comments below.

-By Jeff Grantz