Director James Gunn revealed that he began production on a Rocket Racoon and Groot short film that was intended to be released as a prequel to 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Gunn explained that the project — envisioned as a series of 4 short films introducing the Guardians — was far enough along that he even began shooting footage before he and Marvel eventually pulled the plug.
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In the new book, The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Universe, Marvel boss Kevin Feige reveals some interesting history behind-the-scenes of the Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) production. At the time, the Guardians — Drax, Rocket, Groot, Star-Lord, and Gamora — were relatively obscure Marvel Comics characters that Marvel Studios was relying on to expand their cinematic universe in Phase Two.
Guardians of the Galaxy was viewed by fans and media as something of a risk for Marvel Studios in Phase Two. Following the super-successful Phase One — that included origin films for A-list heroes like Iron Man (2008), Thor (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), and The Avengers (2012) — fans wondered if Marvel Studios was due for a misfire. In The Story of Marvel Studios, Feige admits that his team considered theatrically releasing prequel one-shots along with their more established franchises’ sequels to set the stage for Guardians of the Galaxy, explaining,
“We toyed with the idea of doing short films on Drax, on Rocket and Groot, and on Gamora, leading up to Guardians. This One-Shot series would have led into the Guardians movie proper — which would have also been directly preceded by a fourth self-contained short film about a mysterious kid who loved fantasy things. Then you’d start Guardians. And half-way through, we would reveal that big space hero is the kid from the short. We thought that would be clever, but it was too much.”
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James Gunn confirmed Feige’s story, while admitting he had actually forgotten about it in the years following the scrapped project. Gunn — the creative force behind Guardians of the Galaxy — will have been working on the franchise for more than a decade when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is released in May 2023. This includes a brief, but very public detour for the helmer. In 2018, Gunn was fired by Disney after offensive Tweets were uncovered. While on the outs with Disney, Gunn worked on The Suicide Squad (2021) starring Margot Robbie and Idris Elba and the spinoff series Peacemaker starring John Cena.
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James Gunn shared that Marvel planned to do the four one-shots — one for Drax (Dave Bautista) one for Gamora (Zoe Saldana), one for a young Star-Lord (who would grow up to look a lot like Chris Pratt), and one that told the tale of how Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) met. Gunn went on to say that he went as far as to actually shoot some footage for the film, before realizing that it might be overkill. The director recalled,
“I forgot about this, but this is true. Not only did we plan it, we shot footage for one of the scripts (Rocket & Groot) – part of which was the first shot of Rocket shooting a machine gun on Groot’s back that we showed at San Diego Comic Con.”
I forgot about this, but this is true. Not only did we plan it, we shot footage for one of the scripts (Rocket & Groot) – part of which was the first shot of Rocket shooting a machine gun on Groot’s back that we showed at San Diego Comic Con. https://t.co/fxlD85f5YB
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) October 25, 2021
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Gunn went on to say that the “completely storyboarded” Rocket & Groot project was the most polished, and that the story still lives in his “headcanon.” The director said he realized that writing and directing multiple short films while also working on the main Guardians of the Galaxy feature was “ridiculous.” In a series of Tweets, Gunn explained,
“There were going to be 4 – Rocket & Groot, Gamora, Drax & Star-Lord. Only the Rocket & groot script was fully finished, but it was also completely storyboarded. It was the story of how they met & I still think it’s true in my headcanon. Also I wrote a role for Alan Tudyk in it!
We didn’t end up doing it because I realized it was ridiculous for me to be writing & directing 4 short films at the same time as I was prepping an enormous world-building movie.”
We didn’t end up doing it because I realized it was ridiculous for me to be writing & directing 4 short films at the same time as I was prepping an enormous world-building movie.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) October 25, 2021
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Guardians of the Galaxy remains one of the most popular franchises for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In addition to Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), the Guardians gang also appeared in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019). They are also slated to appear in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder — now slated to be released in July 2022 following a widespread release date reshuffling by Marvel Studios.
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As confirmed by Dave Bautista in multiple interviews, and alluded to by James Gunn as well — Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is expected to conclude Gunn’s trilogy. The Guardians cast is currently shooting scenes for their EPCOT coaster, Cosmic Rewind, and are close to beginning production on not only Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 — still due out May 2023 — but also The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special — set to hit Disney+ late 2022.
Would you want to see a one-shot about how Groot and Rocket Raccoon first met? Let us know in the comments!