Playing the Final Track at the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ Press Conference

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 hits theaters this Friday! And to celebrate the release of one of the biggest movies of the year, we at The Nerds of Color were invited to attend the press conference for the final installment in James Gunn’s space opera trilogy! Keep reading to see what Gunn, as well as the cast, and producer Kevin Feige, had to say about the final chapter in perhaps the best superhero trilogy of all time!

Moderated by actor Nathan Fillion, a close friend of Gunn’s since Slither, the panel consisted of cast members Will Poulter (Adam Warlock), Chukwudi Iwuji (The High Evolutionary), Sean Gunn (Kraglin), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Pom Klementieff (Mantis), Chris Pratt (Peter Quill/Star-Lord), and producer/Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. The close-to-one-hour panel was of course great fun! Light on spoilers, but high on emotion, just like a Guardians movie. Here’s a taste of what was discussed:

(L-R): Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Dave Bautista as Drax, Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, and Karen Gillan as Nebula in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo by Jessica Miglio. © 2023 MARVEL.

First up, Fillion asked Gunn if he ever dreamt in his wildest dreams the first move was going to be a hit. Gunn had this to say, “Listen the thing is, people think of making a movie from the perspective of what it’s become culturally. And yeah, absolutely. I don’t think I could have dreamed that. I mean, I could have dreamed it. I’m not gonna lie. Like, I had hopes. I felt really good about it from the beginning. I felt like we were doing something different. I felt like, you know, the world kind of needed a space fantasy that was different from what we had seen before. So I was very pleasantly surprised when my greatest hopes did come true. But I think in terms of the story that we were telling over the three movies, I think that I did have sort of a sense of how it was going to go from the beginning.”

When asked if he’s going to miss the ensemble, Gunn added, “I’m gonna miss the characters. That’s the saddest part for me. I really truly love these characters. I’m I love all of them. I think there are certain ones that I have a special fondness for, especially Rocket. And that’s 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 going to see the characters, and not gonna be writing the characters again. At least not in the near future. And so that’s a real sadness.”

(L-R): Karen Gillan, James Gunn, and Chris Pratt on the set of Marvel Studios’ GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3. Photo by Jessica Miglio. © 2023 MARVEL.

Up next, Fillion, being silly, asked Pratt whether or not Star-Lord was sad after his girlfriend died, came back, broke up with him, and kicked him in the nuts.

Pratt went on to discuss Peter Quill’s storyline, saying, “There’s a wonderful monologue that Batista gives that comes from Mantis. Quill’s a guy who needs to learn how to swim. He’s been hopping from lily pad to lily pad, woman to woman, relationship to relationships. I think that’s it’s a pretty human condition. I think oftentimes we find ourselves in our relationships or in the affiliations we have with the team or a family or whatever. And he has been lost. So yeah, 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 culture icons of his childhood of the late ’80s. And so he was dancing around, [so he thought he] really found himself there… but it was kind of BS, you know. And he found himself the Guardians of the Galaxy. And then he thought he could find himself in who his father was. 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… realizing that all of these various people that he’s found… none of them are going to be the real him, and so he is he’s lost.”

When asked about whether or not he’d work with James and the entire ensemble again, Pratt said, “First of all, I would love [to] jump at the opportunity. Making movies is really fun. To do it with people that you love, is even more fun. That’s the journey. Right? The destination sometimes sucks like you know you may have this great time with all your friends and you get together and you work hard. And then you see the movie, and you’re like, ‘Boy that was a lot of fun to make it, but that movie sucked.’ But with James, both the journey and the destination have been glorious. The films are incredible. How he does it… I’d be willing to deal with a terrible journey to get to this destination. but happens to be an incredible journey as well. So it’s a lot of fun. We’re laughing. We really get each other. Support one another. It’s not just James. You’re asking me if I’d do something with James, but I’d work with any of these folks.”

Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.

Gillan, coming back as Nebula, one of the most complex characters in the MCU, was asked about where her character is at when we see her in this movie. “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. She’s a little more willing to show vulnerability.”

When asked about what has changed for her following playing Nebula all these years, Gillan stated, “Definitely my understanding of what it’s like to be a scapegoat sibling. That’s interesting. Because Nebula was definitely never the golden child. And so I never understood that, because I’m an only child. And so that was a really sort of interesting exploration for me. So now I just have so much respect for people that
have gone through that.”

Fillion next asked Marvel Studios president, Feige what he’s learned from his experiences working with Gunn on the trilogy.

(L-R): Sean Gunn as Kraglin, Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Dave Bautista as Drax, and Pom Klementieff as Mantis in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.

“We’ve had we’ve had trilogies before. We’ve had a number of them actually. And I was thinking why does this feel so different in so much of a passage of some sort? It’s because Guardians really was the first movie that was completely an outside realm. It is tied in with the Infinity Stones, but the Avengers were not in it. And we weren’t setting up Tony Stark’s next adventure or Captain America. And it was really our attempt to say we don’t want to just do superhero movies. We don’t want to just do Iron Man movies. And we wanted to do, as James said earlier, a big space movie. And it and it worked in a crazy way. It worked entirely because of James Gunn. So it does feel like this trilogy and James writing, directing all three of them — it represents something unique within the pantheon of the MCU and I’m very proud.”

Feige was then asked to state whether or not approaching projects of this scale made him nervous about each project. “It always does. It always makes me nervous. But the goal has always been to do justice to the audience members who have loved these characters their whole lives, and to audience members who’ve never heard of these characters. Who heard of them for the first time in the in the trailer, and the poster, which for guardians in particular, was certainly the majority of the of the audience. But now on the flip side of that is there are people who don’t really know the Guardians, so you really have a lot of leeway to do new things, which you do, but James was constantly going to the comics and constantly referring to the comics and constantly building off of the storylines. So people who didn’t know these characters from the more recent run at the time or the early run, saw things they could get excited about and just as important that people who heard of this crazy space band and a raccoon.

(L-R): Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Dave Bautista as Drax, Karen Gillan as Nebula in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.

Fillion asked Klementieff what playing Mantis has done for her life. She had this to say, “For me it’s not just Mantis. It’s Mantis and James Gunn, you know. Like working [together] has changed my life and I get to play Mantis. I mean, she’s an empath, you know. So you have to have a deeper connection with everything and everyone. So it’s so beautiful to tap into deep, profound and layered emotions. And yeah, then I got to be super weird! Which is really fun to do to but it comes naturally to me. But I love playing this character and I’m so grateful for James, for giving me this opportunity to get to play with all these incredible actors… I remember like James, telling me that Mantis was kind of like the glue that kept the Gardens together. In some ways, you know. And I think it’s beautiful and I think you know, the role lacks a lot of empathy to you know, Yeah, So it’s a beautiful message.”

Klementieff also elaborated on what made her character on screen from all these films different from her comic book counterpart. “Actually the character is so different from comic books. I think it was so interesting to give a different version of mentors. You know, in the comic book, she was great too. She was a very powerful, but can act similar to a lot of other female characters in the Marvel Universe or in other superhero movies. So I think it was like so interesting to to give a different take on a female character and add more 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 I love watching that but this is different. And this is interesting, you know, and we need diversity.”

Sean Gunn as Kraglin in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.

Sean Gunn was then asked about the journey of Kraglin from plucky comic relief to a pillar and foundation of support for the Guardians. “Just like all the Guardians Kraglin had to kind of figure out what his place in the family was. And I really one thing that really impresses me about the movies is how I do feel like, in a way, the journey of the cast has mirrored the journey of the characters… And that like for me, being there in the first movie and feeling like ‘Oh, I’m 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 comes in and says things here and there. And then learning that over the course of the movies I felt as much at home with all these people. Now that I felt fully accepted and like a full member of the cast and of the group. And that’s what happens with Kraglin and over the course of the movies. And so that’s really special and really cool for me, you know? Yeah, Kraglin was he was with Yondu and Quill from the beginning, and was sort of on the outside, and the journey to learn why he belongs is my favorite thing about him.”

Joining the cast as The High Evolutionary, was Peacemaker breakout star Iwuji (we’ll have more from him on our site later). Fillon asked Iwuji what his reaction was to being casted by James Gunn.

Comparing himself to Homer Simpson, Iwuji stated, “You know when Homer doesn’t know what to say, and doesn’t understand what you just said, and the camera stays on him [and he blinks]?… We just finished doing the dance sequence for Peacemaker, and James said, ‘can I have a word with you? I want to talk to you.’.. And I actually said to him, “Is this when you thought you were hiring Chiwetel Ejiofor?’ And he said, ‘No actually, that’s not it. That’s not it… I don’t know what your schedule is. But I would like you to play The High Evolutionary in Guardians of the Galaxy 3‘… And he said ‘Well, it’s great. I’ve already spoken to Kevin about it. We’ll get together at my place’… and I thought that was going to happen in the next few days. And it was like six weeks before we go, five weeks before we actually got the screen test done… the closest I’ve come to Marvel is my local IMAX. I wasn’t gonna believe that I had the job.”

Chukwudi Iwuji as The High Evolutionary in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.

Also part of the cast and potentially the larger MCU, is Poulter as Marvel Comics staple, Adam Warlock. While his role in the movie was merely a tease for larger events to come, he still managed to make an impact, being both a menacing threat, and also an adorable kindergartener all in one! When asked by Fillion about how the cast treated him, being the new kid on the block, Poulter stated, “I couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome by everyone. Like honestly, you know, I was nervous from the outside looking in. I think because I was a really big fan of these movies and within the model. This was the trilogy, as it now is, of films that I was kind of the biggest admirer of, and so you look at something as a fan and you think, ‘that’s cool.’ To be able to appreciate that as a fan, and you know, for what it is. That’s what it will always be you don’t imagine yourself being a part of it. So that in itself was exciting. And then to have an experience characterized by these lovely people making me feel so welcome. It was something that I thought was gonna be really scary and actually just been really good fun. You know, I think because of what James said; it is so true that he makes a point of making a fun environment. That he surrounds himself with really great people. So across every department, you know, not just the acting department, but like every department, there are wonderful people. And it just made the experience so, so fun, which is really important because there’s pressure. And you know, as a new kid, I was I was pretty scared.”

(L-R): Will Poulter as Adam Warlock in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo by Jessica Miglio. © 2022 MARVEL.

And just like they welcomed Poulter and Adam Warlock into the universe, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Gunn are welcoming all of you fans to witness the final chapter! So gear up for one final ride of smiles, thrills, and tears with your favorite space a-holes, one last time.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 hits theaters this Friday, May 5!