James Gunn Was Hesitant About That ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ Ending
It should go without saying, but the following post contains major spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 — so if you haven’t had a chance to see Marvel’s latest superhero blockbuster yet, you might want to turn back now. For those of you who have seen the film, a couple of interesting interviews shed some additional light on that big ending and reveal that it could’ve played out very differently.
At the end of the sequel, Michael Rooker’s Yondu realizes that the only way to save the universe and redeem himself — in the eyes of both his former Ravager buddies and Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord — is by making the ultimate sacrifice, giving his own life to defeat Kurt Russell’s Ego. It’s a crucial third-act choice that leads to a beautiful funeral sequence for Yondu and makes Star-Lord realize that although Ego was his biological father, Yondu was his dad.
But that ending almost didn’t happen. Over the weekend, Uproxx published a new interview with director James Gunn and Michael Rooker, in which the pair address the emotional finale of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Gunn reveals that he was very hesitant about killing off Yondu:
I didn’t want that to be the ending, and I kind of refused to put that in as the ending for a long time. It wasn’t how the movie ended… But, at the end of the day, I knew that’s where it needed to go. I knew that we need to have real stakes in these movies. We need to lose characters. And not everyone who sees Marvel movies loves that.
That choice really pays off, but it’s also yet another example of what sets the Guardians movies — and Gunn — apart from the MCU. The stakes do feel a bit higher, and although Gunn didn’t kill off a central member of the team like Rocket or, heaven forbid, Baby Groot, Yondu’s death carries serious weight and enriches Star-Lord’s arc.
As for Rooker, he seems happy with Yondu’s fate — and why not? He got a badass space-viking funeral:
The hero of the movie ends up being remembered. And the hero of the movie ends up being, well – you’re the hero of the movie! You know, they’ve done something! They’ve given up something that most of us would not even come close to having the balls to give up in real life, and in the movies as well.
During the funeral scene, the Guardians gather to honor their fallen friend and Star-Lord delivers a moving eulogy. According to cinematographer Henry Braham, that scene was also originally a little different from the final version. In an interview with THR, Braham explains how Gunn and Pratt came up with an idea at the last minute and the work that went into reshooting Star-Lord’s speech:
Sometimes some of those moments are completely unnoticeable, and actually one of them is after Yondu’s funeral, Chris’ speech; we shot it on the set and the next day James came to work — and he and Chris had thought of something that they’d missed — so they wanted to reshoot it. And actually Chris is inserted into that scene. He shot against bluescreen, and we had to match the lighting, match absolutely everything perfectly from the shot we did before. We have to match the timing of the camera’s moves in and around the scene, perfectly with his dialogue and everything else. It’s complex. But of course hopefully for the audience it should be absolutely seamless. It’s the bits you don’t see are sometimes the most complex.
If you watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in theaters again, pay closer attention to that scene in particular to see if you can tell the difference.