GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY’s success was amazing because the movie wasn’t based on first-tier Marvel Comics characters and back in 2014 early August wasn’t known for blockbuster openings.
But Disney/Marvel’s GUARDIANS, directed by James Gunn & starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel & Bradley Cooper, was an instant hit. After premiering in L.A. on July 21, 2014, it opened on Aug. 1 for $94.3M. It did $333.7M domestic, making it that summer’s biggest film and the first August release to top the summer since Hollywood started compiling boxoffice data in the mid-’70s. GUARDIANS grossed $440M internationally for a global cume of $773.3M.
Not surprisingly, it spawned a sequel, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2, directed by Gunn, which opened on May 5, 2017, to $146.5M & did $863.8M worldwide. VOL. 3, also from Gunn, is set to open next May 5.
Like many movie hits, GUARDIANS could have turned out very differently had other directing & casting decisions been made. Peyton Reed, who’d directed the 2006 rom-com THE BREAK UP with Vince Vaughn & Jennifer Anniston, was considered for GUARDIANS. But Marvel signed him later to direct ANT-MAN (2015). He also made ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (2018) & ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA, which opens next Feb. 17.
Colin Trevorrow was another directing possibility but passed because he really wasn’t into comics. What he liked were STAR WARS & INDIANA JONES type movies. Trevorrow went on to direct Universal’s JURASSIC WORLD (2015) & JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION (2022), with Chris Pratt starring in both.
Adam Sandler & Jim Carrey were considered to voice Rocket Raccoon, which Bradley Cooper did. Gal Gadot was a potential Nebula, which went to Karen Gillan, who shaved her head for the role. Gadot went on to star for WB/DC as WONDER WOMAN. Both Olivia Wilde & Amanda Seyfried passed on playing Gamora, which went to Zoe Saldana.
Among the many actors who might have played Peter Quill/Star-Lord, which went to Chris Pratt, are: Eddie Redmayne, Wes Bentley, James Marsden, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zachary Levi & John Krasinski. It’s said Chadwick Boseman auditioned for Drax the Destroyer, but Dave Bautista was cast. Boseman later starred for Marvel as BLACK PANTHER.
Jason Momoa also reportedly auditioned for Drax but decided against playing the role because he didn’t want to be typecast as a tough action star. However, producer Kevin Feige & Gunn have maintained for years that Bautista was the only actor ever offered the Drax role. As for Momoa, he went on to play the half-human/half-Atlantean AQUAMAN in five films for WB/DC!
“I think yeah, people don’t know the Guardians Of The Galaxy, but the truth is, Iron Man was selling 20,000 comic books a month when that movie came out, and that certainly wasn’t enough of an audience to make a hit movie. I don’t know if they’re real different. In fact, the Guardians Of The Galaxy comic book today is selling five times as much as Iron Man was selling at that time.” – James Gunn