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Marvel Concept Artist Anthony Francisco On How James Gunn's Humor Is Reflected In Guardians Of The Galaxy's Designs - Exclusive

While beloved MCU writer-director James Gunn is soon heading over to Marvel's rival studio at Warner Bros. to co-head DC's Film and TV Division with his fellow CEO, Peter Safran, the filmmaker still has a bit of the galaxy for his Guardians to explore over the next few months. Premiering November 23 on Disney+ is "The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special," which already has fans buzzing after the project's first trailer release. Then, next May, the third and final volume in Gunn's "Galaxy of the Guardians" trilogy will mark the filmmaker's official exit from the MCU.

Former Marvel Senior Visual Development artist Anthony Francisco is especially excited for the release of "Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3," which officially marks the end of his nine years of design contributions to the MCU. It's a proper bookend in a way, since Francisco began his career at Marvel Studios with his work on the first "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie that was released in 2014.

Francisco's work on the "Guardians of the Galaxy" trilogy is very personal to the artist, since his design of Baby Groot for "Vol. 2" and Teen Groot thereafter is modeled after his son. Another reason Francisco treasures his time on the film series is because of his work with Gunn, who notably took the MCU in a different direction by infusing so much humor into the "Guardians" storylines.

Francisco says he clicked with Gunn's 'lightness and positive energy'

In an exclusive interview, Anthony Francisco told Looper that James Gunn's brings a special kind of energy to his productions, which he first experienced while working on the original "Guardians of the Galaxy." The interesting thing is, Francisco noted, Gunn isn't always going for laughs in his films. In fact, the concept artist said, he was taken aback by the emotion in the story when he was preparing to work on the first "Guardians" film.

"When I first read the script, visually in my head it didn't feel like it was really that whimsical," Francisco recalled. "There are moments in the script where it was very emotional, so it felt like an action-drama type thing, and I didn't realize how funny it became but was placed properly throughout the whole movie."

However, Francisco added, when Gunn did inject humor into the production, you could sense it in the atmosphere. That feeling, in turn, influenced Francisco's "Guardians" designs. "I still remember when I designed Baby Groot, James actually came to my desk and said to put the face on a stick. The way he said it was funny," Francisco said. "It did lend to the way I designed stuff. I also try to be funny, but I'm not as funny as him! We clicked on that level. Lightness and positive energy clicks with me."

While Francisco is hard at work on his new multimedia project "Creature Chronicles," he doesn't object to working with Gunn again at some point. "I wish I could work with him again outside of Marvel," Francisco said. "That would be amazing."

"The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special" airs on Disney+ November 23, while "Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3" is set for a May 5, 2023, release.

In addition to his work on "Creature Chronicles," you can follow Anthony Francisco's work at his website, as well as his Twitter and Instagram accounts.