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What Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 Looked Like Before Adding Special Effects

Way back in 2014, Marvel and then-cult filmmaker James Gunn (SlitherSuper) genuinely shocked the cinematic world when Guardians of the Galaxy became one of the biggest hits of the summer movie season. Combining Gunn's outsider aesthetic with the Marvel blockbuster machine really did work far better than anyone could've anticipated, with GotG setting itself apart from the rest of the Marvel movie pack behind a razor-sharp sense of humor and a wildly original cast of characters. Perhaps most importantly, it was one of the first Marvel titles to fuse truly personal storytelling with blockbuster grandiosity. It was also the first Marvel flick to go interstellar in its heroic endeavors. 

Needless to say, but the stakes were raised, and then some, when the aptly titled Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 made its way into theaters a few years later. That was especially true of the film's use of special effects, which outdid the originals by leaps and bounds, and eventually earned the team behind them a trip to the 2018 Oscars with a nomination for Best Achievement in Visual Effects.

Just as in the first Guardians of the Galaxy, the special effects in Vol. 2 showed viewers things they never imagined they'd see. Here's what Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 looked like before adding those spectacular special effects. 

Drax's big moment in the film's intro scene is a mix of practical effects and blue screen

Speaking of things we thought we'd never see, the utterly enthralling opening scene of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2  is pretty much stocked full of them. Chief among those moments is Drax the Destroyer's maniacal dive down the throat of a mammoth space monster the group is battling. When next we see the fearless warrior, he's inside the belly of the beast, trying to stab his way out. He eventually finds an exit and spills out of the creature, covered in ooze. From the before pic, you can see that, while Gunn and team used blue screen and digital effects to make a lot of it happen, they also had Dave Bautista break through a practical barrier to ensure the spilling action would look as authentic as possible.  

Gamora's thrilling desert chase scene is almost completely fake

As the Guardians of the Galaxy films are set in deep space and on other worlds, it's hardly a surprise that the use of green screens, blue screens, and digital effects play a big role in bring said worlds to life. Those effects were pushed to the limit in GotG Vol. 2, with effects teams tasked with bringing to life the living planet-slash-celestial being Ego (played in human form by Kurt Russell). Their work in bringing Ego to life is genuinely stunning, particularly in the florid desert vista through which Gamora (Zoe Saldana) finds herself being chased by her vengeful sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) about halfway through the film. As you can see, those stunning desert vistas are almost entirely created with blue screen and digital flourishes. It's interesting, however, that Gamora's fateful jump was actually done practically via a brave stunt person on a sound stage.

There actually was a baby-sized Groot on set for much of the movie

Getting back to Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2's dynamic opening sequence, there's little question that — even in spite of all the electrifying action going on – Baby Groot was the star of the show throughout. The character, who dances gleefully through the violence as it unfolds around him, was clearly created with painstaking digital work, and some brilliant dance moves provided by James Gunn himself. Amid all the blue screen insanity used to bring the vividly violent scene to light, it seems Gunn and the Vol. 2 effects team also decided to make a 10" scale-model version of the too-adorable-for-words Baby Grootand actually place the model on set so their living, breathing actors had some eye-lines to use when addressing him. That tactic was, understandably, used throughout the production. 

That famous 'Mary Poppins' scene is a bit less impressive before the backgrounds are added

As you've no doubt guessed by now, significant portions of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 required a combination of both practical and digital effects work. As many scenes in the film also find characters darting about in zero gravity or using propulsion boots and such, there was a lot of wire work involved as well. As it happens, wire-work proved vital in helping bring one of the film's most memorable moments to fruition. That oh-so perfect moment saw Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his adoptive "father" Yondu (Michael Rooker) drifting down from the sky near the end of GotG Vol. 2. It also finds Yondu (after some loving encouragement from Peter) proudly proclaiming to everyone in ear shot, "I'm Mary Poppins, y'all!" As lovely as that all was, you really have to credit the VFX team, because the effect isn't quite the same when all you see is Pratt and Rooker dangling on a soundstage in front of a massive blue screen.   

Not all the best effects in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 were digital

On the topic of Michael Rooker's Yondu, his stunning makeup effects are maybe one of the more egregiously overlooked elements of the entirety of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. If nothing else, they prove that not all of the film's best effects work was done in post-production. You can clearly see it took a ton of work to blue Rooker up as Yondu, and required hours in the makeup chair to get the actor properly scarred, mohawked, and ready to scowl at the world in the film. You can watch that stunning transformation happen via Legacy Effects' time-lapsed behind-the-scenes video if you're dying to know exactly how much work went into the making of Yondu. Trust us when we say that video will only make Rooker's already brilliant work in the role seem all the more impressive.