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It could be argued that the eccentric creative approach by director, James Gunn made last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy the fun, intense, phenomenon of a film it became. This process was apparently reflected on the set in the way that Gunn would reward exceptionally good work. While you may remember your grade school teacher giving out gold star stickers, it seems that Gunn prefers to show his appreciation with small jars of Play-Doh!
Ever the interactor with fans, James Gunn recently took to his Facebook to post an at-first curious selfie holding a jar of Play-Doh. However, this was neither an endorsement for the product’s company, Hasbro Toys (who do happen to make Guardians of the Galaxy figures), nor was it a participatory post in some weird social media campaign. Rather, it reflects a message from a fan made in Gunn-esque language to mean "job well done." Referring to a known story about Gunn’s on-set Play-Doh rewards system, one fan decided to reward Gunn in kind by sending him a 5 oz. jar of the stuff. The gesture touched the director so much, the aforementioned post would occur.
One might think that a cinematic skipper who chooses to reward adults on his set with a gift that’s compatible with a "fun-factory" might be a bit kooky. Perhaps that’s true, in all the right ways. However, in the Facebook post, Gunn goes into detail about why he always keeps jars of the stuff around, due to the way the smell and texture of Play-Doh seems to unlock a child-like state of mind where creativity flows more easily. Certainly, getting back into the state of awe and wonder about the world is a key component in the creative process, and Guardians did come across as a product of all those things in not only the visual aspect, but also in its integral soundtrack. In fact, one might just be inclined to view the film in a new light as the byproduct of Gunn’s own Play-Doh-inspired childhood reversion, complete with the time-appropriate sounds to accompany the visuals.
Despite its place on the checkerboard of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Guardians of the Galaxy stood on its own as an accessible adventure to several demographics. With Gunn certainly well into the pre-production process for the 2017 sequel, one would think that making lightning strike twice would be especially difficult when it comes to a project that filled its spectacular cinematic presentation with indelibly quirky moments. However, this glimpse into Gunn’s almost meditative, inspirational process drives home the point that being a kid a heart is probably the key attribute to possess when tackling a project that has such broad accessibility like Guardians.
In that sense, James Gunn’s seemingly bizarre habit of sniffing and smooshing Play-Doh may have been the critical step in finding out how to access not only the kid in himself, but the kid in each and every one of the movie-going audience. Giving it out as a reward, seems to his way of spreading his unique inspirational source. He might be buying the stuff in gross as the creative process continues for Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which is scheduled to hit theaters on May 5, 2017.