The Reason The Guardians Soundtracks Don't Play In Movie Order, According To James Gunn

Guardians Of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 2 Reveal

Those who have listened to the individual "Awesome Mixes" for Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 may have noticed that they don't quite work like most movie soundtracks. Rather than playing in the order they are used in the actual movie, both albums have their own special order with no immediately recognizable reason. As I recently learned from writer/director James Gunn, however, the soundtracks are far from random, and instead specifically designed. The filmmaker told me,

I think because the order they are in in the movie is different than the order that they work well as somebody who has put mixtapes together their whole life. The order of the songs in the movie doesn't exactly work in the same way. So that's why. When you're putting songs together, there's a flow to the way that the songs work together. And if you put them in the order in the movie, in winds up being too pop-y up front, and too dark on the back half. It gets a little darker as it goes on, especially Vol. 2.

So if you've been wondering why Awesome Mix Vol. 2 kicks off with "Mr. Blue Sky" by Electric Light Orchestra instead of "Brandy" by Looking Glass, now you know the reason. I've actually been wondering about the soundtrack order of Guardians of the Galaxy movies going back to the first movie in August 2014, and I finally got to ask James Gunn about it during last week's home video press day for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. I inquired why it was that the order of the songs in the films don't match the real-life "Awesome Mixes," and he explained that it's all about treating the soundtracks like actual mixtapes.

That wasn't the only music-related question I had for James Gunn about the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, however. Not only do both films have track-listings that don't match up with the blockbusters that inspired them, but they also each have one song that was not actually featured as part of the cinematic experience (Awesome Mix Vol. 1 includes Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit In The Sky," and Awesome Mix Vol. 2 prominently features Sweet's "Fox On The Run" as its second song). I asked Gunn while those songs were included, and David Bowie's "Suffragette City" didn't make the cut. His answer made plenty of sense, particularly if you're a fan who constantly re-watched all of the Guardians of the Galaxy trailers before the film was released:

"Fox On The Run" was really associated with the movie, the same way that "Spirit In The Sky" was associated with the first one. "Suffragette City" was a part of TV commercials; it was never in any of the actual theatrical trailers. So "Fox On the Run" was the first trailer, and it hit number one on the charts because of the trailers! So it was much more associated with it.

And for what it's worth, "Suffragette City" was never going to be in the movie. James Gunn added that while it was a song that was considered for the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 end credits, they ultimately decided to go with Cheap Trick's "Surrender," Parliament's "Flash Light," and the original song "Guardians Inferno" instead.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 soundtrack has now been available for months, but the actual movie was only released on digital today. Keep on the lookout here on CinemaBlend for more from my interview with James Gunn, and look for 4K, 3D, Blu-ray, and DVD copies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe feature on shelves August 22nd.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.