James Gunn Reveals How Avatar Affected The Guardians Of The Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy cast

The Marvel Cinematic Universe and James Cameron’s Avatar continue to share custody of Zoe Saldana, making her the star of the two highest-grossing films of all time (the Marvel one being Avengers: Endgame, of course). But apparently, the two franchises may have affected each other in another specific and colorful way, as James Gunn recently shared.

James Gunn got into a discussion about the skin color choices of his Guardian of the Galaxy alien characters over on Twitter. Drax the Destroyer is actually green in the comics like Gamora but, according to the writer/director, the color green is the “most difficult color” to get to look like actual skin. Therefore, the makeup department settled on a greenish-gray for Dave Bautista’s fan-favorite character.

It’s an interesting answer to the question considering Zoe Saldana has played green this whole time in the Guardians and Avengers films. James Gunn said he actually toyed with making Saldana’s character another color too, but blue was off the table because of Avatar:

There are other blue-skinned characters in Guardians of the Galaxy, such as Yondu but, if Zoe Sandana was blue again, it would feel redundant. She may even find some familiarity with Neytiri if they did so. So Gamora stayed green, despite some added difficulty in the makeup department.

The time it takes for Zoe Saldana to go from herself to Gamora is about three hours, and it takes 30 to 45 minutes to get it all off at the end of a shoot day. Here’s a glimpse of how the process looks to get done behind-the-scenes:

But for Avatar, the character is achieved through motion-capture performance, making the time in the makeup chair significantly less involved – aside from a bunch of dots being placed on her face. It’s pretty ironic that Zoe Saldana’s biggest roles have her completely transforming her look, but the different looks definitely allow for the actress to disappear into these alien characters.

Zoe Saldana is set to reprise both roles in the near future. The actress has already returned back to Neytiri for the two Avatar sequels that have already been filmed. Avatar 2 is coming in December 2022, with Avatar 3 following in December 2023. There are two other Avatar films expected to be made by James Cameron and Disney as well.

Saldana’s last time playing Gamora was for Avengers: Endgame, where she was able to return into the fold (via time travel) despite the character being killed off in Infinity War. The actress will reprise her role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 which arrives in 2023. Until then, check out what big movies are coming to theaters and streaming with CinemaBlend’s 2021 movie release schedule.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.