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Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) has a distinctive style in part because of the soundtrack, which in-universe, derives from the "Awesome Music Mix" tape Quill is given by his mother just before Yondu abducts him. The music is obviously important to Quill as a connection to his mother and the world he left behind.

What I am curious about is from a production perspective, why so much of the music was based on the mix tape, how the selections were made to go into the mix (and therefore the soundtrack). Does it build on the "Guardians" comic books, was is it all creative choices for the movie, or some blend of both?

  • Minor correction: the tape that Quill's mother gives him just before he is abducted is kept wrapped up for years. He opens it after he gets a new ship and tape player. – Verdan Feb 22 at 3:37
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Director James Gunn talks about the movie's music in this Den Of Geek interview. It's not based on previous music tastes of his, nor comics:

You mentioned the music just then, so let's get to that. It's a huge part of the film both tonally and narratively, so what's the process there. Was there anything you wanted to use and couldn't?

No, nothing! Dave Jordan got the rights to every single song I asked for. Every single song that was in the screenplay is in the movie. The only one we chose afterwards was Moonage Daydream, the Bowie song.

How did you select those tracks? Was it your personal collection?

No, I mean, I made a new collection when I had the idea, I don't normally listen to 70s pop songs. I decided that the cassette tape would be his only connection to his mother and Earth, and it became important to honour that. I liked the idea of these familiar 70s pop songs contrasting with the strangeness of other worlds. So I downloaded like five hundred 70s pop hits, like every song that hit the top 40, and then I listened to all of them, then I whittled that down to a hundred songs, then 20 songs, and I would just listen to that list all the time. Sometimes I'd be inspired by the song to create a scene, sometimes I had a scene and I needed a song.

That's interesting, people normally assume the songs are placed over the film once they're done, but for you it was even part of the writing process?

Yeah. I hate when they just put all the songs over the film afterwards! That Hooked On A Feeling sequence was only there at all because of Hooked on a Feeling. I'd written the scene where he enters the prison, and the song made me think "maybe this scene could be longer, in fact it could be a whole thing..."

Do you worry you'll have to repeat that trick in the sequel with a batch of new songs?

I do, but I don't think I'm going to. I don't necessarily want to have to take the template of the first and use it as on the second. We've got to move forward, take a risk. Do something different.

James Gunn interview: Guardians, music, Marvel and more, James Hunt for Den Of Geek, July 31, 2014

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