No, this isn’t The Avengers for eight year olds. According to executive producer Guillermo Del Toro, Team Guardian got there first.
“When we started the movie, Avengers was not even a blip on the radar,” he told Celebuzz. “These movies take years to do.”
For Del Toro, this is his third time working in animation, the first being Kung Fu Panda 2 followed by Puss in Boots. He’s currently producing a digital remake of the classic Pinocchio and has Kung Fu Panda 3 waiting in the wings.
The director of hits like the Hellboy movies as well as the Oscar-nominated Pan’s Labyrinth, Del Toro took an active creative role working with first-time director Peter Ramsey on Guardians.
In the new movie, Jack Frost, voiced by Chris Pine, teams up with Santa (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and a non-verbal Sand Man. Their foe is Pitch (Jude Law), an evil force on a mission to snuff out children’s sense of wonder. As children stop believing, the life force of the guardians is drained away.
“The way Peter [Ramsey] saw it was like a superhero team coming together,” said Del Toro. “But he didn’t want to take the characters and give them super powers or anything like that. He wanted opposite personalities, grander than life, personalities clashing and coming together as the story goes along.”
“The character that we took the most time designing was Bunny,” he said about the muscle-clad rabbit with a thick Australian accent. “He went through three or four incarnations than the one you see. We went with a bunny that has sort of baggy pants and a little vest and he was a little prissy. And there was another one where he was wearing leather and physically was very different, he was much more close to a real bunny.”
What the team finally decided on was to dispense with his clothing altogether and shape its fur coat as clothing, with markings like tattoos.
For a filmmaker known mainly for horror/fantasy, Del Toro seems to have a pretty strong knack for pleasing the kids. While Guardians favors a dark palette and often broaches darker themes, he noted that most classic fairy tales traditionally do the same, but are often scrubbed clean for modern audiences.
“You can go and insinuate darkness and show darkness but ultimately it needs to stay on the tracks,” he concluded, warning, “any kind of helicopter parenting that tries to prevent moments like that is only creating an illusion for the way the world exists.”
Rise of the Guardians opens in theaters nationwide November 21. Watch the film’s theatrical trailer below.
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