From James Gunn’s Forward to The Art of Guardians of the Galaxy (images added by me, mostly not from the book):
I have loved science fiction my whole life. To be more specific, I have loved space epics, or space operas, or space adventures, for as long as I can remember. And this was the chance to make one for today’s audience, a relevant film that cherished the films I loved from the past, while not repeating them.
Alien and Blade Runner are groundbreaking films, but so many science fiction films have been entombed by them, relying on darkness and grittiness to make them “real.” The look of science fiction films has mostly been hitting the same piano key over and over since that time. And if they aren’t Blade Runner, they’re the descendants of Logan’s Run, where the future and alternate realities are composed of almost all white buildings, and entire planets seem to have all of their buildings designed by a single architect.
Guardians of the Galaxy would be about color, and life. In-your-face, over-the-top, unrepentant COLOR. We would rescue the aesthetics of pulpy science fiction films from the fifties and sixties–films like Forbidden Planet, Fantastic Voyage, Barbarella–while simultaneously retaining the grittiness and workaday reality of later films.