Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 is soaring through its opening weekend on top of the box office with a glowing 81 percent review rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But James Gunn doesn’t care about all that so much. The writer-director behind Marvel’s space opera sequel penned an emotional letter to the fans, honoring their loyalty and getting to the core of what the Guardians mean to him.
“I would be lying if I said I don’t get distracted by the numbers. The first thing I do in the morning is roll over in bed and check my phone for the morning box office reports. But, in the end, it’s not what matters to me,” Gunn wrote on Facebook Saturday.
He recalled, “When I was young I felt utterly alone, at times to the point of suicidal thoughts. I never felt like I belonged, had an incredibly difficult time connecting to other people and, despite having love around me, I had an impossible time experiencing it, or taking it in. But I found my respite in popular entertainment — Marvel comics, science fiction and horror films, the music of The Sex Pistols, The Replacements, and Queen.
“Suddenly I could see past the bland suburbs where I lived into a more magical world, a world more aligned with what I imagined,” he continued. “Sometimes these works were simply escapist fantasies that distracted me from the difficulties of my internal life. But other times, in the strongest moments – maybe through the words of Alice Cooper or Freddie Mercury, through Cronenberg films, or even in Chewbacca’s growl, I experienced something deeper – the realization that I wasn’t completely alone. Someone out there was as weird and strange and whacked out as I was.”
The true meaning of Vol. 2‘s success, then, is that he can continue telling stories that allow him to connect with audiences.
“I haven’t worked two and a half years just to watch a string of numbers getting higher,” he wrote. “I work because I like telling stories. I work because I love the relationships I have with my collaborators. And I do it because I like connecting with people, and the easiest way I know how to do that is through filmmaking. I do it so that some kid in Thailand, or England, or Colombia, or Brazil, or Japan, or Russia, or anywhere, can hear the frequency of his or her own heart bouncing back off the Guardians.”
Gunn concluded, “No matter how much world leaders are telling you we aren’t in this together, we are. You are not alone.”
Read Gunn’s letter in full below.
Vol. 2, currently playing theaters, had already earned more than $160 million from international locations before opening in 4,300+ theaters in the U.S. The film is expected to reach the $150 million range at the domestic box office by Sunday night.