AND I’M BACK! To all that missed me, I missed you too (I can’t tell you how much I missed my little lappy). As a “welcome back,” I’m posting on a Thursday (also, my buddy Dave said it’s the best day to post) but enough of the chit-chat. Let’s get to it.
As you already know, I’m a huge fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Behold my surprise when I found out that the original screenwriter, the first credited female writer on a Marvel movie, also came out of the Marvel Screenwriting Program (or whatever they’re calling it, but I’m gonna stick with that name for this post). Ladies and gentlemen, meet Nicole Perlman.
Recently, she did a talk over at Meltdown Comics, sponsored by the Writers Guild Foundation, and she spilled plenty of beans. If I may abbreviate her bio up until the Marvel Screenwriting Program (MSP), she grew up a science nerd, attended NYU as a film production major, wrote a feature script about the Challenger investigation and took a very long water bottle tour across Hollywood until she was invited to join the MSP. It was there that she and her group of peers were given a list of “C” level characters (her words, not mine) to choose from. She chose the Guardians of the Galaxy. BTW, she was not a comic nerd, so she spent her first six weeks reading as many Guardians comics as possible (yes, we can all be jealous).
While there, she wrote a Black Widow treatment, but dropped that to keep working on Guardians.
An interesting side note, at that time the MSP wasn’t paying by the draft or step, as is customary in Hollywood. They paid an annual salary and in return expected as many drafts as they felt necessary, so Nicole said the road to Guardians is easily littered with drafts that go into the double digits.
Another tangent: at one point, all the MSP writers were asked to take a pass on the Thor script; I’ve met at least two other non-credited writers that have taken a stab at the first Thor. I guess Marvel felt Thor was a big risk so they took every opportunity to source ideas for the movie. Anyway, apparently the Marvel heads loved Nicole’s work on the Jane Foster scenes so they brought her in to polish Natalie Portman’s dialog.
It wasn’t until around Avengers when it looked like Guardians might actually get the green light — you know there must be a stack of Marvel script just waiting to get made, right? Nicole said she was competing against two other Marvel properties for the release date. As there were plenty of rumors of Katee Sackhoff taking Marvel meetings around this time, I’m gonna guess Captain Marvel might have been one of those projects. I mean, you see it too, right?
Once Nicole’s script was selected, and James Gunn was picked to direct, he started doing his own revisions to the script. Two things Nicole said that he brought to the project were his well known humor and Nebula, who wasn’t in any of Nicole’s drafts.
In fact, Nicole said that she always hoped that she could feature the Thanos / Death relationship (that’s Death, as in Death, not just a girl named Death) in her script but Marvel felt that the cosmic universe was a big enough risk, so they stayed away from their more metaphysical characters, at least for now.
Now, I know know some of you are green with envy at Nicole’s meteoric climb but it seems to me that her story is yet another of these overnight successes that took a decade. And in the end, she came out ahead by sticking to what she found interesting and not being swayed by the fashionable or hip market trends.
Nicole, keep kicking ass because I’m dying to see what you do next.