One of the biggest challenges of superhero roles is the elaborate and uncomfortable costumes and makeup you have to wear while filming. For Guardians of the Galaxy, actor Dave Bautista had to undergo hours of makeup to transform into the red-hued and perpetually shirtless Drax. Recently, the franchise's director James Gunn shared a meme revealing the details of Drax's makeup process.
"The company that did the work on Vol. 2, Legacy, created a sort of Drax "shirt" for his arms and upper body. In addition to being quicker it was much better - although the aesthetic design was cool from the beginning, the separate pieces in the first film would swell with Dave's sweat and start to crinkle so that his whole body looked like a Sharpiei. This required a lot of CG help and cleanup we didn't need in Vol 2. In the second film the shirt is so incredibly thin and form-fitting we actually see way more of Dave's body and muscles."
The elaborate skin color and tattoos that had to be affixed to Dave Bautista well enough to convince audiences he was an alien took between three to five hours on the original Guardians of the Galaxy film. By the time the two sequels rolled around, the makeup team had refined the entire process down to around ninety minutes.
Aside from explaining how the look of Drax's body was achieved, Gunn also revealed that a scene that was cut from the first Guardians movie would have revealed the true nature of Drax's tattoos, which have a different meaning than what many fans believe:
"Another fun fact: a cool scene I cut from the first film shows that Drax's tattoos are not about his conquests, but about the memories he has with his family: his mother and father in his childhood, his marriage to his wife, his daughter being born. These things are all in the specific design of the tattoos/scarification."
The character of Drax is a lot more complicated than most general audiences believe, given his propensity for acting as the comic relief of the team of Guardians. James Gunn and Bautista had envisioned an emotional backstory for the character that motivated him to seek vengeance against Thanos. Unfortunately, as Bautista has revealed in a previous interview for the Inside of You Podcast with Michael Rosenbaum, the scenes depicting Drax's personal struggles were cut from the final movie:
"The stuff in the first film that I looked forward to was the dramatic stuff, like Drax talking about his family being murdered right in front of him. Stuff like that scene, the really hard scene, was cut out. It was cut out of the film, because it was just kind of slow and dark. But that was the kind of stuff I was really looking forward to."
Despite not being able to mine the emotional depths of the role, Bautista's Drax has become a fan-favorite character with the MCU, and will next be seen, for perhaps the final time, in the upcoming third installment of Guardians of the Galaxy.