Perlman picked out Guardians as a property to develop, and spent more than two years working on drafts for the movie (as well as doing other uncredited work for Marvel); it was a Perlman script that persuaded Marvel to greenlight the picture. Perlman reportedly always understood that the script would eventually be handed off to a writer-director, but the fact remains that there likely never would have been a Guardians Of The Galaxy movie without her.
When James Gunn came on board as director, he rewrote the script without further input from Perlman — and he’s been noticeably ungracious about Perlman’s contributions. In an interview with FilmDivider, Gunn said, “Really, in Nicole’s script everything is pretty different. I mean the story is different, there’s no Walkman, the character arcs are different, it’s not about the same stuff. But that’s how the WGA works. They like first writers an awful lot.”
Craig Mazin, co-chair of the WGA credits committee, told IBTimes that the rules actually do not favor the first writer in cases of adaptation. Mazin was moved to invite Perlman to appear on his podcast Scriptnotes, co-hosted by fellow screenwriter John August, in which Perlman detailed some of her substantial contributions to the script.
Perlman also wrote two of the movie’s most memorable Groot scenes — the phosphorescent spores scene, and the scene in which he turns himself into a cocoon. Whatever other contributions Perlman made, her contributions to Groot and Star-Lord defined the movie’s two biggest breakout characters.
Gunn’s writing contributions are obviously just as considerable. He provided the humor that made this Marvel’s most comedic movie to date, and the Walkman is not a minor detail; it’s the basis for a soundtrack that sets the tone of the film. On the other hand, Gunn is perhaps the more likely culprit for the fact that the women in the movie are underwritten and less generously handled than the men.
Perlman is the first woman credited as a writer on a Marvel movie, but she won’t be back for the Gunn-helmed sequel to Guardians. One might take the Gamora announcement as a gesture of gratitude to a writer whose part in building and maintaining Marvel’s success should be undeniable. The announcement can also be taken as a testament of faith in her talent.