Navot Papushado digs in on the desire to inject heart AND humor into an action movie
“Gunpowder Milkshake” has arrived on Netflix, and Deadpool no longer has the market cornered on hilarious weapons bags. Sam (Karen Gillan) will see Deadpool’s Hello Kitty backpack, and raise you a bright yellow duffel bag, with a simple “I heart kittens” on the side. It was arguably one of the best jokes of the film, but according to “Gunpowder Milkshake” co-writer and director Navot Papushado, that bag was meant to be more than just a gag.
“We spent a lot of time creating a color palette and deciding what colors mean to us,” Papushado tells TheWrap. “What the color blue would mean? Maybe it’s more of The Firm, [the organization Sam works for]. What would the color brown mean? It’s more earthy. What would the color orange mean? It symbolized change. And what would the color yellow mean? And we decided straight from the get-go, the color yellow represents death.”
Indeed, Sam certainly brought a lot of death with those weapons in her yellow bag. And eagle-eyed viewers will also note that the body bags in the film are also yellow. But beyond the color representation, Papushado also notes that there was a distinct feline element to the story.
“There’s this big painting of lionesses, a big mural in the library. It’s the secret door to the basement. We see four lionesses holding a cub, and the cub is Sam,” Papushado reveals. “The four lionesses are actually the librarians. So there was a big theme of feline and cats.”
Apparently, there was going to be an even bigger payoff to the kitten reference on Sam’s bag, but it ended up on the cutting room floor. Papushado wouldn’t go into specifics on how it would’ve gone, but he does note that it came down to fussy cast members.
“I’ll just say there was a nice payoff with a kitten in the end of the movie, but the kitten wasn’t very cooperative,” Papushado admits. “He was the cutest thing.”
In the end, though, that cat wasn’t the most important thing to Papushado. What mattered were the women the felines represented and the “found family” dynamic they embodied together.
Of course, those women were perhaps even more lovable — even as assassins — because of who played them. Lena Headey and Gillan were first to join the project, as mother and daughter Scarlet and Sam. The weapon-dealing librarians came later, and even Papushado was amazed at how star-studded the cast came to be.
“Who can even dream of having Angela [Bassett], Michelle Yeoh and Carla [Gugino]? They were my three top choices [for the librarians] for sure, because I also thought they would work together very well, bringing different elements, different colors, different layers. But when they came in, they brought so much of themselves, and the script just kept on evolving.”
Obviously, he was right. The combination of these five women led to undeniably fun banter and a hope for a prequel or sequel (which Papushado says conversations are being had about). It was their bond that made “Gunpowder Milkshake” more than just an assassin movie, and allowed it to do exactly what Papushado wanted it to do.
“I admit, it was one of the goals to see how much heart we can infuse [in] an action movie,” he says.
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