CHRIS Pratt has caused an incident in the "war room", a windowless bunker deep inside the heart of Atlanta's Pinewood Studios where he's filming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

No, the superstar actor hasn't suddenly joined the US military; rather, he's sent a steaming hot cup of coffee flying across a very large boardroom table in the room that serves as a meeting point for cast and crew, reports News.com.au.

"Right on cue, sorry," he laughs apologetically.

"That's a classic Star-Lord move. I've been practising that all day."

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Pratt's assistant moves in to wipe up the offending beverage. "I'm just here to clean up his mess," he says, good-naturedly.

Pratt reckons he identifies just a bit too closely with his goofy Guardians character, the occasionally clueless bounty hunter Peter Quill, who refers to himself as Star-Lord, because nobody else will. (Harrison Ford's Han Solo is without doubt his spiritual animal.)

"There's a sense of familiarity here. You know what works and what doesn't work," says Pratt.

"It's not a pain in the ass to come back, which can be the one downfall to coming back to something. Sometimes it's like, oh God, I've got to work with a-hole number one again. It's like a family here."

The first Guardians followed a rag tag group of superheroes who were actually not so "super".

Alongside Pratt, the film starred Zoe Saldana as Gamora, the green-skinned assassin; WWE wrestling champ Dave Bautista as buff, tattooed Drax the Destroyer; and computer-generated scene-stealers Bradley Cooper as Rocket, the gun-slinging, sarcastic raccoon, and Vin Diesel as Groot, the talking tree. (Baby Groot will debut in Vol. 2 and is the sweetest thing you'll have seen on screen since E.T.)

Initially, Guardians was considered to be the Marvel adaptation that would stay in the shadows while Iron Man and The Avengers hogged the limelight.

"Iron Man, etc, were considered tier one movies," explains Pratt.

"We were considered tier two. We were made to feel that we were a lower class group of superheroes.

"People were seeing Marvel be successful time and time again and they figured, well, eventually, they've got to suck at something: 'This is probably going to be it. How does that feel?'"

Director James Gunn says some of the first film's handicaps came down to the fact that the Guardians comic books weren't as well known as their more high profile contemporaries.

Then there was the fact that, at the time of the film's release, Chris Pratt wasn't yet a major movie star. The one-two smash of Guardians and Jurassic World changed all that.

"There were a lot of things that we didn't have going for us," says Gunn.

"Even hardcore comic book fans didn't really know who the Guardians were."

"I think everyone was a little surprised," admits Pratt.

"No one expected that (the first film) would do whatever it ended up doing - it over-performed. It was really surprising to everybody else but us."

Saldana says she didn't need much convincing to return - aside from the fact the star of Avatar and Star Trek was a little wary of doing yet another space movie after "doing them for 10 years".

Actor Chris Pratt attends the San Diego Comic-Con International 2016. Photo / Getty Images
Actor Chris Pratt attends the San Diego Comic-Con International 2016. Photo / Getty Images

But, she laughs, "I have an affinity with science fiction - I'm good at being in space."

Later, during a break in filming and still sporting her green face paint which somehow makes her look like a cooler version of the Hulk, Saldana says she had an epiphany on the set of the first film.

"Halfway through Guardians it was like OK, I think I made a really good bet with this movie. It wasn't a film that I read the script and I was like,

'This is an awards contender right here!', but it's like going to Vegas - all of a sudden you've made all these promises that you're going to be super-conservative, but you go to Vegas anyway and you go: Screw it."

The knock made on many superhero franchises is that female characters are often relegated to minor roles. Guardians is one of the few that has looked to square up the balance.

"I'm happy that a studio like Marvel is paying attention," says Saldana.

"I'm actually happiest when I hear the public speak out about it. Women want to be represented in these films."

Indeed, Vol. 2 has expanded roles for its female characters including Gamora and Nebula (Karen Gillan).

Then there are newcomers Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and a female nemesis in the form of Ayesha, played by Australia's Elizabeth Debicki. "Elizabeth is awesome!" gushes Pratt.

Gunn says there were other obvious differences in suiting up for a second instalment.
"I don't wake up at 3am panicking," grins the director.

"I know we have people who love these characters, so there's a certain amount of anxiety that I don't have this time around."

And while the first film was "a space opera", Gunn says the sequel will venture further into "traditional science fiction territory".

"People walked into that first movie not expecting what that movie was and I don't think they're going to expect what this movie is, either," he says, while remaining maddeningly tight-lipped on anything to do with the film's plot.

"It's funnier and darker, I can tell you that. It's a deeper movie, it's a different movie and I don't think that people are going to be expecting what they're going to see."

Pratt agrees that fans are going to be more than satisfied with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

"You can expect to see everything you loved in the first movie. Expect to be charmed and thrilled and entertained."

With that, he picks up what's left of his cup of coffee and leaves the war room.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 OPENS APRIL 25