It’s fair to say that outside of dedicated comic book circles, not many people had heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy. However, thanks to James Gunn’s blockbuster 2014 movie– and Chris Pratt’s charming and charismatic portrayal of Star-Lord– the Guardians have enjoyed a huge boost in popularity. The Guardians of the Galaxy comics (and their various solo spin-offs) have attracted a whole slew of new readers. What more recent readers may not know is that the Guardians of the Galaxy have undergone many changes and retcons since they first appeared. This is especially true of their half-alien leader, Peter Jason Quill– also known as the legendary Star-Lord. As we eagerly anticipate the release of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 on May 5, 2017, let’s get to know Peter Quill a bit better.
From special skills to special friends, here are the 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Star-Lord.
15. He made his debut in 1976
Peter Jason Quill made his first appearance in the black and white pages of Marvel Preview #4. Created by writer Steve Englehart and artist Steve Gan, Peter was born to Meredith Quill under an unusual planetary alignment. When Peter is born, her husband Jacob is furious that the child looks nothing like him and he accuses her of infidelity. Jacob snaps and brings the baby outside to kill him with an axe before a sudden and fatal heart attack fells him, leaving baby Pete gurgling and looking up at the night sky. Peter is raised single-handedly by his mother until one fateful day when aliens come to Earth, searching for the Quill child. They find his home and his mother dies protecting him. Having no one left, Peter is sent to an orphanage.
When Quill grows up, he joins NASA as a trainee astronaut. However, his rough start to life has had an effect and Peter blossomed into a huge jerk motivated by revenge for his murdered mother. Whilst academically impressive, Quill has a serious attitude problem that wins him few friends. When alien life contacts NASA and asks for a champion to become “The Starlord”, Quill’s name is understandably left out of the conversation. Peter doesn’t take the news well. He shoves past his classmates, grabs a gun and wounds several people before stealing a starship and flying to meet the aliens himself. He meets the Master of the Sun, who, despite knowing Quill cheated, decides to make him the new Star-Lord. Peter eventually takes the responsibility seriously and chooses to follow a more heroic path.
14. His origin story has been rewritten multiple times
Time to level with you. There are two Peter Quills. The one described above is the original version of the character that ran from the late ’70s to the early ’80s. That version of Star-Lord was more of a classic hero (despite his sketchy origins) from the Green Lantern/space cop school of superheroics. Thanks to the character’s infrequent appearances written by different people, his origin is a patchwork of started and restarted ideas. In the first comic, the story pulled a Jesus/Anakin Skywalker and implied that Quill was immaculately conceived. This was abandoned later for a suggestion that the Master of the Sun was his real dad. However, the matter was given a concrete answer in later issues when it was revealed that his true father was J’son, an alien emperor of the Spartoi race.
Peter Quill was mostly absent from comics for over twenty years before being brought back in Thanos #8 in 2004. However, it was made clear that this Star-Lord was different. He had a new appearance, attitude, and backstory and was only tangentially related to the previous Peter Quill. Perhaps to avoid some storytelling headaches, the original Peter Quill/Star-Lord was retconned to be from Earth-791, a parallel dimension in one of Marvel’s many, many multiverses. The new Quill’s origins were tweaked, but his name, purpose, and father remained the same. Speaking of whom…
13. He has a complicated relationship with his father
To put it mildly, Peter Quill doesn’t see eye-to-eye with his father, J’Son of Spartax. Considering that J’Son not only skipped town but skipped planets before Peter was born, it’s tempting to call him a deadbeat dad but it’s a little more complex than that. Due to the nature of their love affair, J’Son wiped Meredith Quill’s memory to save her the pain of him leaving, unaware she was pregnant with his child. J’Son went on to become King of Spartax and, when he learned of his son’s existence, invited Peter to join him in ruling over the Spartoi people. Quill refuses repeatedly, but J’Son persists, growing more and more resentful of the Guardians, turning into a power mad dictator. In one final attempt to force Peter to join, he individually abducts the Guardians to get Peter to bargain for their freedom. Captain Marvel intervenes and J’Son gets exposed as the murdering tyrant he is on a national broadcast, causing the Spartoi people to rise up and rebel, and forcing him to flee.
Left with no power or empire, J’Son fully embraces his villainy and adopts the moniker of “Mister Knife”, a shady underworld crime boss. His first order of business? Putting a bounty on his son’s head, making him a target for every slimy bounty hunter in the galaxy. That’s fatherly love for you.
12. He wasn’t part of the original Guardians of the Galaxy
As a superhero team, the Guardians of the Galaxy date way back to 1969. The original team featured a completely different set of heroes to the ones we now think of. The line-up consisted of Major Vance Astro (later Major Victory), an Earth astronaut frozen for 1000 years and revived, Martinex T’Naga, a crystal man from Pluto, genetically engineered soldier Charlie-27 , the flame-haired Nikki, the super-powered Starhawk and a name you may know– Yondu Udonta – a blue-skinned alien hunter with a distinctive red dorsal fin.
The more modern Guardians line-up of Quill, Gamora, Drax, Groot, and Rocket Raccoon came from the 2008 relaunch, which grouped several characters from the Annihilation: Conquest crossover event. The original Guardians directly influenced the new blood when the then-unnamed team met Major Victory, who inspired them to take up the mantle. The classic Guardians were given a short revival in 2014 with the Guardians 3000 series, but the title was cancelled to make way for the big Secret Wars overhaul in 2015.
11. His alien parentage gave him many superhuman abilities
Having an absent alien father didn’t just instill the young Peter with a yearning to explore the stars; it also gave him some unusual attributes. His half-alien physiology gives him peak human strength, making him much stronger than the average human. He’s described as being surprisingly agile too, with his coordination and flexibility beyond the capability Earth’s top athletes. Add into the mix that he rarely tires, thanks to the way his body processes fatigue, and it’s easy to see why he’s a very capable and skilled fighter.
His hardy genetic make-up also means he can withstand some serious punishment, having survived multiple gunshot wounds over his space-faring career. The full extent of Peter’s abilities is unknown, but perhaps one of the biggest question marks hanging over his head is how he will age. Spartoi have lifespans around triple the average humans’ so it seems likely that Peter will get to enjoy a lengthy life thanks to a slowed aging process.
10. He has enhanced mental capabilities, making him a perfect space pilot
Peter inherited his brains from his space dad’s side of the family and as a result has a seriously special mind. Despite his snarky and goofy demeanor, his brain works harder and faster than a standard human mind and has made him capable of learning things at an accelerated rate. Due to this, Quill is a master tactician; able to spot enemy movement patterns quickly and adapt his strategy accordingly.
Star-Lord is also able to pick up and learn alien languages and customs easily, allowing him to seamlessly blend into his surroundings or communicate with the local alien population, helpful for his frequent visits outside of the law. He’s also a skilled pilot and has a natural affinity for space travel, able to rapidly work out how to fly various forms of space transportation. This is in addition to his perfect recall and to his obviously being smart enough to train with NASA to be an astronaut.
9. He had a living spaceship
Okay, this one is going to take some explaining. When the original Peter Quill (the Earth-791 guy) became Star-Lord, he was gifted a few things to go with his new title by the Master of the Sun (the weird alien who rewarded cheating and attempted murder). One of these gifts was a shiny new spaceship which Quill imaginatively called “Ship”. It soon transpired that Ship was actually a sentient star named Aurora that exploded and had her essence gathered and turned into a spaceship by the Master of the Sun.
As his ship is a living ex-star, Peter is able to telepathically communicate with her. Ship has all the future conveniences of any good starship, but has a few unique abilities of her own. Most impressively, she’s able to create human life to use as an avatar and to restore herself from next to nothing. She had an affectionate working relationship with Quill, but was unfortunately completely destroyed in Star-Lord’s huge battle with The Fallen One, a former herald of the planet-munching Galactus.
8. His signature sidearm can conjure all four elements
Movie-only fans may be unaware of one of the best components of Star-Lord’s gear and weaponry: the awesome Element Gun. The Element Gun is a powerful alien pistol that is able to create and shoot any one of the four elements at a time. Both versions of Peter Quill have used it at some point, but it’s the revamped Star-Lord stories that have expanded on the weapon’s history.
In Brian Michael Bendis’ Guardians of the Galaxy #1, released in 2013, it’s revealed that J’Son left the gun on Earth and that Peter’s mother kept it for her son to inherit. The young Pete stumbles across the gun when his mother is attacked and is allowed to keep it at the orphanage because his carers mistake it for a toy. The weapon is DNA encoded, meaning that only beings from J’Son’s royal bloodline are able to wield it. The gun has yet to make an appearance in the MCU, but the comic gun has been redesigned to look like one of Star-Lord’s iconic blasters from the movie.
7. He used to have cybernetic implants
We mentioned Star-Lord’s battle with The Fallen One before, but we didn’t expand on the scale of it. Quill managed to defeat The Fallen One, but at a great cost. He sacrificed a Kree lunar colony, an entire planet with 35,000 inhabitants, so Ship could harness enough energy to take the powerful being down. To be fair, The Fallen One would have killed way more if he wasn’t stopped, but no matter how you cut it, innocent blood is still on Star-Lord’s hands. The resulting explosion left Peter badly hurt and completely destroyed Ship. Once it was all over, Peter handed both The Fallen One and himself over to the authorities, since he was guilty of planet-level genocide.
The severely injured Peter is taken to the Kyln and treated by the prison doctors who give him various cybernetic implants to replace broken or damaged body parts. Peter’s left eye is replaced with an upgrade, giving him enhanced vision and the ability to see all energy spectrums. His already significant brain is also given a boost with a chip that gives him 100% memory recall. Kind of ike the movie Limitless, starring that guy who sounds suspiciously like Rocket Raccoon. Quill eventually had these augments removed and became 100% fleshy again on a visit to the Kree planet Aladon Prime.
6. He was engaged to Kitty Pryde, aka Shadowcat
Quill and the X-Men‘s Kitty Pryde hit it off when they met during the Guardians/X-Men crossover The Trial of Jean Grey. What started as a little innocent flirting led to Quill leaving behind a holographic phone for the two to communicate over vast distances. Soon after, they develop real feelings for each other and begin a long distance relationship.
Star-Lord ends up captured by a group of mercenaries called the Slaughter Squad during a scheduled phone date and Kitty “borrows” a Quinjet to fly into space and rescue him. Their relationship became popular online, with many fans using the term “StarKat” to refer to the coupling. After the events of The Black Vortex, Peter somehow managed to get down on bended knee in zero gravity and popped the question to Kitty, who accepted. Then Secret Wars came along and reshuffled the whole multiverse. Kitty died, leaving Star-Lord broken. When the world was restored and Kitty returned from the dead, so much had happened that the two decided to go on a mutual break. As prohibitive studio deals prevent Marvel Studios from even saying the word “mutant”, it’s unlikely the couple will make it to the big screen any time soon.
5. He was briefly replaced by a new “Starlord”
In the mid-nineties, there was an attempt to create a new Star-Lord in Peter Quill’s absence. What Marvel came up with was a rookie space cop who stumbled across Quill’s old ship… uh… Ship. The idea behind Sinjin Quarrel was that he was unremarkable Probiti official who uses his newfound abilities to right the wrongs in the corrupt law system. Sinjin ends up strangely drawn to a spot in the jungle and sleepwalks there to discover Quill’s old ship, which he names “Rora”.
Rora instructs Quarrel on how to become the legendary Star-Lord, and he must also fight Lawgiver Harith Daymish – a twisted lawman who tries to seize power through military force. Quarrel ultimately stops him and embarks on a new life as the hero “Starlord” without the hyphen. The character failed to gain any real traction and the adventures of the new Starlord were canned after a handful of issues.
4. While stranded in Battleworld, he became a lounge singer and sang Disney songs
Marvel’s mega-event Secret Wars made massive changes to the established Marvel universe. Peter Quill is one of the few heroes who survives on a cosmic life raft and ends up on Battleworld, a patchwork planet made up different realities stitched together, all overseen by a God-like Doctor Doom. Unsure of how to proceed or who may still be after him, Quill hides out and settles in an alternate version of Manhattan and gets a job as a singer at exclusive club The Quiet Room.
In Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde #1 we catch up with Quill going under the fake name of “Swingin’ Stevie Rogers”. Quill has been earning good money and adoration by crooning out Disney songs in a reality where they never existed. He’s shown belting out The Little Mermaid‘s “Part of Your World” and several other numbers before he’s stopped in his tracks when an alternate reality version of Kitty Pryde walks in, reminding him of his loss all over again. Rough.
3. He became King of Spartax, leaving Kitty Pryde to become the new Star-Lord
With order restored after Secret Wars shook the formula up, Quill was called upon to become King for the Spartoi people. He shrugged off the offer initially, but soon took responsibility and became the new King of Spartax. All hail King Quill!
It wasn’t all crowns and fancy parties, though. He left the Guardians, and Rocket stepped up to become the new leader. His relationship with Kitty Pryde also suffered and she left to join the Guardians too, becoming the new Star-Lord (later Star-Lady) as part of Marvel’s All-New, All-Different angle. Peter struggled with the politics and his schedule and soon ended up miserable. Things got even worse when a female Accuser named Hala shows up and starts destroying the planet in retaliation for Quill’s supposed crimes. After a few attacks, the Spartoi people blamed Quill and ousted him from his position. Peter rejoined the Guardians, seemingly happy to be on the run from the law again.
2. James Gunn wasn’t convinced about Chris Pratt until his casting director forced the issue
Considering Chris Pratt’s dynamic and star-making performance as Peter Quill, it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role. However, when it was time to cast the movie, director James Gunn was struggling to find his lead actor. After testing apparently nearly every eligible actor in Hollywood, including Eddie Redmayne, Jim Sturgess, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and a ton of others, Gunn became frustrated. When Chris Pratt was mentioned, Gunn dismissed him out of hand as “the chubby guy from Parks and Rec”. Gunn is quoted as saying “I didn’t want to see him audition. We went through a lot of people, and we saw a lot of really good actors. I was looking for somebody who inhabited the role, but really went beyond it, like Robert Downey Jr. for Iron Man. … I kept saying, ‘No, no, no.’”
Luckily, casting director Sarah Finn stuck to her guns and invited Pratt in anyway. Apparently it took a mere 20 seconds for Gunn to realise they’d found their man. If he hadn’t picked Pratt, Gunn has gone on record as saying that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s Glenn Howerton would have probably been his first choice. Would Star-Lord have had his own P.E.T.E.R. system? We’ll never know.
1. Casting Kurt Russell as Star-Lord’s father was Chris Pratt’s idea
As the first movie had its own take on the source material, it should come as no surprise the sequel looks to follow suit. One of the mysteries Guardians Vol. 1 left us with was over the identity of Quill’s alien father. Many assumed it would be J’Son, considering the established comic book history between the two. It was then revealed that Quill’s father would be Ego the Living Planet, played by the dependably great Kurt Russell.
The casting of Russell as Ego and Sylvester Stallone in a mystery role seems thematically fitting as Quill is undeniably a child of the ’80s and the two actors were genre-defining action stars at the time. However, Kurt Russell’s involvement wasn’t down to some clever narrative theming, but apparently because Chris Pratt suggested it. James Gunn liked the idea so much, he reached out the actor. Gunn added :“Hey, if you have to cast anything, Kurt’s a pretty good way to go”. You can’t really argue with that logic.