Marvel takes another huge step forward this summer with the introduction of a character who is also an actual, literal planet in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. Ego the Living Planet is appearing in the film as the father of Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), played by Kurt Russell, who’s looking distinctly un-planet-like in the trailers. However, fans have been assured that this version of Ego is the heavenly body from the comics, and that all will become clear in the movie. Comic fans will know him as a sentient purple asteroid with a natty beard (planets can have beards in the Marvel universe, and let’s just not question that), who is often the enemy of space-faring Marvel heroes thanks to his tendency to devour anything in his path.
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Marvel is going to be showing us a new version of Ego, one who hired Yondu (Michael Rooker) to collect his son from Earth as a child. As we now know, Yondu made the dubious executive decision to raise the boy himself, and in doing so, created the Star-Lord that we know and love. Now, Peter Quill and his friends are traveling across the galaxy to unravel the secrets of Star-Lord’s past… and we’ve wrapped up a few factoids about Ego’s history that you might not know.
15. He Is Not The Only Living Planet In The Marvel Universe
Believe it or not, the Marvel galaxy is actually home to multiple sentient planets, not just Ego. Ego is joined by Alter Ego, his imaginatively named twin planet, who was created by The Stranger. Alter Ego is yellow, where Ego is purple, but otherwise, the two are very similar in both appearance and size. After Alter Ego was created, he lived for a time in a pocket universe before escaping and hunting down his twin. The two got into a planet-sized spat, and Alter Ego bit off Ego’s eye before Ego managed to beat his brother, turning him into his own moon.
Ego also has a second brother, Id the Selfish Moon, who is a party-loving moon. Much smaller than his brother, Id initially hid with Ego in the Black Galaxy, but eventually left him to attempt to go party and have fun with friends. Sadly, however, Id could never find other moons like him, and a lifetime of loneliness turned him into an angry and miserable moon who now devours planets to get his kicks.
14. He Was Created By Jack Kirby And Stan Lee
Although Ego the Living Planet is far from a famous Marvel character, he was created by the ultimate Marvel dream team: Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. Kirby is one of the most famous comic book artists in the world, known for his work on a whole host of comic book icons, including the Hulk, many of the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and dozens of other major names in the industry. Stan the Man, of course, is probably the biggest name in comics. The nonagenarian writer, editor, and publisher has become a household name and appears in cameos roles in just about every Marvel movie offering to date (even in some Marvel franchises that are not owned by Marvel/Disney, like X-Men and Spider-Man).
Ego is one of the dream team’s lesser-known creations, having been designed by Lee and Kirby in the ‘60s when they were busy building the Marvel space-age mythology (including Galactus, the Kree and of course, the Guardians of the Galaxy).
13. He First Appeared In A Thor Comic
Ego may be making his MCU debut in a Guardians of the Galaxy film, but he actually first appeared in print as part of the Thor universe. Ego’s official first appearance came in 1966, in Thor #132, “Where Gods May Fear to Tread!”. In this issue, Thor made a deal with a race known as the Rigellians who were threatening Earth. If he could save the Rigellians’ home planet from being devoured by Ego, they would leave Earth alone. Unsurprisingly, Thor managed to win the battle, convincing Ego to remain in the Black Galaxy and saving both Earth and Rigel from destruction.
Ego and the Asgardian god of thunder crossed paths several times after that as well, both as friends (when Thor helped save Ego from Galactus) and as foes (when an Ego driven mad tried to devour things again). Because of their comic book history, Ego and Thor may even cross paths in the MCU at some point in the future.
12. He Has Also Appeared In Hulk And The Agents Of Smash…
As well as his connection to Thor and the Guardians, Ego has something of a history with the Hulk, thanks to an appearance on the animated series Hulk and the Agents of SMASH. Ego starred in an episode of the series titled “All About Ego” in the first season, where he arrives near Earth with his usual planet-devouring plan. He is taken out by the Agents of SMASH with some good-old-fashioned pummeling, culminating in a threat to “slam dunk him into the sun” unless Ego leaves the galaxy for good.
This crossover is significantly less likely to make it into the MCU anytime soon, of course. For one thing, it’s a minor episode in an animated series, rather than the kind of extensive comic history that Ego has with Thor, and for another, it would require the Agents of SMASH to join the MCU first. However, we may see Ego and Hulk cross paths at some point, especially as the trailer for Thor: Ragnarok shows Bruce Banner and the titular hero off on a distant planet. Who knows who they’ll run into out there.
11. …And In The Marvel Video Games
In addition to his appearance in Hulk and the Agents of SMASH, Ego has appeared in a few other series within the Marvel Animated Universe. He is in an episode of Fantastic Four: The Animated Series, titled “To Battle The Living Planet”, in two episodes of Silver Surfer: The Animated Series, and in a single episode of The Super Hero Squad Show.
As you can see in the video above, Ego can also be spotted in the menu screen for the Lego Marvel Super Heroes game. As the game opens, we see Silver Surfer zooming around space while eating sounds play, followed by the words “I’m still hungry, I need something to eat” before the main menu appears with Ego in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. Although Ego has appeared multiple times outside of the comics, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 will be the character’s first foray into live-action. This isn’t too surprising, given the difficulty of believably portraying a sentient planet in the real world.
10. He Has More Than One Origin Story
Like most long-standing comic book characters, Ego has had his origin story rebooted once or twice since he first debuted in the ‘60s. In his early appearances in Thor, it was revealed that Ego came into being when a genius scientist merged with his planet as their sun went supernova. The scientist (Egros) knew that the sun would explode, and had devised a plan to save his people with a machine. The plan went awry, however, when the sun exploded too early, and he was somehow combined with his homeworld, using the lives of the other people as fuel and becoming Ego the Living Planet.
Other origin stories claim that Ego formed naturally, as like any other planet, but was granted sentience by the Super-Ego, a semi-sentient, bioverse-style lifeform that was later destroyed by the Celestials. Most recently, however, Ego’s creation was claimed by The Stranger, who told Thor that he had brought both Ego and Alter-Ego into being just to see which would be stronger.
9. He Can Control His Own Weather
Ego is more than your run of the mill sentient planet, as he also has the ability to control the physical limits of himself. Not only is he able to rearrange his own geology to create a face (complete with that lovely beard and mustache!), but he can also control the weather on his own surface. Every part of the planet can be altered and controlled by Ego’s consciousness, although the inner workings of the planet are less interchangeable. In fact, they actually resemble the internal organs of a human, with a ‘brain’, ‘arteries’, and ‘stomachs’.
His ability to manage his own weather extends to the creation of winds and storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, geysers, radiation fields, and various magnetic fields. However, Ego’s power over his own weather is actually trumped by Thor’s abilities when using Mjolnir. In the past, Thor has been able to whip Ego’s atmosphere into a frenzy, which has aided him in defeating the planet in battle.
8. He Appears In Marvel Zombies
Not even the Living Planet is safe from the Zombie apocalypse, at least, not in the Marvel universe! In the alternate comic universe of Marvel Zombies, a certain sci-fi-created contagion affects the Earth, causing the zombie-fied superheroes of the planet to eat the humans, as well as each other. Ego may have been safe, as he cannot be on Earth (being a planet and all) but unfortunately, the zombie contagion spread to the stars.
When both Silver Surfer and Galactus come to Earth (unaware of the zombie problem), they are promptly killed and eaten, and the zombies who devour them are given some of their powers — including interstellar travel. They roam around space devouring all other life, landing on various planets to consume its inhabitants. Eventually, on their way back to Earth, they bump into Ego, and promptly eat him, too. It was a somewhat fitting (and incredibly ironic) way for a devourer of worlds to go!
7. He Was Named One Of TIME’s Oddest Marvel Characters
It’s not too surprising that Ego’s name comes up when compiling lists of strange Marvel characters — the concept of a sentient planet as a comic book villain is a particularly interesting one! Back in 2009, TIME magazine created a list of the “Top 10 Oddest Marvel Characters”, and Ego got the dubious honor of placing ninth, alongside Swarm (a Nazi scientist made of bees), Howard the Duck, Puppetmaster, The Great Lakes Avengers, Spider-Ham (a cross between Spider-Man and a pig), Lockjaw (a giant, talking bulldog), The Asbestos Lady, Hellcow (a vampire cow), and somewhat incongruously, Dazzler.
The list mentions his appearance-changing abilities and wraps up the entry with the warning “Earth, watch your back!”. Since then, Ego has popped up on many more lists of the bizzarre and oddball characters in the Marvel universe, but TIME is one of the more impressive publications to consider the sentient planet for a mention.
6. There Is A Song About Him
Another honor the sentient planet has received — albeit a slightly less impressive one — is that there is a song in Ego’s honor, titled simply “Ego The Living Planet”. The track is recorded by American stoner-rock band Monster Magnet, who released it on the 1995 album Dopes To Infinity. The album was actually surprisingly successful, and one song can even be heard on the soundtrack to The Matrix: “Look To Your Orb For The Warning”.
“Ego The Living Planet” is a five-minute track from the same album. Largely instrumental, the song does include the single lyric “I talk to planets, baby“, which is looped over the track a few times. Monster Magnet songs have also been featured on the soundtracks to several other films, and as well as taking inspiration from comic books, they have inspired a comic book character of their own! Another track (on the same album) is “Negasonic Teenage Warhead”, which became the namesake for a comic book character who just made her live-action debut last year in Deadpool.
5. Rocket Raccoon Combed Him For Lice
Ego may not have met his son Star-Lord in the MCU just yet, but he has met one of his boy’s teammates in the comic book universe. Ego had a brief cameo in an issue of Rocket Raccoon, where the titular hero was taking on any jobs he could find in order to make a little money. One such gig was to take care of Ego’s infestation when he had “space lice“. Of course, Rocket doesn’t actually comb the living planet in the traditional sense, as he doesn’t have hair (except for his occasional beard, which doesn’t really count). Instead, Rocket is seen flying over the planet’s surface on a scooter, looking down at a surface covered in pink bugs. He then blasts the bugs with his weaponry, and collects payment from an alien on the surface.
On his way back into space (in a much bigger ship), the reader sees that he is speeding away from Ego, and he calls out “See ya, Ego. Glad I could help you with your lice problem”. Again, we’re guessing this adventure won’t make it into the live-action ‘verse.
4. He Took Control Of The Nova Corps
Another name familiar to both comic book Ego and fans of Guardians of the Galaxy is the Nova Corps. This military organization appeared in the original Guardians of the Galaxy, co-ordinating with the Guardians to protect the Orb and to defend Xandar, and eventually clearing the criminal records of the Guardians in gratitude for their services. In the comics, the Nova Corps gets involved with Ego when the Worldmind of Xandar commandeers the planet (and his mind) to use as a based for its organization. Re-named Nu-Xandar, Ego appeared to be a willing participant in this situation… at first. It was later revealed that Ego was in fact brainwashing the Nova Corps, supplanting the Worldmind entirely. The Living Planet was only defeated and the Nova Corps returned to normal when Nova lobotomized Ego and forced him away.
While it’s unlikely that this exact storyline will make it into the MCU (largely because of its overall silliness and the fact that the Corps was largely wiped out in the first Guardians movie) there may be some history played out between the Nova Corps and Ego on the big screen.
3. He Can Propel Himself Through Space
Although non-comic planets are limited to traveling within their respective orbits, Ego the Living Planet has no such limitations. In his early days, Ego’s travel was somewhat limited, but that changed when Thor (and Galactus) gave him a motor. The thruster was attached to Ego’s South Pole when he went insane and started devouring everything he could, and was originally intended to make him fly through space uncontrollably (and harmlessly). However, Ego eventually learned to control this motor, and can now power himself through space however he pleases.
This insanely comic book-y mode of travel may or may not make an appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. If Ego has the ability to propel himself in the MCU, it would stand to reason that he would have gone looking for his son at some point in time. The fact that he sent Yondu to get him (and then failed to hunt Yondu down when he didn’t deliver) suggests that the MCU Ego is still somewhat stationary, although we will have to wait to find out exactly how that works.
2. He Can Create Living Drones
There is another question raised by the inclusion of Ego The Living Planet in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, especially as Star-Lord’s father. That is, of course, how a sentient planet was able to come to Earth and impregnate a human woman — even by the wildest stretches of the imagination, that couldn’t be an easy feat. One possibility is that Ego used one of his ‘living drones’ to do the deed for him, although this is pure speculation, of course. This ability is an extension of Ego’s ability to morph his own topography at will, and it allows the planet to create humanoid drones out of his own surface, separating them and sending them out into space to do his bidding. He can also create humanoid ‘anti-bodies’ on his surface that are used to attack intruders.
It’s possible that this ability is going to be so refined in the upcoming film that it allows him to present himself as a human man (who happens to look like Kurt Russell) — which could have been sent to Earth to father a child.
1. He Will Be The ‘Biggest Visual Effect Of All Time’
There are all kinds of incredible effects to look forward to in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, but it looks like none will out-do the amount of work that it takes to bring a planet-sized sentient being to life, convincingly, on the big screen. In an interview last month, director James Gunn talked about the difficulty of creating this character, as well as the extensive amount of effects work it took to visualize his non-Kurt Russell form.
We have over a trillion polygons on Ego’s planet. It’s the biggest visual effect of all time. There’s nothing even close to it. Which is cool.
While some might balk at the task, Gunn did an incredible job of bringing the brightly-colored galactic world of the Guardians to life for the first film, and there is little doubt that he will do an equally impressive job the second time around. Fans have yet to see Ego’s true, planetary self, with only his human form revealed so far, and it is sure to be an incredible moment when Ego the Living Planet appears on screen for the first time.
Do you know of any other fun facts surrounding Ego the Living Planet? Sound off in the comments.