Early concept art has surfaced of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s Ego the Living Planet, and it looks very different from the final version. Ego turned out to be the sequel’s true big bad, despite Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) and the Sovereign taking up more of the marketing as the villains.
Technically a planet with world-altering powers, he also had a human embodiment portrayed by action legend Kurt Russell. The veteran actor exuded plenty of his heroic charm after being introduced in Vol. 2, but he eventually pulled back the curtain on Ego’s true motivations and became the biggest foe for his son, Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), and the rest of the Guardians. Russell certainly didn’t look evil upon first glance, which appears to have been the intentions of director James Gunn and his design teams. The villain twist was shocking for viewers who were unfamiliar with the comics – but Ego didn’t always look as inviting as Russell did as the planet’s human form, as revealed through early concept art.
Another newly released design of Ego, which recently surfaced on Reddit, shows that even if Ego didn’t necessarily look like a bad guy, he could have been quite dissimilar to what ended up on screen. The artwork shows an older man with almost a steampunk look to him, wearing pointy hair as opposed to Russell’s slicked back, flowing locks. The design of his costume is sharp and jagged, rather than the more understated outfit worn by Russell, and he lacks a cape. Perhaps most striking is the concept art’s spiky arm sleeves.
Clearly, this drawing was created long before Russell was confirmed to play Ego. Reddit comments point out that the rendering looks more like John Hurt or Ian McKellen. It could also pass for an early Doctor Who design. This interpretation is still closer to the Ego that appeared in the final cut, as other early designs made Ego appear more overtly villainous. One sketch of Ego clutching a glass of wine atop a throne makes him look more like he belongs with the Targaryens at Dragonstone, while another is organically growing out of its planetary form with a nefarious scowl on his face.
Disney and Marvel Studios surely wanted to move far away from the more ominous-looking Ego designs as Vol. 2 spends a lot of time establishing what feels like a fatherly relationship between Ego and Star-Lord before the turn; for a good portion of his initial screen time, and certainly in the pre-release marketing, Russell seemed closer to an ally than an adversary for Star-Lord.
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