Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 has just hit theaters, and audiences are loving the next chapter in Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) adventure. While it may not be getting the same stellar reviews as the first film, Vol 2 is still an unqualified success for Marvel, with a massive box office take so far and a very respectable 82% on review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes.
While the original Guardians of the Galaxy was all about bringing the team together (and finding one of those all-important Infinity Stones), the sequel focuses more on Peter Quill and the concept of family; his original biological family and the discovery of who his father is, his new family (the Guardians), and the man who raised him for all the years in between these two, Yondu (Michael Rooker). With such a strong focus on the personal history of the team leader and the way that he defines his own family, the film also answered a question that many fans had after the end of the first movie: why didn’t Quill simply return home to Earth once he grew up and got a space ship of his very own?
He’s Star-Lord, Man
For fans who may not have seen the original Guardians of the Galaxy since it first came out in 2014, let’s recap why Quill left Earth in the first place. As a child, Peter Quill was the much-loved son of his single mother, up until the day that she died of a brain tumor. The first film showed Peter’s mom in the hospital, emaciated, hooked up to machines, and with a bald head. Peter is brought into the room by his grandfather, and his mother gives him a final gift before she dies in front of him. In anguish, Peter runs out of the room, and out of the hospital to a grassy area… where he is promptly abducted by aliens.
The film kicks off years later, with Quill as an adult, still in space and trying to make a name for himself as the “legendary” outlaw, Star-Lord.
There’s no question about why Peter didn’t go home as a child – he couldn’t. Raised by Yondu and his Ravagers, Peter Quill didn’t have the physical ability to leave. Originally, audiences are led to believe that Yondu simply kidnapped Quill for no real reason, and it isn’t until the final scenes of the first film that we find out that the Ravagers were hired to get Peter and return him to his father. In Vol 2, Peter talks about his upbringing on the Ravager ship, revealing that Yondu kept him on because his small size made him capable of squeezing into tight spaces and helping the Ravagers with their criminal escapades. Yondu also kept the boy in a state of near-terror for much of his young life, believing that Yondu and the Ravagers would eat him if he tried to get away.
Of course, by the end of the film, Quill learns that Yondu didn’t actually just hang onto him for his size, but because he cared. However, for most of his life, Quill was either lacking the skills and abilities to leave, or was too terrified to try. He did, however, cling to the things he had from his home planet – like his Walkman and his mixtapes.
Being A Space-Outlaw Is Fun
So what happened when Quill got his own ship and started having his own adventures as an adult? He chose to stay out in space as a Ravager/Space Pirate rather than take that first ship straight back home to Earth, where his grandfather was (presumably) still waiting for him to come home.
While there is a heartbreaking reason that Quill gives for not returning (which is coming up next), there are some other possibilities for Peter’s motivation for staying out in the Galaxy. For one thing, he hasn’t been on Earth since he was a kid. He knows nothing about what it would be like, and wouldn’t be able to know if his grandfather is still alive, or if he would believe Peter if he suddenly popped down to Missouri and claimed to be the boy who went missing decades ago. He wouldn’t be returning ‘home’, but to a relative unknown, while his life in space has become something he is comfortable with.
In addition, his new life as Star-Lord is a whole lot of fun. When Quill first appears in the MCU, he’s got his own ship, a way to earn a lot of money, and plenty of attractive aliens in his bed. He is living the kind of life that he probably dreamed of as a kid – and compared to that, small-town life on Earth just doesn’t seem that appealing. Then, when he is finally completely free of the Ravagers, he becomes a Guardian of the Galaxy – that’s a sweet gig he’s not likely to want to give up.