“When I die and they lay me to rest, I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best…”
For Peter Quill, aka Star Lord, that place was the Milano, his own personal star ship and one of the most important locations and pieces of technology from the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. With the Milano, we follow Quill from his first encounter on Morag to meeting his fated team in the Kyln, to unscrupulous trades and daring escapes in Knowhere, and up to the final battle against Ronan on Xandar. The Milano became the home of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
With less than a month to go until the premiere of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, it’s time to take a closer look at the Milano and all the backstory and behind the scenes details she has to offer. Buckle up, buttercup, because here’s 15 Things You Didn’t Know About the Milano!
15. THE SHIP IS NAMED AFTER ALYSSA MILANO
Peter Quill was 8 years old in 1988 when he was unexpectedly transported to the far reaches of space. That would have given him 5 years to grow up with one of the most popular sitcoms in the ’80s – Who’s The Boss?’ Then-child actress Alyssa Milano had a starring role as Samantha Micelli, the daughter of the show’s lead, played by Tony Danza. She was arguably a more down-to-Earth version of the yet to come manic pixie dream girl that would steal the hearts of pubescent boys in the ’90s and ’00s.
But even to 8 year old Peter Jason Quill, she clearly left quite an impression. More than enough for him to eventually name his own star ship after Alyssa Milano by the time Quill acquired the ship for himself. Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn ultimately confirmed the naming reference in a tweet on July 29th 2014. It’s a shame Peter never go to see Milano in her later work such as in Charmed (pictured above left).
14. IT IS A MODIFIED M-SHIP
The Ravagers were an intergalactic band of thieves and mercenaries led by the Blue Man himself, Yondu Udonta. They were hired by Peter Quill’s mysterious father to bring Peter to him when he reached seven years of age. For whatever reason, Peter ended up staying with the Ravagers to be raised and reared as one of them. Peter became quite the skilled and notorious scoundrel in his own right throughout 25 years of plundering with the ravagers.
The Ravagers all used a type of space craft called the M-ship. There’s no known reason for this designation. Peter Quill was first abducted off of Earth in an M-ship and we see the Ravagers bring their fleet of M-ships to defend Xandar from Ronan’s Dark Aster. Peter Quill acquired his own personal M-ship and customized it with plenty of trinkets and manual controls up until and after he turned on Yondu and took the orb for himself on Morag.
13. MILANO WAS CONCEPTUALIZED BY ATOMHAWK DESIGN STUDIOS
Disney and Marvel hired the team at Atomhawk to create the concept art for Guardians of the Galaxy. It wouldn’t be the last time Atomhawk would work on a Marvel film since they also went on to create concept art for Avengers: Age of Ultron. They painted and drew the first visual iterations of all the locations, technology, vehicles that Marvel thought up for Guardians, including the Milano. Atomhawk has their own gallery of the concept art they produced on their website where they also discuss some of their creative inspirations for the designs.
Some primary inspirations for the Milano came from classic pulp sci-fi films like Barbarella, Forbidden Planet, and Fantastic Voyage. Atomhawk also took inspiration from experimental real world spacecraft from the 40s and 50s to give the Milano a functional yet stylish look. Mundanity just wouldn’t do for Star Lord’s ship but it also needed to look real and lived in since so much of the film’s action and character beats would take place in the Milano.
12. THE MILANO WAS DESIGNED BY CHARLES WOOD
Charles Wood has worked as a Hollywood production designer for more than 20 years on more than 20 different films. He first joined the crew of the Marvel Cinematic Universe when he worked as a production designer for Thor: The Dark World. He was also production designer for Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Doctor Strange and is currently designing the production on Avengers: Infinity War.
Wood has spoken about his own take on the aesthetic and functional themes behind the Milano. “Our biggest inspiration for the Milano was Chuck Yeager and the early test flights and missions that took place in the late ’50s, early ’60s,” says Wood. “So we looked at a lot of that footage. James wanted to come up with an environment for Quill that was reminiscent of Earth and had a tangible quality-mechanical with chrome and leather and a muscle-car look. A little boy’s dream.”
11. THE MILANO WAS A FULLY BUILT PHYSICAL SET
Charles Woods also oversaw the physical production of a complete set for the Milano. The set took 14 weeks to construct and consisted of a two story project with an upper flight deck and a lower living quarters. The film showed off this set handsomely with scenes taking place on the ship throughout the film from the cockpit to Peter’s bunk to the minimal stepladder between the two levels.
Woods also worked closely with Set Decorater Richard Roberts to make sure that the Milano was packed with details and knickknacks appropriate for nostalgic Earthling Peter Quill. “Rich and his team got together all of the ephemera and other bits and pieces to remind him of home,” says Wood. “The Milano itself was probably the biggest construction thing that we did and unusually for a prop master, I’m also involved in the manufacturing of the set decoration parts. So we did an immense amount of work going from the beds to all of the flight seats. Everything in the Milano was created from scratch.”
10. MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT RELEASED A TOUR VIDEO OF THE MILANO
On August 5th 2014, the Marvel Entertainment YouTube channel released a behind the scenes video tour of the Milano ship. The camera follows Chris Pratt himself as he leads the tour through many different nooks and crannies. It seems every inch of the ship is an intimately controlled mess just like a perpetually adolescent boy’s room would be. Chris Pratt says himself in the video that he likes to “keep it filthy.” There are troll dolls, empty wrappers, cables running along the floor and over tables right next to some of the weightier story props like the original ornate sphere containing the infinity stone that Star Lord finds on Morag.
When Pratt gets up to the cockpit he shows us some of the digital readouts. Every one of the screens has an actual projected native image playing on them in a loop instead of an appropriate image added with CGI after filming.
9. SOMEHOW PETER QUILL GOT THE MILANO TO RUN HIS CASSETTE
One of the most distinctive and nostalgic features of Star Lord’s ship is the tape deck installed right next to his bunk complete with wooden casing and knobs. Even movie goers who generally enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy have been scratching their heads over how Peter Quill could find the correct technology to not only get the tape to play on his ship but also stay in playable condition for 26 six years.
Director James Gunn has shown little patience for this nitpick. In one particular Facebook post he wrote, “GUYS, THEY HAVE THE ALIEN TECHNOLOGY TO TRAVEL FASTER THAN LIGHT BETWEEN PLANETS, I think they can figure out an alternative power source for the Walkman, and they likely also have technology to slow the degradation to the tape and player. This seems obvious to me.” This appeal to suspension of disbelief is not unreasonable. Besides, if Peter didn’t keep his Awesome Mix tape working we wouldn’t have an in-universe justification for most of the movie’s soundtrack.
8. THE MILANO COCKPIT HAD ITS OWN GYRO SET FOR FILMING
Marvel and Charles Woods went a step further for scenes where Peter Quill had to sit in the Milano’s cockpit and drive it. They built a separate set of the cockpit with placeholder extensions of the rest of the ship mounted on a mechanical axis that would tilt and bank and jostle. This would give the actors playing the pilot and passengers a real sense of the thrill and forces the ship would experience flying through space.
Chris Pratt has expressed his appreciation for this dynamic set piece. “I couldn’t believe it when I first saw it and I have been in awe ever since,” said Pratt. “Inside it, I felt like I was on a ride at a theme park, something people would wait in line all day just to get a glimpse of and I got to pretend it was mine. It was pretty amazing and helped inform my performance.”
7. THE MILANO HAS ITS OWN LEGO SET
Lego was on top of the hype for Guardians of the Galaxy as much as any other major merchandizer. To help fulfil the vicarious fantasies of handy superhero fans everywhere, they started a new line of Lego sets called the Marvel Super Heroes. That line includes set 76021, the Milano Spaceship Rescue containing 665 pieces. The set features minifigures for Star Lord, Drax, Gamora and Ronan the Accuser, all with their own special weapons.
Lego isn’t the only company to realize the toy potential of the Milano. Hasbro also has their own toy model of the Milano complete with a Star Lord action figure that fits right inside the cockpit. The ship even has lights and sounds effects and dual firing missiles for blasting soda cans or cardboard tubes to your heart’s content.
Also, there’s already a Milano Lego set based on Guardians of the Galaxy 2 called ‘The Milano vs the Abilisk.’
6. DISNEY WAS APPARENTLY COOL WITH THE JACKSON POLLOCK JOKE
When the whole Guardians crew shacks up on Peter’s ship for the first time, Gamora wastes no time telling him how little she thinks of the Milano, calling it filthy. Peter takes it in stride. “Oh she has no idea. If I had a black light, this place would look like a Jackson Pollock painting.”
Now for those of you who may not know, Jackson Pollock was a preeminent American abstract expressionist painter whose work became famous in the 40s and 50s. His style consisted of what appeared to be haphazard brush strokes and drips of paint on the canvass. So presumably Quill meant his own bodily fluids were similarly sprayed around the interior of the Milano. All hail the power of cultured innuendo.
Most of the crew felt that Director James Gunn was wasting time when he asked Chris Pratt to read this line, thinking that Disney would never allow it kept in the PG-13 film. They only did one take. Whether it was some expressionist appreciation or obliviousness on Disney’s part, the joke made it into the theatrical cut of the movie.
5. ROCKET AND IRON MAN BUILT THE MILANO IN MARVEL’S AVENGERS ACADEMY
Marvel’s Avengers Academy is a mobile game developed and published by TinyCo released on February 4th 2016. The game follows a simplified alternate reality of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers where Nick Fury assembles the heroes we see him recruit in the films plus others including Wasp, Ms. Marvel, Taskmaster and Ant-Man. Other characters were available behind a paywall and some were released as part of promotional events including Star Lord, Drax, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Yondu and Nebula for the Guardians of the Galaxy Event.
In the game, Rocket Raccon and Iron man build the Milano ship instead of Star Lord acquiring it himself from the Ravagers. There’s not much in the way of explanation as to why the ship keeps the same name and design as its counterpart from the film but it’s most likely just for convenience and consistency. The Guardians of the Galaxy use the Milano against Thanos and the Cosmic Conservatory.
4. THE GUARDIANS’ BASE OF OPERATIONS IN THE COMICS WAS KNOWHERE
In the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, Knowhere was the hollowed out head of a dead Celestial floating in free orbit inside a nebula. It had attracted a massive illegal mining operation and so grew into a haven for seedy characters of all kinds. The Guardians take the Orb to Knowhere hoping to sell it to the Collector before they realize what it is and the terrible power it holds.
In the Guardians of the Galaxy comics, Knowhere has similarly been a habitat made out of the decapitated head of a Celestial, but it hasn’t played host primarily to the seedier elements in the galaxy. Instead it has been used as a remote research facility at the edge of the universe. The Guardians of the Galaxy have used Knowhere as a base of operations and have defended it against several attacks by those who would attempt to abuse the secrets hidden in Knowhere.
3. THE GUARDIANS’ RECENT COMIC BOOK SHIP IS CALLED C.I.T.T.
Even in the comics when the Guardians of the Galaxy used a ship as their mobile headquarters it wasn’t known as the Milano. The unnamed ship that became the current base of operations for the Guardians was introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 #0.1 in April 2013. It wasn’t until Howard the Duck Vol 5 #2 where the name of the ship was revealed. And what did the crafty bunch come up with to name their mobile home and arsenal? The Cool Interstellar Travel Travelship.
Yeah, and they apparently kept that name. Unlike when Gamora came on board the Milano in the movie, Quill didn’t have as impressive a comeback when she expressed her disapproval. According to Quill, ‘acronyms are hard.’ Incidentally, Howard the Duck Vol 5 #2 was actually written as a follow up to the Howard the Duck post credits stinger and sees the notorious titular Duck as a prisoner of the Collector.
2. THE C.I.T.T. WAS ACCIDENTALLY DESTROYED IN MARVEL CIVIL WAR 2
Marvel’s Civil War 2 story line involved the Guardians of the Galaxy along with many other heroes. When Captain Marvel wanted to use Ulysses’ Inhuman power of precognition to help protect the Earth from threats proactively, Iron Man led the heroes who opposed her. At a point in the growing conflict when Captain Marvel saw Iron Man was planning to attack, she called upon the Guardians of the Galaxy to join her side.
Agent Venom, Angela, Drax, Gamora, Kitty Pryde, Groot, Rocket Raccoon, Star Lord and the Thing were all Guardians at this point in the comics and arrived on Earth to join the fray in the C.I.T.T. While Star Lord is distracted by Iron Man, Kitty Pryde and Vision get into a fight. One of Vision’s energy beams is dodged by Kitty and thus strikes C.I.T.T., sending it crashing into the S.H.I.E.L.D. island base of Triskelion. The Guardians had their own tie-in follow up in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 4 #12.
1. MILANO HAS ALREADY FEATURED IN THE VOLUME 2 TRAILERS.
By the end of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, the Milano had been fully repaired after Ronan’s attack on Xandar and the Guardians were free to embark on further adventures for fame and fortune. Based on the trailers so far for Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, the Guardians are still making use of the Milano. Star Lord probably wouldn’t jet around the galaxy in anything else.
Some of the more interesting shots in the trailers so far involve Star Lord pulling some evasive maneuvers while being pursued by swarms of little ships likely controlled by the Sovereigns. This could be the same part where Star Lord tells baby Groot to strap on their seat belt despite being way too small for it and nursing a bucket overflowing with candy. Another interesting shot is of Nebula apparently in the cockpit of the Milano chasing and shooting at Gamora in a tunnel of some kind. Or it may be just another Ravager ship.
Are there any other tidbits about the Milano you could share? Let us know in the comments!