Release date: 1st August 2014 (US)
Director: James Gunn
Screenwriters: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman
Open on titles that read ‘Earth 1988’.
Then we see a kid holding a vintage 80s Walkman. The Walkman is a 1979 Sony TPS-L2 Walkman, and the price for a vintage one saw a bump after the release of this film.
The tape is called Awesome Mix Vol. 1. This was used as the subtitle of the official soundtrack, which featured an image of the tape.
The first song we hear is I’m Not In Love by 10CC, from their album The Original Soundtrack (1975). It reached #1 in the UK and #2 in the US.
We see a young boy and who is holding the Walkman. He’s Peter Jason Quill, aged 8. He’s played by Wyatt Oleff. Let’s talk more about Peter when we meet him as an adult.
He’s in a hospital. It’s Hemel Hempstead Hospital at Hillfield Road, Hemel Hempstead, North London.
A man comes along. It’s his grandfather. He’s played by Gregg Henry.
He goes into the hospital room. His mother, Meredith, is sick. She’s played by Laura Haddock.
Meredith appeared in the comics, and played a similar role in Star-Lord’s origin.
Haddock has appeared in the MCU before in another role. In fact, she’s extremely rare in that she’s had two speaking roles in two Marvel films (as opposed to extras work, or working on a Netflix or ABC series). She appeared as an autograph hunter who meets Captain America in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).
Is there any connection? There doesn’t seem to be – there’s a significant age difference between the characters – appearing in 1940 or so and 1988. Perhaps – and this is a big stretch – the autograph hunter is Meredith’s grandmother. However, it does leave a potentially nice moment when Star Lord eventually meets Captain America, he could say his great grandmother met him once, and got an autograph.
She mentions Peter’s father. In the comics it was a character called Prince Jason, but here it’s a mystery – for another film.
All the people in the room are credited with roles. Meredith’s mother – Janis Ahern. Meredith’s brother – Solomon Mousley. Meredith’s best friend – Lindsay Morton. Perhaps they had a longer scene that was cut.
And Meredith dies.
Peter runs out into a field.
A big awesome spaceship takes him away.
We hear some of the original score, composed by Tyler Bates. He’s worked twice with James Gunn before, and would return for Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017).
Then Marvel titles.
We see a planet. We are told it’s 26 years later (2014, the year of the film’s release), and the planet is Morag.
There’s no planet named Morag in the Marvel comics. There is a Kree named Morag, a former leader of that alien race.
The planet’s surface is CGI, created at Shepperton studios. It’s address is Studios Rd, Shepperton, south west of London.
And here’s Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, played by Chris Pratt.
Let’s look at the slightly weird history of Star-Lord. He first appeared in 1979, in Marvel Preview #4 (Jan 1979), and very much a throwaway character (creator Steve Englehart talked about grander plans in the character that were never realised). He remained a sort of Marvel cosmic side character, until 2004.
In 2004, the character was introduced, and completely revamped. He is revealed to be a child of earth with an Alien father who was involved in an intergalactic war. His mother is killed by aliens, and a young Quill escapes into space and becomes a hero. He would later join the Guardians Of The Galaxy and be their leader. His mask is more of a helmet in the comics, and it looks rather stupid. The film’s version is far better.
The 2004 version was created by Keith Giffen and Ron Lim. He first appeared in Thanos #8 (June 2004).
At this point, Pratt was best known for his role in TV comedy Parks And Recreation, where he was a charming schlub. But as he made his way into films, he managed to score leads in several huge films – The Lego Movie, Jurassic World and this. It propelled him into superstardom. Pratt told Screenrant:
I like the arc of the character, it’s a very human arc. It’s really based on who he was and what was taken from him as a kid and something that he missed and lacks that he has to gain through the course of the movie. That’s definitely what we’re focusing on.
Lots of people went for the role of Peter Quill, and lots of names were leaked as being in the running. It looks like Marvel looked at every male white emerging leading man action hero type, including Joel Edgerton, Eddie Redmayne, Jensen Ackles, Lee Pace, Wes Bentley, Jack Huston, Cam Gigandet, Sullivan Stapleton, Logan Marshall-Green, Garrett Hedlund, Chris Lowell, James Marsden, Jim Sturgess, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Aaron Paul, Michael Rosenbaum, Glenn Howerton, and John Krasinski. Pace would play Ronan in this film.
Quill uses his weird torch to find a cave.
He puts on his Walkman, and plays a song. It’s Come And Get Your Love by Redbone. It was released in 1973, from their album Wovoka. It peaked at #5 in the US charts.
Gunn had considered using Hooked On A Feeling here.
And he finds the Orb. We’ll talk more about what it is, when we find out what it is.
Two more spacecraft land. Out comes Korath. He’s played by Djimon Hounsou.
Korath appears in the comics, an agent of the Kree Empire called Korath The Pursuer. He was a bit more of a mad scientist in the comics, and wore a similar garb to Ronan The Accuser. Here he is a Kree but more of just extra muscle. If only he had his Jack Kirby inspired look from the comics.
He first appeared in Quasar #32 (March 1992). He was created by Mark Greenwald and Greg Capullo.
Hounsou broke out with his acclaimed roles in Amistad (1997) and Gladiator (2000). He was actually eyed to play the Black Panther in the 00s Fantastic Four film series and some Marvel Animation. Hounsou wanted to help push diversity in the MCU. He told Collider:
The lack of diversity, specifically in genre films and the superheroes our kids grow up watching and emulating, they can’t really identify with. When you see the same thing, over and over again, and it seems not to speak of you and your heritage and your culture, it leaves you out of this world, a little bit. It gives a certain social distance with your world. So, it was very shocking when my son said that. It shocked me, but at the same time, it was not a surprise. It’s one of those things that even I have been looking for. I’m looking for a hero of my kind, and I’m looking for a shero of my kind. Now, we have Zoe Saldana, who is a shero for minorities, and that’s kind of nice.
Quill extracts the Orb, but is interrupted by Korath.
Quill calls one of Korath‘s henchmen a Ninja Turtle. It is, of course, a reference to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the characters created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Starting as an edgy indie comic, it became a worldwide phenomenon on the back of the cartoon series, which debuted at the end of 1987.
Quill, I mean Star-Lord, fights it out with Korath and the Kree.
Quill’s wonderful ship. The design was created for the film. It’s called the Milano, after 80s actress Alyssa Milano.
A big wave hits the ship. We can see a moment that a Troll Doll goes flying by. Troll Dolls were invented back in 1959 and were a craze in the 60s. They continued to be popular through the 80s as Peter left earth, and today.