The largely successful Marvel Cinematic Universe has made some minor character changes from time-to-time. Certain heroes undergo understandable altercations in order to better translate a comic book into a major motion picture success. In some cases, the film version hits so well with audiences that it changes the comic book portrayal. This is how movie success has impacted comic book Star-Lord.
Peter Jason Quill was created in 1976 by Steve Englehart, first appearing in Marvel Preview #4. It wasn’t until Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s Guardians Of The Galaxy run in 2008 that the character struck a major chord with readers. This 25-issue masterpiece is highly touted by Marvel fans and was the main influence for the 2014 film.
In this series, readers are exposed to the brand of leadership that Star-Lord provides. He’s a “happy accident” kind of hero, similar to Indiana Jones. Quill is an honorable man, always in over his head, doing whatever it takes to do what’s right. Abnett wrote him as a sarcastic war hero in space, with a punk-rock edge to him. The perfect leader for such an odd collection of heroes that make up the Guardians Of The Galaxy.
Chris Pratt’s portrayal of Star-Lord is a bit different, but not in a bad way. Keeping the core of the character intact, he makes Quill his own. Pratt isn’t so much a dead-on depiction of Star-Lord from the comics, but more of an embodiment of the overall tone from Abnett’s legendary run. This version of the character works perfectly for silver screen audiences, but does that mean it translates to comic book form?
Leading up to the release of the film, Marvel launched a new Guardians ongoing series written by Brian Michael Bendis. This was meant to be the jumping on point for new readers after falling in love with the movie. The tone and characterization was more in line with the movie than the Abnett Guardians. Which at first was very charming, while we were still in the honeymoon phase and deep within GOTG-Mania.
The further that Bendis’ series went on, the more the comic book series reflected the film. Fast forward through a handful of “soft-reboots” by Marvel, Peter Quill had become a carbon copy of Chris Pratt’s portrayal. His costume, face, and attitude all reflect that of the MCU version. This doesn’t immediately create a problem, how Bendis handled it does however.
Pratt’s representation of Quill works perfectly for a cinematic structure. Unfortunately it proved challenging to develop that particular character over the course of an ongoing comic book series. Over time, Bendis’ Guardians Of The Galaxy had become stale. Other than the name and setting, there were no elements left from Abnett’s cosmic cult classic.
At the center of it all is Star-Lord, he had become an unrelateable man-child constantly ruining his own progression every chance he got. If 2008 Quill were to meet current Quill, the former would be severely disappointed. Not just for ditching the coolest uniforms in comic book history either.
The prime example of Star-Lord’s tiresome depiction was his on-again, off-again engagement to Kitty Pryde. Their entire relationship was a dragged out, middle school level, fan fiction. It was kind of cute at first, quickly wore out it’s welcome, then lasted for a year too long. There’s no relief in their romance being over either, now readers are stuck dealing with his post break-up blues. I don’t think there’s a large portion of GOTG fans who want to read multiple issues about a mopey, drunk Star-Lord.
I don’t entirely blame Brian Michael Bendis. Marvel probably pressured him to use the tone of their blockbuster movie. The studio pigeonholed him creatively, while also stretching him too thin across many titles. Recently Bendis announced he would be leaving the series, clearly his heart wasn’t in it anymore.
What’s next for Star-Lord and his galaxy guarding companions? Only time will tell, hopefully the next creative team will be provide a healthy balance of Pratt and Abnett’s respective Peter Quills. Chip Zdarsky’s recent Star-Lord solo series is a step in the right direction, although still nothing like the Star-Lord we first fell in love with.
Have you been enjoying Star-Lord’s comic book adventures over the past couple years? Which version of the character do you prefer? Comment below. If you like Guardians Of The Galaxy and haven’t read the 2008 series, I can’t recommend it enough.