Guardians of the Galaxy director and screenwriter James Gunn has teased that the identity of Peter Quill’s father will be revealed in the movie’s sequel. Comic book fans have many thoughts about this, especially since Peter AKA Star-Lord has had a few different origins since his first appearance in 1976. If you’re curious to come up with your own theories, check after the break for a quick look at the many different explanations we’ve been given for just who this hero is supposed to be!
Marvel editor Marv Wolfman wanted a space adventurer to appear in the adult-marketed science fiction magazine Marvel Preview. This character would exist on his own rather than as part of the Marvel Universe. Wolfman suggested the name “Star-Lord” to writer Steven Englehart, who then conceived of the character Peter Jason Quill. The original idea was that Peter was a kid born on February 4, 1962 (which was during an actual planetary alignment and the same night that marked the beginning of the Age of Aquarius). His father didn’t believe Peter to be his child and attempted to kill the infant, but then fate stepped in and killed him instead. Years later, an alien scouting party killed Peter’s mother Meredith. The guy later joined the space program as a talented man known for his arrogance and abrasiveness.
In 1990, the space station Peter is on is visited by the Master of the Sun, possibly an alien wizard or an aspect of God. The Master of the Sun asks the station to select a candidate to become his student, the Star-Lord, who would one day inherit the universe. Peter is determined that he’s going to be the guy and attacks his colleagues. He’s then transported to the Master of the Sun’s domain, given an Element Gun and the empowered uniform of Star-Lord. The fire-like starburst symbol on his helmet and uniform was the official seal of the Star-Lord mantle.
Soon, Peter realizes his personal faults and that he has a lot of growing up to do. Englehart intended that Peter would start off unlikeable and then evolve into a cosmic hero through a saga where each chapter focused on a different planet in the solar system. But he left after the first issue and so this plan was dropped.
Writer Chris Claremont was later assigned Star-Lord and decided to skip ahead a few years in Peter Quill’s life. This way, he could already just start acting like a hero instead of a jerk. The stories didn’t deal with inheriting the universe or cosmic roles. The Master of the Sun was just an alien, a member of the same race that killed Peter’s mother, and Star-Lord powers came from his tech. He also now had a living ship named Ship and he fell in love with her when she temporarily became a lady.
This version of Star-Lord was a nomadic hero, in search of meaning. He eventually discovered that his true father was Emperor Jason of the Spartax Empire. From the looks of it, Spartoi were basically humans who had simply evolved on another world. Jason had loved Peter’s mother, but then had to leave Earth to get back to a war. Bizarrely (and criminally, if you think about it), he erased her memory of their love affair, apparently not realizing they’d already conceived a child. Emperor Jason asked for Peter to join his side, but the hero declined. Years later, Peter picked up Jason on the night before he was going to step down as Emperor, and the two journeyed together in Ship. This was supposed to be Star-Lord’s end, though a 1996 mini-series by Timothy Zahn featured a man named Sinjin Quarrell later inheriting Quill’s costume and title.
A MARVEL HERO AT LAST
The mega-series Earth X and Universe X took place in an alternate continuity where Star-Lord lived in the same reality as the Marvel heroes. Finally, Peter Quill officially joined the Marvel Universe in 2006 in the series Thanos. This version was close to the Claremont version, chosen by a strange alien to become a galactic hero, except he obviously hadn’t retired with his father and vanished into deep space. An encounter with a former herald of Galactus had ended with Ship and Peter’s Element Gun destroyed. Quill sacrificed a world to defeat his enemy and was now a cyborg who disliked that some people still saw him as “Star-Lord,” champion of hope. After a stint in prison, he became advisor to Ronan the Accuser, which gave him political power and new responsibility.
During the events of Annihilation: Conquest, Peter lost his position and his cyborg parts were removed, restoring him to his original Terran/Spartoi self. Soon afterward, he wound up as leader of a team of strange characters. After Annihilation: Conquest was over, this group called itself the Guardians of the Galaxy. The series ended when Peter seemingly sacrificed his life to stop Thanos.
THE NEW STATUS QUO
The Guardians of the Galaxy comic started up again and Peter was restored to life, now with blond hair for the first time since his initial appearances in the 1970s. In the new series, writer Brian Michael Bendis has tweaked parts of Peter Quill’s origin. Meredith Quill had still loved a Spartoi, now renamed King J’Son, but this time she maintained her memories of the affair and never married an Earthman who later tried to kill Peter. She was still murdered by aliens, this time said to be Badoon (nasty villains) who were attempting to end J’Son’s royal line. They hoped to kill Peter too, but the kid found his father’s Element Gun, keyed to only respond to his genetic line, and used it to take them down. Peter then grew up hoping to go into the stars and fights the menaces of space that threatened innocent people like his mother.
In this new origin by Bendis, “Star-Lord” is now a title given to a prince of Spartax, not the mantle of a cosmic champion. The fire-starburst symbol Peter wears marks him as a royal member of the Spartax Empire. Despite references to the Master of the Sun and Ship in several adventures published in the last decade, the new comics indicate that Peter has never met these characters. By adulthood, Peter has met his father and hates the guy for abandoning his mother and for being the ruler of a corrupt government. Star-Lord is happy to be a thorn in J’Son’s side, a rebel against Spartoi plans and rules, while also fighting for justice alongside the Guardians.
THE MOVIE (spoilers, obviously)
In the movie, Meredith Quill dies of cancer rather than being murdered in front of Peter by aliens. I personally think this is a good change because it’s nice to have a few more superheroes who didn’t suffer a parent or parents being murdered. Peter’s father is still an alien but evidently the Spartoi are a very different and more mysterious race in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the mystery-man belongs to another race entirely. Peter’s mother called him her little “Star-Lord” and this seems to be a clue, since she claimed that the guy’s father was an angelic being made of light. Does that make the guy a new take on the Master of the Sun?
Rather than be chosen by the Master of the Sun as an adult, he is abducted by bounty collectors called Ravagers he is a child. Apparently, the Ravagers were supposed to take Peter to his father but changed their minds and raised him. The fire-starburst is the symbol of the Ravagers. In the movie, Peter has no Element Gun but may have powers yet to be unlocked. Time will tell.
That wraps it up, folks! Hope you enjoyed this education on the man called Star-Lord!
Alan Sizzler Kistler (@SizzlerKistler) is an actor and writer who moonlights as a comic book historian and geek consultant. He is the author of Doctor Who: A History.