Nostalgia is a huge part of the charm in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. There’s the classic pop music, of course, but also the reverence Chris Pratt’s character Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord, has for the pop culture of his childhood, things the character loved before he was snatched off Earth. This posed a problem in the sequel, which Pratt really wanted to make way, way worse.
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, we finally meet Star-Lord’s father, Ego, who is played by legendary actor Kurt Russell. It’s a huge moment for the character and a stellar piece of casting, but something about it didn’t quite fit in Pratt’s mind.
“Peter Quill would know who Kurt Russell is,” Pratt told io9 in a recent interview. “So we had to create the world where Kurt Russell is not one of his icons the way he actually would have been. All these amazing stars of television and film of that era are the icons of Peter Quill’s ideology he’s created around what Earth was.”
And that’s when Pratt had his idea—an idea that was very quickly rejected.
“I kept pitching [director] James [Gunn] the idea, ‘Should I know that that’s Kurt Russell?’” Pratt said. “He’s like, ‘Just trust me. Don’t.’”
Avoiding an added layer of “Holy shit, that’s the dude from The Thing” helps focus Star-Lord on why his father has suddenly reappeared after all this time. Plus, Ego is one of two father figures Peter Quill has to contend with in the film. The other is Yondu, the Ravager who Ego paid to kidnap young Peter from Earth and bring to him... an order which Yondu only fulfilled the first half of.
Yondu’s affection for Peter is a major part of Vol. 2, as many of the Ravagers believe Yondu to be too soft to lead them after he let the Guardians go in the first movie. The storyline legitimately surprised Pratt when he finally saw the finished film.
“I wasn’t present when [they] were filming any of that stuff,” Pratt explained. “So I was surprised when I saw the movie because, I mean, I think the movie even without that Ravagers storyline is a really fucking cool movie. When you add that in as well? God, it’s really freaking good.”
Meanwhile, Pratt has already filmed the next appearance of the Guardians of the Galaxy in Avengers: Infinity War, out next May, where he says Star-Lord will continue to evolve.
“He’s more grown up,” Pratt said. “In the first movie he became the leader of the Guardians and that was his arc: to go from a selfish little kid who’s socially stunted as a nine or 10 years old, to someone who’s determined to become the leader of this ragtag squad and try to keep them out of trouble, with mixed results. In the second movie, he learns some seriously painful lessons about love and loss. And so, I think the connections are deeper. I mean, you’re gonna see some shit go down in Infinity War. It’s really powerful. But he doesn’t go backward. He is a different character, for sure.”
Infinity War also marks the first time Pratt (and the rest of his co-stars for that matter) are not working with writer/director James Gunn. The actor admits there was a bit of a learning curve when the Guardians lost their real-life leader.
“It was a little bit like flying on our own. Being pushed out of the nest and having to fly,” Pratt said. “We had conversations on the phone, and he definitely wanted to make sure that we all felt okay with what we were doing. But the Russos [directors of Infinity War] are really good. They know what’s up. And so at first, it was a little daunting, but we felt okay.”
Luckily, the next time Pratt returns to play Star-Lord, his fearless leader will also return, as James Gunn is already writing and will direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. And, presumably, he’s also preparing to shoot down more of Pratt’s bad ideas.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opens May 5, while Avengers: Infinity War opens May 4, 2018.