Marvel Studios’ own head and co-founder of Visual Development, Charlie Wen, offered a glimpse of what might’ve been this week with some new Guardians of the Galaxy concept art, exhibiting a more heavily armored Star-Lord than we ultimately got in the character’s first big screen outing.
Adapting the eccentric visuals of comic books to the big screen can often involve finding a tricky balance between honoring the source material and creating a look that doesn’t seem out of place in a live-action context. For reasons he refrains from explaining, Wen acknowledges that some liberties were taken for Chris Pratt’s take on Peter Quill, captioning his pair of images as follows:
“What StarLord almost looked like!! I created this StarLord design option to show how we could possibly pull off a version that’s closer to his comicbook origins. Although I have more affinity toward my other version used for the film (shared a couple posts ago), this one embraces the comicbook look much more. Going with this look, though, could have presented some major issues that I won’t go into here.”
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For whatever reason, a compromise was deemed necessary, resulting in the version of Star-Lord that first entered the MCU in the surprisingly popular 2014 film.
The subject of faithfulness in adaptations also came up in an interview last week with Marvel’s director of Visual Development, Andy Park. The artist recalled a rather different experience working with Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi, who rejected Park’s more realistic designs and continually pushed for visuals that were more in line with the over-the-top imagery of the comics. Meanwhile, Park also explained that there was some debate over the design of Hope van Dyne’s first superhero suit for Ant-Man and the Wasp, with the team unsure of how silver or gold the Wasp’s outfit should be. Eventually, they chose to split the different and made Hope’s costume the color of ‘gilver.’
Evidently, there’s no one correct way to bring illustrations into live-action, as much as some comic book purists will cling to the original designs like they’re holy scripture. Since that first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, Quill starred in one more sequel before meeting his end in Avengers: Infinity War. But while Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 sounds like it’s still a long wait away, it’s unlikely that Marvel are done with this rendition of Star-Lord quite yet.