*Warning: This article contains planet-sized spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2*
Ego the Living Planet. A living planet. The concept of such a "being" is hard enough to convey in comic book form, even harder in live-action cinema. James Gunn decided to take the risk, though, diverting from Marvel Comics' canon by changing Star-Lord's parentage in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 and introducing Ego as his father. And it worked.
The identity of Star-Lord's father was one of the lingering mysterious of Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). In the comics, Star-Lord is the sun of J'Son, the Emperor of the Spartoi Empire. However, despite never fathering children in comic book form, the director confirmed Ego was the father in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 at the San Diego Comicon in 2016 — a decision that was initially met with a skeptical response.
After the event, Gunn explained in a Facebook post that his Ego's inclusive mirrored the decision to include Rocket, a talking raccoon, in the original film. Talking of the creative process, he wrote:
Ego seemed, in many ways, like an even more ridiculous character. But I asked myself, if a planet was alive, how could that be? And how could it father a child?
Working back from those questions led to Ego becoming a fundamental part of #GuardiansoftheGalaxy2. There's no doubt that the follow-up is character driven, honing in on the complexities of the relationships of the main characters, but Star-Lord's relationship with Ego (as well as Yondu's role within that, and to a lesser extent, er, David Hasselhoff) was one of the most intriguing in the movie.
The credit goes to Gunn, who used Ego's bizarre conception to create a nuanced character who is the byproduct of his own divine nature. How can the immortal connect with the mortal? How can a celestial relate to a human? These questions added a depth to Ego, and making the Living Planet the father of Star-Lord in turn helped to create one of the best MCU villains.
Filming The Unfilmable
Above all else, Gunn filmed the unfilmable, which is where the masterstroke lies. Using '80s icon Kurt Russell as the humanoid form of Ego no doubt helped to make a relatable personification, but Gunn didn't shirk from capturing Ego's planet in its vibrant, visually stunning form. The planet itself is a beautifully crafted, apparent utopia, in what Gunn referred to as "the biggest visual effect of all time."
With almost a blank canvas to work with, the visual team working on Guardians of the Galaxy 2 created an apparent utopia, full of fractal shapes, bright colours, and a borderline hallucinogenic appearance that added to the too-good-to-be-true nature of Ego's planet. The same qualities become sinister as Ego's true nature is revealed.
However, one of the best moments comes from the eventual reveal of Ego, away from his humanoid form. As Rocket and Baby Groot plant a bomb in the center of the planet, and Ego's brain, the explosion starts to destroy the celestials essence. Just as Yondu and Star-Lord leave, Ego appears in his comic book form in a clever use of fan service. Not bad for a living planet.
Were you pleased with Gunn's decision to choose Ego the Living Planet as Star-Lord's father?