Warning: Major spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to follow!
"And he was an angel, composed of pure light..."
With those nine words, the dying Meredith Quill told us everything we knew about Star-Lord's father — until #GuardiansOfTheGalaxyVol2, of course! In reality, Meredith was simply interpreting her lover Ego in the only way her mind could interpret him. But she introduces a fascinating question: was Ego an angel? Was he the God he believed himself to be? Or was he actually the Devil?
Ego Was No Angel
Let's be clear; Meredith wasn't calling Ego an angel because she thought he was somehow divine. She was doing so because he came from the heavens, and because he evidently showed her the light that was central to his being. Although we in the Western world think of angels as beings with great feathered wings, one of the few Biblical descriptions of an angel is of the one who rolled the stone away from Jesus's tomb — and that angel is described as looking "like lightning." That seems to be the description Meredith alludes to when she describes Ego as "an angel, composed of pure light."
Meredith lived in Missouri, which is usually considered part of the Bible Belt; as such, she'd have been brought up to be very familiar with the Christian dichotomy between light (goodness, God) and darkness (evil, the Devil). It seems Ego took advantage of this, showing her his light, and so convincing her of his beauty and goodness. In the intro sequence for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, we saw that Ego happily talked about galactic affairs in front of Meredith, knowing full well she simply lacked the understanding to make sense of his words.
But here's the catch; to stick with the Biblical analogy that Meredith's words invite, she really should have paid attention to one disturbing verse in 2 Corinthians:
"For Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light..."
Just because something looks good, looks beautiful, doesn't mean that it is...
Ego Thought Himself God
Ultimately, Ego seems to have seen himself as nothing more than God. Fundamentally, he considered himself above everything else he saw in the universe; he was an immortal, all other beings were just fleas. He viewed mortal beings as nothing more than a vapor, a puff of smoke that dispels on the wind. A lonely being, Ego had traveled to the stars in pursuit of life, but the life he found had been so very disappointing.
In true egotistical fashion, Ego had gradually come to view his own good and his own pleasures as the purpose for which the universe existed. The first hint of it is Mantis, who refers to herself as "a flea with a purpose" — she can soothe him and help him sleep. Beyond that, though, he considered the ultimate purpose of all life to be absorbed into himself, to be subsumed into his own being. Even his children — which he carefully refers to as 'progeny,' his choice of words avoiding emotional attachment — are just means to Ego's end. Ego believed himself to be God; he believed that all things found their purpose in him.
Ego Is Actually A Devil
One of the darkest moments in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is Ego's shocking confession: that he gave Meredith Quill the brain tumor that killed her. He realized that he was actually falling in love with her, and so she became an obstacle to his purpose, and he killed her. It's a horrific revelation, a turning-point in the movie's plot that turns him from morally ambiguous cosmic being to outright villain. It's also reminiscent of Jesus's words; referring to the Devil, he says:
"The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy..."
In fact, Ego's motive was positively Devilish. As C. S. Lewis observed in The Screwtape Letters, in Christian theology, God is full and overflowing; the Devil is empty, and seeks to consume in order to be filled. Christianity views God as the wellspring of goodness and life, desiring relationship with all things in order that he may fill them with all that is goodness and light. The Devil, in contrast, feels a gnawing emptiness and desires to consume all things into himself in order to fill that emptiness.
Ego's motive, clearly, was the latter. In the story of the #MCU, he was no God, no "angel of light" he pretended to be; he was the Devil, desiring to consume all things, to absorb all things into his own being.
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This, then, is the tragedy of Meredith Quill. She thought she'd met an angel, but instead she met a Devil. Naive and innocent, she didn't look beyond Ego's surface beauty, beyond the incomprehensible words he used to dazzle her with the cosmic. She didn't see the being who would view himself as God, but who was, in truth, more of a Devil than any villain the MCU has introduced to date.
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