When we first learned Kurt Russell would play Ego the Living Planet, father to Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it was immediately hard to imagine any other action star in the role. Russell is the perfect choice.
Even Russell understands why. "Fifteen minutes in, I said, 'I think I see why they're coming to me," he recently told Esquire magazine. "The baggage I bring from some of the movies I've done is the right kind of baggage to bring into this one."
That baggage is the grit and guts Russell delivers in movies like #EscapefromNewYork and #TheThing. Russell’s characters often display the same attributes that make Star-Lord who he is. Like Pratt's Peter Quill, Russell's heroes are lucky fools, shady badasses, goofy nerds and compassionate friends.
In a way, Russell's heroes are Star-Lord's ancestors — grandfathers and great uncles who passed along their unique set of blockbuster genes to a wily kid living on the edge of the outer galaxy.
So, what attributes did Star-Lord inherit from some of his more spectacular "family members"? Let's take a look back at some classic Kurt Russell performances to see where Star-Lord's cinematic DNA originates.
1. Snake Plissken (Escape From New York)
There's whole lot of Snake Plissken's chromosomes running through Peter Quill's DNA. Plissken, a former war hero turned criminal, finds himself captured and incarcerated, eventually taking part in a rescue against his will. He’s described as quick-witted and cynical, holding nothing sacred or even important, but operating with a loose code of honor. Sounds like Quill to us.
We know Star-Lord holds nothing sacred — well, save for his Sony Walkman and Mom’s mixtape. And his code of honor is as loose as they come. No eyepatch like Plissken, but they both make a jailbreak pretty exciting.
2. Col. Jonathan 'Jack' O'Neil (Stargate)
When Peter Quill rallies the fledgling Guardians to take on Ronan the Accuser and retrieve the Infinity Stone — a suicide mission at best — he's channeling the fortitude of his inner Colonel Jack O’Neil. A brave tactician, O’Neil does much the same when he leads a troop of soldiers and scientists through a wormhole to an alien planet. There, O’Neil is willing to destroy his only way home, if that’s what it takes to keep Earth safe, just as Quill is ready to risk it all to save the people of Xandar.
3. Captain Ron Rico (Captain Ron)
Say, speaking of eyepatches, Captain Ron Rico is the polar opposite of Snake Plissken. He’s laid back — almost too laid back — and enjoys nothing more than relaxing with a cold drink and sailing the seven seas. To most, it seems as though Captain Ron is living his life entirely by whim, bedding lovely women when he can, bargaining for the lives of his crew when he must, and expertly navigating his ship, even though it seems like disaster is always imminent. Star-Lord isn't much different than his Uncle Captain Ron.
4. Jack Burton (Big Trouble In Little China)
Peter Quill takes after Jack Burton more than perhaps any other Kurt Russell character. Both Quill and Burton pilot a big rig — the Milano and Pork Chop Express, respectively — landing in worlds they don't entirely understand, forming uneasy alliances with warriors and mutants, and battling far stronger villains. Both are lucky fools who stumble into magic and mysticism, leading teams far more qualified than themselves. Plus, both are so damn quotable.
5. R.J. MacReady (The Thing)
There's an alien being with inexplicable powers, trying to destroy everything around him — and R.J. MacReady may be the only one who can save the world. Sounds a little like what Quill encounters when he discovers Ronan the Accuser is in possession of an Infinity Stone and intends to use it to destroy a planet?
Now consider how both heroes react. MacReady and Quill are willing to sacrifice their own lives to ensure that the villain is destroyed and the world is safe once more. MacReady is a little quieter and less assuming than the extroverted and exasperating Quill (and certainly quieter than Captain Ron and Jack Burton). But both share a willingness to pay the ultimate price for the safety of others, which is what makes them heroes — hey, it runs in the family.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 premieres in theaters on May 5, 2017.
What's your favorite Kurt Russell movie? Let me know in the comments below!