Caveat: Thar be spoilers ahead.
Think back for a moment to when you were watching the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie. Toward the end of the film, when you were figuring out how Star-Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) could hold an Infinity Stone (a mystical gem that will help bring about the Infinity Gauntlet in the next “Avengers” movie) in his hand without being destroyed.
There was more to Star-Lord than anyone knew — but you knew what was up, right?
As that film’s ravaging Yondu flies off in his ship, he makes mention of Star-Lord’s biological father. Yondu says that he never liked the guy and that he was glad he never turned Star-Lord over to his dad when Peter was young.
The fanboy wheels in your brain start ticking. You start tapping yourself on the head with your finger like that guy in the popular meme because you’ve got it all figured out. You may have even leaned over to the person watching “Guardians” with you and said to them, “I know who his father is. Because I read the comics.”
And of course … you were wrong.
J’Son, leader of the Spartax empire and father to Star-Lord in the pages of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” comic books, was indeed (cue your best Maury Povich voice) not the father.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn went out of his way to say that J’Son would not be the father of Star-Lord in the Guardians movies. The paternal honor would go to Ego, a living planet played in “Vol. 2” by Kurt Russell.
So why the change? Perhaps the switch was made to give Gunn the chance to add a cold and unexpected twist to the story of Star-Lord’s parents. Gunn has made no secret of his love for “The Empire Strikes Back,” and while Star-Lord gets the “I am your father” speech from Ego, what Star-Lord, and perhaps most viewers weren’t expecting to hear was:
Oh. And I killed your mother too.
Ego, like so many comic book characters with the power to do so, wants to remake the universe as he sees fit. It’s the plot-point in “Vol. 2” that turns Star-Lord and Ego’s father/son reunion into an evil-mastermind-looking-for-an-apprentice session. Maybe, because there weren’t any real hints of a major villain in the trailers for “Vol. 2,” you saw the Ego twist coming.
But did you see Ego being the person who put the cancer inside Star-Lord’s mother’s body that killed her? That’s cold, and a lot more brisk and chilling than perhaps anyone was expecting from a movie with so many laughs and a killer soundtrack.
We find out that Ego fathered many children across the universe, looking to produce an heir that could help him on his quest to reshape the universe. Whenever he found the children and they failed to live up to his expectations, he destroyed them. Star-Lord’s mother was the rare woman that tugged at the heart of Ego. He knew he might not be able to leave her and that his feelings for her interfered with his plans of universal domination. So instead of just going away, he eliminated his former love and was cold enough to reveal to their son that his mother died by his hands.
That family tragedy right now stands as the most evil moment by a villain from Marvel Studios. Ego, not the Red Skull, not Loki and his mischief, not the underused Kaecilius in “Doctor Strange,” is the most ruthless villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
That is, until Thanos arrives with the Infinity Gauntlet in “Avengers: Infinity War.” But until then, Ego is the Marvel Studios king of cruel.