Star-Lord, a.k.a. Peter Quill is one of the biggest and most popular character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks to the big success of 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” and its 2017 sequel. But before those films, Star-Lord and his fellow Guardians were really something of a lesser-known team existing mainly in the cosmic side of the Marvel universe — and Quill in particular bore little resemblance to the version made famous by Chris Pratt.
But the great thing about comics is that they’re able to take characters who have existed for many years and reinvent them as much as they like — as Marvel did after “Guardians” to make comics Peter more closely resemble movie Peter. And in many cases, since several-hundred-million-dollar budgets aren’t on the line, that means take some big chances that might not make it past the movie studio martinets.
Case in point, in the comics Star-Lord just experienced one of the boldest changes yet: As seen in the latest issue of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” comic by Al Ewing and Juann Cabal, it turns out he is bisexual and polyamorous.
Here’s the background: Having been apparently killed in an explosion, it’s revealed that Peter survived and now exists in a parallel reality. He spends 144 years in that reality working with two aliens — a female named Aradia and a male named Mors — and eventually entered a relationship with them. While he at first shrugs off anything intimate (Peter’s main romantic relationship in the comics, like the MCU, is with Gamora), the more time he spends with them, the more he realizes he can’t deny his feelings. And the comic makes it clear that Peter has feelings for both Aradia and Mors that are the same level of intensity as his romantic and sexual feelings towards Gamora.
Naturally, the first thought on most people’s minds was whether or not this character trait will ever end up being depicted in the MCU. After all, there’s still at least one more film planned for “Guardians of the Galaxy” and with the cosmic world becoming more integrated thanks to “Captain Marvel” and “Doctor Strange,” there’s definitely room for Peter Quill to grow. We obviously have no idea, but we should note that there are a few tricky things to consider before assuming one way or the other.
The first has to do with Chris Pratt’s religious affiliation. He’s a member of a Los Angeles-area congregation affiliated with Hillsong, the Australia-based megachurch group known mainly for two reasons: multiple scandals involving corruption, abuse and opposition to LGBTQ equality; and for heavily recruiting among U.S.-based celebrities including Pratt and Justin Bieber.
In 2019, after an appearance on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” in which talked about his church, he was called out by Elliot Page for belonging to a religious group that is “infamously anti lgbtq.” For his part, Pratt has never publicly expressed any anti-LGBTQ views and in a statement addressing Page’s criticism said “nothing could be further from the truth. I go to a church that opens their doors to absolutely everyone.”
Because of all that, plenty of fans are already assuming we won’t be seeing a queer Star-Lord in the MCU any time soon. For just one (of many) example, one fan joked, “How long until the headline ‘Chris Pratt Exits The Role of Star-Lord Citing “Creative Differences”‘ drops?”
But that brings us to the second tricky thing — the (somewhat slow-moving) increase in queer characters in the MCU. It begins with “The Eternals,” which hits theaters in Nov. 2021 and will feature the first ever LGBTQ kiss. Next up is March 2021’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” which will feature the live-action debut of America Chavez, the first lesbian character to headline a Marvel comic. And then two months later, as actress Tess Thompson said at Comic-Con 2020, a major part of the plot of “Thor: Love and Thunder” will concern newly-crowned ruler of Asgard Valkyrie’s quest to find herself a queen.
And the third thing? Given Star-Lord’s arc so far in the MCU, it might be difficult to incorporate Star-Lord’s comic book bisexuality without provoking justified accusations of queerbaiting — the cynical marketing technique where creators suggest, but don’t actually depict, LGBTQ relationships or characterizations.
When we last saw Star-Lord, he was still very much in love with Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who was killed during the events of “Infinity War” only to be brought back, sort of, as a time travel duplicate during the time heist. New Gamora hadn’t experienced any of the character development the other version went through, which means she also never fell in love with Peter, and instead of sticking around she left earth for other parts of the galaxy to figure herself out. So it is that at the end of “Avengers: Endgame,” the Guardians (with Thor tagging along) set out to find out where she went, and that search will presumably make up much of the plot of 2023’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.”
Point being, as Star-Lord and Gamora’s relationship is one of the core elements of the series, there isn’t really a lot of room also include a brand new same sex relationship for Quill. Which means any mention at all would have to be handled exactly right or it could end up attracting the kind of harsh criticism “Endgame” received when the first openly gay character in the MCU just showed up briefly during Captain America’s group therapy session.
Even so, there’s a ton of opportunity here f0r Disney and Marvel. Hell, the matter of fact, earthy humor baked into the “Guardians of the Galaxy” makes it especially easy to get away with a simple reference to Peter’s open-ended sexual orientation, if the film decides to go there. That’s a pretty big if of course, and depends, like we said, on getting things exactly right. The main thing? Marvel confirming Star-Lord’s sexuality in the comics means that they’ve canonically give us gays in space. And that’s a great place to start any story.