Guardians of the Galaxy Star Lord Peter Quill
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Credit: Marvel Studios/Disney

Guardians of the Galaxy: Early Star-Lord concept art reveals the Han Solo/James Dean rebel side of the character

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Oct 25, 2018, 11:42 AM EDT (Updated)

Prior to 2014, the Guardians of the Galaxy were a little-known Marvel team with very little brand recognition. Cut to four years later and the characters are now popular, household names. We all know and love these immature heroes, but back in the day, it fell on the talented folks in the Marvel Studios Visual Development to figure out how to present these characters in live action.

The earliest image of the upcoming MCU team came in the form of a teaser poster at Comic Con, depicting Star-Lord, Groot, Rocket Raccoon, Drax, and Gamora standing on a ledge and framed by beautifully sun-drenched clouds dotted with Nova Corps ships. Coming up with this poster fell to Charlie Wen, founder and former head of the department.

"Since we didn’t have a story/script yet at the time, my focus was to develop tone and character to the extent that I could without knowing the story we were telling," Wen told SYFY WIRE. 

Having a mere weekend to come up with something, Wen created two designs, which he shared on Instagram. The second one was chosen by Kevin Feige, but the first one is notable for showing the Guardians in more action-y poses, while also including a hover vehicle of some kind belonging to Peter Quill/Star-Lord. It's almost like Rey's speeder on Jakku in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

"The hover bike in the image shows Starlord’s personality as a natural loner- he’s the Han Solo of this world. The comics painted him as a wisecracking interplanetary 'policeman' — or intergalactic cowboy was closer to how I saw him," Wen said. "It also shows his rougher side of growing up with Yondu’s space pirates. When you grow up with pirates, you need to learn to survive — that has to come out in his design, including what he rides, how he sits, etc."

Check it out below:

"The shape of the bike has rounded edges, but the large grill shows teeth. Basically, he has a gentle side, but can bite as well. It also has a bit of a bulbous front, a little like a viper sports car mixed with old Porsche spider that James Dean used to ride," Wen added. "[There was] no specific reason on why Kevin chose the bottom sketch. But I think it makes a lot of sense. It’s a more familiar heroic intro of superhero characters.  And with tough superhero characters to sell, like a raccoon and a tree, you need something familiar to help!"

The future of the Guardians franchise is currently in doubt, after the firing of James Gunn over the summer. In August, the crew on Vol. 3 was reportedly told to go home as the project was put on indefinite hold

Just a few days ago, it was reported that Marvel Studios decided to push the production of Vol. 3 all the way to 2021. Not long after that, the studio removed a movie from its schedule that was destined for release on July 21, 2020. This has many speculating that it was the third Guardians installment, which still plans to use Gunn's original script once it eventually moves forward.

The team (or what's left of it) will return in Avengers 4, out in theaters May 3.

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