Why is Star-Lord such a Rake?

Here on Sourcerer, I have blogged about two things: comics and music. Today, I get to talk about both!

Let me set the scene. In Guardians of the Galaxy, one of the great movies and greater soundtracks of the summer, there was an odd scene at the beginning. Making a ridiculous spaceship escape, the hero, Star-Lord, gets confronted by a female woman who was sleeping below decks, and got thrown around as the ship flew off-planet. And his line, in this moment, was, “I forgot you were here.”

Star-Lord, or Peter Quill, is a human who was abducted at a young age by a crew of alien pirates, and grew up with them. He ends up as a womanizer, con man, and liar, and it might be easy to dismiss this sort of moment as “oh, those pirates.” From the other angle, it’s been criticized as a scene that really did not even need to exist. They could have cut it and not changed the movie much at all. Sure, Gamora later accuses him of being a womanizer, but how did she know? And do we need a throw-away scene to, as the audience, know that about him?

I have come to find a third opinion about this scene, about this character trait, this aspect of his personality. I use the term “rake” to describe it, perhaps a dated term but one I know well from my history thesis on William Hogarth (with his Rake’s Progress), and more recently with something like the Decemberists’ The Hazards of Love. I suppose more modern terms would be “player,” “ladies man,” or my favorite (from Scott Pilgrim versus the World), “lady-killer wanna-be jerky-jerk.” So why is Star-Lord this way? It makes sense to me now, and I want to share why.

It’s Not From The Comics…

Cover from Guardians of the Galaxy #1

Cover from Guardians of the Galaxy #1, 2008

Over on Comparative Geeks, one of the things we do is read the source material and then see the movie, something we call LitFlix. Well, for my Guardians of the Galaxy LitFlix, I read the whole 25-comic run of Guardians where you first see this group of heroes (plus friends) together. I’ve read some of the start of the newer run, as well. Sure, there’s a lot more of the comics I haven’t read, and Star-Lord has been around since 1976.

Still, in what I have read, Star-Lord has not been a Rake. He’s been manipulative and lies, uses his charisma and words as his weapons as much or more than his trusty elemental pistols. But him and relationships? Or less than that – him and womanizing? Not really a part. Certainly not to the extent that it shows up in the movie!

So it’s not some little detail they snuck in to try to be faithful to the comics, it’s not a nod to the hardcore fans. Assuming there even was such a thing for Guardians of the Galaxy before the movie was announced…

Where Does It Come From? How About The Music?

Awesome Mix vol. 1 Continue reading

We’re All Hooked on a Feeling – Guardians of the Galaxy

If you haven’t had a chance to see Guardians of the Galaxy yet, might I suggest checking it out? I have been blogging on Sourcerer about 2 things: comics and music. This movie is a perfect combination of those two things.

Previously, it seems like it’s Zack Snyder who had a hold on good use of music in comic-book type movies, especially Watchmen and Sucker Punch. But those movies were a lot darker: Guardians of the Galaxy has great music, and used it to generate a sense of fun, as well as emotional depth.

You can see some of how they use music in the first trailer, with the now iconic use of Hooked on a Feeling. I also think this is a perfect sort of character: it introduced the characters, the movie, and left it pretty much there without giving much away. I avoided other trailers after this one, and just saw the movie from there!

I will say, I do include the second theatrical trailer below, for music purposes. I’ll hit a spoiler section where this is appropriate; but the second trailer gave a lot away so know that. But for now, a couple of the reasons that Guardians of the Galaxy was good, in relation to its use of music!

Music as a Character

From the first moments of the movie, we can see that our lead character, Peter Quill (played by Chris Pratt), loved and loves music. He was getting lost in music as a kid, and, after being abducted, clearly kept this obsession.

He ends up in space for the rest of his life, or at least so far, and his only connections to Earth are his memories (constantly referenced through pop culture), a couple of artifacts (trolls!), and his music.

Awesome Mix vol. 1One cassette. A mix tape, made by his mom, who died right before he was abducted. So it is not only the connection to Earth, to the life he lost, but to his mother, the family he knew. The music stands in for Earth, for family, for love. I used the word obsession, and I think for Peter Quill, this is probably just right.

But it’s more than that. The music functions almost as a character in the movie. It reminds us of the mother who left the music for Peter, it grounds us on the Earth we know even as we experience the cosmic Marvel Universe that is exploding off of the comic page onto the big screen. Because even as these recognizable songs play, you realize they’re not just a soundtrack: they’re the songs Peter has with him.

Putting Our Best Foot Forward

In the comics, as with a lot of science fiction, we come to find that humanity is far behind when it comes to technology. Indeed, this is a major plot in The Avengers, as Nick Fury talks about how they were working on advanced weapons technology because they had found out how powerful the rest of the galaxy seemed to be. Blame Loki, I guess; everyone else does…

Often, it’s human pluck and determination that stands out, or human ingenuity, inventiveness, and diversity. Vague notions to make us feel good about ourselves, and staples of science fiction. It’s rare that something specific gets held up as a special thing from humanity, something that the alien species encountered like from humanity.

Guardians of the Galaxy give us that something. Music. I can point out three examples:

  • The guy who takes the headphones, seen in the trailer. He puts them on, listens, and keeps them. Even shirking his guard duty, completely oblivious to the station falling apart around him. He likes the music.
  • Gamora. Both in the middle of the film, when Peter is introducing the music to her (and suggests dancing), and you can see her get into the music. So much so that she lets her guard down. And then later on, when she is listening to the music on the ship, and starts dancing.
  • Groot. The number one take-away meme from this movie is going to be Groot. I guess to avoid spoilers, I’ll leave it at that.

We can conjecture some of it too. Peter grew up with the Ravagers, and kept his stuff – and kept the Walkman running! – throughout this time. Surely they were exposed to it as well. Also, Peter seems to have a pretty extreme rakish side to him. You can see him potentially sharing his music with women – like he did with Gamora – and having them fall in love with it as well.

I love that there is something of humanity, something of our society and culture, that stands out on the galactic stage. And more than that, I love that the thing that stands out is our music.

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Summer Reading Recommendations – Marvel Comics

Hello all! After the recent interest in Jeremy’s Summer Reading Recommendations, I thought I would do some further recommendations for comics. This week it’s Marvel Comics recommendations, and next week I’ll wrangle together some independent (non-Marvel or DC) comics recommendations. 

Got a bit of a mix: complete stories, current ongoing comics — some brand new and untested — and  even a crossover event. Some options if you’re looking for a comic to read!

I like reading comics digitally, though your local library might have some of these in Trade Paperback as well. A good way to get access to these and other Marvel comics is through their Marvel Unlimited subscription service: an annual fee for access to all of their digital comics six-months-old and older.

A+X

Cover to A+X #7 - with Iceman and Thor!

Cover to A+X #7 – with Iceman and Thor!

One of the most fun Marvel comics in recent months has been A+X. This comic came out of the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover event. Having gotten over their differences, this comic tells two stories per issue, combining two characters in each – an X-Man and an Avenger. So really, as simple as it sounds.

The stories are generally one-shots, not relating to each other, or from comic-to-comic. They don’t rely heavily on knowledge of what has come before, or who the characters are – they do the introductions for you. So basically, some writers and artists get together, tell a fun little story, and you’re off to do something else. Light, fun reading – highly recommended. 

The series serves one other purpose – if there’s a writer or artist you really like, you can look them up and find their other work to read more!

Marvel 1602

Cover to Marvel 1602 #3

Cover to Marvel 1602 #3

I love alternate realities, and I love Neil Gaiman. You get both with this series. It’s an 8-issue story arc that requires no pre-reading. However, for Marvel fans – even just ones who mostly know Marvel characters from something like the movies – there are extra joys in this series, with appearances aplenty from many of Marvel’s greatest. 

What would the Marvel universe be like in the year 1602? Who would be good, who bad, who hunted? Find out in Marvel 1602! Want more on this one? Check out our review on Comparative Geeks.

Ms. Marvel

Cover to Ms. Marvel #1

Cover to Ms. Marvel #1

One I plan on looking into further this summer is Ms. Marvel. They’ve introduced a new character to carry this mantle, a young, Muslim geek girl. Sounds interesting. 

While one way of looking at this comic is that it’s an attempt to answer lots of things missing in comics in a single comic, the other way of looking at it is that that’s a good thing, and buying this comic is a good way to support diversity in comics! Which reminds me, I should probably be buying this comic. Off to do that!

Want a review for this series? Check out the ones over on Things Matter!

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Guardians of the Galaxy!!!

by Jeremy DeFatta

Good day, everyone! As a lot of you probably already know, the first trailer for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy premiered back on February 18. I was already looking forward to this movie, but the trailer drives it home for me that this is going to be a funny, action-packed space adventure that Marvel is quite bold for making. This property and these characters are not terribly well known, but I certainly hope they will be after this.

The main characters are quite the eclectic mix—Peter Quill/Star-Lord (half-alien prince and leader of the team), Gamora (the most dangerous woman in the universe and daughter of Thanos*), Drax the Destroyer (also strongly tied to Thanos), Groot (humanoid tree), and Rocket Racoon (genetically engineered rodent person with a serious love of firearms). It’s pretty awesome that we’re finally getting to see the cosmic side of Marvel in a film, as well as some of its myriad alien races and characters. I’m especially eager to see the Kree Accuser, Ronan, among several others. The film is directed by James Gunn and has one amazing assortment of actors attached to it.

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