Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord helped make Guardians of the Galaxy one of the most entertaining films in the MCU. The film’s writers had fun with a lot of aspects of Pratt’s character, not the least of which was his alias. Peter Quill a.k.a. “Star-Lord” spends a good portion of the movie trying to push one very particular agenda: to gain his name “Star-Lord” the respect it deserves.
When we first meet adult Peter Quill he’s listening to his mother’s mix tape and dancing irreverently on Morag. He’s there to steal a mysterious orb (which we later find out contains the power stone), but is attacked by Korath (Djimon Hounsou). When Korath asks Quill who he is, our hero drops his alias, expecting acknowledgement, he receives the opposite—who? asks Korath. “Star-Lord, man. Legendary outlaw?” Quill’s fight for notoriety becomes a running gag in the film, and during the sequence in the Kyln when the Guardians are detained by the Nova Corps, a line of dialogue from the trailers was dropped and Peter’s on-screen details were adjusted to get in an extra joke at the expense of “Star-Lord.”
When the Guardians are captured, Corpsman Dey (John C. Reilly) elaborates on the identity of each guardian. In the first trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, Reilly’s character says, “Peter Jason Quill. He’s also known as Star-Lord.” “Who calls him that?” asks Garthan Saal (Peter Serafinowicz). “Himself, mostly.” As he does this, a digital screen reveals the background information of each Guardian: weight, length, planet of origin, and of course aliases. For Peter this last one was originally “Starlord” in the trailer (even though that’s still wrong, considering there’s no hyphen). However, in the film the dialogue where Dey acknowledges Quill as “Starlord” is taken out completely; instead, director James Gunn decided to change the display alias to “Space-Lord” – indicating that Peter once again tried to establish his alias, only for it to be written down wrong in the Kyln’s database.
Chris Pratt first found fame as Andy Dwyer on the NBC hit Parks and Recreation. When we first meet him, the character is an overweight, unemployed slacker. Pratt has described that character as “dim-witted and guileless, a real idiot, but lovable.” Originally intended to be a temporary character on the show, Andy was upgraded to a series regular due to Pratt’s charisma and talent for comedy. These characteristics helped Pratt win the role of Star-Lord over the many other actors who auditioned. Upon being cast as the Guardian, Pratt’s profile grew exponentially (as his body fat decreased).
The joke of Peter Quill’s alias is an arc in and of itself, not just for the character, but for Chris Pratt. Peter Quill isn’t a well-known outlaw at the beginning of the film, and Chris Pratt wasn’t a well-known movie star. As Quill proves his mettle as a superhero, so does Pratt. Near the end of the movie, when the Guardians breach Ronan’s ship, Quill runs into Korath again. Korath sees Quill and finally recognizes him as Star-Lord. Smiling, Quill says, “finally.” Not only has “Star-Lord” made it (whether he leads the Guardians or not), but so has the man who plays him.
MORE: Guardians of the Galaxy 3 Will Be Set A Decade After Vol. 2 (At Least)