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Guardians of the Galaxy Grapple with God

"Enter a mysterious cosmic being claiming to be Peter Quill’s long-lost father. His name is Ego, and he is a living planet—but he creates a humanoid avatar (played by Kurt Russell) to interact with the universe, especially the son he never knew. The Guardians are wary of this self-proclaimed god (“with a lowercase g,” he modestly adds) but they pay a visit to his planet—which, again, is he—so Quill can bond with his divine deadbeat dad.

Ego lies at the intersection of two of the film’s big themes: family and power. The Guardians are a family of sorts, a motley crew of orphans, widowers, and science experiments thrown together by fate and gradually learning to have a life together by choice. But each of them, we learn, has connections outside the group—even if those are exactly what they’re running away from. Gamora, for instance, is hounded by her sister/rival Nebula (Karen Gillen). Their relationship is tense—they spend plenty of time trying to kill each other. And yet, after all, they still care about each other, and we see them grope towards less murderous ways of expressing their sisterly bond. Drax, meanwhile, develops a sweet, sibling-like bond with Ego’s naïve sidekick Mantis (Pom Klementieff), an empath with antennae and a secret. Rocket finds an unlikely foil in Quill’s old space pirate mentor Yondu (Michael Rooker), another crusty scrapper with hidden emotional depths. James Gunn wisely decided to keep Groot as a baby in this film, and the responsibility all the Guardians feel for the infant tree-creature in their charge is a focal point of their burgeoning family unit.

Ego bonds with Quill by playing catch with him (Yes, Chris Pratt gets to delightedly play catch with a planet in this movie) and making him an offer: Quill can learn to channel the cosmic energy Ego does and become a god like his father instead of a mortal. It’s a temptation that recalls Homer’s Odyssey, where Odysseus is offered immortality by the nymph Calypso—provided he remains on her island and doesn’t return to his wife, Penelope. Ego evokes this myth again when he shares what he believes to be the greatest piece of Earth music: “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl),” the 1972 hit by Looking Glass. Ego identifies with the sailor in the song who says, “Brandy, you’ve a fine girl,/What a good wife you would be/But my life, my love and my lady is the sea.” Here we discover exactly what kind of god Ego is: he is a pagan god in the mold of Jupiter or Neptune, sowing the universe with his seed in search of the false transcendence offered by male promiscuity. Unless he gave up his self-centered quest of cosmic sexual tourism, the only kind of father Ego could be is an absentee one."


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