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There's few fictional characters quite as massively popular as Star Wars' Darth Vader. The conflicted villain is the mascot of the franchise as a whole, with the fandom obsessed with every lightsaber swing and strained breath the the Sith Lord takes. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story provided a fantastic new battle sequence for Vader, although now it appears that he very nearly appeared in James Gunn's original Guardians of the Galaxy movie. And while he wouldn't have shown up to tell Peter Quill that was his father (they saved that for Kurt Russell), Star-Lord originally had a Darth Vader action figure in his belongings.
This news comes to us from Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige, who reveals that Darth Vader almost showed up in Guardians to prove that Peter Quill was a denizen of Earth. This was eventually ditched for one of the most iconic aspects of the film, but Feige revealed:
Always, we wanted to reveal at a certain point in the movie that Peter Quill was a human from Earth. And for a long time, I really thought it was going to be the greatest thing in the world that you're in a spaceship and he's talking to one of the alien characters and he knocks over his bag and one of the alien characters bends down and picks up --- and it was a Darth Vader action figure --- [and] goes, 'What's this?'
Well, this would have been great. I doubt there are any Guardians of the Galaxy fans who aren't at least somewhat familiar with Star Wars and Darth Vader, so Marvel could have definitely appealed to its base demographic by having the galaxy far, far away referenced.
To make a long story short, James Gunn was basically like, 'I got a better idea. What if he had a Walkman and listened to music?' And it was like, 'Oh, that's a million times better.' Because the Star Wars thing was just a nerdy reference in a single moment, and obviously, the conceit of the music redefined the entire movie.
Yeah, it's safe to say that Marvel Studios made the right call on this one. While a Darth Vader figure would have been a fun easter egg, Star-Lord's Walkman and the Awesome Mix tapes have become one of the most iconic and beloved aspects of the Guardians franchise. I truly can't imagine the movies without Star-Lord's taste in music, and I hope that there's a clever way to work it into Avengers: Infinity War.
The next installment in the MCU will be Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 7th, and the Guardians will return when Avengers: Infinity War arrives in theaters on May 4th, 2018.