The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a massive place, with a ton of franchises and endless heroic characters to follow. But certain properties stand out among the rest as fan favorites, and James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy is definitely one of those. The movies follow a motley crew of misfits, featuring an all-star cast including Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, and Chris Pratt.
But it turns out that Chris Pratt wasn't always keen to play Peter Quill/Star-Lord in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, he initially refused to audition for Marvel Studios, making the casting process a complicated one. Marvel casting director Sarah Finn recently recounted this at the Avengers: Endgame premiere, when asked about which Marvel blockbuster was the hardest to cast.
They're all challenging in their own ways, but I'd probably go with Guardians of the Galaxy. James Gunn has been very generous about this in saying that I, to the point of annoying him, kept insisting that Chris Pratt was the guy for the part, but Chris didn't want to play the part and refused to audition.
Well, this is surprising. Chris Pratt seems like the perfect choice to be Star-Lord, given his mixture of comedy and action experience. But the Parks & Rec alum was originally hesitant to join the franchise, so it took some convincing.
While moviegoers know just how successful the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise grew to be, there was no guarantee it would resonate so well with audiences before its 2014 debut. The characters were not household names, and the team included a giant talking tree and a foul mouthed raccoon. Chris Pratt can't be faulted for having some trepidation, before finally agreeing to meet with Sarah Finn and the folks at Marvel.
But once Chris Pratt agreed to read for Star-Lord, Sarah Finn still had to convince James Gunn. As she mentioned in her same interview with Variety,
I finally got him to audition and James Gunn said he didn't want to see him and that really was a challenge. I was really happy when I finally got them together and it was honestly one of those eureka moments that we talk about in casting when it absolutely feels right and you know it's right. James turned to me within ten seconds and said 'He's the guy.'
To me, it sounds like Sarah Finn gets the credit for casting Chris Pratt because she deserves it. The casting director clearly saw something special about Pratt's talents and the lone human Guardian, and it's a decision that seems to have paid off. Pratt has gone on to perform the part in three Marvel blockbusters, and is expected to reprise his role in Avengers: Endgame.
While there was some pullback from both Chris Pratt and James Gunn, eventually the director saw Pratt read as Peter Quill. And almost instantly, he realized that was the right guy all along. Why don't casting directors get Oscar attention, again?
Ultimately Chris Pratt's Star-Lord debuted when Guardians of the Galaxy hit theaters in 2014, and became a summer hit that grossed a whopping $773.3 million. The cast reunited for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in 2017, which made even more money at the box office and was another critical darling. Pratt leads the cast and gets top billing, and the sequel was largely focused on his relationship with father Ego (Kurt Russell).
Star-Lord and the rest of the Guardians (including newcomer Mantis) were handed over to The Russo Brothers for Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, which let them finally crossover with the greater MCU. They brought in a breathe of fresh air to the ultra-serious Infinity War, and their interactions with Thor and Iron Man didn't disappoint.
They had a major role in the multiple stories, proving how popular and essential the Guardians have become since Chris Pratt auditioned and landed the role of Star-Lord. Gamora was the key to the Soul Stone, while Rocket and Groot helped Thor get his new weapon Stormbreaker. Meanwhile, the rest of the Guardians and Nebula faced Thanos on Titan.
Star-Lord's action ultimately helped Thanos' victory, and stopped the team on Titan from beating the big purple guy. When the Mad Titan was briefly incapacitated, Nebula revealed that Gamora was dead, as her sister wasn't there with him. In a fit of rage he punched Josh Brolin's villain, and broke Mantis' concentration in the process. Thanos came to, and made quick work of the heroes with his full power.
It should be interesting to see how Star-Lord factors into Avengers: Endgame. Rocket and Nebula were the only characters to be spared from Thanos' wrath, and the two characters will likely lean on each other in the upcoming blockbuster. Most moviegoers assume the dusted characters will somehow be resurrected, with the newest Endgame trailers indicating the survivors will try to wield the stones themselves.
Some type of resurrection is going to be needed in order for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 to come to fruition. Star-Lord, Rocket, Drax, and Mantis all got dusted thanks to Thanos. So if The Decimation is reversed, the team should be in much better shape. But the big question is what will happen to Gamora. Rather than dying from the snap, she was murdered by Thanos in order to procure the Soul Stone on Vormir. Is there any hope for her?
While it may have been a long road, Chris Pratt's casting as Star-Lord is inspired, and the actor and James Gunn seem to have a good working relationship. This collaboration will continue for Guardians 3, now that Gunn has been officially rehired by Disney to helm the threequel. But first things first: the Guardians and Avengers need to tend to Thanos.