Guardians 2"s planet-sized bad guy is one of the most vile villains in the MCU — but does his role in the story have a deeper significance?


In the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one of the biggest complaints from fans and critics alike was the lack of memorable villains. But following the start of Phase 3, the MCU started to lớn see more compelling and memorable villains — ones like Baron Zemo, Vulture, Hela, Killmonger, & ultimately even Thanos himself.

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Of course, one antagonist that shouldn’t go overlooked is Ego, played by Kurt Russell in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Better known khổng lồ comic fans as “Ego the Living Planet”, one of the most infamously offbeat bad guys in Marvel Comics history, the revelation that Ego would appear in humanoid form — and as Star-Lord’s father, no less — came as a shock to those who only knew the character as a sentient celestial body. But true khổng lồ form, James Gunn’s storytelling prowess turned Ego from a campy Silver Age bad guy to a character who has much more story significance than one might think at first glance.

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Underneath all the swaggering charisma that Kurt Russell brings lớn the role, one might find Ego to be a rather plain villain. After all, his ultimate motivation is that he wants khổng lồ wipe out all life in existence simply because he finds it lesser than himself. That kind of straightforward megalomania can come off as somewhat lacking compared to Ego’s more nuanced contemporaries lượt thích Killmonger và Zemo. But looking beneath the surface, Ego actually has much more going on than one might think. For one thing, he claims to be one of the Celestials — the nigh-omnipotent cosmic beings who were teased in the first Guardians of the Galaxy, and will be making their first formal appearance this November in Eternals. However, Ego’s true strength as a villain lies not in his significance to lớn wider Marvel lore, but rather in his significance khổng lồ the themes of his own film.


One of the most important parts of writing a truly great antagonist is making them a thematic parallel to the protagonist, và many of the best villains of the MCU reflect this idea. Infinity WarEndgame are about sacrifice, and as such they match the self-sacrificing Avengers against Thanos, who would sacrifice everyone except himself for the sake of peace. Likewise, Spider-Man and Vulture are both driven by a responsibility khổng lồ protect the ones they love, but Vulture’s desperation and cynicism led him towards a life of crime. So too is Ego a representative of the central theme behind Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 — which, fittingly enough, is ego.

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It may seem a bit on the nose, but ego (both the psychological concept and the Living Planet) is indeed the driving force behind all the conflict in the film. The movie’s inciting incident happens when Rocket steals a mix of batteries from the Sovereign for no other reason than to lớn assert his own superiority, causing the Guardians khổng lồ be attacked in retaliation. The group then ends up in further danger due lớn an argument between Star-Lord & Rocket over who gets to lớn fly the ship. Both Rocket and Quill constantly try to lớn cover up their own insecurities by putting on a tough, cocky facade, but their pride only serves to hurt the people around them — highlighted when Quill’s immaturity causes a falling out between him và Gamora, driving him further into Ego’s grasp.

In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, pride và false bravado are signs of immaturity and loneliness, while humility & vulnerability are signs of maturity & togetherness. No scene shows this off better than the confrontation where Yondu calls Rocket out on his petty, self-destructive behavior, revealing that he knows how sad và empty Rocket is beneath his facade because he was the exact same way before being humbled by his crew’s mutiny. Those who are motivated by the insecure need to lớn prove themselves only drive others away, while those who accept their own shortcomings are able to xuất hiện themselves up khổng lồ others — as proven by Gamora finally setting aside her rivalry with Nebula when she realizes how much she’s hurt her sister. It’s a testament to James Gunn’s skill as a storyteller that he managed lớn weave the theme of ego vs. Humility into nearly every facet of the film.


and of course, it all leads back to Ego himself. As the ultimate symbol of pride, he’s so fixated on the idea of his own superiority that he sees all other beings as inferior, unworthy of even sharing the same universe as him. He isn’t the most complex villain, but he doesn’t have khổng lồ be — attempting to lớn humanize him would only detract from his thematic role as the living manifestation of hubris itself. Ego’s name isn’t a coincidence: his cruelty shows exactly how destructive it can be when one places their own self-image above all else. Even the life of the woman he loves, Meredith Quill, means nothing to lớn Ego in the face of proving his own supremacy. & because of that, Ego has cemented himself as one of the most despicable villains in the entire MCU.

But of course, Ego’s arrogance is exactly what leads lớn his downfall. Because of his own narcissism, he fails lớn understand his own son’s all-too-human capacity for empathy. The idea that anyone would choose family over absolute nguồn is downright alien to lớn him. & yet, that’s exactly what Peter Quill does. Because of his compassion & humility — his ability to value others over his own personal gain — Star-Lord finds the strength to lớn defeat Ego, proving that love is stronger than pride.

Ego may be a detestable character, but that’s exactly what makes him the perfect antagonist for the story he’s in. He represents everything that Star-Lord, Rocket, and Yondu could have become if they gave in to their pride, placing themselves above everyone else. Ultimately, Ego is the best villain that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 — a perfect thematic foil lớn the heroes, whose slimy arrogance and false geniality are so brilliantly performed by Kurt Russell that one can’t help but love to lớn hate him. Here’s hoping that the main villain of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, whoever they kết thúc up being, can manage to fill Ego’s planet-sized shoes.