Darth Vader, the most famous villain in Star Wars history, came pretty close to making a cameo appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy… As an action figure. There’s an interesting story about how the Dark Lord of the Sith would have factored into Marvel’s own space opera.
Marvel Studios President and Executive Producer Kevin Feige noted to Mashable that originally, the opening sequence of the movie was going to be significantly different. Instead of the tear-jerker prologue about how Peter Quill was abducted after his mother’s death by brain cancer, we were going to meet Quill already established as the space pirate Star-Lord. At first, we would only see Star-Lord in his mask, not knowing that he was human, but at one point, his Earth-based heritage was going to be revealed by means of a Darth Vader action figure:
“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, goes, ‘What’s this?’”
So, what made them change their mind about having the Darth Vader action figure show up? Simple – James Gunn pitched in with a better idea that ultimately gave the movie its identity:
“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. “
And the rest is history, as the Walkman provided the backdrop to the movie’s array of chart-topping hits from the 1970s. While a Kenner Darth Vader action figure doesn’t appear in Guardians of the Galaxy, another Earth-based toy appears in its place – a Troll doll – so the idea was repurposed in a different way that even served as a minor plot point at the very end of the movie.
Guardians of the Galaxy is available to watch on home video formats.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 is still in theaters.