As the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) keeps on expanding on the big (and now small) screen, its cosmic side is becoming more and more important, with unsurprisingly colorful and strange characters, such as the Eternals, often taking the spotlight – our list of Marvel movies in chronological order will help you catch up. However, we shouldn’t forget about those who kickstarted the spacefaring adventures back in 2014: the Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s interesting to consider the importance of how Guardians of the Galaxy sent the MCU to space.
James Gunn’s oddball take on space operas quickly proved to be one the best Marvel movies thanks to its relaxed spirit, charming looks, and special brand of humor (plus a packed cast). But there was more to its success, including a fully realized sci-fi universe that explored what was possible beyond Earth’s skies according to Marvel. And we think the stellar selection of songs in Peter Quill’s Awesome Mix tapes definitely helped as well.
From dreamlike vistas to goofy aliens and dangerous creatures, Guardians of the Galaxy brought more to the table than anyone initially expected, and wasn’t content with simply translating the comic books to the big screen. One of the biggest examples of how Gunn and the creative minds at Marvel handled this adaptation is Star-Lord’s ship, the Milano – arguably one of the coolest spaceships in sci-fi – and its successor, the Benatar. Moreover, they’re spacecrafts that carry some unexpected history and trivia, so let’s take a brief look at them.
When the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie starts, we find Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord looking for a mysterious orb on Morag. He promptly has to leave once Korath the Pursuer and his platoon of Sakaarans show up, and we’re introduced to the Milano in an adventurous fashion – the scene perfectly defines Peter as a cheekier and more careless version of Han Solo (yes, that’s possible). And, in a way, the Milano is his Millennium Falcon, a spaceship that has taken him to every corner of the (Andromeda) galaxy and somehow survives every adventure gone wrong.
The dashing blue and orange M-class spaceship was inherited by Quill when he was only ten – Yondu and his Ravagers are (totally not) great parental figures. These ships are abundant in Ravager fleets due to their versatility; they’re agile, sturdy, and surprisingly roomy. As we can see in the films, Quill customized the Milano with tons of trinkets and more manual controls, all of which reminded him of Earth and his early years with his mother. Furthermore, the ship’s named after his childhood crush Alyssa Milano, who, thanks to ‘80s sitcoms, was popular before he was abducted from Earth in 1988 by Yondu’s clan.
Square Enix and Eidos’ Guardians of the Galaxy video game tells its own story, separate from the comics and films, but it was clearly influenced in big ways by James Gunn’s vision for the band of misfits. The Milano is probably one of the game’s more important locations, as much of the character development scenes and breathers happen inside Peter Quill and the Guardians’ unusual home. Production designer Charles Wood’s take on the nostalgic themes behind the Milano for the films can undeniably be felt throughout the entirety of Eidos’ Milano, which could even be considered a character of sorts.
Back to the films, 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 shocked fans in many ways, and one of them was abandoning the iconic ship, which was badly damaged during a massive space battle with the Sovereign’s Omnicrafts. The Guardians managed to crash on the planet Berhert before the plot took a wild turn – Rocket and Groot started repairing the ship, but they were never able to finish. Its exit may seem unimportant and random, but it fits the movie’s core theme of Peter letting go of his parental figures (Ego and Yondu) as well as his past.
The Benatar (and other M-class ships)
When audiences returned to the Guardians in 2018’s massive crossover Avengers: Infinity War, four years had passed in the MCU since the Milano had been abandoned. During that time the Guardians acquired the Benatar, a new M-class spaceship with an auxiliary pod ship attached. Funnily enough, the Benatar quickly became more important than the Milano ever was, especially during the events of Avengers: Endgame – Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (now including Rocket and Nebula) travel back in time and carry a miniaturized Benatar via Pym particles to make the search for the Infinity Stones much quicker and easier.
As stated before, M-ships are anything but unique in the Andromeda galaxy (the main setting of the GOTG movies). The final act of the original Guardians of the Galaxy gave us a good look at a full Ravager fleet, putting plenty of M-ships to good use to hold off the attack of Ronan’s forces on Xandar. Even Rocket got to pilot another M-ship retrofitted with heavy weapons, the Warbird, in order to break through the invaders’ defenses.
The very end of the sequel also manifested tons of Ravagers showing up to mourn and celebrate Yondu, and more of these ships were among them, so Atomhawk’s striking design (based on classic pulp sci-fi films such as Barbarella and Fantastic Voyage) will surely stick around and evolve in the MCU. In fact, the What If…? animated series introduced another universe’s Star-Lord in Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa, who also pilots an M-class spaceship, the Mandela, named after the former president of South Africa.
It remains to be seen who’s the captain of the Benatar (Peter or Thor) the next time we see the Guardians in Thor: Love and Thunder, as Endgame closed their personal Infinity Saga chapters with a funny argument over the leadership of the team. Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see the Benatar used in yet another space adventure that doesn’t resemble the last one. And of course, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is shooting as we speak and aiming for a 2023 release, with a Holiday Special coming to Disney Plus before that.