Peter Quill has grown tremendously as a character, from singing and dancing around at the beginning of Guardians of the Galaxy to punching Thanos for killing Gamora in Avengers: Infinity War, and everything in between.
Going into the third Guardians movie, fans knew to prepare for an emotional goodbye to much of the original team, be that because of characters' presumed deaths or their stories moving beyond the Guardians.
Though not necessarily goodbyes forever, many of these farewells did come to pass in Guardians 3 — with Star-Lord's story now explained by Pratt himself.
Why Did Star-Lord Make The Choice He Did?
Warning: The rest of this article contains major spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
During the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 global press conference, Chris Pratt discussed Peter Quill's journey and gave insight into why the character chose to return to Earth at the end of the movie.
Coming so brilliantly full circle from where Guardians of the Galaxy began, Quill decides at the movie's close to return to Earth and reunite with his grandfather.
Wearing an outfit aesthetically similar to the one he was abducted in (a T-shirt with a red jacket of some kind — a red flannel when he was taken, a red leather jacket when he came back), Quill is greeted at the door by "Grandma Quill," who brings him to "Grandpa Quill" for an emotional reunion.
When he explains his decision to the rest of his team, Peter says that he is going to take Mantis' advice (delivered via Drax) and "learn to swim" rather than jump from "lily pad to lily pad" as he has done until now.
This metaphor specifically is referring to the women in Peter's life in the context of the movie, but Pratt explained that it's applicable to "affiliations we have with a team or a family or whatever" as well:
"There's a wonderful monologue that [Dave] Bautista gives that, you know, comes from Mantis, that Quill is a guy who needs to learn how to swim. He's been hopping from lily pad to lily pad, woman to woman, and relationship to relationship. I think that's a pretty human condition. I think, oftentimes, we find ourselves in our relationships or in the affiliations we have with a team or a family or whatever. And he has been lost."
Pratt said that in "dancing around... [Quill] had found himself there. But it was kinda B.S." as ultimately he was "[pretending]:"
"So, yeah, in the beginning, he was running away from the death of his mother, but he got to pretend to be this character based on these pop culture icons of his childhood of the late-'80s. And so, he was dancing around, but all of that was, really he had found himself there. But it was kinda B.S., you know?"
According to Pratt, Quill's journey throughout the MCU so far has been him "searching for who he is" and finding it with the team, particularly Gamora, and thinking he could find it in "who his father was" in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2:
"And then he found himself with the Guardians of the Galaxy. And then he thought he could find himself with who his father was. So, he's a guy who's constantly been searching for who he is. And then he found it again in his relationship with Gamora."
Despite this, as becomes especially evident after the loss of Gamora, Pratt explained, "None of them have been the real him ... he's lost:"
"And so, when [the version of himself he found with Gamora]'s stripped away from him, he's a guy who's realizing that all of these various people that he's found that are Quill, none of them have been the real him. And so, he is, he's lost. And that probably does mean that he's sad."
While Pratt did not directly state that this character journey was the logic behind Quill's choice to return to Earth, Star-Lord said it was time for him to "learn to swim," and Pratt's commentary on what that lily pad analogy meant for the character all but confirms this explanation.
Is This The End of Star-Lord?
With the movie's ending seeing Quill's return to Earth as he was looking to "learn to swim," one might assume that this is the character's retirement from superheroics. However, following the second post-credit scene are the words "The Legendary Star-Lord Will Return."
As such, fans can look forward to seeing Pratt in the MCU again. The mystery still remains, though, in what capacity that will be.
Perhaps Star-Lord will help out with Earth's heroes from time to time, teaming up with the Avengers on occasion. Or, he could remain in touch with his former team and the new Guardians of the Galaxy, led by Rocket, and serve as almost a mentor for them with "legend" status.
Given that Rocket is already using what could probably be considered Quill's signature song - Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love" - to introduce the new batch of Guardians to music, it is likely that, at the very least, Star-Lord's influence will be felt on this new team.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is playing in theaters everywhere starting May 5.