Ego the Living Planet finally appears on film in James Gunn’s gleefully anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Ego and his awesome beard have been wreaking havoc across the comic book cosmos since 1966’s Thor #132 as one of Marvel’s most outrageously original and surprisingly endearing characters. Ego is a pretty far out concept, being a “living planet” and all, but he fits very well stylistically into the Guardians films so it’s no wonder Ego’s finally showing up to tangle with Star-Lord, Gamora and everybody’s lovable misfit gang of space-cruising bounty hunters.
Over the years, Ego has lived a very full and extremely strange life as a conscious and often insatiably hungry world. He’s battled with heroes and villains alike such as Thor, the Silver Surfer and the Nova Corps. Ego’s experienced love and loss, indigestion and, at least at one time, a bug infestation. No matter what shenanigans, misadventures or fits of lust the Living Planet gets himself into, there’s always one guarantee: stuff is going to get really, really weird. Ego’s bizarre sci-fi qualities are what make him so memorabl,e so here are some of the strangest things that a deeper dive into Ego’s history and lore have revealed.
WARNING: THIS LIST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
15. HIS DAD IS THE STRANGER
The traditional version of “the birds and the bees” gets a little more complicated when dealing with the origin of incomprehensible cosmic beings. In 2011’s Astonishing Thor #1, Ego’s “father” is revealed to be the Stranger, an even older and even more incomprehensible cosmic being. With an assist from the Collector, the Stranger created the Living Planets for the noble scientific purpose of: watching them fight. Yes, Ego’s original purpose is to battle it out in the Stranger’s version of an intergalactic, planet on planet, WWE-style cage match smack down!
The Stranger’s own origins are murky at best. Either he is the result of the merging of billions of minds from the ancient planet Gigantis (which formed to fight the Eternals’ similar creation, Over-Mind) or he straight-up murdered that being and swore to fulfill its purpose.
14. HE ATE THE SILVER SURFER
The universe is a big place, but that hasn’t prevented Ego from running into most of Marvel’s vast gallery of heroes and villains constantly tearing around the cosmos. Ego’s “go to” move in such conflicts involves opening his planet-sized mouth and trying to consume whatever’s in front of him. In Silver Surfer #22, Norrin Radd hangs 10 and wipes out right into Ego’s gullet.
Ego’s desire to eat the Silver Surfer is understandable as he caught the Surfer spying on the Elders of the Universe while they were debating destroying Galactus. Being the Devourer of World’s Number 2, this certainly irked Mr. Radd. After being swallowed, the Surfer managed to escape by using his handy Power Cosmic to take control of a propulsion unit, previously placed there by Galactus in Thor #227, and threatened to send Ego into a nearby star if he wasn’t released. Ask Galactus for a raise, Silver Surfer.
13. HE BATTLED GALACTUS
If there’s one being who makes Ego seem like a pleasant cosmic entity, it’s Galactus. The Living Planet has battled the Devourer of Worlds more than a few times. They first came to blows in Thor #161 where Ego had a pseudo-super team-up with Thor to bring Galactus down after Galactus hurled a few too many meteors in Ego’s face.
The God of Thunder later flip-flopped in order to help Galactus fight a dangerously insane Ego in Thor #226. After a few blows with ol’ Mjolnir to Ego’s brain/core stunned the Living Planet, Galactus was kind enough to retrofit the aforementioned propulsion devices from his own ship onto Ego’s butt and sent him careening away into space, never to be heard from again. Just kidding. Ego would go on to ravage Earth soon after.
12. AWAKENED EARTH
In the Marvel timeline of Earth 4161, Ego utilizes his ability to “awaken”other planets on Earth itself, effectively giving the world its own consciousness. In the “Living Planet” arc of 2001’s Exiles, the time-hopping, reality-saving Exiles appear on that version of Earth to stop the Avengers and Dr. Doom from destroying the awakening world beneath their very feet. As the planet attacks its own human population, they discover that Mr. Fantastic had somehow been communicating with the planet’s evolving brain in an attempt to convince it to cease its war of extermination.
Meanwhile, it’s revealed in Exiles #53 that Ego’s plot to awaken Earth was merely an attempt to obtain an ally against the Celestials who were plotting Ego’s destruction. In the end, Earth refuses to kill her “children” and thanks to the Exiles, joins the Celestials’ battle against Ego, which effectively destroys it in this reality.
11. EGO PRIME
Handsome actor and action film genius Kurt Russell isn’t the first humanoid form Ego has taken in the extended Marvel multiverse. Ego Prime, though as awesomely bearded as Mr. Russell, was actually born way back in 1972’s Thor #201, uttering the awesome first words: “I am power!”
One-time attempted colonizer of Earth, Tania Nile, a Rigellian (that what people from Rigel 3 call themselves) took it upon herself to steal a smidge of matter from Ego’s surface to use it to colonize other barren worlds with life. However, Ego’s biomass decided to do its own thing and form the incredibly jacked and angry Ego Prime. Ego Prime’s first dastardly plan: to quickly accelerate the evolution of all life on Earth and merge himself with it. His outfit of choice: a tiny blue speedo.
10. CREATED THE YOUNG GODS
During the climactic battle with the Asgardians on Earth in Thor #203, Ego Prime’s energy dissipated into the genes of three humans and altered Chi Lo, Jason Kimball, and Carter Dyam into super-powered beings. They would then join the ranks of the Young Gods.
These so-called Young Gods, as well as nine others chosen with help from Odin and the Olympians (who kind of have mid-level jurisdiction over Earth in the galaxy), were chosen to represent the best of humanity for the judgement of the Celestials. The Celestials, besides being a little overbearing in their micromanagement of the cosmos, decided they were pleased with their Earthly creations. Ego Prime wasn’t around to get a pat on the back for this success as the energy loss in the earlier battle destroyed him.
9. ALTER EGO
Alter Ego was the other living planet created for the Stranger’s cosmic smackdown/science experiment in order to do battle with his brother Ego. In Astonishing Thor #4, Thor learns that the Stranger has informed Ego of his brother’s existence and granted his son with a means of self propulsion in order to seek out his counterpart. When this quest takes Ego a little too close to Earth for comfort, Thor attempts to intervene, only to be stopped by the Stranger.
Freed from the Collector, Alter Ego viciously attacks Ego. Thor, next in the long line of heroes to be swallowed by a living planet, batters Alter Ego’s brain and influences the angry, yellow, Ego-biting world into halting his onslaught, but it’s too late. Ego remorsefully destroys his brother. Later, Alter Ego would be reformed into a moon in orbit around Ego. Ego also has another “sibling,” Id the Selfish Moon, whose poor intergalactic behavior also leads to its destruction in 2011’s Deadpool #35.
8. SNACKS ON SUNLIGHT
Ego the Living Planet definitely has a love/hate relationship with sunlight. He’s kind of photosynthetic and needs sunlight to live, but too much sun is a complete “no no.” In Fantastic Four #235, Ego gets mighty hungry after failing to have a decent sun-fueled meal, goes a little crazy, and attacks Earth in pursuit of Galactus.
Luckily, the Fantastic Four stop him by ripping off one of Ego’s propulsion engines and hurling it into his core. Although the Thing’s pitch missed the plate, when Ego powers up his remaining engine to crush the FF, it instead hurls him straight into the sun, where Ego is finally destroyed in the Marvel 616 universe, at least momentarily. The sun’s energy triggers what Ego calls his “photosynthetic revitalization” and he is reborn! Portion control, Ego!
7. ALMOST DESTROYED THE GALAXY
More than a little miffed after all of this, Ego then goes on a bit of a rampaging road trip around the galaxy where he became the new home of the Nova Corps and battled Richard Rider, a.k.a. Nova, through Nova #20 through#30, Ego grows hungry once more. This time, the survival of the galaxy is at stake due to the Living Planet’s desire to bulk up on a heavy diet of stars.
Fearing that Ego will gain so much mass that he’ll cause a universe-shattering explosion, Dennis Sykes and the Fantastic Four join forces to stop him in Heroic Age 1 Month to Live #3 and #4. Ultimately, they end up excising a “biomineral” parasite from Ego’s interior which halts his expansion, thus saving the galaxy.
6. SPACE LICE
As a living planet, Ego must have trouble taking care of some basic needs that most organisms in the galaxy take for granted. For example, Ego’s never had access to a planet-sized shower or comb, instead preferring to hurtle through space fighting Asgardians, world-eaters, and Celestials with reckless abandon.
Apparently, there are some pretty gnarly parasites crawling around the grosser corners in the infinitude of space, and in Rocket Raccoon #6, beings living on Ego’s surface hire Rocket to exterminate an infestation of Space Lice. Rocket’s preferred method of pest removal: really, really big bombs. Out of all of Ego the Living Planet’s stories, one where a talking raccoon is paid to squish the invasive insects in Ego’s beard might actually make the most sense.
5. BECAME THE WORLDMIND
The concept of a living planet is a pretty zany and cool science fiction idea. Things get much zanier for Ego in Nova #21 when Richard Rider a.k.a. Nova learned that he and the Xandarian Worldmind merged. Ego/Worldmind clashed with Nova, splitting him from his connection to the Nova Force, and began recruiting new Corpsmen. This new base of the Nova Force became known as Nu-Xandar.
Richard Rider as Quasar, and powered by another form of energy sourced from a place called the Quantum Zone, entered Nova/Worldmind’s core and succeeded in retaking the position of Nova Prime, freeing the Worldmind from Ego’s corruption in the process. Although Ego was deemed purged and lobotomized, it would of course not be the last time the galaxy’s citizens did battle with the Living Planet.
4. EVERY PART OF EGO LIVES
Ego’s atmosphere and surface are made up of organic molecules. Subterranean tunnels also function as Ego’s circulatory system. That big old mouth isn’t just for swearing vengeful oaths against Galactus as he is able to absorb or swallow energy and matter that’s then digested as if he had a stomach. Ego of course consumes sunlight and energy from bodies like stars, but he also enjoys absorbing the matter of other living things. Although, most of the people he eats seem to find their way to his very vulnerable brain-like core.
Ego can also create swarms of “Anti-bodies” which can take humanoid shape in order to do battle against various heroes and villains. In James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Ego identified as an immortal Celestial and most of these traits were at least alluded to, including Ego’s ability to extend himself into an Ego Prime-like human form.
3. LIVES IN THE BLACK GALAXY
Ego and his family of living planets were initially said to originate from a place called the Black Galaxy. Like Ego, it’s appeared most often in the pages of Thor. In Thor #132 for instance, those pesky Rigellians attempt to colonize the Black Galaxy only to be turned away by Ego. Of course, they then set their sights on Earth (like seemingly every other alien species in the universe), but were thwarted by the God of Thunder.
Much later in Thor #407, Thor discovers what appears to be elements of Celestial technology. Soon after, the Celestials themselves would inform Thor and company that this tech was in fact a newly forming baby Celestial in the throes of its birth. The new Celestial creation absorbed the entirety of the Black Galaxy, where it made its last appearance in 1990’s Thor #424.
2. MANY ALTER-EGOS
Various incarnations of Ego have also appeared in many comic timelines of the multiverse over the years. In Marvel’s “Zombieverse,” poor Ego and his yummy organic surface was eaten alive as a feast for a horde of undead characters. In the 2010 one-shot, Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine, a Dr. Doom-controlled Ego appeared in the sky to destroy the Earth of that particularly screwed up timeline.
He would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for the efforts of the wall crawler and Wolverine, who fired an energy bullet into Doom/Ego from the barrel of a Phoenix Force-fueled gun. Ego even tried to get frisky with Planet Earth herself in Marvel Adventures The Avengers #12 on Earth 20051. Living planets need love too! Speaking of love…
1. EGO GETS LUCKY
Kurt Russell of course portrays Ego the Living Planet for the first time on film in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. In the film, Star-Lord a.k.a. Peter Quill learns that the powerful Celestial is not only his long-lost daddy, but also the daddy of a whole gigantic cavern full of very abandoned and very dead children that failed to live up to his lofty expectations of godhood.
After becoming disappointed with other life forms, Ego has spent thousands of years seducing countless alien chicks in hopes of having a son inherit powerful Celestial abilities. That’s right, Ego sleeps around! His dastardly plan: to use their combined power to merge all life in the galaxy into himself! Talk about a big Ego. Things do not go as planned when Ego reveals that the brain tumor Peter’s mother Meredith died from was placed in her head by the Living Planet itself. WTF, Ego!?
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is currently in theaters everywhere. Let us know in the comments if you saw it!