“Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn revealed early concept art of Yondu, and playfully encouraged fans to check out actor Michael Rooker’s abs.
Illustrated by Andrew Kim, this early vision is elaborate and more reminiscent of a warrior priest rather than a space-faring outlaw. Here Yondu sports an eye patch and a full head of hair rather than his trademark metallic fin.
The Ravager leader is shown with arms outstretched as a fleet of ships rises above the destruction around him. He wears a gorget and breastplate with sculpted metal accents, and a breastplate with metallic flails. Yondu sports a wristlet and a band on one arm, and a vambrace (a protective sheath) on the other. An empty scabbard dangles from his belt, and although a sword is absent, he is brandishing his signature sound-controlled arrowhead, which is depicted here as a truncated spear.
The look is completed with waist-length cape that billows behind him, and a kilt anchored by a massive circular buckle.
The ensemble looks like something out of "Conan the Barbarian" -- and while it doesn’t jibe with with the mercenary Yondu depicted in the film, it recalls the character’s 1969 comic book origin, in which he was a founding member of a very different team. The original Yondu was a spiritual warrior and a member of the Zatoan tribe of Centauri IV. The only survivor of his race, he was recruited into the Guardians of the Galaxy by Earthling Vance Astro after the warlike Badoon destroyed both of their home planets.
While the background of the concept art suggests the climactic battle on Nova Prime at the end of the first “Guardians of the Galaxy," it may also represent the destruction of Centauri IV by the Badoon.
Online reaction to the concept art was positive, with commenters saying they would have loved to have seen this version of Yondu in the 2014 film. However, Instagram user dmkoo1993 summed it up best by noting, “the second I saw this, I thought to myself, 'Road Warrior in Space.'” While this assessment doesn’t quite capture the look of the image, it certainly hits on the vibe.
Now in post-production, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" finds Rooker reprising his role as Yondu, joined by Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn, Glenn Close, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan and Kurt Russell. Written and directed by Gunn, the film arrives May 5, 2017.