As the de facto leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter Quill is one of the most prominent characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Marvel's comic books. Before this increased visibility as one of Marvel Studios' most successful properties, the cosmic superhero existed in relative obscurity with a very different design for his signature mask. As the character's role increased in the comics over the past four decades, Star-Lord's fashion sense has changed drastically over the years in the lead up to his MCU debut.
Here's a look at the evolution of Star-Lord's mask in visual design and abilities, including its original incarnation, the resurgence of the character during the comic book crossover event Annihilation, and it's current appearance influenced by the MCU.
STAR-LORD's ORIGINAL MASK
First created in 1976's Marvel Preview #4 by Steve Englehart and Steve Gan, Star-Lord was introduced as an introverted jerk, with Englehart intending to soften the character's demeanor as he increasingly embraced the cosmic possibilities of the Marvel Universe. However, that storyline ended after Englehart's departure from the company.
Wielding an element gun, the character's original design and origin are so significantly different that Marvel officially lists this version of the character as one from an alternate reality in the Marvel App's handbook as Earth-791.
Quill's suit and mask provide the hero with a physical boost, with his suit augmenting his strength and speed and giving him an enhanced healing factor while his mask augments his senses, most notably his vision making him a superior marksman.
The suit and mask form a light force field around Quill, allowing him to endure the cosmic vacuum of outer space and he travels the galaxy. The original mask is more of a helmet with large goggles completely fitting over the top half of Quill's head while his familiar Star-Lord logo is displayed on the mask's forehead.
STAR-LORD'S ANNIHILATION MASK
Appearing in a minimal capacity over the next three decades, Star-Lord came back into the Marvel Universe in a major way in Dan Abnett Andy Lanning, and Keith Giffen's epic cosmic storyline, Annihilation. Considerably different than the stoic, gruff original incarnation of the character, the new Peter Quill had wry, sarcastic sense of humor and lacked the extensive cybernetic enhancements received by the original Star-Lord, instead appearing as a blond-haired young man.
Freed by Nova during Annihilus' bid to consume the entire cosmos with his Annihilation Wave, Star-Lord plays an integral role in defeating Annihilus and forms a new incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy with his comrades-in-arms to restore order to a lawless universe.
He initially sporting a red uniform intended for espionage, granting him a degree of heightened stealth abilities. Now a full face mask while retaining its connection the original incarnation's helmet, the new mask allowed Star-Lord to analyze battle data, allow him to breathe in outer space, improve his vision, and serve as a universal translator.
STAR-LORD'S MARVEL MOVIE MASK
The version of Star-Lord portrayed by Chris Pratt in the MCU reflected the character's updated origins by Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven, with the key difference being Peter Quill's father, who was the Celestial Ego in the MCU rather than J'son, the ruler of the Spartax, his comic book dad.
In order to make the character's appearance more palatable for wider audiences, Star-Lord's design also was changed accordingly; the body suit replaced with a jacket and pants while the mask was scaled down to remove the helmet component entirely.
The MCU version of Star-Lord's mask retains many of the abilities of its predecessors, like improving Quill's vision and tracking abilities when he searches for the Power Stone in the first film. It also has the ability to generate a force field that allows him to survive in the ravages of outer space. This ability proves pivotal in the first film, with Quill giving the mask to Gamora to save her life after her ship is destroyed by her adopted sister Nebula.
Following the runaway success of the 2014 film, Quill's personality and design, including his mask, would go on to reflect his MCU counterpart. Now sporting the red leather trench coat and face mask instead of a body suit and helmet, the character continues to cruise the cosmos with his team, usually blasting retro tunes and boosted by his signature mask as a full-time Guardian of the Galaxy.