With a month left until we finally get to see Guardians of the Galaxy, director James Gunn recently announced that he’s going to be sharing a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes pictures from Marvel’s space opera leading up to release day. So far we’ve seen Dave Bautista (Drax) getting his chair stolen by a dog and Gunn himself showing off an early prototype for Star-Lord’s wide-eyed mask. Today he’s given us a first official look at Yondu, the alien character played by The Walking Dead’s Michael Rooker. Well, sort of anyway. As you can see above, it’s really more of a silhouette.
I use the words “first official look” quite intentionally. Set pictures of Rooker in his blue Yondu getup leaked some months back, and they’re still out there on the sites Marvel’s lawyers haven’t put into a suplex. What we haven’t seen, however, is an officially approved, officially released look at the character — Gunn’s latest image is as close as we’ve gotten, although I’d be very surprised if we don’t get a better glimpse of him sometime in the coming weeks before it Guardians hits theaters.
So just who the hell is Yondu anyway? Created by Gene Colan and Arnold Drake, Yondu first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #18, published in January 1969. The Guardians of the Galaxy have gone through several iterations over the years, and Yondu was one of the founding members of the original lineup, alongside Major Vance Astro, Martinex T’Naga, and Captain Charlie-27. The movie is based on the Guardians lineup first introduced in 2008 (and currently running amok in the comics). Here’s the official summary of who Yondu is in the movie:
Blue-skinned Yondu is an interstellar bandit who has a less-than-perfect paternal relationship with Peter Quill. As leader of the outlaws known as Ravagers, Yondu and his cohorts pillage their way through the galaxy, taking whatever they want for solely their own benefit.
Rooker is probably best known these days as Merle Dixon from AMC’s The Walking Dead, but he also appeared in Gunn’s horror/comedy Slither, so it’s very cool to see Gunn beefing up the role that he clearly thought Rooker would be perfect for. Of course, Guardians already has a massive cast, so there’s no telling how big Rooker’s part will be in the final film. However, I expect his “paternal relationship” with Quill will play an important role in Quill’s backstory. As shown in the latest trailer, he was taken from Earth as a child, and treasures the few connections he has to it — such as his much-featured Walkman. We don’t know what happened to him between that early experience and the “legendary outlaw” he begins the movie as, but I’m betting Yondu is a huge part of it.
Guardians of the Galaxy rockets into theaters on August 1, but if you simply can’t wait that long, there will be IMAX 3D preview screenings happening next week, on Monday, July 7. You can get the details here.