Guarding the Galaxy With a Ship Full of A-Holes

Source: Guardians of the Galaxy; Disney

Before forming the Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter Quill's (Star-Lord) strongest love was with his ship, the Milano. We take a look back at the retro-futuristic starship to see how it compares to its sister ship, the Benatar.

The film world came in for a bit of a shock in 2014 when Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy hit cinemas, introducing audiences to a motley crew of misfits, including a wise-cracking raccoon and a living tree. A few years later, they met up with some of Marvel's earthbound heroes in Avengers: Infinity War, helping to mess things up even more than they ever dreamed of.

Since they're space adventurers, they need rides to get around the vastness of the beyond, and their ships are suitably flashy. Guess which one of them is named after its owner's teenage crush? How did they come across it? And what kind of stupid name is Star-Lord?

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The Milano

Star-Lord, aka Peter Jason Quill, is the de-facto leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy. As such, they travel around in his spaceship. In the comics, his ship is simply named “ship”, but in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's the Milano (named after Alyssa Milano, who played Samantha in the 80s sitcom Who's The Boss).

The speedy orange and blue number is inspired by Earth cars with a tasteful interior décor carefully selected by Quill. The Milano looks like a cross between a USAF bomber and a fairground ride with design work by Hideo Kojima. It was originally designated as one of the M-Ships belonging to the Ravagers, a group of space pirates led by Quill's adoptive father Yondu Udonta.

Peter Quill's tape deck, installed on the Milano. Source: Guardians of the Galaxy
Peter Quill's tape deck, installed on the Milano. Source: Guardians of the Galaxy

Quill subsequently modified the ship for his own needs, retrofitting the ship with technology more suitable to his particular, if eccentric, requirements. The primary addition to the ship was not advanced weaponry – the Milano's forward-facing twin plasma cannons were adequate for its battle needs – or increased propulsion. Instead, it sported an antiquated stereo system used to play an ancient Earth media format known as cassette tapes. On this tape deck, which was kitted out with faux-wood paneling, Quill played the cassettes named “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” and “Awesome Mix Vol. 2”, which were presents to Quill by his late mother.

Milano Meets An Untimely End

Flown by Quill since he was a child abducted by the Ravagers, the Milano's superior agility allowed it to escape many lethal situations. The interior of the ship was split into an upper flight deck, with the ability to house a crew of five with living quarters below. The ship was often co-piloted by Guardians of the Galaxy member Rocket, who most would agree is inarguably a better pilot than Quill, although he could not stop the Milano from being destroyed.

The ship had already suffered a great amount of damage when it went up against Ronan the Accuser's giant ship the Dark Aster when it launched an offensive on the world of Xandar. At the time, the Milano was backed up by a group of Ravager M-Ships and a fleet of Nova Corps Xandarian fighters. After Ronan was defeated, Corpsman Rhomann Dey presented the Guardians with a restored and rebuilt Milano in gratitude for their actions.

The Milano is heavily damaged in a battle with the Sovereign fleet. Source: Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
The Milano is heavily damaged in a battle with the Sovereign drone fleet. Source: Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

Despite this, the Milano was finally destroyed in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 when it crashed on a distant planet after being attacked by a fleet of Sovereign drone fighters. The Guardians had just defeated a creature who was trying to eat anulax batteries, the main power source for the Sovereign planet, but after departing it was discovered that Rocket had stolen some of them, which caused the Sovereign High Priestess Ayesha to send all their drones after the Milano. The ship was heavily damaged but was saved by a strange man on a strange ship who was later revealed to be Ego the Living Planet. Its fate was finally sealed when it split apart and crashed onto the surface of the planet Berhert.

After the destruction of the Milano, the Guardians lived on the third quadrant of the Ravager mothership Eclector until obtaining a new ship, the more advanced and sleeker vessel Benatar (named after musician Pat Benatar). It’s what they flew when going up against the might of Thanos after finding the remnants of the Asgardian ship Statesman in Avengers: Endgame. The Benatar was later commandeered by Iron Man (Tony Stark) after Thanos' snap disintegrated the majority of the Guardians of the Galaxy. It is later used to transport the remaining Avengers into space, as seen in trailers for Avengers: Endgame.

Running With The Benatar

The Milano was created as concept art by Atomhawk Design Studios, which then passed it on the production designer of Guardians of the Galaxy, Charles Wood. In the film's production notes, Wood stated, “Our biggest inspiration for the Milano was Chuck Yeager and the early test flights and missions that took place in the late '50s, early '60s, so we looked at a lot of that footage. James Gunn wanted to come up with an environment for Quill that was reminiscent of Earth and had a tangible quality-mechanical with chrome and leather and a muscle-car look. A little boy's dream.”

The Benetar, which replaces the Milano. Source: Avengers: Infinity War
The Benetar, which replaces the Milano. Source: Avengers: Infinity War

For Avengers: Infinity War, Wood worked with designer Haisu Wang on the Benatar in 2015.

“We wanted the Benatar to be a more mature version of the Milano,” said Wang in an interview, describing the new ship. “If Milano was designed for a boy, the Benatar would be more for a teenager. It carried the design gene that Milano has, which is a futuristic technology juxtaposed with the retro design of the 80s, a fighter plane/rocket ship that was both ‘in-your-face, over-the-top, unrepentant colorful' and just as functional as a standardized the grey spacecrafts we have today. We looked back to the 1940s and 50s for our inspiration, to an era when air and space travel were idolized and still full of aspiration and style. We combined beautiful classic curves with futuristic materials, producing many different versions over the course of several months exploring how to effectively blend the design principles of the past and the future.”

As a bonus, the crew has extra reasons to sing “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “You Better Run,” and “Love is a Battlefield” as they fly into a fight.

Contributing Editor

Charlie Brigden has been obsessed with spaceships, horror films, and film music since a young age and can usually be found across the internet writing about one of those three. He lives in South Wales UK with his family, cats, dogs, and tarantulas.