There are few items that have had a larger effect on Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy franchise than the Sony Walkman. While its presence in the studio's films is played up largely for laughs and character work, the Walkman and the music held on its cassettes have profoundly shaped the look and feel of the movies.
But in an interview with Mashable, it's been revealed that Peter's Walkman was a last minute suggestion from director James Gunn. Originally, Marvel head Kevin Feige wanted Peter Quill's most valuable possession to be a Darth Vader action figure. Said Feige:
I really thought it was going to be the greatest thing in the world that you're in a spaceship and he's talking to one of the alien characters and he knocks over his bag and one of the alien characters bends down and picks up and it was a Darth Vader action figure, goes, 'What's this?'
When Feige explained his idea to Gunn, Gunn is said to have politely pointed out that giving Peter a musical connection to Earth and its culture might make a bit more sense narratively, and the rest is history.
It's difficult to imagine what Guardians would have been like without the Awesome Mix, volumes one and two. Seeing an alien on screen not understand who or what Darth Vader is might have made for a middling chuckle. But compare that to the numerous moments across both Guardians films where the Walkman and music play key roles in character development and Baby Groot's dance sequences, and it's clear that Gunn was right and Feige was wrong.