‘Guardians of the Galaxy’: James Gunn Says Drax’s Tattoos Have Heartbreaking Origins

Drax, also known as Drax the Destroyer, is one of the strongest and most sympathetic characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

The grayish-purple-skinned character is played by Dave Bautista, who was put through an extensive makeup process every day to transform into the character. This transformation took nearly five hours of work by a team of visual effects and makeup artists.

The end result of this work is the intimidating Drax, complete with a number of intricate tattoo patterns that run throughout his body. This pattern and Drax’s realistic look has caused many Marvel fans to wonder about the meaning of Drax’s tattoos, which give a brightly colored red contrast to his muted and muscle-bound body.

In a recent Instagram post, the director of Guardians of the Galaxy shared some interesting insights about Drax’s character and his costuming.  

Who is Drax in the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy?’ 

Dave Bautista plays Drax in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
Dave Bautista plays Drax in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ | Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb

Drax was born on the planet Kylos, which was attacked by Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) vicious army led by Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace).

The muscle of the group of intergalactic misfits known as the Guardians of the Galaxy, along with Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), and Groot (Vin Diesel).

Drax is known for his incredible strength and even more incredible temper. Drax’s first appearance in the MCU was in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and is also in the film’s sequel and both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Drax has an incredibly tragic backstory, as his wife and daughter were killed by the evil follower of Thanos, Ronan the Accuser.

The murder of his family sends Drax into a rage as he seeks to kill the one who killed his loved ones. Drax attempts to take on both Ronan and Thanos single-handedly during different points of the series, to no avail. The character is also known for his unintentionally hilarious demeanor, which is a result of his species inability to understand sarcasm. 

Director James Gunn on the meaning of Drax’s tattoos

James Gunn, the director of both of the two released Guardians of the Galaxy films, recently posted an explanation of Drax’s costume and tattoos on his Instagram. The costume used to transform Bautista into Drax is a mixture of prosthetics and makeup, the base layer of which is a skin-tight shirt-like material that covers the actor’s entire body. The character is also covered in full-body tattoos, of which Gunn’s post explained the meaning and memory they represent.

Drax’s tattoos are a reminder of his heart-breaking past, which involved the slaughter of half of his planet’s population. Each of the deep red tattoos has a special meaning for Drax, and is connected to his family. The marks serve as a reminder of his most precious memories, including his time as a child with his father and mother. Drax’s tattoos are also permanent memories of the wife and daughter that were taken from him.  

Fan’s discussion of Drax’s tattoos


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On a Reddit forum discussing Gunn’s Instagram post, fans shared their feelings about Gunn’s post and Drax’s tattoos. Many of the fans did not know the backstory and feel that it adds to the character to learn about his origins.

Fans of the character also revealed that one of the tattoos has a less sentimental and touching reason for existing. According to several fans, one of Drax’s tattoos is a reminder of famously large turds, which is also referenced in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2.

Besides this humorous anecdote, Drax’s tattoos are beautiful and full of deeper meaning. Fans of Drax also wish that he had a larger role in the fight against Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, as Thanos was the one who destroyed Drax’s family. Drax will return to once again defend the universe with his fellow Guardians in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, set to release sometime in 2021.