Especially in the MCU, the markings on Drax' body are quite extensive (and very cool-looking I might add). They have a heavy leather-like texture.

Rear view of Drax looking over the landscape holding his knives

From what I could find, Drax's body is alien and apparently for now, it has not been disclosed what kind of alien that would be.

I have read some, but not all, of the canon Guardians of the Galaxy comics, where his markings are more subtle, and more tattoo-looking.

Drax #1 comic cover showing Drax kneeling amidst a pile of bodies with a knife in each hand

Is there any more information known about his markings in any source or canon?
I am specifically referring to his later incarnations, as his first appearances do not seem to feature this kind of body decoration.

  • 3
    It's map to a hidden city...
    – user931
    Nov 17, 2014 at 14:53
  • 1
    ^^ Care to elaborate in an answer ? Or is it a Prison Break kinda joke ? :)
    – pleinolijf
    Nov 17, 2014 at 19:05
  • 1
    @pleinolijf It's likely a reference to Agents of SHIELD. A recent character has tattoos which are part of a map either of, or to a city.
    – phantom42
    Nov 17, 2014 at 20:08
  • 2
    @phantom42 my first thought was Waterworld...
    – AerusDar
    Nov 18, 2014 at 4:37
  • @AerusDar : Yep, it's the map to DryLand.
    – Omegacron
    Feb 19, 2015 at 15:51

3 Answers 3


There was a deleted scene that addresses this within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

David Bautista explains in an interview with Zap2It, but specifically skirts the question itself.

Some of that background was explained in a scene that never made the final cut of the film. Drax has some elaborate tattoos in the movie, but the story never touches on them.

"They ended up not using the scene, and I think it was because it's so emotional of a scene. I don't want to give any spoilers because I don't know if they'll ever use it or they'll ever go there," Bautista says. "It is the story of his life, his tattoos. He never refers to them as tattoos. He always refers to them as the story of his life."

The scene was included in the Phase 2 Box Set.

He points to one marking and mentions his "soul union" to someone, presumably his wife, and points to another marking and mentions the birth of who we can assume was his child.

This is the history of my life. This here, my soul union with Ovette upon Mount Kilos.

In the comics, as far as I can find, Drax had no tattoos when he was killed in an early story, and then suddenly has them when he is resurrected. I have not found any explanation as to the exact origin or significance of them.

  • The video is no longer available
    – Peter M
    Sep 1, 2020 at 14:44

Drax in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not the same character that appears in the canon Marvel Comics Universe. Visually and thematically they share similarities, but the overall character design is quite different.

enter image description here

Neither Universe has revealed to date the actual meanings of the tattoos that adorn their bodies.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Earth-199999

Drax is a humanoid of an undetermined species who has through the use of technology or perhaps ritual scarification, scored an image of various skulls and other death-oriented iconography on his body. A closeup of said tattoos reveals the ornate and macabre nature of the images. Given that his people are considered technological primitives, scarification is the more likely source.

enter image description here

This is a closeup of one of the seventeen prosthetics used in the Drax makeup taking 5-6 hours to apply.

  • The origins, rationals and explanations for said imagery has only been hinted at and is believed to have been due to the loss of his family.

  • Because of said loss, he is said to have taken to the spaceways to find and get his revenge on Ronan, the Accuser. Despite his formidable fighting prowess, he was no match for the technologically-enhanced Accuser.

  • If and whether he has superhuman abilities is not made clear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, however Drax is a superb fighter, quite durable, utterly fearless, and incredibly ferocious in battle.

In the canon Marvel Comic Universe, Earth-616

Drax the Destroyer was an ordinary human, Arthur Douglas, who was killed by the Mad Titan, Thanos. Sensing an imbalance in the universe, the abstract entity Kronos, brought back to life and empowered Douglas with what he believed would be sufficient power to battle and destroy Thanos.

  • In Drax's first incarnation he had superhuman strength, the ability to project bursts of energy and was capable of space flight. He was for all intents and purposes, physically invulnerable. However, his mind was vulnerable to powerful psychic attacks.

enter image description here

Drax's first appearance was in Iron Man #55 (February 1973), created by writer Mike Friedrich and writer/artist Jim Starlin.

  • Drax would fight Thanos on several occasions and would later team up with the original Captain Marvel, the enigmatic being called Adam Warlock and would one day become a member of Warlock's Infinity Watch.

enter image description here

Note the skull iconongraphy which shows up on all the Destroyer designs from this period. The skull motif is worked into the new prosthetics as well. Drax on the left was the calm and cerebral version, the one on the right, was powerful but childlike in intelligence.

  • Drax's mind would be later destroyed when he confronted his daughter, the telepathic metahuman known as Moondragon after she has enslaved a planet using her powers. He would lie inert for some time before his resurrection by Kronos. He is returned to life, stronger than ever, in the hopes he would counter the renewed threat of Thanos returning to life as well. Drax is eventually restored to his fully powered and intelligent form and after some further adventures retires to the Microverse.

  • When we find Drax in the mainstream Marvel Universe again, he is onboard a prison transport and he and four other prisoners are enroute to the Galactic Maximum Security Prison called the Kyln. Drax is killed by four of the other prisoners (The Blood Brothers, Paibok, the Power Skrull and Lunatik). In Drax's defense, his mind was scrambled and he was not fighting at his best.

  • After a night of regeneration, he is reborn (Drax the Destroyer Vol. 1, Issue 3; 2007) into a smaller, leaner form with strange red tattoos on his shoulders that sweep across his back and chest. No explanation had been given for the tattoos. Curiously, depending on the artist, they change their appearance unexpectedly and without explanation.

enter image description here

  • After his rebirth, Drax has lost his all of his energy manipulation abilities and flight, but retained his durability and some degree of superhuman strength (though nowhere near his previous Hulk-level strength). He also discovered a preference for his trademark knives in combat.

This is addressed in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Art of the Movie in a nice bit of detail. Initially, whilst they are referred to as tattoos at points the main way they are described is scarring, or for the more detailed version: "red keloid scarring".

Justin Sweet gives a nice overview of what they mean:

"All the tattoos on Drax's body meant something important about his family-like about his daughter and wife and father." Concept Artist Just Sweet says. "But he needed to look scary, too-so even though the moments are reflective, they look kind of demonic. It's intended to be from his culture."

We get a detailed view at several of his tattoos as well and what they mean.

Left close up of a tattoo showing a skull woman and child laying together, right close up of one with a large skill and a bone chain

Drax describes the stories bhind each of his tattoos in unused dialogue from the script:

This, the day Camaria was born, the only day I ever wept.

The last day of my beloved father's life he presented me with a chain made of R'sani bones.

Left, two skulls surround a circular structure. Right, a fiery scar structure

That is when my daughter and I went swimming in the forgotten lake.

This here, my soul-union with Ovette upon Mt. Kylos.

The deleted scene is available on YouTube where Drax covers a couple of these from above.

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