Now that we've managed to see Guardians of the Galaxy a few times it seems like a perfect moment to stop and take a look at all the crazy references in James Gunn's entry into the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe.
We love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that is certainly no surprise to anyone reading. The MCU has revolutionized the way we look at comic book movies, and has brought characters to the big screen that would never have made it ten years ago. Of course, there is something else we love about the MCU, and that is the dizzying number of references. You can call them Easter eggs, cameos, trivia, hidden details, whatever. We love them, and Guardians of the Galaxy probably had the most of them – either hidden or out in the open – of any Marvel Studios picture to date.
Today we’ll take a look at some of our favorites, and point you in the direction to find even more.
The Planet Morag
While the planet itself isn’t pulled from the comics, the name of the planet definitely is. Morag was a Kree warlord of legend who was responsible for the creation of the Blue Area of the Moon, a location on Earth’s moon with a breathable atmosphere, and served as a home to Uatu the Watcher as well as the Inhumans. In Guardians, Morag serves as the setting for Star-Lord’s hilarious opening dancing sequence, as well as the location of the film’s Infinity Stone.
In Guardians of the Galaxy the members of the eponymous team are all brought together at the prison known as The Kyln, a not-so-impenetrable prison housing hundreds of prisoners from across the reaches of space. The Kyln has featured heavily in some of Marvel’s cosmic stories, but on paper it takes a different form: In the comics, The Kyln is a series of connected spheres that have housed cosmic gods, members of the Guardians, Gladiator of the Sh’iar, and even Thanos himself.
Knowhere makes a very interesting appearance in the film, but it has served as the home base for the most recent iterations of the Guardians for years. Knowhere is built out of the head of a cosmic Celestial, a race of omniscient beings, one of whom was briefly teased in the film as a former wielder of the Infinity Stone that features in the film. Within the context of the movie, Knowhere is where The Collector displays his precious trinkets. An Easter egg in its own right, Knowhere actually houses many of the movie’s other secrets, which brings us to…
The Collector’s Museum
Taneleer Tivan (played by Benicio del Toro) first appeared in the MCU during the post-credits scene for Thor: The Dark World, where we received our first look at some of the hidden treasures in his museum. While we might have to wait for the super slow-mo that only the home release allows in order to see all the secrets hiding in plain sight, for now we still have more than enough to discuss.
A character who plays a very important role in the comics with both the Infinity Gauntlet and the Guardians is Adam Warlock, originally known as HIM. We got our first look at Warlock’s cocoon in the Dark World stinger, and yet another shot in Guardians of the Galaxy, so we can speculate that the character might make his actual appearance sooner rather than later.
When it was first announced that Nathan Fillion would be making a cameo, many thought he would be playing the eventual security chief of Knowhere, Cosmo. It turns out Cosmo makes a small appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy as one of the exhibits in The Collector’s museum. In the source material Cosmo has even been a member of the Guardians, and as a powerful telepath and telekinetic, he keeps Knowhere safe. The film references his and Rocket’s relationship slightly, though not much of Cosmo’s abilities or even his ability to speak made it on to the big screen.
Howard the Duck
Yes, we know by now that Howard the Duck appears in the post-credits scene of GotG, voiced by ubergeek Seth Green. However, he also briefly shows up earlier in the film when we are introduced to the Collector. While most of us don’t think Howard’s inclusion is anything more than a bit of fun on Gunn’s part, some think it might mean more for the infamous duck.
We also see a few of the previous cosmic enemies of the MCU show up in the museum, with The Collector housing both a Dark Elf and a Chitauri. The Dark Elves last showed up in Thor: The Dark World, which only further ties the Asgardian story into the cosmic one. The Chitauri have appeared a couple of times, most notably in The Avengers as Loki’s alien army. Their leader, known to us as The Other, was killed by Ronan in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Not to be left out, Gunn includes a very interesting creature in the museum: One of the slug creatures from the ultimate Gunn cult-hit Slither made its way into Guardians, and any fan of the film quickly noticed the squirmy little bugger making its first (and last?) appearance in the MCU.
Guardians of the Galaxy bears a ton of cameos from all parts of Gunn’s own cinematic history. One of the first we see is Lloyd Kaufman, co-founder of Troma Entertainment, where Gunn did some of his earliest work. Rob Zombie also shows up in the movie as the voice of the Ravager’s computer system. Gunn himself appears in the movie as one of the faceless Sakaaran soldiers, but good luck finding which one. Gunn was also responsible for the dance Groot does at the end of the film, which may or may not be something to be proud of.
Now this cameo was revealed to us shortly before the movie was out, but this is not the cameo we were expecting from Nathan Fillion, who has featured heavily in both James Gunn and Joss Whedon’s individual fandoms. He appears as the blue bruiser on the Kyln (credited as ‘Monstrous Inmate’) who Groot makes an example of with a couple fingers through the nostrils. The cameo makes sense for Fillion, especially if they are holding a role for him in the MCU in the future.
James’ brother Sean actually has two different roles in the movie, playing both a member of the Ravagers alongside Michael Rooker’s Yondu and serving as the mo-cap actor for Rocket Raccoon, who would later be voiced (perfectly) by Bradley Cooper.
Of course, we can barely count it as a Marvel film if it doesn’t have the obligatory cameo from Stan “The Man” Lee. While Lee isn’t one of the creators of the Guardians, he is a co-creator of Groot along with Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers (In his original incarnation Groot was a tree monster from Planet X). Lee’s cameo comes early in the movie, on the planet Xandar, before the members of the Guardians are imprisoned on the Kyln.
Making his first appearance as the Mad Titan, we finally get to see and hear the big bad of Marvel’s first few phases, Thanos. Originally teased in the mid-credits scene of The Avengers, Brolin’s official casting only came a few weeks ago, probably in order to beat the film’s reveal of the character to the punch. While we don’t get to see much more than Thanos sitting on his throne, you can bet there is more to come from Brolin and Thanos in the future.
Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord (played by Chris Pratt) is a child of the ’80s, and we see aspects of the time period throughout the entire film. Most of the Earth references Quill carries around with him are subtle or small, like the Troll doll or even his Walkman, but others stand out a bit more. Even Quill’s ship The Milano is named after Alyssa Milano, who starred on Who’s the Boss in the ’80s. The film also repeatedly mentions both Footloose and Kevin Bacon, and even a hilarious line mentioning John Stamos, who played Uncle Jesse on Full House.
Yondu is a very interesting and unique character in the film, and while there are some similarities to his comic book counterpart, they are essentially very different characters. Yondu in the comics was a member of the original Guardians of the Galaxy, who existed in the 30th century and featured a very different lineup than what we see in the film. In the movie Yondu plays the rough and tumble abducter/father figure of the young Peter Quill.
The Sakaarans were an unexpected inclusion to the film, with early reports saying their role would be filled by the alien race known as the Badoon. Unfortunately, the Badoon are owned by Fox, so the Sakaarans were brought in instead, much in the same way the Chitauri replaced the Skrulls in The Avengers. The Sakaarans featured heavily in the “Planet Hulk” storyline, which might have some of those hoping for a Planet Hulk movie excited to see the alien race in GotG.
Bereet (played by Melia Kreiling) made a very small appearance in the film as the pink alien girl Quill forgets aboard the Milano in the opening chase scene. Bereet is actually a Krylorian techno-artist who crossed paths with the Hulk way back in the day.
This Easter egg has been discussed before, when we first learned that Ophelia Lovibond would be playing the role of Carina, the Collector’s servant. Fans of the comics immediately recognized the name, which led to a number of different fan theories. In the comics, Carina Walters is the daughter of the Collector, and eventually becomes the wife of Michael Korvac, who even later becomes a cosmically powerful enemy of the Avengers. Chances are, though, that won’t be happening, considering Carina’s fate in Guardians of the Galaxy.
The Nova Corps makes its first appearance in the MCU in a big way, as the Xandarian army received a large amount of backstory along with some of the great characters from the Nova mythology. While we don’t see a cameo or mention of the most famous Nova in the Marvel universe (we’ll talk about him later this week), it did lay the groundwork for his potential appearance later.
While his full name isn’t ever actually revealed, we do know that Peter Serafinowicz plays Denarian Saal in the film. Denarian is actually his rank in the Nova Corps, but the name Saal could be a reference to Garthan Saal, who was one of the few survivors of destruction of Xandar, and the first to take on the title of Supernova. Again, his fate in the film means we probably won’t learn too much more about the character.
Dey (played by John C. Reilly) is another famous name in the Nova mythology. Dey is the eventual leader of the Nova Corps, until the destruction of Xandar forces Dey to flee to Earth, where he bestows the last of the Nova power to an Earth teenager named Richard Rider, who becomes the hero known as Nova. Again, more on him later on in the week.
Nova Prime Rael
The leader of the Nova Corps in GotG is Nova Prime Irani Rael (played by Glenn Close), another name taken straight from the comics. The film version is slightly different than the comic Nova Corps member, who isn’t the leader and isn’t even Xandarian; Rael is a Rigellian who is recruited by Richard Rider into the new Nova Corps, so the timeline is completely disregarded in the movie, but the name drop is a nice nod to the fans.
This wraps up our look at some of the cameos and Easter eggs we found in Guardians of the Galaxy. While in earlier films in the MCU these Easter eggs and cameos more often than not pointed towards future characters or moments in the MCU, Gunn clearly chose to have some fun in his film, with nods and winks that are more than likely completely innocuous. Even with that, we couldn’t be happier.
Did we miss any Easter eggs? Does that mean we have to go see Guardians of the Galaxy yet again? Fine. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it. Let us know what your favorite Easter egg or cameo was in GotG in the comments section below, or join the discussion on the GEEK Facebook page!
Images: Marvel, Marvel Studios, Universal