The After-Credits Scene In Guardians Of The Galaxy

Moviegoers are getting better. By now you’d think that everyone would know not to leave any Marvel movie — including the ones not even made by Marvel — until the final credits are completely done, because something is coming at the end.

Surprisingly, people took off before the post-credits scene when I went to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier earlier this year. The audience at a Thursday night showing of Guardians of the Galaxy was better, with darn near everyone sticking it out to see what was coming.

What we got was a tribute to one of the more esoteric parts of Marvel’s past, as well as a possible hint at something to come in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel. But before we can delve into any of that, we need to issue an industrial grade warning …

SPOILERS AHEAD. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

As soon as it becomes clear that the orb everyone is chasing after early in the movie contains one of the Infinity Stones, it’s only a matter of time before something goes wrong. That happens on Knowhere, when one of the Collector’s servants attempts to wield the power of the Stone. It has literally explosive results, freeing most of the Collector’s menagerie.

The post-credits scene picks up with the Collector banged up but still alive. That’s no surprise — in the comics, Taneleer Tivan is one of the Elders of the Universe, a group of beings who has survived the extinction of their respective races and lived millions of years by devoting themselves obsessively to a single hobby or pursuit. You should be able to guess what the Collector did.

The Elders have proven difficult to kill, even tricking Death into preventing them from entering her realm at one point, which is a fancy way of saying they conned their way into becoming immortal (it didn’t last). They also have a long history with the Infinity Gems — the comic book counterpart of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Infinity Stones — which is why it makes perfect sense that the Collector knows exactly what they are. Our first glimpse of this came in the after-credits scene in Thor: The Dark World, when he utters, “One down, five to go,” after possession of the Aether from the Asgardians.

In any case, Tivan is getting his face licked by the dog who escaped during the explosion. That’s actually Cosmo, a Russian dog who is wearing a spacesuit because he was a test animal for the Soviet space program. He’s likely in the collection because he’s also telepathic and telekinetic, having mutated at some point during his time in space.

In the comics, Cosmo becomes an ally and friend to the Guardians — though he’s not at all fond of Rocket Raccoon — and serves as the head of security for Knowhere once the team uses it as its base of operations. For possibly the best portrayal of Cosmo right now, check out the Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon mobile game. After playing that for a while, you’ll demand to see Cosmo in the sequel.

The bigger cameo is made by the being who calls Cosmo’s licking of the Collector’s face disgusting: Howard the Duck, a character who should be familiar to both longtime comics fans and movie buffs old enough to know their crappy 80s movies.

Quick Background of Howard the Duck

Howard was created in the early 70s by Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik. He started out as a supporting character in the tales of Man-Thing, another fairly obscure Marvel creation, but graduated to his own title in 1976.

Written by Gerber and drawn mostly by Gene Colan, Howard’s stories were primarily satirical parodies of real life figures and events. His own world was populated by talking animals like himself, and he was initially perplexed by the human-dominated Marvel Earth when he arrived. Any adventures he went on were accidental, as he essentially just wanted to live his life.

As a comic book character, Howard’s most notable accomplishment was probably running for president for the All-Night Party in 1976 (and getting write-in votes in real life), but his most lasting contribution to the art form came when Gerber and Marvel butted heads over his series. That led to a watershed creator’s rights moment, with Gerber suing Marvel after he was fired from the book, and the two parties eventually settling out of court.

Yet that was far from the end of Howard’s notoriety. A guy you may have heard of by the name of George Lucas had read some of Gerber’s stories and thought they would make the succesful basis for a movie adaptation. Universal didn’t want to say no, having missed the boat on some other Lucas films that went on to be fairly successful.

Despite Lucas’ personal involvement as a producer and special effects by the wizards at Industrial Light & Magic, Howard the Duck was a mess by any measuring stick, bombing at the box office and panned by critics for just about everything: story, tone, acting, and ironically, the effects of Howard’s duck suit. More depressingly, it missed the point of the source material completely, eliminating the satirical elements.

Howard’s post-credits appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy is arguably truer to Gerber’s spirit than the entire Lucas movie, especially since he seems to be enjoying an adult beverage after the explosion. And he’s in glorious CGI too!

More importantly, it establishes him within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so if Marvel wanted to go back to that well again … actually, even though the studio is on a massive winning streak right now and can do no wrong with moviegoers, it might be tempting fate to try a Howard solo film. If he hangs around Knowhere, though, another cameo in Guardians 2 certainly wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, be out of the question.