Small details in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 only true fans noticed

After all the hype, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 proved itself a worthy successor to the first film. With another Awesome Mix Tape blasting and another round of adventures for Star-Lord and his gang of unlikely heroes, Vol. 2 picked up with the same mix of action and comedy fans have come to love. And like the first installment, the newest Guardians is packed with more Easter eggs than a preschooler's Easter basket. Here are all the small details only true fans noticed in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. (Spoilers ahead, obviously.)

Retro tracker

One of the very first shots of the movie shows Star-Lord tracking the abelisk (the giant space octopus) on a very retro-looking piece of hardware. It's about as 30th century as Star-Lord's Awesome Mix Tapes, and for good reason—that space alien tracker is literally just a Mattel Electronics Classic Football game. If you squint during the movie, you can even see a faded "Mattel Electronics" written across the top. Either Star-Lord is just pretending to know what's going on, or Mattel is simultaneously the most successful and least imaginative company in history. Of course, the game was ranked #69 on TIME's list of the 100 most influential toys since 1923, so maybe they just pulled a 1,000-year throwback Thursday.

Groot freeze-frame

You can't digest Guardians of the Galaxy without a little dancing baby Groot to ease the heartburn (because some parts are just so sad), and James Gunn thankfully picked up where the last film left off in that department. During the visually amazing opening credits scene, baby Groot dances around while the rest of the Guardians battle the abelisk—until Drax thuds to the ground nearby. Then, baby Groot freezes, like a corpse, like Drax's perfect woman. Because there are two types of beings in the universe: those who dance, and those who do not. And Drax certainly does not. It's a nice callback to the ending of the first movie, giving audiences a tug of nostalgia before rocketing into the next adventure.

Star-Lord's shirt

Guardians is full of tiny details, which is part of what makes the films so fun to watch. But one of the craziest details in Guardians Vol. 2 got solved before the movie even came out. The trailer for the film shows Peter Quill wearing a shirt emblazoned with a strange logo. To most people, it was just a cool-looking shirt, but to Guardians super-fans, it was a challenge.

As it turns out, even that small part of the movie hides a secret. As one Reddit user figured out, the graphic on the front of the shirt is actually a word in an alien language. What does it mean? Drumroll…."Gears Shift." What that means is still a mystery, but hey, it's pretty cool regardless.

Trash panda

One of the biggest laughs in the movie came when Star-Lord calls Rocket a "trash panda." It's hilarious, completely true, and…not original to Guardians at all. It's starting to look like James Gunn spends a good amount of time on Reddit, because there's an entire subreddit devoted to trash pandas, a.k.a. raccoons. In the end, it feels like another case of Gunn doing what he does best: taking something he enjoys and delivering it to a wider audience.

Grandpa Quill

Peter Quill's grandfather made an appearance in the tearjerker opening of the first movie, and other than a deleted scene from the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, we haven't seen head or tail of the old man since. Well, until now. If you keep your eyes peeled during the second scene in which Ego attempts to unleash his destruction on Earth, you can see Gregg Henry trying to escape the rolling wall of Ego ooze, proving that Old Man Quill survived and is, presumably, still waiting for his long-lost grandson to return home. Kind of sad, when you think about it.

Glimpse of Eternity

When Ego forces his will onto his son and Peter's eyes get all starry, Peter whispers one word: "Eternity." To casual fans, it sounds like he's saying, basically, "Man, that's a big universe." But it's actually a reference to the godlike being that controls the Marvel universe, where Eternity kind of works like the All-spark, but a butt-ton bigger. He's a character who encompasses everything, a being with "near-omnipotent cosmic powers." Remember how Ego is kind of a god, but with a little "g"? Well, Eternity is the big G (one of them, anyway). In Marvel terms, Star-Lord got himself a glimpse of God. Heavy.

Grandmaster surprise

One of the best surprises in the Thor: Ragnarok trailer was the appearance of Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster. This guy has a long history in the comics—he's pretty much immortal, he got into a fight with Galactus, and he's partially responsible for Thanos' rise to power—but the most important thing about the Grandmaster is this: dude loves games. And if you thought you'd have to wait until November to see the Elder in action, you're in luck. Goldblum makes a brief cameo in the credits of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Like, the third credits. Or was it fourth? There were a lot of credits. (It's the one with everyone dancing inside the circles.) The Grandmaster's cameo doesn't serve any purpose that we can tell, but it's a nice nod to the coming clash of worlds happening in the MCU—and if you haven't been keeping up with each new trailer release, you'd totally miss it.

Stan the delivery man

Playing a game of Spot the Stan is always fun, and Guardians 2 doesn't disappoint. But, the plot thickens: not only does Stan Lee make his usual cameo, but he actually references another cameo at the same time. Specifically, when we see Stan Lee talking to the Watchers as Rocket and Yondu are portal-jumping across planets, he tells the Watchers about his job as a FedEx delivery man. You know, which was totally his job in Captain America: Civil War.

On one hand, it makes for a sweetly meta Easter-egg-within-an-Easter-egg moment. One the other hand, it's possible confirmation of a long-held fan theory that Stan Lee is a Watcher himself—an alien being that observes momentous events in the Marvel universe. Even in light of that evidence, Marvel still isn't confirming that theory, but think about it: every Marvel movie covers a major Marvel event (they'd be pretty boring if they didn't), so by Marvel logic, there's a Watcher somewhere in all of those movies. Someone who always shows up…and always looks the same…and has no other reason to be there…

Someone like…Stan Lee.

Or, on the other hand, maybe his cameos are what they seem: a nod to the man who started it all.

The Kronan connection

Rocket's semi-direct flight path to Ego featured a ton of interesting visuals, like the aforementioned Stan Lee/Watcher cameo. We'll probably need a Blu-ray copy and a couple hours to freeze-frame through all of those, but one other cool glimpse we got was of two hulking forms duking it out. Those guys were none other than Kronans, a technologically advanced, militant race that look sort of like big, humanoid rocks.

So what's the connection? Thor: Ragnarok will feature its very own Kronan—Korg, who in the comics becomes a friend of Hulk's. Was Korg one of those figures fighting in Guardians? Time will tell!

Galaga tactics

From the start, Guardians of the Galaxy pretty much cemented itself as an '80s movie for the modern day. From the soundtrack to every reference Star-Lord makes, it's clear James Gunn is dangerously in love with the decade. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is that, but twice, plus a little extra. And when the Sovereign's drone ships attack the Guardians, we get yet another taste of that crazy-haired era: a pitch-perfect flight plan from the original Galaga arcade game. The drones attack in two streaming lines, exactly like the bug fighters in Galaga. And when all the ships except one die in the quantum asteroid field, all the Sovereign's pilots gather around the one remaining player like kids in an arcade. Plus, of course, the sound of their weapons. Sound familiar?

Planet Hulk

After their encounter with the Sovereign drones, the Guardians are forced to make an emergency landing on an empty planet. The planet fills up pretty fast as both Ego and the Ravagers track the Guardians' ship, the Milano, to the planet's surface, but if Quill and crew had spent a little more time walking around those woods, they may have seen that they weren't the first voyagers to crash-land in that forest. In fact, if they'd looked closely, they might have still been able to see a big, Hulk-sized footprint in the ground.

That's because Berhert, the planet they landed on, is the same one (in name, at least) where the Hulk fought the Galaxy Master in Incredible Hulk II #111. There's even a race that lives on Berhert—the Sagittarians.

Contraxia

Ain't nobody making up planet names for Guardians. Just about every planet that shows up relates back to one that's already been established in Marvel comics, and that includes Contraxia, the planet where Yondu makes his first appearance. You know, the snowy place with the robot hookers.

The first time Marvel readers saw Contraxia was in Jack of Hearts Vol 1 #2, and it served as the setting for Jack's adventures for three issues. The planet showed up again in Marvel Zombies Supreme Vol 1 #4, which saw (surprise!) Jack of Hearts returning to fight the undead Squadron Supreme. Like in Guardians, Contraxia is cold and bleak in the comics as well.

Howard the Duck Vol. 2

Good ol' Howard the Duck. Terrible movie, but so far an awesome Easter egg in both Guardians movies. Yup, Howard is back in Guardians Vol. 2, this time relaxing with a drink on Contraxia. The camera slides past him pretty quickly, so you have to keep an eye out for him. Howard might seem like an odd choice to stick in Guardians of the Galaxy, but to James Gunn, if the Duck fits, it sits. He told Yahoo! Movies in March 2017 that he's "a huge Howard the Duck fan." We'll just have to wait until Vol. 3 to see where the Duck shows up next.

The Hoff

Another quick-fire cameo in Guardians Vol. 2 came courtesy of none other than David Hasselhoff, Star-Lord's imagined perfect father. With references to the Hoff (and Knight Rider) galore throughout the film, it was nice to see him show up in person, if only for a second. If you missed it, Hasselhoff appeared right after Peter shot a bunch of holes in Ego for killing his mother. While Ego is reassembling himself, he converts into David Hasselhoff for a quick second while trying to explain what he thought was the perfect father figure for young Peter.

Ego's...ego

If you've been following Guardians hype over the past year or so, you may have been wondering the same thing that a lot of people were: how exactly did Ego impregnate Peter's mom? Obviously, the movie explains it all by giving Ego a human form, but in the comics, Ego is literally a planet. A sentient planet, sure, but still a planet—not something you'd expect to take a nice Earth girl on a date.

The Kurt Russell incarnation of Ego doesn't exactly come out of the blue (Ego takes a human form as Ego Prime in the comics), but James Gunn did give a nod to all those questions that cropped up in the months before the movie's release. When Drax asks about Ego's private parts, it's funny for everyone, but it's also a sly in-joke for all the fans in the audience who've been asking the exact same question.

Original Guardians

Guardians Vol. 2 featured a ton of new faces, but for those who've kept up with the comics over the years, most of them weren't new at all. Sylvester Stallone's character, Stakar Ogord, first appeared in 1975 in Defenders Vol. 1 #27. He becomes Starhawk and joins the Guardians in the first issue of their 1990 run. During Yondu's epic, technicolor funeral, we also get to see Charlie-27, Aleta Ogord (who merged with Stakar to become Starhawk), and Martinex T'Naga, who was also present on Contraxia in the movie. These are all founding members from the original Guardians team. Either Gunn is paying tribute to the old Guardians, or they'll all be back in Vol. 3. Again, we'll have to wait and see.

Adam Warlock

One of the final Easter eggs in the movie came during one of the post-credits scenes. Ayesha, the Sovereign's leader, unveils a golden cocoon that contains a man she only refers to as Adam. Readers of the comics, of course, realized she was talking about Adam Warlock, a mainstay of Marvel's cosmic comics. Like in the movie, Adam was created inside a cocoon in the comics and grew to become an incredibly powerful character after taking possession of one of the Infinity Stones. What his role will be in the MCU is still uncertain, but it's definitely going to be a game-changer.

Cosmo returns

Like Howard the Duck, another character from the comics made an appearance during the after-credits scene in the first Guardians. We're talking, of course, about Cosmo, the space-suited dog who runs up and licks the Collector. Not only was Cosmo in the post-credits scene, he also got a few quick scenes during the movie proper when Star-Lord went to meet the Collector. And also like Howard, this guy was back for another round in the post-credits scenes of Guardians 2. This Easter egg seems like a simple callback to the first film, but what's up with that dog in the first place?

Well, in the comics, Cosmo is actually a recurring character in the Guardians' story arcs. And he does a lot more than lick people when they're sad—he's a telepath who acts as the head of security for Knowhere (where we meet the Collector in the first film), and he's incredibly powerful. For example, in Thanos Imperative #2, Cosmos single-handedly killed the Hulk with a mental shockwave, and he once went toe-to-toe with Adam Warlock and came out on top. This is one doggy you don't want to mess with.

Home sweet home

Guardians 2 marks the second time we've visited Star-Lord's hometown. The first time was in the emotional opening scene of the first film, but we aren't told where on Earth anything's happening. In Guardians 2, however, that info comes up loud and clear: Missouri!

But…wait. Star-Lord isn't from Missouri. He grew up in Colorado! In Marvel Preview #11, published in 1977, it's revealed that Star-Lord's father (J'Son, not Ego), crash-landed in the Colorado mountains, where he was nursed back to health by Meredith Quill. This detail marks one of many moments that James Gunn changed for the film, this change presumably made because the writer/director himself grew up in Missouri. It doesn't change anything in the film, but it's a cool detail about the creative mind behind the movie that casual fans may not have noticed.

Parental guidance

Speaking of James Gunn's childhood, Guardians 2 featured another tiny homage to the director's upbringing. And by tiny we mean huge, because two of the extras in the film are none other than Gunn's parents, James Gunn, Sr. and Leota Gunn. Mom and pop Gunn appear in the scene when Ego's blob is taking over the Dairy Queen on Earth. You can spot them watching the mayhem break out for a quick second before the camera cuts away. And that's not even the end of this Easter egg. In the credits, their character names are listed as "Weird Old Man" and "Weird Old Man's Mistress."

Hopefully, they share Gunn's perverse sense of humor.

Yondu's big orange fin

Michael Rooker's Yondu looks pretty much like the Yondu of the comics—he's a big blue guy. It's a pretty hard look to screw up. And yet there is a big difference. In the comics, Yondu's head-fin is a big orange Mohawk, not the slim tangerine curve of the film. Well, until Yondu replaces it with a prototype version in Guardians 2. A prototype that's a bit bigger and much…oranger. It still doesn't come close to the glorious head-spanning monstrosity of the comics, but Yondu's new look takes him one step closer to his comic incarnation, and we can appreciate that.

Planet-face

In the comics, Ego's story plays out a little differently than it does in the film, although there are a few similarities. While Ego isn't Peter Quill's dad, he does set his sights on universal conquest (until he's stopped by Thor). And almost without fail, Ego is depicted in the comics as a big purple planet with a face.

Well, obviously that got changed for Guardians 2, but the movie still gave us a glimpse of the original Ego. When Rocket and Yondu arrive on Ego's planet, they get a view of the planet's surface and see a massive Kurt Russell face—almost exactly the way Ego is depicted in the comics. And while we're on the topic of Ego…

Third Celestial's the charm

Ego's reveal as a Celestial was pretty big news in Guardians 2. For those who don't know, the Celestials are an extremely powerful cosmic race. They're basically space gods, as Ego himself said in the movie. But this isn't the first time we've seen a Celestial in the Guardians of the Galaxy films—it's actually the third time.

The one most fans know about popped up in the first Guardians when Star-Lord and his troupe went to Knowhere to meet with the Collector. While the Collector explains the Infinity Stones, he shows them a video of a big metal man with the purple Infinity Stone blasting people into dust. That guy was basically a photocopy of the Marvel comics Celestials, right down to the six glowing eyes.

And the third Celestial? Well, they were all standing on it. In it, to be exact. Knowhere—the Collector's little black market mining colony—is the severed head of a Celestial. You can catch a glimpse of the head as they're flying up to it, and Gamora gives a quick line explaining what the thing is. So when Ego revealed that he was a Celestial, the idea was pretty much old hat to the fans who've been keeping up with things the whole time.

Peter and Yondu's bank job

This one might be a stretch, but we're betting there was some planning between these lines. As we've learned, Yondu raised Peter after taking him from Earth. He taught Peter all kinds of useful, civilized Ravager skills, like how to steal and fight, and basically set him up to be the capable, badass Star-Lord we see in the movies.

But what exactly were those two getting up to for all those years? If you said "robbing a bank on A'askavarii," buddy, you have way too much time on your hands. But then again, so do we. Pleasure to meet you. Anyway, if you recall in the first Guardians, Peter Quill stops Drax from killing Gamora in the prison by showing off his scars, one of which came from a Kree girl who caught him with an A'askavarian he had to seduce for a job. Huh, you said thoughtfully. Huh.

So then, in Guardians 2, Rocket, Groot, and Yondu jet down to Ego's surface in a little mining ship, which Rocket calls "an old piece of equipment Yondu used to slice open the bank of A'askavarii." Huh, you scream at your computer. Huh. Could…could both of those stories be referencing the same job? Considering how much James Gunn loves to throw exactly that kind of ridiculously insignificant detail into his films, we're saying there's a pretty good chance. That's all we're saying. We're also saying, if James Gunn ever wants to make a Guardians prequel about The Space Adventures of Yondu and Pete, we'll be first in line.

Rocket gets his eye

Not even a heartfelt speech from Yondu can quell Rocket's sense of humor…for long, at least. In the first movie, he made Quill buy an inmate's fake leg for their escape attempt, just because he thought it would be funny. Later in the movie, he tries the same gag, saying he needs a Ravager's fake eye for his plan to rescue Xandar from Ronan the Accuser. Quill calls his BS, and Rocket never gets his eye.

…until Guardians 2, when Groot is trying to get Yondu's fin to break them out of the Ravager jail cell. Groot doesn't understand exactly what they want, so he brings them a ton of random stuff…including a Ravager's fake eye. Rocket, of course, keeps that one, thinking it'll be hilarious when the guy wakes up and doesn't have an eye. It took a whole new movie, but his joke finally got its punchline.

The crystal frog

Yondu's little crystal frog practically had a subplot of its own in the first Guardians, although most people completely missed it. Remember when Yondu visits the broker guy to ask about Star-Lord's orb? He's checking out a little blue frog in a display case and talking about how he wants a bunch of those to stick on the control console of his ship. Well, Yondu got his frog, and he kept it with him. Before he goes into the climactic fight in the skies of Xandar, that little frog is sitting right on his dashboard, and when his ship crashes on Xandar, the crystal frog is the only piece of wreckage Yondu picks up out of the dirt.

So let's take this excitement down a notch, because Yondu's dead now. But damn it if he doesn't still has his frog. In Guardians 2, during the overhead shot of Yondu's funeral pyre—for lack of a better word—his body is surrounded by ornaments of his life. And one of those symbolic trinkets is—you guessed it—that little blue frog. One can only assume that frog has been to hell and back again at Yondu's side, so it's only fitting that that's right where it stays when Yondu is blasted into space in a million technicolor bits. And that's beautiful. Seriously. Did Neo have a favorite hood ornament in The Matrix? Did Frodo have a special hobbit doll that he kept in his bag beside the lembas bread? No, but Yondu did. And hey, did you notice that the frog shows up every time just before Yondu decides to do something completely unselfish, like risk his life to help protect Xandar? That frog is basically a symbol of Yondu's conscience. And it died with him. Screw you, James Gunn. We love you, but come on!