Guardians of the Galaxy 2 characters with more meaning than you realized

Like its predecessor, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a kick in the intergalactic pants, stuffed to the CGI gills with adventure and humor. Writer-director James Gunn's affection for Marvel's cosmic comics clearly runs deep and is reflected by the myriad of characters and Easter Eggs buried throughout the original feature and its sequel. Some of these buried treasures offer relatively minor fan service, while others introduce elements with deeper ramifications for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It goes without saying, but we'll say it anyway: spoilers ahead.

Starhawk a.k.a. Stakar and Aleta Ogard

Not long ago, savvy newshounds uncovered a Rocky insertion into the Guardians of the Galaxy 2 cast. Sylvester Stallone's character drops by towards the beginning of the film as one of Yondu's former companions, now an antagonistic Ravager clan leader. Acclaimed actress Michelle Yeoh later arrives as yet another Ravager leader. Before the film even opened, some clever fans pieced together their names from the cast list as Stakar and Aleta Ogord. Not only are the two siblings of sorts, but they were also members of the very first Guardians squad from 1969.

Prior to 2008, when writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, or DnA, revived the Guardians after a long layoff and put together the current version, the squad consisted of a completely different lineup and fought the forces of space evil in the 31st century. Stakar's modern origin gave him two famous cosmic parents, Wendell Vaugh's Quasar and Kismet, also known as Ayesha. Adopted a young age, he was raised alongside his adoptive sister Aleta Ogord. The two later unearthed the remains of a powerful entity, the Hawk God, who merged them into Starhawk, a conjoined being with incredible powers. They were later split into two separate beings, and in a fairly disturbing twist, married each other and had children.

At this point, Marvel hasn't clarified the true origins of Stakar and Aleta. Aside from being an exciting footnote for comic fans, Marvel is teasing a major role for the characters in the cosmic future of its cinematic universe, perhaps even factoring into Guardians Vol. 3.

Charlie-27 and Martinex

Several of the five—count them, five—credit buttons in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 embrace the rich history of Marvel's intergalactic protectors. One of the key sequences features a number of Ravager captains meeting up after the funeral of Yondu Udonta with several original members of the 31st century Guardians present, including Sylvester Stallone's Stakar Ogord and Michelle Yeoh's Aleta Ogord, in addition to founding members like Ving Rhames' Charlie-27 and the very shiny Martinex T'Naga—played by Smallville's Lex Luthor, Michael Rosenbaum.

Originally, the squad patrolled the alternative reality Earth-691. Rhame's Charlie-27 was born on Jupiter's Galileo City, is friggin' huge, and endowed with ten times the strength of average humans, thanks to the planet's oppressive gravity. No intellectual slouch, Charlie's also a skilled tactician and a captain in the Earth Space Militia. Martinex hailed from Pluto, where due to the intense temperatures on the surface, Pluvians evolved a crystalline-looking skin. He's also a skilled physicist and engineer who can generate heat rays and manipulate molecules to the freezing point.

As with Stakar and Aleta, it's unclear how closely Marvel will stick to their source material with these characters. Along with their former Guardians cohorts, though, Charlie-27 and Martinex might drop by for the third Guardians of the Galaxy—perhaps as adversaries or allies to the current crew—or enter into play after the current team goes through the lineup change James Gunn teased after the trilogy's conclusion.

Mainframe

Among the most curious of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 cameos is that of Miley Cyrus. Director James Gunn proclaimed the actress and singers' voice "awesome" after watching her on The Voice and decided to put out the casting feelers, and it seems she accepted. In the film, she (or her voice, really) portrays the severed head of Mainframe, an obscure character even for GOTG, with a fascinating history in the Marvel world.

Mainframe appeared in 1990's Amazing Adventures #38, as a version of the Vision that evolved into the planetary control system of Klaatu—itself a reference to sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still. Eventually, he joins spinoff group the Galactic Guardians. In addition to the first Mainframe, there were also several alternative versions, including a fully automated Iron Man armor, created after Tony Stark decided to hang up his metal boots.

Although Mainframe's movie origins remain to be seen, Gunn tells BuzzFeed she has a "pretty far out" origin story. Gunn also teases an expanded role for the character (hence Cyrus), saying, "there's a chance that character may go on and become a bigger thing." If the original team further expands their influence in the MCU, Mainframe could wind up an integral member of the new-old Guardians.

Howard the Duck and Cosmo (sort of)

Fans of Marvel's cosmic heroes are treated to yet another visit from obscure but lovable character Howard the Duck. Voiced by Seth Green, Howard first showed up sipping a cocktail with Benicio Del Toro's dejected Collector in the ruins of his museum during the final moments of the first Guardians—and he returns in a blink-and-you'll-miss-him cameo in Vol. 2. Now beyond the Collector's clutches, Howard appears early in the picture, sipping drinks and hitting on women in the College-town like strip of bars and brothels on Contraxia—which also happens to be the home world of lesser-known character Jack Hart.

Once again, his short but sweet cameo gives rise to pipe dreams of a full-length Howard the Duck movie. While the likelihood is extremely low, Marvel head Kevin Feige did mention him at a recent press conference, saying "the fun thing about Howard is he shows up where you least expect him, so like who knows where he's going to appear next?" The character has a dedicated fanbase, as well as a somewhat long-standing bond with Rocket Raccoon. It's possible he could play a slightly larger role in Guardians 3 or future outer-space sagas.

As far as Cosmo the Space Dog, sadly, all we see of him in Guardians 2 is a still image at the tail end of the film. Hopefully, it's not a visual eulogy, because the psychic canine is a wacky aspect of Marvel's cosmic comics and would make an enjoyable side character in future films.

Adam Warlock

Of all the Easter Eggs, cameos, and character introductions, the most significant reveal amounts to nothing more than a name spoken. But that's all we need. In the second to last post-credit tag, not-so-perfect being Ayesha, played by Elizabeth Debicki, sulks about her defeat at the hands of the Guardians. Plotting her revenge against the lovable "A-holes," she cranks up a new gestation pod (similar to the cocoon teased in the Collector's stash in the first film), naming her new being "Adam." At last, Marvel fanatics rejoiced as James Gunn finally "gave birth" to Marvel mainstay Adam Warlock.

First created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for Fantastic Four #66 in 1967, Warlock was fashioned by the fanatical geneticists in the Enclave. Engineered to be a superior being, he soon left his creators' petty squabbles behind in favor of more universal threats and esoteric quests. The character truly didn't evolve, though, until artist and writer Jim Starlin foisted him into a starring role between the '70s and '90s, when he saved the universe several times over, screwed it up thoroughly as his alter ego Magus, and worked over (or teamed up with) Thanos at various points.

Warlock's introduction is huge, especially since we already know James Gunn is a huge fan of the character and has "big plans" for him. Early rumors hinted he'd play a sizable role in Avengers: Infinity War, but studio boss Feige recently shot those notions down, proclaiming his absence until at least GOTG3—unless he's bluffing, of course. Once released from his cocoon, Warlock and his evil alter ego could do some serious damage to the MCU. For that reason alone, Adam Warlock's blip on the MCU's radar is a massive one.

Watcher Informant and the Watchers

One of the perks of watching Marvel entertainment is finding out where comic book legend Stan Lee will show up next—and what he'll be doing. His continued presence in the MCU across the Fox's X-Men universe, Sony's Spider-Verse, the MCU, and the small screen, has spawned a thousand theories. By far the most entertaining hypothesis posited that Lee was actually a Watcher—one of the oldest known species in the universe, who unsurprisingly like to watch.

Prior to the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Marvel big cheese Kevin Feige all but confirmed the theory—and even if Lee isn't one of the all-seeing beings, he's at least in league with them and plays the same character in every role. The official reveal of the Watchers also means the ancient spectators, charged with viewing and recording historic events throughout the universe, could wind up in future stories, either commenting from the peanut gallery or even meddling in events—despite their solemn decree not to interfere, which they break all the time.

Since the Watchers are now canon, their presence could open up some interesting storylines. The one to watch, so to speak, is Uatu, who observed the Earth for so long that he grew fond enough of our little rock to intervene from time to time. His presence, along with Eternity and the Celestials, could portend broader cosmic-scale events to come, with or without the Watchers.

Grandmaster

Marvel's intergalactic gamester the Grandmaster, ably depicted by Jeff Golblum, is about assert his will on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A major antagonist in Thor: Ragnarok, the Elder of the Universe will pit Thor Odinson against the Hulk in what looks to be an epic merger of the "Planet Hulk" and "Ragnarok" story arcs. Rumors circulated for months that GotG2 would set up the final Thor film, so we pretty much assumed there'd be a Hulk, Hela, or Grandmaster walk-through. Of course, with James Gunn's tongue-in-cheek humor, you never know what to expect.

The biggest association between both films—aside from gladiatorial battle involving a rock giant, possibly a Kronan warrior—turns out to a post-credits sequence involving the Gunn-written end-credits song. As David Hasselhoff sings and raps (seriously) his way through the "Guardians Inferno," characters from the film, including the surprisingly lively Yondu, shake their groove things to the lively '80s inspired beats.

The most surprising addition to the intergalactic danceoff is Goldblum's Elder, who, despite being eons old, still knows how to get funky. En Dwi Gast's introduction sets up the next major story arc—which in turn aligns with Avengers: Infinity War. We have to admit, that's one helluva way to bust a move.

Wonder Man

We admit this one is a little bit of a cheat, since it didn't technically make it into the film (yet). In the weeks before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 arrived, a number of film fun facts bubbled to the internet, including Nathan Fillion's chopped cameo. The actor, who also enjoyed a short clip as a blue Kyln inmate that bullies Peter Quill in the first film, shows up dressed in as a galactic barbarian soaring through space. The shot Fillion posted online turned out to be a joke, but his true cameo was revealed not long afterwards, and it's a curious one.

His character, Simon Williams, happens to be the birth name of Marvel hero Wonder Man—whose start wasn't exactly wondrous. Williams was the son of a successful businessman before making a few bad choices and was later granted superpowers by warped scientist Armin Zola. He joined up with the Masters of Evil for a time, but eventually saw the error of his ways and threw in with the Avengers, West Coast Avengers, and S.H.I.E.L.D, for a time. Along the way, he started a successful career as a stuntman and actor in Hollywood.

His presence—or lack thereof—in the film probably amounts to nothing more than a fun cameo, but Fillion could theoretically play the role in future films. After all, an alternative future of Wonder Man was a member of one Guardians team, which consisted of Vision, Firelord, Phoenix, and Ghost Rider, among others. While we're not betting on a massive Wonder Man role, stranger things have happened around the MCU.

Krugarr

In yet another killer Easter Egg, James Gunn throws fans of the classic 31st century Guardians crew another bone: During the post-credit reunion scene, a red, serpent-like alien got in on the action. While he's never named or given a voice (because he has no mouth, although he does talk), or an actor's credit, the character does enjoy a magical moment, giving his thumbs up of approval to Stakar's reunion. More importantly, he also conjures up a curiously familiar mandala.

Going by the handle of Krugarr, the snaky fellow's his origins come from the 22nd century. Doctor Strange—we'd love some of his longevity potion—first discovered the young man, er, snake…on his home world of Lem. Recognized now as the Ancient One, Strange imparts his wizardly ways to the ruddy alien, who eventually becomes his era's Sorcerer Supreme. He's granted an honorary membership in the 31st century Guardians, which is slightly different than his apparent card-carrying membership with the old squad in GotG2.

His presence in the film isn't merely significant as fan service, either, as Krugarr brings magic to the cosmological side of Marvel. Although it's unlikely we'll see much of him until after Phase 3—most likely in or around Guardians 3—Krugarr could theoretically turn up as a cameo or a wink in a Doctor Strange sequel as well. Perhaps he and Doc Strange could team up for a fantasy/sci-fi throwdown the not-too-distant cinematic future.

Eternity

When Peter's father, Ego the Living Planet—actually a nigh-immortal being known as a Celestial who built a planet around himself—takes control of his son, Star-Lord has what can best be explained as an extra-sensory experience few mortals are capable of. He is half-planet, after all. During his mind-bender, Peter's eyes become two dark pools before he utters the phrase "I see…Eternity."

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and a line from a movie is nothing more than flower dialogue. At the same time, Star-Lord's words may hold more profound implications for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although he could simply be admiring the boundless wonders of the universe, there's a distinct chance he's actually taking in Eternity, one of Marvel's major abstract beings.

First brought from the abstract (back to the abstract) in Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's Strange Tales #138, the cosmic form usually appears as a humanoid outline filled by stars and galaxies. Alongside his sister, Infinity, and cohorts Death, Oblivion, and purple-hat enthusiast Galactus, each represents the cosmological forces at play in the Marvel Universe. Eternity also came into play during the classic Infinity War saga—although we probably won't encounter him till the back end of Phase 3 at the earliest. If Eternity's introduction in the Guardians sequel rings as legit, the MCU may be in for some heady escapades in the future.

The Sneepers

During the early phases of production on the Guardians sequel, helmer James Gunn hunted down a variety of Marvel alien species for the film. As usual, he needed to clear everything through the company's legal department, for myriad reasons, including the vastly confusing clusterfudge of usage rights between Marvel, Fox, Sony, and others. In particular, one alien group, the Sneepers, caused a hang-up—but not because of ownership.

It turns out "sneeper" is phonetically similar to the Icelandic term for a female body part, one which rhymes with (no, not Mulva) Delores. The extraterrestrials were initially shot down, but the legal eagles' reason for rejecting them was amusing enough that Gunn relayed it via his Facebook account. His post generated enough media attention that the legal department decided to clear the aliens for use, and his due diligence paid off. The soundtrack now includes a Hasselhoff-led pseudo-band that goes by the name of the Sneepers, while a Sneeper Madame also zips by during the Ravagers' jaunt to Contraxia.

In the long run, the inclusion of a minor alien race with a chortle-inducing innuendo—even one that once sought to conquer the Earth—doesn't seem that vital. However, it indicates Gunn's willingness to go the extra mile and (hopefully) Marvel's due diligence it comes to greenlighting elements into MCU canon. Minor successes like this could help the House of Ideas regain more traction with other studios and encourage trades of noteworthy species to and from their respective rights holders.

On the other hand, an amusing Icelandic in-joke might be all there is to the Sneepers.