Decoding the secrets of Guardians of the Galaxy

Well, I think we can all agree that Guardians of the Galaxy proves that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is here to stay.

Well, I think we can all agree that Guardians of the Galaxy proves that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is here to stay. With the studio’s first real foray into their convoluted cosmic material making another box-office success, they have cemented their license to print money, proving that they can take a bunch of Z-list characters that nobody cared about, and make them a success.
Not only that, but the popularity of this film opens the door to exploring a whole new wave of classic stories set in a wider, weirder galaxy. This being Marvel, a bunch of them were hinted at, implied, or otherwise teased, so now begins the traditional deconstruction and analysis of Guardians’ hidden secrets.
I’m assuming if you’re the type of person that cares about this stuff, then you’ve already seen it but be warned anyway: here be spoilers.
First up, we kind of have to talk about Thanos. While we didn’t see much of him, what we were shown is incredibly encouraging. He looks carbon-copied from the comics in the best possible way, and Josh Brolin is nailing the Mad Titan’s menacing growl.
This was his first onscreen appearance, Avengers cameo notwithstanding, and it set up his character beautifully. For those not in the know, Thanos’ signature weapon is the Infinity Gauntlet, powered by the six Infinity Stones.
We’ve already seen three of these: the Tessarect, currently in Asgard for safekeeping, the purple one from Guardians, in the care of the Nova Corps, and the Aether, which was entrusted to the Collector following the events of Thor: The Dark World (more on that later).
Thanos has already been revealed as the string-puller behind Loki’s invasion of New York, so we can expect him to be making plenty more power plays for the stones in future films.
Ronan the Accuser
Next up at the bat, we have Ronan the Accuser, an uber-nationalistic alien played with appropriate ‘bad-assery’ by Lee Pace. Although apparently dead at the end of Guardians, he’s a recurring character in the comics, so don’t be too surprised if he comes back.
What I’m really excited about, however, is the way Marvel used Ronan to sneak the Kree in unnoticed. The same race that Ronan belongs to, the Kree are one of the principal peoples that Marvel use to populate the galaxy, and are at the centre of many of their most critically acclaimed storylines, such as the Kree-Skrull war and the rise of the Inhumans.
Marvel have introduced these guys with admirable simplicity, assuming we can pick up the details for ourselves. As an interesting side-note, for anyone watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this pretty much guarantees that the half-corpse used to resurrect Coulson was, as many predicted, a Kree.
The Collector
Also of notable significance despite his relatively brief screen time is Benicio Del Toro’s Collector. Whether they’ll bring his comic-book origins as one of the super-powerful ‘Elders of the Universe’ into play remains to be seen, but even without this, he is a remarkably important character.
As seen at the end of The Dark World, he is entrusted with the extraordinarily powerful Aether. However, astute viewers will note that his collection suffered from something of an explosion problem during Guardians, meaning that this particular Infinity Stone is unaccounted for. Other revealing items from his vast collection include Cosmo the Spacedog.
Originally part of the Russian space program, the canine’s extended time among the stars eventually gave him psychic powers, which he employs as a future member of the Guardians. So expect the team to add at least one more talking animal to its ranks by number two. Cosmo is most notably seen in the post-credits teaser.
But he’s not the only one…
Howard the Duck?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that a fair few people were utterly baffled by the reveal at the end of Guardians. If you were one of the people going ‘huh?’ while everyone else was freaking out, allow me to introduce you to Howard the Duck. A semi-popular comedy character, he was used by Marvel to satirise various aspects of comics writing and culture.
He was also the subject of what is widely regarded as one of the worst movie adaptations in the history of comic-books, starring in a George Lucas-directed trainwreck that critically bombed.
For many people, Howard the Duck has the same box-office-poison status as Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern or Batman and Robin, so the feathery little alcoholic is pretty much the last person anyone would pick for inauguration into the MCU.
And yet here he is. This seems like nothing less than a victory lap from Marvel, the equivalent of saying “Yeah, we’re so good, we’ll even put Howard the goddamn Duck in our movie, because we can make you people like anything.”
Although many will be alternately anticipating and dreading a fully-fledged (if you’ll pardon the pun) movie for Howard, director Gunn has said that the cameo is meant strictly in fun, and should not be taken too seriously. Nevertheless, he is now a canonical presence, and could appear in other films if Marvel so chose.
Moreover, it shows a willingness by the studio to begin looking at including some of their more far-fetched or controversial characters in future productions, a prospect that many fans will welcome after the franchise’s predominantly serious dramatic angle.
This anticipation of more quirky, tongue-in-cheek fare would appear to be backed up by the hype surrounding the recently leaked Deadpool test footage, which received an overwhelmingly positive response from fans.
I mean, if Howard the freaking Duck can get a cameo, then there is no earthly reason why we can’t have our damn Deadpool film already.
In any case, this latest addition to the Marvel stable has opened up the franchise to brave new worlds, with James Gunn showing us the exciting possibilities of a fully-formed Marvel Cosmos. I cannot wait to see where they go with it.
What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.