Throughout Phase 1 and 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Studios largely worked to introduce its core members of The Avengers – Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk – and continue those stories in various sequels. However, one standout of Phase 2 was James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which took a lesser known comic book team and propelled them to be some of the most popular characters within the MCU. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), and Groot (Vin Diesel) reluctantly joined forces to become a team of heroes.
Like many Marvel movies before it, Guardians of the Galaxy featured two end credits scenes, the mid-credits scene confirmed fan-favorite character Groot had not died in the team’s battle against Ronan (Lee Pace). Then, the Guardians of the Galaxy post-credits scene included a completely new character to the MCU: Howard the Duck – much to the confusion of casual Marvel fans. However, it’s not the first time Marvel’s Howard the Duck appeared in live-action, having lead a movie all on his own in 1986, though it was not well received. Now, Gunn offers his thoughts on Marvel’s Howard the Duck and the character’s movie.
In an interview with Yahoo, Gunn spoke about his love for Howard the Duck – “I’m a big Howard fan” – but his negative response to the 1986 film and the puppet used to bring the character to life:
No, no that movie sucks. That movie’s terrible. I’m a huge Howard the Duck fan. For people who don’t know, I’m a huge Marvel Comics fan, but Howard the Duck was maybe my favorite character as a kid. … Then they came out with that movie, and I was young, and I went so excited about it. First of all, I wasn’t hip with the caucasian eyelids, that upset me. They had the puppet, and it was a duck, but instead of having feathery or white eyelids, he had caucasian eyelids and it was creepy. So that alone gives it an F on the Entertainment Weekly rating system.
Infamously produced by Star Wars creator George Lucas, Howard the Duck was a resounding failure both in terms of box office and critical reception. Though it was released before Rotten Tomatoes began aggregating reviews, Howard the Duck maintains a 15 percent critic score, and 38 percent audience score. As for its box office, the film only earned $16 million in the U.S., less than half its production budget.
That said, Marvel’s Howard the Duck character’s stock has risen in recent years thanks in part to his inclusion – albeit brief – in Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel also launched a new ongoing Howard the Duck solo series in which the character is a private investigator, written by Chip Zdarsky with art from Joe Quinones. In fact, many wondered whether Gunn including Howard the Duck in the Guardians of the Galaxy post-credits scene indicated the character had a potential future in the MCU. Lucas even said that he thought Marvel would one day reboot Howard the Duck on the big screen.
While that doesn’t appear to be the case (yet), Gunn is a professed Howard the Duck fan, who managed to bring the character to life in a much less creepy way – using CGI rather than a puppet. Additionally, Drax actor Bautista teased the potential of Howard the Duck returning for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 or future Marvel movies, which would no doubt delight both Gunn and fans of the character. But, we won’t know for sure whether Howard the Duck will make a repeat end-credits scene performance until the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel premieres in May.