At one time Marvel Studios’ post-credits teases were a fun bonus for fans patient enough to sit through the film’s credits – often teasing characters or plot lines that would go over the head of the average moviegoer. However, as Marvel’s shared cinematic universe became a pop-culture sensation (and box office powerhouse), button scenes were no longer a harmless reward – they became a staple of the experience.
As a result, movie fans are sitting through Guardians of the Galaxy‘s credits with expectant eyes. Those outside of comic book fan circles (or anyone who wasn’t paying much attention to movies in 1986) might be confused by what they saw after sitting through all those end credits, but we’re here to help explain. Our discussion is going to be full of Guardians of the Galaxy movie SPOILERS from here on out. READ NO FURTHER unless you’re all caught up.
MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW
Post-Credits Scene – The Master of Quack-Fu
Given Guardians of the Galaxy‘s connections to interweaving storyline depicted in The Avengers team-up and solo movies, fans were probably expecting a teaser for The Avengers: Age of Ultron. After all, Thanos and select Infinity Stones (The Tesseract and The Aether) have already been featured in both Phase One and Phase Two of the shared movie universe – so it would only make sense for the studio to use Guardians‘ end-credits scene to get people excited for the studio’s next (and biggest) film.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier gave a sneak peek at two new characters from Age of Ultron; plus, it is expected that the Guardians of the Galaxy will eventually team-up with The Avengers down the road (the studio even teased Guardians in the post-credits scene for Thor: The Dark World with an appearance by Benicio Del Toro’s Collector). Yet, for now the Guardians are off on their own and, after showcasing dancing Groot in a pre-credits scene, director James Gunn used his post-credits scene as an opportunity to provide audiences with one more zany laugh.
In the scene, we see Taneleer Tivan aka The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) bruised and despondent, sitting amidst the ruins of his museum on Knowhere, following the unplanned detonation of the Purple Infinity Stone. As Tivan sips a martini, the soviet space canine (aka future Guardian member Cosmo the Spacedog) begins licking The Collector’s face. Tivan takes solace in the dog’s show of comfort - only to be interrupted by an abrasive voice that asks “What do you let him lick you like that for?” The camera pans over to reveal Marvel comic book character – and 1980s feature-film star – Howard the Duck, sipping his own martini while standing next to a broken museum cage.
Eagle-eyed viewers might have noticed the character imprisoned above The Collector earlier in the film but, free from his cage, Howard the Duck gets snarky with Tivan. Taking another swig of his martini, Howard adds “Gross” and the scene fades to black – revealing lettering clearly identifying the character: Howard the Duck created by Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik.
Who is Howard the Duck?
As the scene indicates in its closing, Howard the Duck was created back in 1973 by writer Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik – first appearing in Adventure into Fear issue 19. Howard was typically used for the purpose of social satire, making fun of real-life people as well as fictional Marvel characters, from an outsider point of view.
Even though the character might seem like a downright bizarre inclusion in Guardians of the Galaxy (a movie that also includes a talking raccoon and tree), his biography is actually filled with outer space adventures and battles with cosmic beings. In fact, while he’s a relatively obscure character now, Howard was almost always accounted for during important story lines in the Marvel Universe – including Civil War and Secret Invasion, among others. He also enjoyed repeated run-ins with Avengers characters such as She-Hulk and Doctor Strange – even donning Iron Man-knock off armor as Iron Duck.
Recently, the character even appeared in an episode of Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. titled “The Collector” – where he has been imprisoned, along with the Fantastic Four and The Avengers, as a living member of Tivan’s collection.
Of course, non-comic book readers will likely remember Howard the Duck from the 1986 live-action film starring Lea Thompson and Tim Robbins – with Chip Zien voicing the titular character.
Check out the trailer for Howard the Duck below:
Lucasfilm and Universal Pictures produced the movie, which received abysmal reviews from critics – given that the film was mostly an adaptation of the premise (an anthropomorphic duck from outer space lands on Earth) than a fully-realized implementation of the character (or his function as social satire).