WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The heroes of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 took a big leap into Marvel's cosmic mythology with Peter's father, Ego (Kurt Russell). But the 'Living Planet' who turned out to actually be one of Marvel's Celestials may have already appeared in the previous movie, just... not in the form fans were expecting. In fact, now that we know the real plot twists surrounding Ego's origin story, his natural form, and his relationship with Peter Quill's mother, another MASSIVE Guardians of the Galaxy Easter Egg can be understood. There's far too much evidence for it to be a fluke, but seems to be a hidden message from director James Gunn spilling the beans on Meredith Quill's lover - and the cause of her death - years ago.
We can't say that this combination of Marvel's Celestial lore with fictional space coordinates, and finally Ego's ability to kill through cancer is Guardians' "Final Undiscovered Easter Egg" still yet to be found. Since the release of Vol. 2, Gunn has clarified that he'll be taking that secret message to his grave if nobody can solve it, although some have "come close." Either way, we're confident this is another MCU connection few fans have made, but if it is what it appears to be, it's one truly incredible detail courtesy of Gunn. One that fans will absolutely love, revealing the sequel's secrets before anyone knew what to look for.
Be warned, there will be SPOILERS ahead. Because the secret of Ego, Peter Quill's mother, and Guardians of the Galaxy 2's story may have been spilled in the first movie.
The Coordinate Easter Eggs We Knew
For those who have yet to see Guardians 2, one last SPOILER warning... because the biggest twist of the film isn't just that Ego is evil, and out to conquer the entire universe - it's that he gave Star-Lord's mother her brain tumor. According to the Celestial Brain-turned-Planet-turned-Man, he did it because he truly loved Meredith, having visited her three times on Earth - and knowing that he might give up his conquest of the universe out of his love for her. The only way to cut the cord permanently was to put the cancer in her head that would wipe her clean from this temporary, mortal world.
But hold on. Once the shock of that bombshell faded, we placed it with one unforgettable secret message concealed within the first Guardians movie. Most fans will have heard it by now, but the space coordinates that accompany the on-screen text in the Guardians films aren't random. In some cases, they're hand-picked by Gunn as real places in the Andromeda Galaxy, while others are created out of thin air. One of the latter comes when Ronan the Accuser's ship, The Dark Aster, is reveal. It's a text and number string that looks like astronomical coordinates, but deciphered into something far more shocking.
Applying the Dark Aster coordinates to a simple system of swapping letters for their placement in the alphabet (A=1, B=2, Z=26), fans got the following:
"T8IS IS1301319+31N3518" OR "THIS IS MOMS+CANCER."
It was a cryptic statement, and one most fans took as a symbolic or thematic statement by director Gunn - that Peter fearing, then defeating Ronan matched his struggle to accept his mother's death. But with Guardians 2 making it clear that Ego the Living Planet was actually the cause of Peter's mother's cancer... we got to thinking. If those coordinates were clearly a message, but NOT one about the Dark Aster they accompanied... maybe it was part of a larger message to the audience directly?
The Coordinates Spell a Message?
Time to do some more digging, and break down every other bit of on-screen text we're given in the film - and we mean every. As mentioned above, some of the planets or locations and their coordinates correspond to real or hypothetical spots in our known universe, like Morag (M31V J00443799+4129236) and Xandar (M31V J00442326+4127082). Both are found in the Andromeda Galaxy, otherwise known as Messier 13, hence the "M31V" at the beginning. In addition, the location of the Kyln prison looks to be a joke based on this format, deciphering down to "MTH ISISN TREAL"(M20H 119919142+0185112).
But the coordinates of completely fictional, yet meaningful places or objects in the this particular story translate most easily into English terms or phrases. At the time, those studying the coordinates of Knowhere, in particular, found only a partially constructed string of letters that seemed to broadly point to Meredith Quill, Peter's mother (played by Laura Haddock). It made sense, considering that the Dark Aster's coordinates also made vague reference to her. But without knowing exactly what Gunn was getting at, it was hard to make some larger sense of it.
Until we tried to think of how there could even be an undiscovered Easter Egg at all, considering the amount of fans scrutinizing every frame. It meant they weren't examining everything, which forced us to drill down a bit deeper. We never knew why James Gunn chose the year "1988," specifically, to begin his flashback story (in fact, it sort of created a Guardians/Avengers plot hole). And we fully accept that this may be a cosmic coincidence, and the deciphered meaning of the opening text is simply a year. But combining the coordinates that point to the mystery of Meredith Quill gives... well, a clear statement:
For clarification, combining the alphabetical values associated with the numbers shown on screen, and allowing for digits that overtly resemble letters without translation (3="E"), the coordinates in sequence form a clear message from Gunn to the audience. "SHH... THIS IS MOMS CANCER... MEREDITH QUILL (E)X" clues viewers in that a secret is coming their way, that the secret is the source of Star-Lord's mother's cancer, and that the source is her "ex." An ex we now know to be Ego in human form, who confirmed that he gave her cancer.
It was at this point that we began to do some digging to see if this complete message had been found, or posed before, and couldn't find it online. The diehard fans will know that Reddit user 'MTrigs' had put some of the pieces together too, specifically the translation of Knowhere's coordinates into a reference to Meredith Quill's past lover. But that was before Guardians 2 solidified the link between Knowhere, Peter's father, and Meredith's cancer, meaning the conclusions wound up to be off-target (and lacked the initial "SHH" message that clues fans in to read the messages as one extended hint).
But we've got a suspicion that the link between Knowhere and Ego is far more... literal than the first movie suggested on its own.