Marvel has made a habit of using their superhero films to not only provide subtle nods or fan service to the diehard comic book know-it-alls, but also help offer hints and teases of films to come in the future. With Guardians of the Galaxy, they had the chance to do the same with the largely unexplored cosmic side of their comic book universe. And they certainly didn't pass it up.
Besides the wealth of inside jokes, Easter eggs, and direct references to the source material, fans hoping to see even the more outlandish or world-shattering characters and storylines (that make "Planet Hulk" seem like child's play) adapted to film have reason to hope. We can't say they'll be coming soon, but Marvel has planted plenty of seeds.
Needless to say, there will be SPOILERS in our list of Guardians of the Galaxy trivia, so read at your own risk.
It's difficult to recognize actress Laura Haddock as the terminally ill mother of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Meredith, but she should be familiar to Marvel fans already. It was Haddock who previously played 'Autograph Girl' in Captain America: The First Avenger (one of several actors and actresses who appeared in Guardians after other films). We would like to think that Meredith's eagerness to get Cap's autograph is canon, but the timeline doesn't add up.
The great mystery of Guardians of the Galaxy begins and ends with the nature of Peter Quill's father; described by his mother as being "composed of pure light," with Nova Prime (Glenn Close) positing that he is an ancient being, previously unheard of by the Nova Corps.
In the comics, the answer is less enigmatic (a sign of how much Marvel strayed from the source material). Peter's father is J'son (Jason), who happened to be the son of the galactic emperor at the time he fathered Peter. The fiery symbol sported by Star-Lord is actually the insignia of the Spartoi - his father's race - but the film makes the symbol that of the Ravagers. In other words: expect a few more changes to the story in the future.
The planet on which viewers meet the aged Peter Quill is shown to be Morag, a desolate wasteland covered by vast lakes which hide the treasure hidden beneath for centuries at a time. The planet plays a small role in the overall story, but its name is a famous one: named for Morag, the first leader of the Kree people.
When the Skrulls (yet to appear in the Marvel films) determined that the first Kree were less deserving of their guidance and technology than their neighbors, it was Morag who led the assault on their ship, slaughtering them all, and beginning the millenia-long war between the two races.
Speculation ran rampant when director James Gunn hinted that his dog, Dr. Wesley Von Spears, would be making a cameo in the film. While the top contender was Cosmo the Space Dog, Von Spears actually appears in the film's sequence on Morag, as the holographic dog playing with a little girl.
Beta Ray Bill?
Take this Easter egg with a horse-sized grain of salt. When Peter Quill is first strutting through the ruins of Morag, he takes a brief moment to admire some strange remains. Specifically, the remains in question are a humanoid skeleton mounted on a stick, with a horse skull in place of a human one. It would seem at first glance to be a strange combination, but Marvel fans know that the alien race known as the Kymellians match that physiology exactly.
Yet horse-headed humanoids in Marvel Comics can't be discussed without mentioning Beta Ray Bill. The ally of Thor isn't likely to appear on film anytime soon, but despite that (or perhaps because of it), the filmmakers may have decided to include at least part of him onscreen (and no, not in The Collector's showroom).
One of the biggest causes for fan excitement and speculation was the presence of Sakaaran soldiers in Gunn's foray into the cosmic side of Marvel Comics - seen first in the accompanying toy line, and later in the film as the soldiers following Korath (Djimon Hounsou). While these aliens play a large role in the "Planet Hulk" story line, Gunn later explained that they were originally intended to be Badoon, but had to be changed due to rights issues.
The love that Peter Quill has for women of every species is made clear early on, when he forgets that he has a guest stowed away on his ship after escaping from Morag. That female is soon revealed to be 'Bereet,' and while the two may part ways almost immediately, the name may be familiar to avid comic fans. Bereet was the name of a Krylorian film star and techno-artist in the comics, most often seen in stories centering on "The Incredible Hulk."
While the Star-Lord of the comics may have flown about the universe in a ship simply named 'Ship' (or, the intelligence that operated it), the big screen version flies aboard the Milano. It's an eloquent enough name for a vessel, but a quick reminder that Peter Quill left Earth in his rear-view in 1988 - and his fondness for 1980s pop culture - provides a stronger hint of where the name originated.
Director James Gunn has since confirmed that the Milano is, in fact, named for child star Alyssa Milano - Quill's childhood crush.
As evidence that sometimes it's best to stray from the source material for the sake of the overall world, the character of Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker) is included in the film, but totally re-imagined. Once a founding member of the original Guardians and famed archer in the comics, little is carried over besides the character's skin color.
However, Yondu's head fin and bow and arrow are reproduced in spirit; re-envisioned as something of a psychic/whistle weapon. All Yondu needs now is an arrow, as his metal mohawk begins to glow red, and his flying weapon threatens or kills at his command.
Ronan the Accuser
Little time is spent explaining the history or motivations of Ronan (Lee Pace) in the film itself, characterizing the villain as a Kree "fanatic" hellbent on destroying Xandar for its past violence against his people. In the comics, Ronan is an elite member of the Kree military, bearing the title of 'Supreme Accuser.'
The film version combines elements from a few different takes on Ronan, but he does get to hint at his formal title when he informs the people of Xandar that they stand "accused" moments before he attempts to wipe them from existence.
Stan Lee Cameo
Continuing the tradition of comics legend Stan Lee being given a cameo in every Marvel movie, Lee appears here as the subject of Rocket Raccoon's scorn, chatting up an attractive young woman on Xandar.