[Minor spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2]
Infamous Marvel character Howard the Duck may have a part to play in the future of the MCU. The anthropomorphic anatidae is best known for his 1986, George Lucas-produced box office bomb, a film widely understood as putting Marvel’s cinematic plans on hold for over a decade.
Despite his reviled status, Howard famously made his MCU debut in Guardians of the Galaxy‘s post-credits scene voiced by Seth Green where he was shown as one of the creatures released by the destruction of The Collector’s museum. The character makes a brief return in the newly-released Vol. 2, seen enjoying a drink on Contraxia (his face also appears alongside the Guardians in the film’s credits). And it looks like that isn’t the last we’ve seen of him.
Speaking at the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 junket press conference, Kevin Feige was asked about the future of Howard, to which the producer hinted at his plans:
“You know, the fun thing about Howard is he shows up where you least expect him, so like who knows where he’s going to appear next?”
Feige remained characteristically coy when pressed to give more information but his comments do suggest that he at the very least expects Howard to turn up again. Where exactly this may be is unknown, but with the MCU expanding into more and more cosmic arenas the studio isn’t short of options. Thor: Ragnarok sees the God of Thunder transported to junk planet Sakarr and Avengers: Infinity War brings Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to the Guardians’ home turf, although the safest bet given director James Gunn’s affinity for the character would be the recently-announced Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Overall, this random appearance approach isn’t a bad tactic for Marvel to take with the character, canonizing him in the new films in a way that is both an in-joke and doesn’t break the suspension of disbelief. It also may help reframe how people view the maligned icon; although he’s mostly remembered for the cinematic disaster, Howard is actually very different in the comics – he was originally written as an existential parody of the genre and for a time led one of Marvel’s most incisive runs. Indeed, the MCU cameos are much more in-line with this version.
Of course, it’s unlikely Howard’s presence will ever go beyond a simple wink and a nod. The franchise is bringing weirder and weirder creations to the big screen (Kurt Russell plays someone described as a literal living planet in Vol. 2) but Howard in his pure form is bizarre even by those standards and may ultimately be too niche for audiences to fully get the joke (no matter what George Lucas says).
Source: Kevin Feige
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