Spoilers ahead for the "Guardians of the Galaxy" post-credits scene
Marvel fans have been speculating for weeks about what the post-credits scene in "Guardians of the Galaxy" would reveal. Perhaps a new trailer for "Marvel's The Avengers: Age of Ultron"? Maybe a hint at which actor will star in "Doctor Strange"? Or a first glimpse at "Ant-Man"? But as it turns out, "Guardians of the Galaxy" went in another direction entirely.
What the post-credits scene actually features is a character from the Marvel comic-book archives who has no connection to the current Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, he's notorious for being front and center in one of the biggest flops in the company's history. He's Howard the Duck.
After the final credits roll, "Guardians of the Galaxy" cuts to a scene featuring The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) in the blown-out remains of his lair on Knowhere. As he sits with a drink in hand, The Collector interacts with two beings: Cosmo the space dog and Howard the Duck. It's the second time both characters appear in "Guardians of the Galaxy," as each are shown when the film's title heroes first visit The Collector for an exposition-heavy scene about the Infinity Stones. (Howard the Duck is hidden way in the background.)
"That's the funniest thing, every time I see it, I can't stop laughing," director James Gunn told HuffPost Entertainment when that initial Howard the Duck cameo was broached during a recent interview.
As fans might remember, "Howard the Duck" was first released in 1987, and would become a giant bust for Marvel and producer George Lucas. That written, it was also a film that "Guardians of the Galaxy" leader Peter Quill (played by Chris Pratt) could have seen in the movie theater prior to being abducted to outer space. Quill, after all, owns an ALF trading card and makes direct reference to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" at one point in the film. He loves pop culture! HuffPost Entertainment asked Gunn whether Quill would have recognized Howard the Duck had he spotted him in The Collector's collection.
"The 'Howard the Duck' movie does not exist," Gunn said. "That is in an alternate universe from our world."
Too bad, otherwise this track could have made it on Quill's Awesome Mix Tape Vol. 1: