Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 — now streaming on Disney+ — is the last time we’ll see this iteration of everybody’s favourite team of galactic superheroes. That doesn’t mean we won’t see the characters independently again. Just as in the comics, superhero team-ups are fluid, with members leaving and joining as the mood takes them or circumstances dictate.
Writer-director James Gunn is leaving the franchise to concentrate on his new job — co-steering DC’s screen output — so for now, at least, we can wave goodbye to the Guardians as we know them.
But not before we take a dive into all the sweet, sweet Easter eggs laid about their tearjerking farewell of a trilogy finale. Let’s hunt!
Warning: spoilers ahead
Howard the Duck
If Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was the film in which you hoped Howard the Duck might finally take a bigger role in the MCU, you might be left feeling disappointed – but he does get a customary cameo.
First seen among the Collector’s exhibits in his Museum on Knowhere in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, Howard is seen again in Vol. 2 partying on Contraxia. All before popping up to fight alongside the Ravagers, Avengers, and everybody else during the Battle of Earth against foe Thanos in Avengers: Endgame.
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Howard the Duck is seen playing poker alongside Kraglin and some other familiar faces when Kraglin is asked to provide help on Knowhere.
Alongside Howard at the poker table, you’ll spot another familiar face – The Broker from Vol. 1. In that film, the shop owner from Xandar initially agrees to buy the Orb from the Ravagers intending to flip it to the Collector. But when Star-Lord steals it to cash in instead, the Broker refuses to take it after learning Ronan the Accuser is also after it.
Christopher Fairbank who plays the Broker also showed up in another popular Disney property recently – Star Wars. He played the incarcerated Ulaf in Andor’s outstanding prison episodes.
One more face around that poker table might seem naggingly familiar. If you watched the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special shown late last year on Disney+, you might have recognised a certain Achernonian musician.
Bzermikitokolok is frontman of the band seen performing songs on Knowhere during the Holiday Special, and wrote a song about Christmas and Santa Claus with lyrics that were inaccurate. He later performed a song with Kevin Bacon, brought from Earth by Drax and Mantis as a Christmas present for Peter.
Bzermikitokolok is played by real-life musician Rhett Miller.
When the Guardians head to The High Evolutionary’s Orgocorp, alternate Gamora points to a character with a carrot-y head and says, “Let’s kill that one that looks like a carrot to show we mean business.”
While there’s a rabbit superhero known as Captain Carrot among the DC roster, in the Marvel comics there’s a universe in which Groot is a giant carrot named Root. Instead of “I am Groot”, he says, “I am Root.” The orange root vegetable version of Groot appeared in The Mighty Captain Marvel #127.
Xeronians and Animen
When Gamora is explaining the High Evolutionary to the rest of the Guardians, she says that as well as creating the Sovereign, he also created other societies. Two of these she names are Xeronians and Animen.
In the comics, the Xeronians were a peaceful race whose king, Randau, turned himself into the perfect warrior (known as the Space Parasite) via mutation caused by radiation from their planet’s sun in order to thwart an attack. After, needing to feed off the energy of his bested opponents to survive in his new form, he leaves the planet in search of stronger adversaries. He comes up against the Hulk. His people eventually destroy his ship in an attempt to stop him.
Randau’s storylines saw him cross paths with The Leader — set to make a return to the MCU for the first time since 2008’s The Incredible Hulk in Captain America: New World Order — and the Collector.
The Animen’s comic book history, meanwhile, positions them as servants of the High Evolutionary. They’re a group of anthropomorphic animals that included Buzzard, Crushtacean, Spinneret, Komodo, and Flying Fox. There’s also a group of similarly anthropomorphic supervillains known as the Ani-Men whose enemies included Daredevil, the Avengers, and the X-Men.
When we see the High Evolutionary experimenting on animals to mutate them, he does so in chambers using a mist that is reminiscent of Terrigenesis – the process Inhumans go through to activate their latent Inhuman genes to become meta-humans.
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the High Evolutionary is attempting to create perfect beings. We see an ordinary tortoise undergo a procedure in a glass cylinder into which a Terrigen Mist-like gas is pumped. A transformation occurs, that turns the tortoise into a (very angry) humanoid creature. He does the same later with a kangaroo.
Inhumans, who have long featured in the comics, were brought to the screen in the ill-fated TV series of the same name. It lasted a season, but we have since seen a version of Black Bolt from the show pop up in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as a member of the Illuminati, suggesting that the series and the concept of Inhumans has not been erased from the MCU via the cancelling of this series.
High Evolutionary minion War-Pig is voiced by none other than Judy Greer. This is notable because Greer is already in the MCU as Maggie Lang, Scott Lang’s ex-wife and mother of Cassie Lang.
Cassie Lang has just gained her own superhero wings in the recent Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
One of the rescued child slaves of the High Evolutionary’s is referred to as Phyla. In the mid-credits sequence, she’s seen as one of the newest members of the new Guardians of the Galaxy line-up.
In the comics, Phyla-Vell is the daughter of Mar-Vell, who we met in a different incarnation to the character’s comic-book form in Captain Marvel, played by Annette Bening. We learn very little about Phyla in GotG Vol. 3 but she has similar white-blonde hair to her comic-book counterpart.
In the comics, Phyla-Vell is created from Mar-Vell’s DNA and becomes a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy – just like the movie’s Phyla does. She also has a relationship with Moondragon, the daughter of Drax the Destroyer – who Daniela Melchior was thought to be playing in the film. Melchior is in the movie, but she plays a character working for Orgocorp charmed by Star-Lord.
In GotG Vol. 3, Drax takes a paternal role with Phyla and her fellow slave children.
An adorable new pet critter is introduced in the movie, who Adam Warlock takes a shine to. Blurp is a F’saki but did anyone else notice Blurp’s (his name was revealed by James Gunn) resemblance to Trevor Slattery’s cute companion, Morris, from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings?
Okay, Blurp has a mouth and eyes, lacking on Morris – and four ears where Morris’s four wings are – but could they be related distantly? Morris is a mystical Dijiang from the realm of Ta Lo, but we’re dealing in genetic experimentation in this film so anything’s possible.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 doesn’t quite deliver the Kevin Bacon cameo we might have wanted after his appearance in the Holiday Special, but it does reference him in a neat way.
Read more: Every upcoming MCU movie and show
In the movie’s post-credits sequence, Peter’s grandpa is perusing a newspaper with a headline on the back, which reads, “Alien Abduction” with subtitle, “Kevin Bacon Shares All”.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is streaming on Disney+.