So Who Is That Guy in the End Credits of 'Guardians of the Galaxy'?
by Ethan Anderton
August 4, 2014
While the scenes that played after the end credits of Phase One of Marvel's cinematic universe all teased the next film up to bat whether it was Thor or Captain America: The First Avenger or even just The Avengers themselves. However, the teases in the end credits of the films in Phase Two haven't always been as forthcoming about hinting at what's to come in future films. Iron Man 3 was just an amusing little scene between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, but Captain America: The Winter Soldier upped the ante with a big tease of what's to come in The Avengers: Age of Ultron and even Captain America 3. As for Guardians of the Galaxy though, the tease was surprising to say the least, and also pretty cool when you think about it.
**SPOILERS for Guardians of the Galaxy from here on out, don't ready any further!**
No, we're not talking about the cute scene with tiny Groot dancing to "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5. We're talking about the scene all the way at the end of the credits. In this scene we see The Collector (Benicio del Toro), a bandage on his head, his collection on Knowhere in shambles behind him due to the destruction of the Infinity Stone brought to him by the Guardians of the Galaxy, which enticed his pink-skinned assistant with power and resulted in a massive explosion of energy. The space dog Cosmos (which is a nice nod to a character with ties to Rocket Raccoon in the comics) comes up and starts licking his face. Then out of nowhere, Howard the Duck appears behind him from under the debris.
Yes, Howard the Duck, the mallard star of the 1986 film of the same name that is regarded as one of the worst movies of all-time. He pops up and with a voice from Seth Green says, "What do you let him lick you like that for? Gross." And that's it. Now many people might have been expecting a teaser for The Avengers: Age of Ultron, especially since that's what happened with the last Marvel film that hit theaters in Phase One before The Avengers arrived the following year. But you know what, there's something about this that seems infinitely cooler than a tease for next summer's sequel (especially since we'll get a trailer for that anyway).
First, for those who don't know, Howard the Duck (pictured above from the 1986 film directed by Willard Huyck) is another ill-tempered, sarcastic, anthropomorphic animal just like Rocket Raccoon. However, instead of being a genetic experiment, Howard the Duck was born on Duckworld, a planet in another dimension where intelligent life evolved from waterfowl instead of primates. The planet is basically an alternate Earth that resembles mankind in many ways, except the world is run by ducks who speak English instead of humans. But through a series of mishaps, Howard ends up stuck on Earth, and most of his adventures involved satire or parody as he tries to live amongst humans, getting into various bits of trouble.
Unlike Rocket Raccoon, there's not much special about Howard the Duck other than being a walking, talking bird. As the Marvel Database notes, Howard "possesses no known superhuman or superduck powers," but he "has some knowledge of the little known martial art called Quak-Fu, and hence is a surprisingly formidable opponent in hand-to-hand combat." However, the mystical hero Doctor Strange reveals that Howard is capable of learning to do magic, but the impatient and uninterested duck wasn't up for becoming his apprentice. Is it a coincidence that Marvel has Doctor Strange in the works for Phase Three, or that Disney now owns Lucasfilm, who made the Howard the Duck movie?
Funnily enough, Marvel and Disney had a bit of a kerfuffle after the creation of Howard the Duck in 1973. Business Insider notes that The House of Mouse threatened Marvel with legal action claiming the character's design bore a striking resemblance to Donald Duck. They also note a weird deal that was struck between Marvel and Disney which had the character completely redesigned. Here's a before (left) and after:
In an interview from 2001, Howard the Duck co-creator Steve Gerber explained:
"To avoid litigation, Marvel's old management signed an incredibly stupid agreement with Disney. Under its terms, all future appearances of Howard must conform to a set of designs that Disney provided for the character. You've seen this design. It's the one from the black-and-white HTD magazine, with the ghastly swollen beak, the beady eyes, and the baggy trousers that make the duck look like a derelict. What's absolutely astonishing, though, is that the Disney agreement is worded in such a way that Marvel isn't even permitted to create a new, alternative design for the character, even if that design bears no resemblance to Donald."
Now before we get too ahead of ourselves, this could just as easily be a fun little joke that Marvel put in the end credits for comic book fans. But the fact that they chose to include a character like Howard the Duck like this is indicative of the weird places they're willing to go as a studio, especially after audiences just accepted a walking, talking giant tree that only says "I am Groot" and his anthropomorphic, scoundrel raccoon sidekick named Rocket. And they absolutely loved it. If audiences are willing to accept something as out of this world (literally and figuratively) as Guardians of the Galaxy, then there just might be a place for Howard the Duck to thrive again on the big screen. We'll be watching for any news. Your thoughts?