Films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are well known at this point for being full of clever Easter eggs, but Guardians of the Galaxy is on a whole other level thanks to writer-director James Gunn. Gunn is master of the form, with the original Guardians of the Galaxy containing a litany of references and in-jokes to the rest of the MCU. Vol. 2 is no different in that regard and is arguably filled with even more Easter eggs, ranging from 80s pop culture references to set-up work for Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War.
This list doesn’t cover all of the Easter eggs in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, as some are pretty obvious, but these are the most important and/or obscure ones in the film. Who knows, you may have even missed a few of them!
Yeah, it’s not exactly a secret that the very first scene in Vol. 2 takes place in Missouri, thus establishing that Peter Quill was born there. What you may not have realized is that in the comics, Quill was actually born in Colorado. We can only assume that writer-director James Gunn, a Missouri native, made the change as a nod to his own upbringing (Gunn has been pretty upfront about how his own “personal experiences” influenced the film).
20. Meredith Quill’s MCU Connection
In the aforementioned Missouri scene, we see the return of Quill’s mother Meredith Quill, only this time she is full of life and madly in love with Kurt Russell’s Ego (how could anyone resist those flowing locks?). What you may not have realized is that we’ve seen Laura Haddock, the actress who plays Meredith, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before (and no, not just in the first Guardians of the Galaxy). She had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role as a girl looking for Cap’s autograph in Captain America: The First Avenger.
19. Star Lord’s Shirt Decoded
People have been wondering what the slogan on Star-Lord’s Shirt means ever since it was glimpsed in the first trailer and now that the film is finally out, we have our answer. It turns out that the slogan is written in an alien language called Klyn, which was developed by Territory Studio for the first Guardians of the Galaxy. Reddit user OooChimpanzeeThat did some translating and discovered that the first part reads “Gears Shift.”
The other part reads “dust, cement stone, ash,” which is a confounding Easter egg if there ever was one, but underneath that line reads “A Teneyck Galaxy Invention.” What the heck does that mean? Well, there’s a graphic designer by the name of Karen TenEyck who worked on the film, as well as many other entries in the MCU, so the line appears to be reference to her. We appreciate when a film goes out of its way to acknowledge the contributions of its crew, even if it’s in the form of an obscure Easter egg!
The control stations used to control Ayesha’s drone fleet are clearly inspired by 80s arcade games, eliciting sounds that feel reminiscent of the era, but there’s one point in this sequence that appears to be a clever nod to one old school game in particular. While attacking Star-Lord’s ship, the drones begin swarming in two lines, much like the enemy ship formations found in the game Galaga. Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Galaga referenced in the MCU, as everyone remembers Tony Stark calling out a random SHIELD employee for playing the game when he’s supposed to be working.
17. Planet Berhert
Following the Sovereign attack, the Guardians land on the surface of a mysterious planet where they first encounter Ego. The name of this planet is Berhert, which in the comics is the home of the Sagittarians, Princess Daydra and Warlord Supreme. The Sagittarians have a pretty close connection with the Hulk at one point, as the green hero helps Princess Daydra and a group of rebels to overthrow the Galaxy Master, a world-destroying being who had thrown the Sagittarians into bondage.
16. Stallone’s Character, Explained
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has some pretty great cameos, including Sylvester Stallone, who plays the Ravager Stakar. What you may not have realized is that Stallone’s character is better known as the hero Starhawk in the comics and was part of a different iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy team. Starhawk is the founder of the Guardians in the 31st Century, whose lineup includes Major Victory, Martinex, Charlie-27, and none other than Yondu Udonta.
The planet where we first meet Stallone’s Stakar is called Contraxia, which in the comics is a dying planet whose sun has shutdown, and is the home planet of Marvel hero Jack O’Hearts’ mother. The native inhabitants of Contraxia are called Contraxians (big surprise there), a humanoid race with pink or brown skin whose bodies are split down the middle between two different shades. Not much is really known about them, except that they are run by a theocratic matriarchy and have access to faster than light travel … and apparently have to put up with frequent Ravager meet-ups.
14. Martinex T’Naga
If you’re anything like us, you probably noticed the crystal-skinned guy accompanying Stallone’s Stakar and thought “Woah, what’s that cool guy’s story?” Well, his name is Martinex T’Naga, an original Guardians of the Galaxy team member who was born on Pluto (no relation to this guy, unfortunately). He’s not all just good lucks though, as writer Dan Abnett describes him as “the brain” of the operation.
The best part about Martinex though is who plays him in the film. Believe it or not, that’s Michael Rosenbaum — Smallville’s Lex Luthor — underneath all that crystal. Rosenbaum is actually a personal friend of James Gunn and his addition to the cast was announced really late, so you’d be forgiven for not realizing he was even in it!
Kurt Russell’s Ego at one point notes that he’s a powerful being known as a Celestial, but he’s actually not the first Celestial we’ve seen in the MCU. In the first Guardians of the Galaxy, when The Collector (Benicio del Toro) is explaining the history of the Infinity Stones, we see a giant being wielding the purple Power Stone. This is Eson The Searcher, who is actually Peter Quill’s grandfather in the comics.
12. Egg Ship (Mork and Mindy)
Ego’s egg-shaped spaceship looks more than a little reminiscent of the ship Mork (Robin Williams) uses to get to Earth in the 1978 TV series Mork & Mindy. Peter Quill would be well familiarized with this show, which is possibly why Ego decides to give his ship this particular design. Nostalgia is a powerful tool, after all, and seeing a real life version of something out of his childhood would probably help set Peter’s mind at ease.
Come to think of it, we’re a little surprised the resemblance wasn’t explicitly stated in the film, but perhaps James Gunn thought it would be a bit on the nose for Peter to point this out and trusted audiences to make the connection.
11. North By Northwest Homage?
The sibling rivalry between Gamora and Nebula is one of the best parts of Vol. 2 and we see it come to an explosive head after Nebula finds her sister on Ego’s world and tries to kill her with her ship. The sequence where Negula starts firing on Gamora is framed very similarly to a famous sequence from the classic Hitchcock film North by Northwest. We’re just going to go ahead and assume this was an intentional homage.
10. Stan Lee’s Meta Cameo
It’s hardly surprising to see Stan Lee turn up for a cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but what’s interesting is that this may be his most important cameo to date, if that makes any sense. We see Stan the Man sitting on a distant moon, talking to a mysterious race of aliens (more on them in a bit). We hear him discuss the time he was a delivery man, a nod to his cameo appearance in Captain America: Civil War. Funnily enough, this seems to confirm a popular fan theory that the Stan we see in each Marvel movie is actually the same character and not multiple alternate Stans.
This makes sense when you consider who Stan is talking too. Known as The Watchers, these aliens literally watch over the Marvel Universe and although they’re not supposed to interfere, they definitely have on occasion.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 gets very meta with its central “will they/won’t they?” relationship between Gamora and Peter Quill, the later of whom actually points out this trope at one point by stating that they share an unspoken romantic connection similar to one featured on the TV show Cheers. Having never seen Cheers, Gamora fails to understand the reference, but audience members familiar with the classic 80s show likely didn’t.
Cheers actually had two such relationships, the most famous being between Diane (Shelley Long) and Sam (Ted Danson). Some more modern examples include Rachel and Ross on Friends and Jim and Pam from The Office, but having left Earth in the late 80s, Quill would not be aware of either of those.
During the sequence where Ego reveals the true extent of Peter’s abilities — and following the exchange where Peter claims he’s going to build all kind of “cool sh*t,” including recreations of Pac-Man, Skeletor, and Heather Locklear — Star-Lord literally sees stars when Ego shows him the limits of the galaxy, prompting Peter to whisper “Eternity” in awe of what he’s seeing. It’s hard to say for sure, but this seems to be a nod to the all-powerful being of the same name, as Eternity is frequently depicted as an entity made up of stars and planets.
7. Ego’s Plan
To the surprise of many, we actually get to see Ego’s Living Planet form in the film, face and all. However, what’s really interesting about Ego is that his plan to take over the galaxy is pretty much the inversion of The Stranger’s plan from the comics. In that storyline, The Stranger tries to destroy Ego by putting him into a large bio-verse called Super-Ego and it’s actually Ego who needs saving, with his fellow Celestials coming to his aid.
6. Family Cameos
In the very first scene of the original Guardians of the Galaxy, we briefly meet Peter Quill’s grandfather (played by Gregg Henry), who comforts his grandson by Meredith Quill’s hospital bed. Surprisingly, Henry’s character actually has a cameo in Vol. 2! During the sequence where Ego activates his seeding pods, the one he left in Missouri starts a path of destruction. When the pod is finally stopped, it just narrowly destroys a car and in that car is Quill’s grandfather.
In another cool bit of cameo placement, the old couple who wonder out loud what the heck the giant blob that almost killed them is are none other than Jim Gunn Sr. and Leotta Gunn, parents of James Gunn and his brother Sean, who returns as Yondu’s Ravager ally Kraglin (and the on-set Rocket Raccoon!).
5. Other Cameos
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 features a number of cameos, with two in particular that are almost non-existent and yet are performed by pretty famous people. The first is Rob Zombie, who actually had a cameo as the voice of an alien in the first movie. Here, he’s billed as “Unseen Ravager,” which seems to be an accurate description as it seems like no one has been able to spot him. The other noteworthy cameo is Nathan Fillion, who was cast as Simon Williams AKA Wonder Man, but unfortunately, his role was cut from the final film. We didn’t think it was possible to cut Fillion from anything, but here we are.
4. Credit Groots
There are a couple of cool Groot-related gags in the end credits sequence. Throughout the credits, several names of various cast and crew members are replaced with I AM GROOT. There’s also a charming spin on a familiar film disclaimer that reads “No raccoons or tree creatures were harmed in the making of this movie. However, the same cannot be said of their handlers.” Hi-larious!
3. Guardians 3000
Stallone’s Stakar returns for one last appearance in the second of five post-credits scenes, which sees him reuniting with his old Guardians 3000 gang. Michael Rosenbaum’s Martinex is also in attendance, but we are also introduced to some new members played by some surprisingly big names. There’s Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames), Aleta (Michelle Yeoh), and perhaps most shocking of all, a vocal cameo from Miley Cyrus as Mainframe. There’s also the magic-wielding alien known as Krugarr, who is the apprentice of Doctor Strange in an alternate future timeline from the comics and eventually succeeds him as the Sorceror Supreme.
2. The Grandmaster
Jeff Goldblum’s The Grandmaster is set to be an imporant player in Thor: Ragnarok later this year, but he actually makes a cameo of sorts during Vol. 2’s end credits. We see various members of the Guardians dancing along to the music in some moving portraits and they are joined by Goldblum’s character, who appears dancing in full costume. The film is admittedly pretty light on setting up future films in the MCU overall, but this is a nice little touch.
1. Adam Warlock
The majority of the post-credits scenes are just fun little character moments, but the one involving Ayesha has vast implications for the future of the MCU. We see that she has created a genetically pure, powerful being she plans on unleashing on the Guardians and refers to him as Adam. This is the first reveal of Adam Warlock in the MCU. For those unfamiliar with the character, Adam is essentially a galactic messiah who figures prominently in the Infinity Gauntlet storyline. His origins in the MCU are significantly different than his comic counterpart, so it will be interesting to see what Marvel does with a character who has such a complicated backstory, but he’ll no doubt be an integral part of Avengers: Infinity War when it hits theaters next year.