Guardians of the Galaxy is a film packed with easter eggs and cameos, and this is one of the biggest.
SPOILERS for Guardians of the Galaxy ahead
One of the great joys of watching a movie like Guardians is how much detail from the cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe writer/director James Gunn and company managed to pack into the background of every scene. Perhaps the most detailed sequence of them all comes when the Guardians head to Knowhere to sell the then-still-mysterious orb to the Collector (Benicio Del Toro). Just as Lady Sif and Volstagg did in Thor: The Dark World, the Guardians walk into the Collector's museum and are overwhelmed by the strange sites on display in the glass cases that surround them, and Marvel movie fans are as well.
Because the Collector's sequence in Guardians is so heavily devoted to explaining the power of the Infinity Stones to our heroes, you might not actually spend much time as a viewer looking at the rest of the room, at least the first time around, but if you really focus on the scenery around the actors you'll spot plenty of Marvel artifacts. A dark elf from Thor: The Dark World is in one case, Cosmo the Spacedog is in another, and in yet another case there's a strange yellow-green cocoon that, apparently, could have huge implications for Marvel's movie future.
The same cocoon was also glimpsed, very briefly and without explanation, in Thor: The Dark World, and it got Marvel comic fans buzzing, because when you're that far out in the Marvel universe and you start talking about cocoons, it means you have to talk about Adam Warlock. Since first appearing in 1967 as a being known only as "Him," Warlock has been a mainstay of some of Marvel's biggest cosmic events, and he's survived in part because of his ability to regenerate himself inside a cocoon. But is the cocoon we see onscreen really Warlock's?
Well, according to Gunn, it absolutely is. On a recent episode of the Empire Magazine podcast, Gunn talked listeners through what you can see in the Collector's museum, and specifically named Warlock.
"There are the slither creature from my movie Slither behind The Collector, those guys are pretty obvious," Gunn said. "You have Adam Warlock's cocoon, you have all sorts of other characters from Marvel movies."
So, what's so important about Warlock's name being mentioned if he's just chilling out behind glass? Well, through both the Collector scene and the scenes between Ronan (Lee Pace) and Thanos (Josh Brolin), Guardians lays out more pieces of a larger plot puzzle that seems to be pointing toward an adaptation of The Infinity Gauntlet, the 1991 cosmic saga that saw Thanos basically becoming the most powerful being in the cosmos. The film confirms the existence of the Infinity Stones (they're called "Infinity Gems" in the comics) necessary to form the Gauntlet, and introduces the idea that Thanos wants them for some unknown purpose. Adam Warlock plays a key role in the original comic-book story, having defeated Thanos before, and even eventually becomes the new wielder of the Gauntlet before dividing up the Gems.
Does this mean we'll be seeing Adam Warlock on the big screen sometime soon? Well, when the Collector's destroyed museum is glimpsed in the post-credits sequence, that cocoon looks broken ...
Of course, this is the kind of easter egg that could take years to pay off for fans, if it pays off at all, but we do know Marvel seems poised to do a big-screen Infinity Gauntlet story eventually, and what would that story be without Adam Warlock?
You can hear even more easter egg fun from Gunn (it turns out Howard the Duck is in two scenes) by listening to the full podcast HERE.