Guardians of the Galaxy has finally hit theaters and we thought we’d take a look at what the after-credits scene means for the future of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.

When Guardians of the Galaxy’s world premiere was missing its after-credits scene earlier this month, fans were wondering if the film would end up having one. If so, what could be so integral to future films that Marvel would remove the after-credits scene in an attempt to prevent audiences from being spoiled?

After seeing the film’s theatrical release this weekend, we’ve found out why Marvel decided to withhold Guardians of the Galaxy’s after-credits scene during its world premiere. While it doesn’t tell us much about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was incredibly surprising and felt like a perfect fit for the style of director James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

James Gunn had explained that the film’s stinger would be “pure joy” for fans, so we should remember that this is more than likely what Gunn wanted and not what Marvel wanted in terms of linking Guardians to another one of their films.

In the after-credits scene we first see Cosmo, the russian space-dog, licking a bruised and broken Collector, played by Benicio del Toro. We see the hilarious cosmic, canine, cosmonaut, and then BAM – we see Howard the Duck.

Related: Read Hypable’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie review

If you were surprised and a little lost, you should be. Howard the Duck has been a running joke for years in the Marvel community. The film of the same name (based on the comic which is much more preferred by fans) hit theaters in 1986 and it’s always been referred to within the comic community because of its obvious hilarity.

It should be noted that Lucasfilm was the studio behind the original film’s release, which is somewhat of a nod in itself as Disney (Marvel) purchased Lucasfilm for a cool $4 billion in late 2012 from Star Wars creator George Lucas.

Howard the Duck is considered one of the worst films of all time, but it has also generated a cult following in recent years due to Marvel’s growing popularity. Howard is, in fact, a superhero of sorts from Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, he’s just not exactly what one might expect from the studio. He comes from Duckworld, a planet similar to Earth, with anthropomorphic ducks and is trained in a unique style of martial arts.

But director James Gunn apparently thought including Howard the Duck in his after-credits scene saying, “Why do you let him lick you like that……yuck!” would be the best scene to leave fans chewing on as they left the premiere of his highly anticipated film. It’s been revealed that actor Seth Green voiced the character.

It’s certainly a different way to go and considering Guardians of the Galaxy was always going to be the “black sheep” of Marvel’s films, we think it feels quite right that Thanos didn’t pop up at the end with another grimace on his face or some other new character that Marvel has future plans to flesh out.

This was a total surprise and not a single person expected it, which is after all what an after-credits scene should be. While we normally expect after-credits scenes to link Marvel’s future films, it’s just fine that Gunn felt the urge to try something completely new.

It also felt right that he did something so outrageous, considering Guardians was equally outrageous and has been seen as Marvel’s move into a new direction and more importantly into space. Bravo to Gunn for having the guts to throw Howard the Duck into the fray and for Marvel to let him run with the idea.

Let us know what you think Guardians of the Galaxy’s after-credits scene means for the studio’s future films. Will it go down as one of the most surprising after-credits scenes ever released by Marvel?

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