Spoiler alert: This post contains major spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
The reports are true: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has a whopping 5 (five!) end-credits scenes.
That’s a lot to take in, even if you’re the kind of diehard Marvel fan who’d give your left eye to spend your days flying around with Rocket.
Fortunately, that’s where we come on. Here’s a rundown on what those sequences are – and what they might mean for the future of the Marvel universe.
1. Kraglin learns to use an arrow
What happens: Near the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kraglin (the Ravager played by Sean Gunn) inherits Yondu’s signature fin and arrow. The first credits scene shows Kraglin trying to learn how to use that weapon, with exceedingly mixed results. Eventually, one of them stabs Drax in the shoulder. As Drax starts screaming, Kraglin sheepishly runs away.
What it means: That James Gunn thought it would be funny to have a scene in which Sean Gunn, his IRL younger brother, pisses off an enormous muscle man.
2. Starhawk assembles his team — the original Guardians!
What happens: Starhawk Ogord (Sylvester Stallone, who first appears early in the film) addresses some of his fellow Ravagers, including Aleta Ogord (Michelle Yeoh), Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames), and Martinex (Michael Rosenbaum). “You know, it’s a shame it took Yondu dying to bring us all together again,” he says. But he’s happy to see them again, and concludes with, “What say we steal some shit?”
What it means: Starhawk, and his gang were all part of the original Guardians of the Galaxy lineup in the comics, along with Yondu — so this scene serves as a nice little nod to the source material.
More intriguingly, this looks like a hint that this gang will return in a future film – perhaps Vol. 3 or even Avengers: Infinity War. After all, why cast the likes of Stallone, Yeoh, and Rhames to show up for what amounts to maybe five minutes of screen time, total? But we might be getting ahead of ourselves here, as Marvel hasn’t confirmed any characters for Vol. 3 yet.
3. Ayesha introduces Adam
What happens: Ayesha is sitting in a large blue-and-gold room. She looks disheveled and dejected – a far cry from the sleek, imposing figure she cut earlier in the film. Another member of the Sovereign approaches to let her know that the council is waiting.
Ayesha responds that the council is probably angry at her for wasting their resources. But she has a new trick up her sleeve. The camera dramatically cuts to something that looks kinda like King Tut’s tomb.
“It’s a new type of birthing pod?” guesses the attendant.
Ayesha explains that what we’re looking at “the next step in our evolution.” Inside that case is a being more powerful than the Sovereign as they exist now, and therefore more capable of destroying the Guardians of the Galaxy. “I think I shall call him Adam,” she concludes.
What it means: “Adam” is Adam Warlock. In the comics, he was specially created to be the ideal human, but rebelled against his creators and set off for outer space. The MCU tweaks his origin somewhat, apparently making him a product of the Sovereign, but the general concept of a perfectly engineered being remains the same.
Worth nothing is that Adam, in the comics, is strongly associated with the Soul Gem – the only Infinity Stone that has yet to make an appearance in the movies. Look for Adam to factor into the Avengers: Infinity War storyline next year, or maybe even get a shoutout in this fall’s Thor: Ragnarok.
4. Star-Lord lectures teen Groot
What happens: Star-Lord enters Groot’s private quarters, which looks like a disaster area – there’s random debris and foliage everywhere. Groot, sitting off in the corner, has clearly entered his teenage phase. He looks surly and bored as he fiddles with handheld game console (like a Gameboy, but more futuristic).
Star-Lord begins lecturing Groot. “Clean up your room,” he says. “You’re a freakin’ mess.” But Groot’s not having it, talking back to Star-Lord (“I am Groot”). After a while, Star-Lord sighs, “And now I know how Yondu felt.”
What it means: In addition to being a cute little bookend to the “surrogate parents” theme running all throughout the movie, this seemingly gets the Guardians caught up the rest of the MCU timeline. Vol. 2 takes place in 2014, not long after the events of Vol. 1. But Infinity War seems likely to be set circa 2018.
This, then, is a cute way to jump forward in time. It also suggests that Groot will no longer be a baby when we next see him in Infinity War, but a bratty teenager. Yay?
5. Stan Lee talks to the Watchers
What happens: Stan Lee makes a cameo midway through Vol. 2, as he’s seen on a desolate planet talking to the Watchers. The fifth and final credits scene returns to that same spot, where Lee (in astronaut gear, but otherwise looking like a normal human) is still yammering away to the Watchers.
The Watchers begin to walk away, over Lee’s protests. “Hey fellas, where are you guys going? You’re supposed to be my lift home,” he says. “I’ve got so many stories to tell.”
What it means: That James Gunn figured they may as well make the most of their limited shooting time with Stan Lee. And also that he’s familiar with your half-joking “Stan Lee is the Watcher” fan theories. But the real connective tissue here is when Stan the Man references his time as a FedEx deliveryman — meaning he’s been the same guy for all these cameos.
Bonus: The Grandmaster makes a cameo
What happens: This one isn’t an end credits scene per se, but it’s a fun little Easter egg worth pointing out. In the credits scroll, several of characters get tiny little portraits that show them dancing around or otherwise goofing off.
One of those is The Grandmaster, played by Jeff Goldblum. He’s not really in Guardians, but he’ll return as a major character in Thor: Ragnarok.
What it means: Marvel is as excited as you are that Jeff Goldblum is coming to the MCU.