Who The Heck Is Howard The Duck?

Duck and cover!

Did you see "Guardians of the Galaxy" yet? If not, turn away now. We're about to get into the weirdest spoiler of them all: the post-credits scene.

The final scene of "Guardians of the Galaxy" features Benicio del Toro's The Collector reeling from the injuries he sustained earlier in the film. He's having a conversation with a character we hadn't seen previously in the movie — but a character we've definitely seen in a movie before.

And that character is…

Howard the Duck!

Okay, okay. We know you have questions. Here are some answers.

Uh, who the Duck is this Howard guy?

He's Howard the Duck! Created in 1973 by the late comic book writer Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik, Howard is a cigar-chomping, trash-talking Master of Quack-Fu from Duckworld…

Wait… From Duckworld?

Yeah! From Duckworld! It's an alternate reality Earth where ducks rule instead of humans. Howard originally hails from New Stork City, and comes to Earth…

Wait. Stop at New Stork City. You're… you're kidding, right?

You just watched a movie about a genetically-engineered raccoon bounty hunter who works alongside a talking tree creature who picks at and eats his own leaves. You're weirded out about Duckworld?

Fair enough. Continue.

So, Howard comes to Earth because a demon named Thog the Overmaster attempted to merge all realities into one reality that he could rule. Howard winds up in Florida, teams up with a sorcerer named Dakimh and some others to fight and beat Thog, and ultimately remains stranded on Earth.

That's sad. Weird, but sad.

It's not all bad. He had his own movie, you know.

That's right! What's the deal with that?

It's a 1986 movie called, you guessed it, "Howard the Duck." It was made by Lucasfilm. It was pretty absurd.

An absurd movie about a duck named Howard? No way.

Way. It features Howard hurled from Duckworld through outer space to Cleveland, Ohio, where he has to team up with some humans (played by otherwise reputable actors Lea Thompson and Tim Robbins) to find his way back home.

Was there a sequel?

I believe the proper response to this question is "LOL."

Okay, so people didn't like it.

People didn't like it, at least not when it came out. "Howard the Duck" gained cult classic status over the years, but maybe not for the right reasons. It's a bit of a joke.

So, why bring Howard back now?

Good question! And there are probably a lot of answers. For one, "Howard the Duck" was released on August 1, 1986; "Guardians" hit theaters on August 1, 2014. The parallel release dates show just how far Marvel movies have come since the dark "Duck" days. Beyond that, Howard really is a cult figure in Marvel lore, and in the right hands (i.e. Gerber's hands), he's been a pretty fun character to read. He's not a unilateral disaster. In Gunn's hands, and in the "Guardians" tone, Howard could be pretty damn great.

Is that the plan? Will we see Howard in the "Guardians" sequel?

Maybe. Possibly. Who knows? The Howard cameo might just be a wink-and-nod to fans who know who Howard is. It's probably less telling about the future of the "Guardians" franchise and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and more of an in-joke. In other words, on the scale of shawarma to Thanos, the Howard scene ranks closer to shawarma.

Mmm. Shawarma. Can we go get some?

Yup. I know just the place.

"Guardians of the Galaxy" is in theaters now.