7 Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Easter Eggs and references explained

Creative Director Jean-Francois Dugas, and Art Director Bruno Gaulthier-Leblanc discuss some of their favorite references in the game, and how they came to be…
By Duncan Heaney

A lot of love went into Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

Not just love for the titular team itself, but also the wider Marvel universe, its comics, games, movies… the list goes on. That love manifests itself through the numerous references and Easter Eggs that you’ll uncover in the game.

We recently spoke to Creative Director Jean-Francois ‘JF’ Dugas, and Art Director Bruno Gaulthier-Leblanc and asked them to walk us through some of the references they slipped into the adventure and how they came to be in the game.

1. Peter owns an authentic Chewbaccca action figure

A young Peter Quill holding a Chewbacca action figure

Early on in the game, Peter Quill’s mother Meredith steps on an action figure. The character is none other than Chewbacca - everyone’s favorite wookie from the Star Wars series.

JF: The beginning of the game wasn’t always set in Peter’s room. Originally, it was actually Ko-Rel’s dream, where she relives losing her son and husband.

Ultimately, we changed it to focus on Peter Quill, so that the beginning of the game could be more focused on the Guardians, and their so-called leader. As a child of the 1980s, we wanted to make sure Peter’s room was representative of that era and related to the themes of the game.

The idea of adding the Chewbacca figure actually came from me. Even though he originated in the 1970s, his action figure works as a symbol of Peter’s era. No matter where you are in the world, and whether you’re seven or 70, everybody knows Chewbacca. So right from the start you have a point of reference that you don’t have to explain.

There’s also the fact that Chewbacca in all the films is a very family-oriented character - by that I mean he takes care of everyone, he’s a great friend and if there’s one character you can always count on, it’s him. So, his presence here represents the family, which the Guardians will also become over the course of the game.

There’s another reason I specifically wanted Chewbacca - when I was five years old back in ’77, I was eating cereal in the morning, and on the cereal box there were pictures of Star Wars: A New Hope. Chewbacca was there in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon with Luke Skywalker and Han Solo.

I remember looking at those images for hours - I was so enamored by those characters and I hadn’t even seen the movie at that point!

So, one morning at five years old, I went outside next to the house, and saw something on the ground. I picked it up, and it was that figure of Chewbacca. I guess someone lost it, but I took it and it became my first Star Wars figurine ever. It stayed with me for the longest time and it had a big impact on my life. In a sense I was also bringing player back into my own childhood (laughs)!

It took a while for Lucasfilm to say yes us to using it as we had to share all the ways Chewbacca would be used, but they loved the inclusion and it was smooth sailing after all executions were shared. When we got the green light I was cheering in the studio (laughs)!

Bruno: People would think we modelled it in game, but we actually 3D scanned the real toy. So, it’s exactly the same - if you could look under its foot, it has that little marking and everything!

2. Peter has a Dazzler poster

A poster showing the Super Hero and pop star Dazzler

Dazzler is a Super Hero and pop star, originating in Uncanny X-Men #130 in 1980. Peter Quill has her poster on his bedroom wall on the Milano.

Bruno: Dazzler’s appearance is all me - I pushed for her! I’m a big X-Men fan and collected the comic books back in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

We were looking for fun Easter eggs to drop into Peter’s room on the Milano and I thought about Dazzler, because she’s an intergalactic star. Working with my concept artist, we did the poster and pitched it to Marvel.

There was some discussion over whether to use a different character but we really wanted Dazzler - Peter’s from Earth, so it made sense that he would know about her and that she’d be a big thing.

Marvel agreed, so we added it in. It’s a little nod to Peter’s past, but also my personal love of X-Men.

3. A young Peter gets a Pac-Man birthday cake

Peter's Pac-Man themed birthday cake

A flashback to Peter’s birthday reveals a very special cake, based on a videogame that needs no introduction.

Bruno: The idea for the cake originally came from one of our concept artists. He worked on the kitchen and, purely for fun, added a Pac-Man cake into the scene. I don’t think we even asked him to!

JF: But it was a great idea. Pac-Man is a videogame of the 1980s that is so iconic that you can’t not know what it is!

We wanted the moments where you explore Peter and Meredith Quill’s house to feel authentic to the ‘80s, and we started to brainstorm a ‘perfect’ list of what we’d like to have and build a treatment for every single item. We even had someone on the team who was specifically responsible for coordinating with these third-parties for permission.

When you see posters and things that are ‘spoofs’ or allude to something, it’s because we didn’t manage to get the rights (laughs).

Bruno: Namco was on-board with the idea of using Pac-Man because it was very respectful of the character and their brand. In fact, most companies are open to collaboration if you’re using their characters respectfully and in a creative way.

They liked the design from the cake pretty much from the start. The only revisions we had to make were to make sure that the version of Pac-Man used was the original 1980s look rather than a more contemporary design.

4. Jack Flag makes multiple appearances

Jack Flag trapped in a prison cell

Jack Flag is a Marvel character who first appeared in Captain America #434 in 1994. In the comics, he’s been a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, but his experience in the game is… less positive.

JF: We knew we wanted someone in the jail cells on the Rock. Originally it was just a generic character, but it felt like a perfect opportunity for an Easter Egg.

Bruno: Here’s something for players to look out for: if you look out of the window later in the chapter, you can see Jack Flag in his cell floating through space.

JF: Also in Chapter 12, if you interact with Milano’s viewport, you can spot Jack Flag floating through space again (laughs).

5. The shower scene is from Deus Ex

The shower scene from Deus Ex repeated in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

At one point in the story, Peter Quill can take a shower that may seem more than a little familiar to fans of the Deus Ex series…

JF: I was reviewing the Milano, and went into the bathroom. I noticed that we could interact with the toothbrush but not the shower. And I thought: “Ooh, it would be crazy if we could bring the shower scene from Deus Ex: Mankind Divided into this!”.

I spoke to the Animation Director, and his reaction was a mix between being excited about the idea and rolling his eyes about one more thing to do - he had so much on his plate! You could say he never asked for this (laughs).

So, I backed off and basically said: “I know we might not have the time to do it, but if you do somehow find space it would be cool.” Eventually, the team took it on themselves to do it in their spare time.

We also had to work out when to put it. In Chapter 9 the Guardians have hit rock bottom. The Milano’s broken, the Universal Church of Truth is taking over the galaxy and the team is feeling overwhelmed. Peter’s out of ideas and everything is very tense. So, it’s the perfect time to add that shower scene (laughs).

It almost didn’t make the cut, but we work with some incredibly passionate people who really go the extra mile to make this stuff happen.

6. Richard Rider

Nova's helmet on display

Also known as ‘Nova’, Richard Rider made his debut in his own Marvel comics series in 1976. In the game, he’s mentioned as the leader of the Nova Corp… and he’s also missing.

JF: Richard Rider was never going to physically appear in the actual story, but he was important for the development of Gamora’s character. She knows him very well, and it’s suggested that they may have had a relationship.

Of course, it’s also a nice wink-wink because he’s famous character in the Marvel universe, but we really included the mentions and references to him because he was a vital figure in Gamora’s past.

7. Throg

Throg on display

Throg is an amphibian hero and wielder of the mighty Frogjolnir. He first appeared in 2009 comic Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1. In Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, he appears in the Collector’s Museum.

Bruno: We added Throg because it’s funny (laughs).

JF: We asked the team what cool Easter Eggs and references they’d like to see in the game and created this big list of ideas. We sent it to Marvel, they added some of their own suggestions, took some of ours out, and we ended up with an ‘approved’ list of potential references we could make.

All of the stuff in the Collector’s Museum is taken from that list. We wanted the museum to have a good mix of ‘easy’ spots like Richard Rider’s helmet, and more obscure references that would make hardcore fans excited. I think Throg was a suggestion from one of the devs and, like Bruno says, it’s great (laughs).

Bruno: I had no idea this existed - and when I dived into the lore a little, I discovered there’s a big fanbase for Throg (laughs). So, I think it’s perfect that we got it in there!

We hope you enjoyed that insight into Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy… but it’s only scratching the surface of the Easter Eggs and references present in the game.

In fact, our conversation covered much more, so join us on Friday December 10 when we’ll discuss Fin Fang Foom, Tron, the Avengers and much more.

And don’t forget - you can see all these awesome moments first-hand in the game. It’s available now for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC and Switch (cloud version).

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