Alyssa Milano, Famous Cameos, and Other Secrets of 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

With all the planet-hopping, orb-chasing action in Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s impossible to catch every surprise cameo and Marvel in-joke that whizzes by. But director James Gunn has embedded lots of fun details in his space romp, from Peter Quill’s old-school Walkman to the surprising end-credits scene. Here are some other secrets hidden in the new blockbuster. (Spoilers to follow!)

The Milano and Other ‘80s Pop Culture References

- The name of Peter Quill’s ship, The Milano, is a tribute to his childhood crush, Who’s the Boss? star Alyssa Milano.

- Peter makes a memorable reference to the 1984 movie Footloose in a conversation with Gamora. The character’s very first scene could also be seen as a tribute to Kevin Bacon’s warehouse dance in the movie, but with more aliens. (Click here to see 11 things you didn’t know about Footloose.)

- The contents of Peter’s backpack, which show up at various times in the film, include such ’80s-kid staples as Garbage Pail Kid cards and a troll doll.

Stan Lee Changes His Mind and Other Cameos

- Despite his initial decision not to appear in Guardians because he didn’t create the characters, Stan Lee shows up on Xandar as an object of Rocket the Raccoon’s ridicule.

- Two pals of Avengers director Joss Whedon make stealth appearances in the film: Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Alexis Denisof as Thanos’ henchman The Other, and Firefly's Nathan Fillion as the voice of an alien who is nasally impaled by Groot.

- James Gunn’s mentor Lloyd Kaufman, director of The Toxic Avenger, has a cameo as one of the prisoners in the Kyln. Gunn himself makes an appearance as a member of Ronan’s Sakaaran army.

- Musician and horror producer Rob Zombie, who appeared in Gunn’s previous films Slither and Super, plays the voice of the Ravager Navigator.

Celestials, A’askvarii, and Other Marvel Universe Lore

- The skull motif on Drax the Destroyer’s body is a reference to the original Destroyer, one of Marvel’s Golden Age characters, whose costume had a skull on the chest.

- The one-night stand in Peter Quill’s spaceship is Bereet, a minor Marvel character; in the Incredible Hulk comics, she’s an alien who makes documentary films.

- Peter Quill references an embarrassing tryst with an alien called an A’askvarii (“It was just one time!”). In case you were wondering, they look like this.

- When the Collector is explaining the power of the Infinity Gems, he shows a visual of an alien using an Infinity Gem to destroy a planet. That alien is a Celestial, the same giant space being as the one whose head become Knowhere.

- In addition to Cosmo the space dog and Howard the Duck, the Collector’s laboratory contains at least two creatures from previous movies: a Dark Elf from Thor: The Dark World, and a Chitauri from The Avengers.

- The most visible item in the Broker’s shop was a clear cube, which may be a reference to the Cosmic Cube; however, the Cosmic Cube is the basis for the mega-powerful Tesseract in The Avengers, which seems like too big a prize for a space fence to keep in an unguarded case. Another wand-like item might be the Evil Eye or the Wand of Watoomb.

…And Two More Things

- Is Peter Quill a classic movie buff? He refers to the orb as having a “shiny suitcase, Ark of the Covenant, Maltese Falcon vibe.” Given that he left the planet Earth in 1988 (pre-Pulp Fiction), the briefcase likely refers to Kiss Me Deadly (1955). The other two objects are MacGuffins from The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).

- At the very end of the credit scroll is the line “No raccoons or tree creatures were harmed in the making of this film.” Just in case you were worried.

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Photo credit: Marvel