Like all Marvel movies, the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' post-credits scene rewards the people who wait through to the end, offering one final something to those fans with even a little patience. However, Marvel and director James Gunn played this one close to the vest, leaving the 'Guardians' post-credits scene off all preview screenings (even the premiere!) and only attaching it to the final version sent to theaters. So what was the big secret? Why did they keep everything so hush-hush? Is it something totally game-changing for the Marvel movie universe?

Nah. And yes, it's totally okay to have no idea what the heck is going on in that final scene if you're not a huge Marvel fan. Don't worry, though. We've got you covered.

Spoilers beyond this point, of course.

In the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' post-credits scene, we meet up with The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) one more time. Wounded following the destruction of his home/personal museum, he's drinking his woes away, only for Cosmo, the Soviet space dog that we previously saw escape his collection, to show up and start licking his face. Cue a gruff off-screen voice, who wonders why The Collector would let him lick him like that. And then we see the owner of that voice ... and it's an anthropomorphic duck smoking a cigar and drinking a cocktail.

Yes, 'Guardians of the Galaxy' officially adds Howard the Duck to the Marvel cinematic universe.

Howard the Duck Guardians of the Galaxy Post-Credits Scene
Click to enlarge

People who were hoping for an 'Avengers 2' or 'Doctor Strange' tease may be let down (or even angry), but it's tough to imagine hardcore Marvel fans not being delighted by this. If the scene left you scratching your head, here's what you need to know.

Created in 1973 by writer Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik, Howard is a duck-like being from another planet who ultimately finds himself stranded on Earth. Despite his often sour disposition and love of drinking/smoking/ladies, he's constantly viewed by the other denizens of the Marvel universe as a cute little duck, much to his chagrin. Unlike many Marvel aliens, he doesn't have any actual super powers. His comic book adventures are actually comedic in tone, acting as satires of other comics (especially funny "talking animal" comics).

On top of being stranded far from home, few people take him seriously because of his strong resemblance to a Earth duck. If you think this makes him bitter and cynical, you'd be right!

Howard's reputation took a serious blow with the arrival of the George Lucas-produced 'Howard the Duck' movie in 1986, which is nothing short of terrible. However, as comic fans will tell you, that film misses the point of Howard completely, reducing him to the cute mascot that he was parodying in the comics.

Although Howard doesn't have his own comic series at the moment, he tends to pop up every now and then to tussle with Marvel heroes and villains alike, teaming up with the likes She-Hulk and battling characters like M.O.D.O.K. He exists on the fringes of the Marvel universe, giving him a unique and oddball perspective on everyone and everything around him. In other words, he often acts as an audience surrogate, calling attention to how absurd comic books really are.

Although Howard the Duck is one of the last characters we expected to pop up in a Marvel movie, he's actually the kind of character who meshes perfectly with the off-kilter tone of 'Guardians of the Galaxy.' We have no idea if his appearance here is a one-off joke or a promise that he'll return in future movies, but we hope it's the latter. It's about time someone washed the taste of his first awful movie out of the public consciousness!

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