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'Howard the Duck' Is The Weird Fever Dream Predecessor To All Your Favorite MCU Movies

Updated March 30, 2021 139k views13 items

Iron Man may have been the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, but the brilliant inventor might not be the oldest resident member of the MCU. Thanks to a cheeky post-credits cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy, Howard the Duck - one of Marvel's wackiest characters - is officially in the MCU, which means his 1986 movie, Howard the Duck, could retroactively be considered the first MCU film - with a few leaps in logic. Taking into account the Howard the Duck's infamous reputation, director James Gunn's decision to include this throwback to the '80s in his box-office-shattering blockbuster is a pretty good way to troll Marvel Studios (who probably want audiences to forget the film ever happened).

Howard the Duck took Steve Gerber's satirical comic book character and tried to make him appeal to both the adult audience familiar with the source material and the children watching the movie who'd be learning about the smart-mouth waterfowl for the first time. Satisfying both demographics is a tricky balance to strike, as demonstrated by the final product that can only be described as an overlong and expensive hot mess. 

For adults, the film is far too silly and illogical, and for kids, it's far too dirty to be appropriate. It's hard to imagine Marvel Studios or Disney being proud of the film, but that doesn't mean there isn't a treasure trove of bizarre or inappropriate material to glean from it.

  • Most Of The Jokes Are Wildly Inappropriate For A PG Movie

    Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are for people of all ages, so naturally, they're a bit sanitized. Also, looking back at Howard The Duck, that decision could be an intentional course-correction. In the aforementioned "Playduck" magazine scene on Duckworld, it's heavily implied that Howard is going to pleasure himself while looking at the contents. Later on, during the infamous almost-intimate scene between himself and Beverly Switzler (Lea Thompson), Howard's feathers raise in excitement (a pretty obvious bit of imagery there).

    And, of course, there's the bordello and the duck-sized condoms in Howard's wallet. It's easy enough to imagine how parents reacted to all this after taking their kids to a PG-rated comic book movie.

  • Howard Nearly Gets Cooked Alive And Eaten

    One of the most frustrating things about watching Howard the Duck is how inconsistently people on Earth treat him. Some are rightly freaked out at the sight of a walking and talking duck in a suit, while others don't bat an eye at it. Similarly, Howard is shocked by the idea that humans eat ducks - and other birds - in one scene, only to order fried eggs at a diner in another.

    Even more confusing, in the same restaurant, the patrons eventually form an enraged mob and try to cook and eat Howard in the kitchen, as if he's just a regular duck. It's a baffling and nightmarish scene to watch.

  • By The End, No One Cares That Talking Ducks Exist

    Thanks to his surprise cameo in the Guardians of the Galaxy post-credits scene, we now have to deal with the idea that Howard the Duck might be in the MCU canon. The biggest plot hole that this retroactively creates is that knowledge of an alien duck who crash-landed on Earth in the '80s is curiously missing from the MCU's public consciousness. And by the film's end, Howard's existence is far from a secret.

    The only way to explain it away is to assume that the Howard we see in Guardians is from a parallel universe. More to the point, his solo movie also forgets how weird its titular character's existence is. None of the audience members at the concert during the film's finale seem bothered by Howard rocking out on stage with Beverly's band.

  • Despite Being An Alien Duck, Howard Gets A Job From An Unemployment Office

    Pointing out plot holes in a film as bad as Howard the Duck is almost futile, but it's worth considering how weird it is that Howard is so readily employable. Not only is he not human, but he's also an alien.

    He doesn't exist on any records on Earth, let alone the US. And yet, he's able to walk into an unemployment office and get shoved, rather quickly, into a low-paying job.