James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy has rightly been hailed as one of Marvel’s best movies to date, and with a sequel already pencilled in for 2017, the studio have found their next big franchise.

If you don’t believe that, look no further than this weekend’s box office results as Guardians of the Galaxy is expected to open with around $100 million in North America, despite initial estimates of $60 million!

As you might expect, there were a lot of huge moments in Marvel’s first foray into outer space, and Guardians of the Galaxy is packed full of Easter eggs and significant nods to the comic books which even the most die-hard of fans may have missed out on. Here, we look at what all of these mean for this release, the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and even Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions below, and you can check out all of our Guardians of the Galaxy coverage by clicking here, including exclusive interviews and more.

Oh, and needless to say, there are major Guardians of the Galaxy spoilers ahead…

10. Thanos


Ok, so this one would have been hard to miss, but the significance of an appearance from Thanos here is well-worth addressing regardless. The iconic villain made a brief appearance in the mid-credits scene of Avengers Assemble, but this marks our first time seeing the slightly redesigned (and he looks great) version voiced by Josh Brolin. His hunt for the Infinity Stones continues, and it seems obvious now that Marvel are building to this bringing him in contact with both the Guardians and the Avengers, hopefully in some sort of huge crossover movie helmed by both Joss Whedon and James Gunn. Regardless, Guardians of the Galaxy sees another of them taken from his reach, so it could be some time before Thanos gathers them all and wields the Infinity Gauntlet…