Those who saw Guardians of the Galaxy know that James Gunn jam-packed it with a myriad of references to the greater Marvel universe. From the overt inclusion of The Mad Titan Thanos, to the brief appearance of Cosmo in one of The Collector’s cages, there’s unlimited minutiae for fans to dissect. But, not every reference gets to make it into the film, and sometimes the reasons are hilarious.
On his Facebook page, Gunn revealed a humorous reason why Marvel will not allow him to use a name for a certain race, and it is surprisingly sexual. Gunn explained:
While writing Guardians scripts I like to use the names of characters from the comics as much as possible - it makes watching the movie more fun for longtime Marvel fans (one of whom is me). Characters like Kraglin, The Broker, Bereet, and Garthan Saal all originally appeared in the comics, albeit sometimes in very different incarnations. Every name I use I have to run through the Marvel legal department. Lately, in the service of building out the Marvel cosmic side of the universe, I've been trying to clear names of alien species we see in the background. It's always a bummer when I can't use a name, usually because Fox or Sony or Hasbro or whomever owns the rights. But today I received a brand new reason for being advised against calling one of the alien species ‘Sneepers’… Sneeper is a word for clitoris in Icelandic.
It’s definitely a much more interesting set of reasoning than Fox owning the rights. From a marketing standpoint, it makes sense that Marvel would have some trepidation about allowing Gunn to use that name: Icelandic audiences would probably find themselves incredibly uncomfortable to see Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord fighting off waves of Sneepers.
However, it also begs a question as to where Marvel draws the line with that to include in their films. Humor has always been a mainstay of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and much of that humor has often effectively pushed the boundaries of good taste. Even James Gunn’s own Guardians of the Galaxy featured arguably the most racy joke ever featured in a Marvel film: the Jackson Pollock reference on the Milano. It seems somewhat odd to censor the Sneeper joke and not the Jackson Pollock one when we remember that most mainstream audiences will never even pick up on the Sneeper joke – as well as the fact that Sneepers do exist, and have have precedent in the Marvel universe. The Icelandic release of the film could merely alter the name of the Sneepers -- a practice not uncommon for major American films released in different countries.
No matter, while this reference may have slipped through Gunn’s fingers, there’s little doubt that he will find some other obscure Marvel reference to include in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 – which hits theaters May 5, 2017. Only one question remains: what will that reference be?