Spoiler Warning: Before you get any further into this article, know that it contains some spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy (though you probably figured that out from the headline). If you haven't seen the new Marvel Studios film yet, I would recommend heading to one of the other excellent articles on the site!
While the post-credits sequence featured in Guardians of the Galaxy was a disappointment to those hoping for a preview of Joss Whedon's The Avengers: Age of Ultron or Peyton Reed's Ant-Man, there were still many out there who laughed and applauded when the film brought them back to Knowhere to give The Collector, Cosmo the Spacedog, and, of course, Howard The Duck some extra time in the spotlight. The trick with these stingers at Marvel is that they tend to be developed very late in the game, and, as a result, generate some interesting stories and conversations. Guardians of the Galaxy is no exception.
Because the special post-credits sequence wasn't shown to press prior to Guardians of the Galaxy being released in theaters, we are only now hearing the story of how Howard The Duck wound up finally getting redemption following the disastrous 1986 feature that was named for him. The writer/director spilled the beans to Empire, revealing that originally the Baby Groot dance was going to be featured at the very, very end of the movie (instead of just halfway though the credits). From there they started to bounce around ideas about Cosmo, and then, working with editor Fred Raskin, it was decided that Howard the Duck would be the big highlight of the sequence.
From there they had to present the idea to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, and they were initially worried that the idea wouldn't fly. Of course, they were wrong. Said Gunn,
"Fred and I thought it was hilarious, but we weren’t sure that Kevin Feige would go for it. But we told Kevin, and Kevin couldn’t stop laughing. Every time he saw it, he was like, ‘We’re fucking crazy! We’re fucking crazy!’"
With the approval of the studio, Gunn then had to find an actor to say the line, "'Whaddya let it lick you like that for? Gross." Fortunately, it wasn't a very hard search. James Gunn came up with a list of three actors who he thought would be good for the part, and both he and Feige agreed that Seth Green - a longtime friend of Gunn's - would be perfect. The filmmaker didn't mention who the other two names on the list were, but that's understandable given that he refers to them as "all good friends."
While Marvel's post-credits stingers are often a hint about other projects that Marvel has in development, Gunn also suggests that you may not want to hold your breath for another Howard The Duck movie. The Slither director suggested that it is possible that Howard could "reappear as more of a character in the Marvel Universe," instead of just being a one-time gag, but we are still probably many years away from seeing him get his own film. As Gunn explained,
"If people think that’s going to lead to a Howard The Duck movie... that’s probably not going to happen in the next four years. Who knows after that?"
Now my fingers are tightly crossed that he will somehow end up playing a big role in Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
Some of you eagle-eyed viewers may have also noticed that the post-credits sequence wasn't the only scene in Guardians of the Galaxy featuring Howard the Duck. Earlier in the film, when Star-Lord, Gamora, Groot and Rocket visit The Collector's museum, you can briefly see Howard sitting in a cage that is suspended from the ceiling. I actually had the chance to ask Gunn about the little Easter Egg during the press junket, and you can watch his response here.