Warning: major SPOILERS for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 are ahead. If you haven't seen the latest Marvel movie, turn back now!
The Guardians of the Galaxy have quickly become some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's most popular characters after living in obscurity for years in the comics, but what those who aren't familiar with Marvel history may not know is that this wasn't the first iteration of the team on the printed page. Decades earlier, there was a different group of cosmic heroes who comprised the Guardians of the Galaxy in the 31st century, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 introduced some of these characters to bring (back) together in one of the movie's post-credits scenes. When asked whether their inclusion was just for fun or to set up future MCU appearances, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said this:
It's always a bit of both. It's always, we do it because it's fun in the moment and it's fun as a potential sneak of what's to come. I think all things being equal, I think James and everybody at Marvel would love to see the continued adventures in some aspect, whether it's a large pat in a future movie or as James just said to somebody else, a Howard the Duck level appearance down the line of any or all of those original Guardians. But really the most important immediate thing for us really just to establish and showcase that yes, those original Guardians, though they may never call themselves that in our movie mythology, but they exist.
During Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Yondu, who was part of the original Guardians of the Galaxy team in the comics, revealed to Star-Lord that this unorthodox family of Quill's reminded him of his own group of friends from his younger Ravager years. Following Yondu's death, Stakar Ogord, a.k.a. Starhawk (Sylvester Stallone), Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames), Aleta Ogord (Michelle Yeoh), Mainframe (Miley Cyrus), Martinex T'Naga (Michael Rosenbaum) and Kruger reunited. Now that they've been properly established in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, fans can take comfort knowing they're roaming the galaxy and stealing shit. However, as Kevin Feige told Collider, whether these characters have bigger roles in the MCU down the line or will be reduced to Howard the Duck-level cameos down the line remains to be seen.
Given the caliber of performers that were hired to play/voice these other "Guardians," it's hard to imagine them not being prominently used in another movie, like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Even though these versions are Ravagers rather than heroes, they could still help out the main Guardians of the Galaxy to honor Yondu. In any case, introducing these characters widens the MCU's cosmic corners further.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is now playing in theaters, and the main Guardians team will return for Avengers: Infinity War on May 4, 2018.