Some spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 follow. You've been warned!
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is finally out in theaters, and judging by the 50% increase at the box office from the original, you probably already know all of the most sensitive plot details. One of the biggest reveals of the sequel was that Sylvester Stallone was playing Stakar, otherwise known as Starhawk, a member of the original Guardians of the Galaxy from the comics. Joining him in a post-credits scene were Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames), Aleta Ogord (Michelle Yeoh), Martinex (Michael Rosenbaum) Krugarr (a CGI character) and Mainframe, a robotic head (voiced by Miley Cyrus). With this team firmly established and ready to "steal some shit," how should Marvel use this new team? We have got ideas!
True, the appearance of this group is brief and could have just played as a fun homage (which it partly is), but Marvel is the king of the long game. They usually don't just introduce something for nothing -- especially not when that something has Sylvester Stallone front and center. This won't be the last we see the Ravagers, as director/writer James Gunn told the Toronto Sun:
You don't cast A-list talent without the intention of using them, and Sylvester Stallone has more of the MCU in his future. The question, though, is where and when. James Gunn and Kevin Feige don't seem to know just yet, but there are certainly lots of possibilities to play with! While Gunn admits he doesn't know about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, that seems the best place as any to start.
The most immediate place for this special Ravagers team to return is in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which we know is already on the way. The third film of the Guardians trilogy will close out the story of this current lineup, which will be "drastically different" in any future installments. Drastically different like a guy who calls himself Starhawk and his crystal buddy? If the lineup of the Guardians of the Galaxy is changing, there's a whole new team of recognizable actors all set and ready to go. They match the rogues/outsiders theme of the current Guardians, and they are just weird enough for the job. Vol. 3 could have them as supporting players helping the crew of the Milano, which leads to a passing of the torch moment, and then Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4 (should it ever happen) will be all about them.
The problem with that, though, is that Vol. 4 feels SUPER far away, and it would make more sense for Marvel to get some faster payoff from this post-credits tease then wait however many years to use the Ravagers in full. Plus, we don't really know anything about these characters or if we even want them to take over for the Guardians. Why throw all the eggs in one basket when we don't even know if the bag has a hole in it? There also isn't any shortage of still unused cosmic character who could fill in the Guardians shoes. So, maybe what the Ravagers need is something all their own.
A spinoff film is certainly another plausible option. Let's say that in this hypothetical situation that they are still supporting characters in Vol. 3. Audiences get a taste for them and decide they want to see more; if that's the case, then a spinoff film could be the best bet. If James Gunn is helping to build the Marvel Cosmic Universe, then there'll need to be more than just one cosmic-set film per Phase. That means Marvel is going to need every viable space-faring character that could possibly support their own film, which makes the cast of the Ravagers perfect for spin-off opportunities. Ravagers of the Galaxy (or whatever it'll be called) could fill a spot quite nicely with good actors and characters that people are already pretty curious about.
And who the hell doesn't want to see a giant Ving Rhames, Miley Cyrus robot, a magic worm guy and Michelle friggin' Yeoh in space for 120 minutes straight?
In case, for whatever reason, Marvel doesn't want to do that, in lieu of giving these guys their own film, the only other real option is to have them play small roles in whatever particular film they're needed. Not as main characters per say, but when they show up, people recognize them. Need some cosmic characters to warn the main characters about something big coming? Use the Ravagers. Need some established characters to set the stakes or deliver some important plot? Use the Ravagers. Need some extra bodies to take part in a massive space battle? Use the--you get where I'm going with this. Maybe that's a disservice to the great actors they got for these roles, but the MCU has a way of helping the smaller roles shine too. And who knows? Maybe Stallone and the others would prefer something with a less strict commitment.