There are Easter Eggs a-plenty in both Guardians of the Galaxy and the sequel, but sometimes a good Easter Egg can become something of a continuity snafu. The problem is that, as you continue to develop your universe, you may well revisit an idea later on ... and the idea may clash with your Easter Egg.
Take the end credits scene of Guardians of the Galaxy, which showed Benicio Del Toro's Collector brooding in the ruins of his collection. There are Easter Eggs galore in that scene, and one in particular left fans delighted; they spotted what was clearly the regenerative cocoon of Adam Warlock.
The problem is, #GuardiansOfTheGalaxy2 utterly transformed Warlock's backstory. We were introduced to the race known as the Sovereign, who deliberately manipulated their genes in order to ensure each person was — in their haughty view — perfect. The film ended with Ayesha, High Priestess of the Sovereign, creating a whole new being ... and she decided she would call him "Adam." The character is set to play a major role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
James Gunn Retcons The Adam Warlock Cocoon
Writer and director #JamesGunn is one of the most beloved figures in Marvel Studios, largely because he's willing to interact so readily with the fans. Naturally, one fan reached out to him for an answer, albeit with a tongue-in-cheek suggestion. They proposed that it was actually the Phoenix Cocoon, tied to the classic Phoenix Saga over in the X-Men comics! Perhaps sensing a potential lawsuit on his hands if he wittily answered yes, Gunn clarified:
So it seems the Collector had deliberately preserved an early Sovereign cocoon, and that's pretty interesting. Gunn is suggesting that the Sovereign started out hatching in their own cocoons, and that, as they developed, they began to genetically engineer their race. Their absurd sense of self-importance is the result of countless years (centuries?) of manipulating their own DNA, ensuring that every Sovereign is shaped to suit their purpose.
Why Does The Collector Have This Cocoon?
Benicio del Toro explained his motivations in an interview included in the Guardians of the Galaxy Blu-Ray:
"He’s kind of like Noah, from Noah’s Ark. He believes there’s going to be a big catastrophe in the galaxy. He’s collecting all these creatures to preserve them, so there’s an element of altruism."
The Collector doesn't just keep creatures, of course; he also keeps objects, such as the Infinity Stones. It had been easy to believe the Collector would keep the cocoon of Adam Warlock, but why would he preserve a random Sovereign cocoon?
The answer must be precisely because this is an early Sovereign cocoon, something no longer found in the wider galaxy. As the Sovereign have moved on, now using artificial cocoons that allow them to shape their "children" to suit their own desires, so they have abandoned their original, biological ways of reproducing. The Collector keeps the cocoon precisely because it is a monument to the Sovereign's past.
It's a nice fix, but the fact it was necessary is surely something of a cautionary tale. James Gunn is realizing the hazards of working in a large, ongoing universe; he's recently admitted that he's actually considering breaking his own continuity (albeit in a subtle way), and he's already written a tie-in comic out of canon. He may be a great filmmaker, but it's clear that the #MCU is proving something of a challenge!