With the D23 Expo 2017 in full swing, eager Marvel fans are flocking around exhibits on Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther and even Avengers: Infinity War. As the next Marvel movie due out, Ragnarok has a heavy presence at Anaheim, and there are even sample costume designs. Some of them are familiar; we've already seen Thor's new armor and helmet up close in the first trailer. Others, though, are far more unusual. Take, for instance, the Sakaar Guards.
An Incredible Homage To Jack Kirby
Jack Kirby is rightly a legend in comic book circles, bursting on to the scene in 1941 with Captain America Comics #1. He and Stan Lee co-created so many of Marvel's staple characters, ranging from the X-Men to the mighty Thor, from the Fantastic Four to the Black Panther. It's impossible to overestimate how important Kirby was to the fledgling Marvel Comics; back in those early days, the company flourished under what was known as the "Marvel Style." Writers would give their artists a loose plot, the artist would then create, and the writer would add dialogue. Story beats were frequently fleshed out by the artistic choices rather than by the writer's scripts; as a result, it's hard to know where the writer's influence ended and the artist's began.
Those designs are classic Jack Kirby. He was never happier than when he was creating weird, psychedelic cosmic beings. He developed a unique approach to science-fiction concepts, using detailed repetitive patterns to create a sense of the alien, of the "other." It was in direct contrast to the minimalist approach used in science-fiction at the time, and gave Marvel books an intriguing, distinctive look. Those costumes bear all the trademarks of a typical Kirby alien, but they're complemented by a Kirby-esque background to emphasize his influence.
Is This An Intriguing Plot Hint?
That said, those Sakaar Guards aren't just any old Kirby design. They're Celestials, one of the most powerful races in Marvel Comics, an ancient race who hold themselves responsible for the balance of life across all of creation. #GuardiansOfTheGalaxy2 heavily adapted the concept of the Celestials, making Ego one of them.
It seems that, in the #MCU, a Celestial is a powerful being composed of "living light." Celestials can use their enormous power to create and shape matter; Ego first built his world, and then began to build avatars through which he could explore the universe. Ancient Celestials built massive bodies, and used them to walk the Earth. The giant mining facility of Knowhere, seen in Guardians of the Galaxy, is the severed head of a Celestial; in the same film, the Collector showed images of one Celestial using the Power Stone to exercise judgment on a world.
Given the Celestials of the MCU are so very different, it's possible that Marvel has simply chosen to reuse an old Kirby design. But, given we only encountered a Celestial this year, it looks like a remarkable coincidence. Could the Sakaar Guards be Celestials?
We know that Sakaar is essentially a junkyard world, gathering the detritus of countless planets through a network of galactic portals. It's possible the Celestials stumbled through these portals, and that — cut off from the "living light" — they have simply become an ordinary race. After all, Ego declared that he'd become an ordinary mortal human if he stayed on Earth, away from the light at the core of his world.
Another possibility, though, is that Sakaar itself is a Celestial world. We know that multiple Celestials can share the same "living light" — after all, Star-Lord was able to tap into and control his father's. What's more, in the comics, Sakaar is a planet bursting with a mysterious energy known as the Old Power. It would be easy for Marvel to adapt the Old Power, turning Sakaar into another Celestial world.
I'm not sure how easy it would be to reconcile that with Jeff Goldblum's Grandmaster, who appears to rule the world and is guarded by these enigmatic beings. Given he's an ancient alien himself, an Elder of the Universe, it's entirely possible that the Grandmaster and the Celestials formed some sort of pact millennia ago.
Personally, I think it would be a smart move for #Marvel to introduce the Celestials. Aeons ago, they wielded the power of the Infinity Stones themselves. With the Infinity Stones in play once again, I have no doubt that the Celestials would be interested in regaining their ancient power. We know Thor: Ragnarok is an important step on the road to #InfinityWar; is that because it adds a whole new element into the mix? It's certainly a thrilling possibility.