Warning: Spoilers for “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special” ahead.
The Guardians of the Galaxy are back! Well, most of them. A couple of them died (if you can call having your soul trapped inside a rock for the rest of eternity “death”) and the rest haven’t really been gone for long because they showed up in “Thor: Love and Thunder” but, hey! They’re back! And just in time for Christmas! Written and directed by James Gunn, “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special” sees the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s loveable band of violent criminals unite to find the perfect Christmas present for Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), aka Star Lord.
Why are they so hellbent on Christmas, you ask? Well, the aforementioned deaths, along with the ending of “Avengers: Infinity War,” left the Guardian’s mostly fearless leader in a state of severe emotional duress. In the gentlest terms possible, the impetus for Phase Four’s finale was totally his fault and could have been entirely avoided if he wasn’t such a brainless waffle. (We’re not salty, you’re salty.) Anyway … that’s why the rest of the Guardians are invested in Christmas — it means a new chance at happiness for Quill.
Without spoiling too much, Gunn’s Christmas special fills out the Guardian’s roster with a few long-awaited faces. One such face belongs to the galaxy’s goodest girl, Cosmo the Spacedog (Maria Bakalova). She’s been referenced in previous films, and fans have been clamoring for her appearance since the first “The Guardian’s of the Galaxy” film shocked the general public by making a sentient raccoon and a monosyllabic tree relatable. For those who haven’t spent their formative years with their nose in a comic, here’s everything you need to know about Knowhere’s canine chief of security.
Cosmo, the Soviet experiment … probably?
Much like parley, the hilariously subjective pirate code of conduct in Disney’s “The Pirates of the Caribbean,” Marvel comics are viewed more as a guideline rather than a strict compass for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That means that the studio executives and the showrunners and the directors pretty much get to pick and choose what they want to adapt for the screen. It’s not as bad as all that, considering how Marvel tends to reboot the entire lore every few years so that the incoming generation of kiddos can purchase “new” origin story comics, anyway. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s paint a general picture of Cosmo the Spacedog’s comic trajectory.
The first thing to know is that she is a he in the comic books and that he began his auspicious career as yet another unorthodox sentient super creature under a shroud of mystery and intrigue. Seriously, that’s what the Marvel official biography says — if Cosmo has a true origin for his heightened cognition and his psionic powers (we’re getting to those) then Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, the character’s creators, are not sharing. What is known is that he is a remnant of a bygone Soviet space program, which explains the cute little suit and the telepathic Russian accent, but not necessarily the powers.
Speaking of, on the page, Cosmo’s powerset includes the telekinesis and the aforementioned telepathy. The former he uses to throw stuff around with his brain, the latter he uses to speak directly into other people’s brains. He also can create psychic shields — kind of like the ultimate mime. Well. Can’t unsee that mental image.
Cosmo, the dog with a job
Like we mentioned earlier, Cosmo is the chief of security for Knowhere, the giant, decapitated, and decaying floating head of a Celestial that many call home. Now that everyone has a bit more context for the Celestials after “Eternals” revealed that the cosmic beings tend to annihilate entire worlds full of life as part of their complete breakfast, it’s actually pretty damn funny to see one’s corpse used as a planet substitute. Anyway, Cosmo calls Knowhere home and, just like every good guard dog is supposed to do, he protects it.
Much like his origin, Cosmo’s career journey is left mostly unexplained. He’s just a dog with a job, dude — what other exposition is really needed? Besides, it’s not the weirdest thing “The Guardians of the Galaxy” has thrown our way. What’s more, he’s a dog with multiple jobs! God, Cosmo’s the best boy. Although he doesn’t go trekking across the stars with them, he is a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Admittedly, his working relationship with them mainly extends to how their adventures directly effect Knowhere, but a member is a member is a member, even if he benches himself for anything off world.
But that’s all comics talk. How does this stack up against the Cosmo seen in “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special?”
Cosmo, the version that counts
Tragically, Cosmo doesn’t get too much screen time in “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special,” but we can make a few guesses from what is provided during those precious few moments. James Gunn introduces Cosmo as an already established member of the team, and features her telepathy and telekinesis right off the bat. She does not, however, appear to be the chief of Knowhere’s security yet. Knowhere is featured in the special, so the threads are there, should Gunn wish to connect them, but otherwise, Cosmo’s future is wide open for the restructuring.
As previously mentioned, Cosmo’s voice is provided by Maria Bakalova, a Bulgarian actress who recently starred in A24’s morbid comedy “Bodies Bodies Bodies.” It feels important to note that Bulgaria is not Russia but was briefly Soviet so, if Marvel was shooting for Kind Of Historically Accurate brownie points, they nailed it. Regardless, that’s a layered political discourse that we are not currently equipped to dive into as part of an article explaining the nuances of a fictional super dog. Suffice it to say that voice acting does not inherently require a specific human makeup and that Bakalova does her job wonderfully — and that Marvel made it weird with its “eh, close enough” casting
Okay, let’s get back to the fun speculation stuff: We know that this version of Cosmo was imprisoned by the Collector (Benicio del Toro) because she appeared briefly in “The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1” in one of his exhibit tubes. Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version of Cosmo clearly deviates from the admittedly vague source material, what should we expect to happen next? Where does Cosmo’s journey go in “The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?”
Cosmo, the puppy with pals
Yes, the story threads are left untied in a way that permits James Gunn to weave any future for the character that he might so choose, but we can make a few educated guesses. Should she go the more canonical route, Cosmo could still become the chief of security for Knowhere. Almost all of her comic variant’s story lines revolve around that role, so if Gunn is hoping to copy and paste any of those arcs, a job offer is likely in Cosmo’s near future.
Alternatively, Cosmo is known for being close friends with the yet-to-be revealed superhero, Nova. For those who don’t know, Nova is basically a super space cop who’s origins are found in the intergalactic military force, the Nova Corps. Yes, the Nova Corps was introduced in “The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1” but most of them were destroyed by Thanos (Josh Brolin) when he invaded Xandar to steal the Power Stone for his bedazzled Michael Jackson glove. Maybe Nova will come from that wreckage? Who knows.
What we do know is this: James Gunn stated this special is required viewing for anyone who wants to fully understand his next film:
“In a way, the ‘Holiday Special’ was a Trojan Horse for me to sneak in stuff that becomes important in ‘Vol. 3,’ so I don’t have to spend a lot of time at the beginning of that movie explaining it.”
Whatever path Cosmo is set to take, don’t expect much of the currently established information to present itself a second time.