When Did the Guardians of the Galaxy Adopt a (Space) Dog?

The Guardians movies are weird enough that the sudden presence of a telepathic Soviet dog is easy to accept, but let’s recap how she got here anyway. Photo: Marvel Studios

Rocket is not the only animal in the Guardians of the Galaxy. In Vol. 3, everyone’s favorite foulmouthed, gun-loving raccoon has been joined by Cosmo the Spacedog, a talking Golden Retriever–Labrador Retriever mix in a space suit. The movie doesn’t explain where Cosmo came from or why she’s hanging out with Star-Lord & Co. (And yes, Cosmo is a good girl, yes she is!) The Guardians franchise is weird enough that the fairly sudden presence of a telepathic Soviet space dog is easy to accept, but it’s still worth a refresher to explain how this dog got its day.

Cosmo is a pretty new comic-book character as far as these things go. Created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Cosmo first appeared in an issue of the Marvel comic Nova in 2008. An homage to Laika and the other Soviet space dogs, Cosmo was sent into space and mutated by cosmic rays before eventually ending up on Knowhere. The Guardians — who, at this point in the comics, were a much more obscure group of characters before the 2014 film elevated them to A-listers — had frequent run-ins with Cosmo, who served as the security chief of Knowhere, the space station and floating Celestial head where the Guardians based their operations.

Cosmo makes a cameo appearance in the first Guardians of the Galaxy as one of the many living trophies inside the Collector’s, uh, collection. When the Infinity Stone goes kablooey, she escapes but later appears in the post-credits sequence licking Benicio del Toro’s face while Howard the Duck (Seth Green) looks on in disgust. She makes another, even smaller appearance in one of Vol. 2’s post-credits scenes.

It’s not until The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, which was released to Disney+ in 2022, that Cosmo becomes more enmeshed in the Guardians’ orbit. The holiday special isn’t required viewing to understand Vol. 3 the way that WandaVision was for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It’s mostly a silly romp in which Drax and Mantis kidnap Kevin Bacon as a well-intentioned but misguided Christmas surprise for Peter. The only important implications for Vol. 3 are the reveal that Mantis and Peter are half-siblings (they share a biological father, Ego) and the news that the Guardians have purchased Knowhere from the Collector and are fixing it up to serve as their new HQ. Cosmo is there helping them with her psychic abilities — powers that she either had the whole time and they never came up or gained between movies and it’s never explained how. She never spoke before, but now she’s voiced by Borat Subsequent Moviefilm breakout star Maria Bakalova.

Basically, Cosmo is part of the team now because, well, it seems like fun to have a psychic Soviet space dog hanging out with the Guardians, doesn’t it? And Cosmo is fun — though she wisely stays on Knowhere with Kraglin while Star-Lord, Groot, Drax, and Nebula are off trying to save Rocket. (She does come back in the climax, when her psychic powers play an important role, however, and the first post-credit scene reveals that Cosmo will have plenty of future adventures as a core member of the Guardians of the Galaxy.)

Not a bad outcome for Cosmo, especially considering that all of the real Soviet space dogs died horribly in space. Laika actually died well before she was expected to, just hours after takeoff, because she overheated due to a malfunction with the rocket. Sorry. I’m sorry. This is a bummer. Cosmo’s fun, though!

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When Did the Guardians of the Galaxy Adopt a (Space) Dog?