Director James Gunn's somewhat dark and disturbing "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" is filled mostly with trauma and tears.
But Cosmo the Spacedog, perfectly voiced by Maria Bakalova, provides some rare and appreciated moments of levity. Who exactly is Cosmo, and what are her Marvel Comics origins?
Let's take a tail-wagging trip back to the beginnings of this high-flying superhero canine who totally steals the show!
Warning: Possible spoilery territory ahead!
Related: 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3' review
Who is Cosmo the Spacedog?
Essentially, Cosmo is a superpowered telepathic remnant of the Soviet space program.
As seen in the new "Guardians" threequel that nabbed a healthy $118 million in its long opening weekend at the domestic box office, Cosmo is the Chief of Security for Knowhere, the Guardians' remote space station headquarters.
This exotic home base was created from a makeshift settlement and mining refinery inside a Celestial's ginormous, hollowed-out head. In "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," Cosmo hangs back with Kraglin while the main action unfolds in a race to save Rocket Raccoon and hopefully defeat the High Evolutionary’s crazy genetic tamperings.
Cosmo in the comics
Cosmo the Spacedog first appeared in Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s takeover run of Marvel Comics' "Guardians of the Galaxy" comics back in 2007 — specifically, the eighth issue in a "Nova Vol. 4" spinoff series illustrated by Wellington Alves.
Cosmo is a loving nod to Laika, the real-life female canine test subject found on the streets of Moscow during the Cold War who became the first animal in orbit. Laika launched on the Sputnik 2 mission on Nov. 3, 1957. It didn't end well for the poor pup: she perished four hours into the experimental mission, apparently due to stress and overheating.
Inspired by Laika, Abnett and Lanning's Cosmo was a male golden retriever/labrador mix that was shot into space by the Russians and never returned to Earth, instead drifting far out of our planet's orbit. Somewhere in its wayward journey, Cosmo was mutated by cosmic radiation which gave him incredible psionic powers. The talking superpowered space dog was picked up by the outer-rim denizens of Knowhere, which became his home. He eventually acquired a job there as head of security.
Related: The weirdest aliens in the Marvel universe
What are Cosmo's powers?
As in the Marvel comic books, the cinematic Cosmo has greatly extended longevity and not only has a light-up speech interface collar but also is gifted with intense telekinetic powers that can move objects both large and small in very precise ways.
Telepathy is one of Cosmo's prime skills in the comics that's not specifically shown in the film. These telepathic abilities can take the form of mindreading and thought manipulation of intelligent beings and higher animals, or masking powers that prevent other telepaths from entering her mind.
Another extension of Cosmos' psionic weaponry includes the manifestation of realistic illusions, the ability to erase certain memories or cause total amnesia, and emitting devastating psychic blasts.
Cosmo's appearances in the MCU
We initially saw a helmeted Cosmo as a prisoner of Benecio Del Toro's The Collector in a glass display cell on Knowhere in 2014's "Guardians of the Galaxy," then again in that movie's post-credits segment with The Collector in the aftermath of the Power Stone explosion; Cosmo licks his face while he sips a cocktail.
Cosmo appears in extended scenes in 2022's "Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special," voiced and motion-captured by Bakalova, begging for delicious treats and rebuilding Knowhere!
Director James Gunn defended his gender-swap from the comics as returning to Laika's female roots, and we believe that was a fine creative choice.
Cosmo in 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3'
Cosmo's gender switch in "Guardians 3" actually works very well — take, for example, her cute, affectionate interactions with Kraglin when he refuses to take back his calling her a "bad dog" for demonstrating her superior skills in the telepathic manipulation of objects.
This becomes a funny running gag throughout the film that ends when Cosmo unleashes the full fury of her powers on one of the High Evolutionary's rampaging mutations about to kill Kraglin, and he finally takes back his hurtful admonishment.
Any canine owner who has ever reprimanded their furry friend for unacceptable behavior knows how mortifying this can be to a guilty pooch. Lastly, Cosmo is seen in the new film's mid-credit scene suited up in full Guardians of the Galaxy regalia with the new team lineup of Rocket, Kraglin, Groot, Adam Warlock and Phyla-Vell.
Is this a sneak peek at things to come? Let's hope for more Cosmo in the MCU!
Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.