Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 doesn’t go easy on the frequency of jokes, but the best one takes a little jab at Microsoft after a pretty emotional moment.
[Warning: The following will contain spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy. Vol 2.]
Music plays an instrumental part in Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) retaining a part of his past on Earth. In both this film and the first, audiences are introduced to Star-Lord’s cassette players and the various mix tapes that he keeps on him. The second mix tape volume in the sequel, however, comes to an untimely end when it’s crushed by Ego the Living Planet (Kurt Russell).
For the rest of the film, Star-Lord goes by without his tape deck. It’s not until the end, he receives a gift from an unlikely source: one of Yondu's Ravager crew members. Instead of receiving a new tape deck, Star-Lord inherents a now defunct Microsoft Zune, the MP3 player Microsoft released to compete with Apple’s iPod.
When Yondu’s friend hands it over, he tells Star-Lord that it’s the hottest piece of technology on Earth right now and can hold up to 300 songs. The 30GB model of the Zune that Star-Lord is given is a first-generation model, which was released by the company in 2008. By that time, Apple had already released the fifth- and sixth-generation models of its popular MP3 player and had become the dominant force in the market. The iPod Classic, widely regarded as one of the best MP3 players, was released that same year.
The Zune, fondly remembered by many ‘00s MP3 adopters, didn’t last long. On March 15, 2011, Microsoft announced the Zune would no longer be manufactured and the company would stop supporting the line. But director James Gunn has admitted in the past that he was a fan of Microsoft’s MP3 player.
In 2010, Gunn went to a Microsoft event to test out Project Natal, which would later come to be known as Kinect. While at the event, he got to test out a variety of other Microsoft products and couldn’t help but admire the company’s new Zune. As enamored as he was with it, he did admit it would be hard for him to switch over.
“But, admittedly, I’m going to have a hard time getting out of my 20,000 songs on iTunes to actually switch over to Zune,” Gunn wrote on his blog. “And I feel stuck to the iPhone because of the apps.”
Making the decision to move Star-Lord from a cassette player to a Zune couldn’t have been an easy call for Gunn, either. The director told Comic Book Resources that the cassette player was an important part to Star-Lord’s character and his connection to his past.
“It’s one of the few things he has from Earth,” Gunn said. “I don’t think of it as a joke, because it’s very dear to him. It’s the umbilical cord that connects him to Earth and the home and family he lost.”
The Zune joke, then, was obviously intentional. Based on the roaring laughter in the theater, it definitely worked out for him, too.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will be released on May 5.