The Russian canine cosmonaut was brought to life by Oscar-nominee Maria Bakalova, as the character was gender-bent from her comic counterpart.
This was not the only major change made to the character, even in the MCU, with the Cosmo audiences saw in Guardians 3 not even being the same breed of dog that was first introduced to the franchise in James Gunn's Marvel debut.
James Gunn Made 1 Major Change to Cosmo
After Cosmo the Dog was reintroduced to audiences in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, director James Gunn asked for one change to the character for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
In a conversation with Befores & Afters, Framestore visual effects supervisor Stephane Naze (who worked on Guardians 3) revealed Gunn asked that the "big antennae" on Cosmo's collar in The Holiday Special be gone in the intergalactic threequel:
"We came with a lot of different concepts for the speaker device. We had lights moving, and wavy curves, and different things. Interestingly, for the 'Holiday Special,' we actually had big antennae on the collar. Afterwards, James said, ‘That was good for the 'Holiday Special,' but not for the future. Let’s go for a different design.’"
Naze then went into what it was like creating a photorealistic dog, but also one that work a space suit and talked. She remarked it was key that Cosmo felt like a "realistic dog, but you had to feel the actor behind it:"
"James was very, very keen to keep the performance of the actress. He said, ‘I want to keep the vibe, I want to feel the actress in the character.’ So, it had to be a realistic dog, but you had to feel the actor behind it. Plus, it’s a dog talking through a speaker device. No lip sync, nothing. And then, it still had to be photoreal."
The VFX veteran said that they did not "incorporate anything" too "cartoon or humanoid," as it would "completely break the spirit of this character:"
"What we said to [production visual effects supervisor] Stef Ceretti and to [director] James Gunn, was, ‘Okay, you know what? We have to be photorealistic, and that’s it. I don’t think we have to incorporate anything being cartoon or humanoid. If we do, it will completely break the spirit of this character.’"
When it came to the space suit Cosmo would wear, Nazer lamented that " the fact you had the dog with a spacesuit helps in terms of optimization," because the VFX team did not need to go through the arduous process of rendering Cosmo's fur:
"I will be honest, the fact you had the dog with a spacesuit helps in terms of optimization. Because, the groom underneath doesn’t exist. We didn’t need to deal with that groom. The spacesuit itself was handled by CFX. We had a lot of conversations about thickness and rigidity. We looked at cosmonauts, how they moved, how thick their suits were. We would start with what was realistic, but then we needed to make it look cool visually, too, to see certain folds. It’s also heavily art-directed in terms of how it moves. I mean, it’s a dog in a spacesuit!"
Was the Cosmo Change Worth It?
Of course, the removal of this small antenna ultimately was not the end of the world, but it is minute changes such as this that can make a world of difference.
The removal of this tiny detail creates an even more streamlined silhouette for Cosmo, which is a heavy focus when designing a 'super suit' in the MCU.
It is funny to look back and see that, like many heroes at Marvel Studios, even the adorable space-faring Labrador Retriever mix got the kind of costume upgrade many of the other characters see from project to project.
Now, going forward (as Cosmo is now a full-fledged member of the Guardians team) it will be interesting to see what the canine cadet looks like in future titles.
This white space suit will likely be left in the dust, as the Guardians got their new blue-and-maroon uniforms seen in Vol. 3's post-credits scene.
However, the cosmonaut uniform will always be looked back on fondly, being the first real look the character sported in her proper big-screen debut.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is playing in theaters worldwide now.