NOTE: If you feel even remotely sensitive to even the most questionable spoilers, don’t keep reading just in case I’m right.

UPDATE: According to a tweet from Italian website, a press release about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 lists Sylvester Stallone‘s character as Stakar, which adds even more evidence to our original speculation:

Read our original theory, and the evidence we found for it, below:

The Guardians of the Galaxy have unquestionably become one of Marvel’s most profitable, enjoyable and recognizable properties over the past 3 years. When James Gunn signed on to direct the 2014 film, nobody could have predicted the type of success the film would have and that the characters would become household names. Longtime comic fans will remember that unlike Captain America and the Hulk, it wasn’t long ago the the Guardians of the Galaxy wallowed in relative obscurity, even in nerd herds. Some fans will even know that the name Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t always refer to Peter Quill’s band of losers.

One fan who certainly knows that the team hasn’t always featured the current crew, made popular by a great run written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning in the early 2000s, is Gunn. When Gunn grew up reading Guardians of the Galaxy comics, he would have read about a much different team, one that was a band of survivors from the 31st century. Vance Astro. Charlie-27. Nikki Gold. Martinex. Yondu. Starhawk. This team of outcasts fought against the tyranny of the Badoon Empire and ultimately, through some crazy comic book time travel, ran across the new version of the Guardians later on down the line.

2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy gave us a very different take on Yondu than what the comics provided, but it did give us hope that while we may not see the 31st Century Guardians straight from the comics, we may still get to see them someday. This Yondu was a far gritter version, far-removed from his comics origin but he still held on to some key traits: the blue skin, the yaka arrow that responds to his whistle and, thanks to an update in the sequel, his trademark head fin!

But Yondu wasn’t Yondu. Ronan wasn’t Ronan. The Nova Corps wasn’t the Nova Corps. One thing was clear: Gunn’s had carte blanche on how to develop MCU Cosmic. While how he did it didn’t always line up with my ideas, it was clear he had a plan and his plan was awesome.

Following the success of the film, Gunn fielded many questions about the sequel and during this time he had a Facebook Q&A in which he let slip a nugget I’d never forget: James Gunn LOVED Starhawk. I didn’t want to forget because I effing love Starhawk. I don’t know if I love him as much as Gunn, but I’d be willing to discuss it with him over beers.

As work on the sequel progressed, more interviews meant more talk about new characters that may appear and while Starhawk came up frequently, he was shot down as a potential father for Peter Quill. Then in February of 2015, Gunn responded to a Tweet as follows:

And I remember thinking, “STARHAWK!”

The next few things happened over a period of time and continued to be breadcrumbs:

Sylvester Stallone was cast in the film.

-It was rumored that Stallone would be playing a Ravager (which, at the time, I really didn’t see how that lined up with what I had been thinking).

-Gunn revealed that Stallone’s part would be that of a major Cosmic character.

Then last night, around 11 PM, it all came together. I ended up buying the junior novel for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and reading it all. In Chapter 8, Yondu walks into a bar and and sees a group of Ravagers in blue uniforms. Among them he sees a man, described as “a legend among the Ravagers” who is having a conversation during which he drops the name Aleta. For those wondering, Aleta is the sister of a character named Stakar Ogord. Yondu and the man have a conversation and it ends with the man, who is never named, exiling Yondu from the Ravagers telling him he “won’t hear no Horns of Freedom when you die, and the colors of Ogord will not flash over your grave.”

Though this legendary Ravager is never named, enough clues are present to identify him as Stakar Ogord, otherwise known as Starhawk. Given the dialogue and the previous clues about Stallone being both a Ravager and a Cosmic character of major import, it’s a very safe bet that Stallone is playing Starhawk.

If this deductive reasoning turns out to be true, I think it may mean some very interesting things about the OG GotG. The book begins to describe what it is that Ravagers do, and it isn’t what Yondu and his group have been up to. In fact, it seems that Ravagers may actually have been acting like a crew of people that guard the galaxy for quite some time. If that’s the case, it’s possible that the other original Guardians (Charlie-27, Martinex, Vance Astro and Nikki Gold) could show up at some point as well.

We know that Michael Rosenbaum will also play a major Cosmic character, and that his character will act “in tandem” with Stallone’s. We’ve also heard Sharon Stone say that she will play a character in the MCU whose “secret power is heat.” I’ve always thought that sounded a lot like Nikki Gold. If Stone is Gold, maybe Rosenbaum could be Martinex and maybe, just maybe there are a few other players we haven’t heard about just yet to round out the team.

Remember that the working title for the film was Guardians 3000, and the synopsis for the film mentions Quill’s team needing to get some help from “fan-favorite characters from the classic comics.” For a long, long time I’ve been hoping and thinking we’d see the OG Guardians, and I think Gunn is going to deliver in a big way! The novel leaves off well before the end of the film, and if I were a betting man, I’d say that Quill and team will cross paths with Stallone’s Starhawk sometime in the third act!

What do you think about the potential for this? I can’t believe I’m talking about Stallone as Starhawk!! What a time to be alive.

Sources: Screen Rant, Facebook, Twitter, and iO9