If you’re reading this right now, there is a good chance that you contributed to the record-breaking $94 million opening weekend for ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’. James Gunn’s epic space adventure took us to the cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in what is quickly becoming one of the world’s favorite superhero movies. And while we may have had a ton of fun watching Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and Drax the Destroyer, some recent interviews show that the director had just as much fun bringing them and their worlds to life.

Part of what makes Marvel movies so good is that the people involved care very deeply about the source material. The writers, directors, producers, and the cast take special care to present the best version they can of these stories. But in today’s Hollywood landscape, it’s hard to imagine that a filmmaker is given so much free reign from a studio to pretty much do whatever he or she wants. In an interview with The Playlist, Gunn talks about how much of the story was dictated by Marvel, which happens to be a surprisingly small amount:

“Every single line in the movie is mine. We talked early on about having Thanos in the movie, which, believe me I was excited to have Thanos in the movie because a) I love Thanos and b) I want people who have seen ‘The Avengers’ to go see this because we’re connected to it. There was no fight from me having Thanos in the movie. But for me, I wrote a group of characters with the plot points I wanted to write and the stuff that’s connected to the rest of the Marvel universe was very exciting for me to be a part of. To just sit down and create what the Infinity Gems are, I got to sit down and add to the overall Marvel universe and build up the Marvel universe, because I got to create that. And that was very exciting to me.”

Speaking of the Infinity Gems, the director confirmed on his Twitter that the Orb contained the Power Gem. It joins the Aether from ‘Thor: The Dark World’ as the Reality Gem and the Tesseract from ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ and ‘The Avengers’ as other iconic items from the comics, but that mysterious stone was far from the only Easter egg in the movie. Besides the obvious one in the post-credits scene, a number of references can be spotted from Marvel’s cinematic and comic book history. For instance, you can see a Dark Elf and a Chitauri in the Collector’s lair on Knowhere, but there’s also a reference to Gunn’s first film, ‘Slither’. As you can imagine, Gunn had a blast with this scene and he talks to /Film about it briefly:

“Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of stuff in the Collector’s Museum. And for me, it was mostly just really fun. As a Marvel fan, giving the actual fans something that they can freeze frame on their Blu-Ray at home and just kind of pick out everything that’s in there. So there are, I mean, seriously all those boxes have something interesting in them, so it’s pretty fun.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m super excited to get my hands on that Bu-Ray to try and spot all the references. Then again, maybe I’ll catch them all when I inevitably watch ‘Guardians’ in the theater a few more times. But what about you? Did you get a sense from watching ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ that James Gunn had a lot of fun making the movie? How many Easter eggs and Marvel references did you catch during your first viewing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ starring Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper is in theaters now.