Who is the Dog in What If? Is It Based on a Real Dog?

‘What If…?’ — the first animated series set in the ‘MCU’ — has opened up a host of new storytelling opportunities featuring some of the most popular Marvel Comics characters. The series not only reimagines certain important events from the main continuity but also gives some of the more obscure characters a chance to shine. One such lesser-known character makes an appearance in the show’s second episode. If you enjoyed watching an adorable canine tag along with T’Challa and Yondu at the end of the episode, you must be curious to learn more about it. Here’s everything you need to know about the dog in ‘What If…?’

Who Is the Dog in What If…?

In ‘What If…?’ we get a chance to revisit Taneleer Tivan/The Collector’s prestigious collection of various aliens from across the universe. This collection is also seen in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.’ In one of the display boxes at The Collector’s museum, we see a dog, who is none other than the popular comic book character Cosmo the Spacedog. The character first appears in issue number 8 of ‘Nova Vol. 4’ and is created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. He is a Golden Retriever–Labrador Retriever mix in most of his appearances.

Cosmo possesses telepathic and telekinetic abilities as a result of his exposure to space radiation. However, we are yet to see him exhibit these powers in the ‘MCU.’ Cosmo’s first appearance in the ‘MCU’ is in 2014’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ where his backstory is briefly explained. He is a subject of a Soviet space program experiment. Cosmo eventually finds his way into The Collector’s museum. He later escapes confinement and is seen licking The Collector’s face. Cosmo also briefly appears in a post-credits scene of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘ alongside Howard the Duck, another lesser-known Marvel Comics character. In ‘What If…?’ Cosmo accompanies T’Challa/Star-Lord and Yondu as they escape Knowhere and is last seen with the Ravagers in Wakanda.

Is Cosmo the Spacedog Based on a Real Dog?

Yes, Cosmo the Spacedog is based on a real dog. He is based on Laika, a Soviet dog. Laika is best known for being one of the first animals to go into space and also the first to orbit the earth. Laika was born in 1954 and traveled to space in the Soviet Union’s Sputnik 2 spacecraft on November 3, 1957. During the time period, the effects of space travel on animals were unknown, and the technology to de-orbit was yet to be developed. As a result, Laika passed away in space.

Image Credit: NASA/ ESO

The character of Cosmo is a homage to Laika. Cosmo’s backstory is similar to Laika’s true story as both are sent into space as a part of a Soviet space program. Unlike Cosmo, Laika was a female of mixed breeds but primarily a Mongrel. Compared to Laika, Cosmo has a better fate. He survives his space travel and even develops superpowers of his own. Still, seeing Cosmo share screen with some of the most iconic characters in pop culture in itself is a great tribute to Laika.

Read More: Is What If On Netflix, Prime, Hulu, or HBO Max?