Dweller-in-Darkness from Guardians of the Galaxy & Shang-Chi Explained

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, available now.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy lets players explore the farthest reaches of the cosmic universe as Star-Lord. As the team’s leader, it’s up to the player to make daring decisions in group’s best interest. However, some of Star-Lord’s choices put the team in more dangerous situations than expected. One example of this is early in the story when the Guardians take a trip to Seknarf-Nine to meet with Lady Hellbender.

Lady Hellbender is the warrior ruler of Seknarf-Nine and has a particular fondness for exotic creatures. Offering them sanctuary, she will buy unique animals at top dollar to live with her. The Guardians opt to sell one of their own and steal one back when Lady Hellbender isn’t looking to earn credits and pay off a fine. Whether players choose Rocket or Groot as the exotic creature, the story will shift, ultimately leading to the chapter’s main boss fight with the Dweller-in Darkness. Aside from comics, this is actually the second time he’s appeared in a mainstream title this year, with the first being in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

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The Dweller-in-Darkness first appeared in Thor #229 and is one of the Fear Lords. The creature often appears as a humanoid being with the head of a cephalopod. Visually, he’s reminiscent of Cthulhu and, like his inspiration, existed eons before any known civilization. His abilities allow him to generate fear in any being that sees him.

Since its creation, the Dweller has learned new ways to spread fear and remain alive. For example, he can create beings of pure fear like the villain D’Spayre. He can also convert anyone who dies under his influence into Shadow Thralls. Perhaps his most unique power was learned when he performed a ritual to detach his head from his body, living on like an octopus creature before finding a robotic body. This floating head is also how the Guardians encounter him.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Shang-Chi, the Dweller takes on an entirely new, potentially deadlier form than his comic book counterpart. Rather than appear as an eldritch octopus-like being, the Dweller is similar in design to a bat. In the film, he’s locked away in the mystical city of Ta Lo and guarded by the Great Protector. However, once free, he spreads his great wings and uses his tentacled tail to snatch victims. With an army of smaller Soul Eaters, this Dweller doesn’t generate fear. Instead, he absorbs souls, gaining strength with each one to hopefully conquer the world. While this interpretation is nothing like the comics or the game versions, it maintains his ancient origin, making him just as cosmically horrifying as his inspiration.

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Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy recreates the terror seen in the comics and film. That being said, the creature operates more as Lady Hellbender’s pet rather than a Fear Lord with his own nefarious schemes. Visually, he is similar to his comics counterpart, though his motivations seem more primal like in Shang-Chi. During his boss fight, he also doesn’t focus on generating fear, instead creating smaller enemies to combat and using his tentacles as weapons. Ultimately, the game’s version lacks the power of his earlier versions, but he’s still a potentially deadly adversary.

The Dweller-in-Darkness doesn’t get the same recognition as other eldritch horrors like Shuma Gorath. However, introducing him in a game not long after his film debut helps show the scope of the Marvel universe. Though each iteration varies significantly from one another, the danger surrounding this monster is constant, as is the need for teamwork and bravery while taking him on.

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