Several teases from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 leave ambiguity over whether Will Poulter’s Adam Warlock will be a villain in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Guardians 3 director James Gunn has confirmed that Poulter will portray the Golden Gladiator in the third installment in the trilogy — though the exact nature of his role remains a mystery. To many, Adam Warlock’s villain arc is unlikely, and he is a Marvel Comics character whose entry into the MCU is a few years too late. In the comics, Warlock is the greatest enemy of Thanos and a central figure in stories related to the Infinity Stones, such as Infinity War, Infinity Gauntlet, and Infinity Crusade. But despite his deep connection to Thanos and the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe, Warlock was excluded from the fight with the Mad Titan in the Infinity Saga.
Instead of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, Adam Warlock will debut in the middle of the Multiverse Saga — but is Will Poulter a bad guy in Guardians of the Galaxy 3? Currently, the answer to this is unknown, and even the GotG 3 trailer gave only a brief glimpse of Poulter as Adam Warlock, with no further clues about what his exact role in the movie will be. Based on what was alluded to in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a number of fans have assumed that he’ll be utilized as a villain rather than a hero. Here’s what Marvel’s plan for him could be in MCU Phase 5 and beyond.
How Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2 Sets Up Adam Warlock
The theories surrounding Adam Warlock’s villain arc in the MCU began in Guardians of the Galaxy, in which a cocoon seen in the Collector’s (Benicio del Toro) museum was treated as an Easter egg to Adam Warlock, since it looked identical to the one that he emerged from in the comics. Originally, James Gunn confirmed the connection, but the sequel proved that the cocoon was a red herring. Now, it’s known that the real Adam Warlock cocoon belonged to one of the Sovereign, a race of gold-skinned aliens and the species tied to the MCU’s Adam Warlock.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 introduced the Sovereign and their evil leader, Ayesha. After doing a job for Ayesha and then betraying them, the Guardians earned the enmity of the Sovereign, but managed to escape with their lives. A post-credits scene in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 revealed that the Sovereign genetically engineered a new member of their species, who Ayesha has named “Adam”. Apparently, “Adam” will fit into Ayesha’s plan to get revenge on the Guardians. This is the key reason why Adam Warlock’s villain story is speculated to be the focus of his MCU debut.
Is Adam Warlock A Villain In The Comics?
The comic book version of Adam Warlock can’t be accurately described as a villain, as decades of stories have portrayed him as a hero with a strong moral compass and a devotion to doing what’s right for the universe. In fact, even distinguished leadership figures like Captain America, Iron Man, Cyclops, and Doctor Strange have rallied behind Adam Warlock in several Marvel Comics storylines. Only on rare and very brief occasions, such as situations where he was temporarily corrupted by the full power of the Infinity Gauntlet, does Adam Warlock’s villain side ever come out. However, there is a basis for Adam Warlock being an antagonist at the very beginning of his story.
After leaving his cocoon but before acquiring his comic identity and costume, Adam Warlock was a one-time foe of Thor. As a super-powered being who was basically born as an adult, Warlock was an extremely naïve character who understood little about human nature or how he should act. One of the first things he did upon being born was to claim a mate. Not knowing how such things are supposed to work, Warlock set his sights on Lady Sif (a sidelined character in the MCU) and tried to take her away, thus leading to an epic slugfest with the God of Thunder. In the end, Warlock was defeated. When he returned, Marvel began maturing him into a hero by having him develop new ideas about his purpose in life.
How Adam Warlock’s Story Fits The MCU’s Guardians
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s Adam Warlock setup and his Marvel Comics origin will allow him to fit in well with the story Gunn has crafted for Star-Lord and all the others. Similar to Rocket Racoon, Warlock is a product of science created to fulfill a specific purpose. While it’s true that he’s a member of an entire alien race, Ayesha’s comments about Warlock indicate that he’s one-of-a-kind, which means that he — just like all the Guardians — is a misfit without a proper place in the world.
If the MCU’s Adam Warlock is anything like his comic counterpart, it’s likely that he’ll reject Ayesha’s plan for him and attempt to forge his own destiny. After all, Will Poulter’s GotG 3 character doesn’t really know them and may not have much motivation for killing people he doesn’t know. If he were to disobey his orders, Warlock could settle in with the Guardians. Since he works well with the misfit theme of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, it wouldn’t be surprising if he was given spot in the roster of the MCU’s “second family.”
What Adam Warlock’s Future Could Be After Guardians Vol 3
According to James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will serve as an ending to the main characters’ stories, which means that if Marvel does make Guardians of the Galaxy 4, it should follow a different team. However, that doesn’t mean Adam Warlock has to be restricted to just one film. Combined with the fact that there could be over 40 movies in the MCU’s future, Adam Warlock’s villain and hero arcs throughout Marvel Comics lore actually makes him the perfect new addition to the Multiverse Saga.
Marvel may be done with Star-Lord, Drax, Gamora, Rocket, Nebula, Groot, and perhaps Mantis after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3., but the movie should just be the beginning for Will Poulter’s GotG character. As for what the MCU could do with him, he’d be a leading candidate for the new team in Guardians of the Galaxy 4. His inclusion could give the next story a clear connection to the original trilogy. In addition to that, Adam Warlock could be at the center of a future crossover. He missed out on Infinity War and Endgame, but if and when another big bad on par with Thanos ever arrives, Adam Warlock could still lead the heroes of the MCU into battle.
The High Evolutionary Is The Confirmed GotG 3 Villain
The Guardians 3 villain, Chukwudi Iwuji’s High Evolutionary, is confirmed to be the main antagonist, which strengthens the argument that the MCU’s long-term plan for Adam Warlock is to turn him into a hero. In Marvel Comics, the High Evolutionary is the one who christens Him with the name Adam Warlock and gives him the Soul Stone. However, the High Evolutionary is basically a cosmic mad scientist obsessed with evolution. The Guardians 3 trailer even implies that, in the MCU, it was he who created Rocket Raccoon, and Bradley Cooper’s Marvel character seems ready to take on his creator. Based on Warlock’s comic book history and what’s been revealed about his MCU debut, Adam Warlock’s villain arc could begin and also end in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. Whatever happens with the High Evolutionary, Warlock is unlikely to stay a villain for long, especially with audiences already anticipating the MCU’s new roster for Guardians of the Galaxy 4.
More: GOTG 3: Adam Warlock Is Connected To Rocket Raccoon – Theory Explained