Spoiler Alert: Spoilers Ahead for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Now that we have finally seen the third and final MCU film with James Gunn’s beloved band of ragtag misfits, we know that the team roster of the great Guardians of the Galaxy has changed majorly, with the original team members splitting up like the classic rock bands they so loved, and the deep-cut Marvel Comics character Adam Warlock, the golden-skinned superhuman that is one of the strongest beings in the universe, joining the legendary group.
Yet Will Poulter’s Adam Warlock in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 wasn’t used nearly to his full potential as opposed to being an awesome superhero or supervillain, he is more of a dim-witted hitman to act as comedy relief with little importance in the film, making his introduction to the MCU rather underwhelming and pretty forgettable.
While not carrying the same weight as the Incredible Hulk or the amazing Spider-Man, the character of Adam holds great significance in the old Marvel Comics and the classic Guardians of the Galaxy comics especially. In the original comics, Warlock was a “man-god,” a galactic hero who bore the Soul Stone in his forehead just like The Vision, a messiah figure who defeated the Mad Titan Thanos himself, playing the role of both hero and villain with a rich history in the Marvel universe.
But in Vol. 3, where he starts as a villain and ends up redeeming himself, Adam is not the main villain (that role goes to Chukwudi Iwuki’s High Evolutionary), not even the henchman of the main villain (that’s Elizabeth Debicki’s High Priestess), but the hitman of the main villain’s henchman. Adam could be replaced by anyone else in Vol. 3, and it wouldn’t make a difference in the film.
Adam Warlock was wasted in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but after understanding how he was underused, let’s see what potential he has in the future of the MCU.
Adam’s Role in the Comics
Adam Warlock, in the comics, was the longtime bearer of the Soul Stone. A cosmic being genetically engineered by human scientists to be the next evolution of humanity – initially referring to himself as “Him” – he escapes into space and runs into the High Evolutionary.
The High Evolutionary recruits Him to protect the artificial world of Counter-Earth, bestowing Him the Soul Stone, one of the powerful Infinity Stones (then known as Infinity Gems or Jewels), which allows him to capture the souls of others, and rechristens Him as “Warlock.” On Counter-Earth, his friends give him the name “Adam.”
Adam’s nemesis was Magnus, a future version of himself driven insane by the Soul Stone. Warlock allies with Pip the Troll, Gamora, and Thanos to defeat Magnus, but afterward, Thanos betrays them, gaining all the other Infinity Stones. Warlock teams up with the Avengers (which we see was done in Avengers: Endgame, but Captain Marvel took over the cosmic super-being role instead), eventually killing Thanos.
That’s the extremely simplified version, not mentioning the convoluted history where Adam went into the future to steal his own soul to prevent Magnus from ever existing. However, Warlock’s younger self appears, takes the older Warlock’s soul, defeats a resurrected Thanos, and gains all the Infinity Stones. Then his soul is split into evil male and good female versions before sucking them up into his Soul Stone, defeats some clones of Thanos, joins the Guardians of the Galaxy before becoming Magnus himself and is then killed by Captain Marvel, then resurrected as a baby in a cocoon. Then he does more crazy stuff, dies, resurrects, more crazy stuff, dies, resurrects, etc.
There’s so much comic material that Marvel only had to look around to find something for Adam to do, and the MCU has proved it is very good at using one hero’s film to set up another, so should Adam have been set up by Vol. 3.
Adam Was Wasted in GOTG Vol. 3
Adam’s story is so complex, grand, and crazy that it wouldn’t have felt too out of place in a Guardians movie. Obviously, to adapt his story entirely would make Vol. 3 more of an Adam Warlock movie instead of Guardians of the Galaxy movie (and a fantastic movie it was nonetheless), but it should’ve done more for the character than simply making him a henchman’s hitman.
Adam is a cosmic being, super-powerful but often seen lying about on asteroids having inner debates about the morality of taking people’s souls. And given the MCU’s (sometimes irritating) irreverence towards everything for the sake of comedy, which the Guardians themselves are especially famous for, Adam could’ve served as a much-needed counterbalance, like Steve Roger’s seriousness and Tony Stark’s snarkiness.
We would see Adam sit down the Drax and Mantis, trying to explain the stupefying mysteriousness of the cosmos, but of course, some laughs would come along as Drax fails to understand whatever metaphor Adam could drum up and Mantis would join in laughing at both of them.
Instead, Adam is just an indestructible fighting machine with a child’s mind because he was taken out of his cocoon a bit too early, with no time to talk and no remarkable traits, and could simply be taken out of the film and replaced with anyone else without any changes to the film.
Adam’s Role in the Future of the MCU
It seems that the MCU might be prepping Adam for greatness. The first time we see him in his cocoon in Vol. 2, feeling the gravitas surrounding his capsule, we know this will be a significant character. And after watching the death of his mother, the High Priestess in Vol. 3, we know that character development may not be too far away for Adam Warlock.
Kang the Conquer is the big bad of the MCU and has a brief history with Adam in the comics, as they forged an uneasy alliance to defeat Magnus, meaning that the two could work together in the MCU in a deadly partnership.
Warlock could still have his big comic moments with Kang instead of Thanos. Adam Warlock against Kang will be the same as Captain Marvel against Thanos and would make an epic rivalry. Adam is also a classic love interest of Gamora, and after seeing her basically dump Star-Lord in Vol. 3, we may see some changes.
There is no limit to the potential of Adam Warlock in the MCU, both as a hero and a villain, and though he may have been wasted in Guardians Vol. 3, he may have bigger things to come sooner rather than later.
This story originally appeared on Movieweb