Evidence in the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 trailer and comic book connections points to one Marvel character being a secret villain in the movie
Evidence suggests that a secret Marvel Comics villain is lurking in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The trailer for the upcoming Phase 5 movie indicates that the Guardians' next adversary is Chukwudi Iwuji's High Evolutionary, but it's not outside the realm of possibility that a completely different character will be the movie's primary source of conflict. As for who that person could be, the comics and the trailer provide some huge clues.
So far, the Guardians have at least two obstacles to overcome when they return to the big screen in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Firstly, the team has to deal with the MCU's Adam Warlock, who was teased as a future enemy of the Guardians in one of the second movie's post-credits scenes. However, Warlock's reputation as a hero in the comics makes him being a true villain unlikely. The High Evolutionary, on the other hand, has a long history of making trouble in the Marvel Universe and fighting heroes like Thor and the X-Men. He's the obvious choice for the movie's main villain, but he's not the only candidate. Another Marvel Comics character could stand revealed as the real mastermind behind the fighting in the film.
What the movie is doing with Adam Warlock and the High Evolutionary harkens back to a lesser-known storyline from the Bronze Age of Marvel Comics. Years after Adam making his comic book debut as Him, a genetically super-being who fought Thor and the Fantastic Four, he was reintroduced under the name's he known for today. Strange Tales' Adam Warlock arc picked up after the events of his fight with Thor and saw him wandering around in space with no purpose. His days of having no direction in life ended when he met the High Evolutionary, a scientist and a recurring villain of Thor. Seeing in Adam an opportunity, the High Evolutionary sought to form an alliance with him.
The High Evolutionary trusted Adam Warlock with the important task of traveling to Counter-Earth, a duplicate of Earth he had created, complete with its own human population. Adam's mission was to investigate the activities of Man-Beast. Man-Beast was originally a wolf whom the scientist had "evolved" into a super-powered, anthropomorphic humanoid. After developing the capacity for intelligent thought, Man-Beast became a foe of Thor before eventually setting his sights on Counter-Earth. To beat him, the High Evolutionary gave Adam the Soul Stone, knowing that it's power would be an invaluable asset to him in battle.
Armed with the Soul Stone, Adam enjoyed a number of adventures on Counter-Earth and even made a few friends along the way. His stay on the planet culminated in a team-up between Adam and the Hulk, who had to work together to take down the Man-Beast in the pages of The Incredible Hulk #178.
Adam and Man-Beast have mostly been on separate paths ever since their fateful battle, but while their rivalry was short lived, Adam's conflict with Man-Beast is remembered as a key part of his Marvel Comics story. What he went through (including his acquisition of the Soul Stone) laid the groundwork for him to become a cosmic superhero and an enemy of Thanos in the years that followed.
Interestingly, the MCU appears to be delivering a loose interpretation of this particular plotline in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. After all, it's hard to imagine it being a coincidence that Adam Warlock and High Evolutionary are appearing together in the same movie. Looking at what happened in the comics, it's entirely reasonable that the latter will recruit Adam either in the movie or offscreen. And by all indications, his goal may be similar to that of his comic book counterpart. The trailer showed the Guardians visiting an Earth-like planet that houses animal-like humanoids akin to Rocket Raccoon. If this place exists as a creation of the High Evolutionary, it could be the MCU's take on the Counter-Earth concept. If that's the case, Will Poulter's Adam Warlock may have been appointed as the guardian of Counter-Earth.
Currently, it looks like Marvel is borrowing several different elements of the original comic story. Adam Warlock, the High Evolutionary, animals transformed into intelligent beings, and possibly Counter-Earth will all be included in the movie. Presumably, its biggest omission is Man-Beast. But while there's no sign of him in the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 trailer, there's actually no proof that he isn't in the movie. In fact, it wouldn't be a surprise at all if he's included. He's Adam's first villain, a creation of the High Evolutionary, a major figure in the Counter-Earth story, and a creature with the characteristics of an animal, not unlike Rocket. Based on everything that's known about him, he could fit seamlessly into Marvel's plan for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
It's made clear by the trailer that the High Evolutionary is the long-awaited answer to all the questions about Rocket's MCU origin, but exactly why the Guardians are fighting him now hasn't been explained, nor has Marvel revealed why they go to the mysterious planet featured in the trailer. But if Man-Beast really is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3's real villain, his inclusion would bring some clarity to everything that's going on in the trailer. Similar to how the High Evolutionary needed Adam Warlock to fight Man-Beast on Counter-Earth, he could seek out the Guardians and sent them to Counter-Earth for the same purpose. If so, his intention could be for Star-Lord's team to fight alongside Adam against the Man-Beast.
An MCU version of Man-Beast would be able to serve as the antithesis to Rocket, thus making him an ideal candidate for the movie's central antagonist. In a way, Rocket and Man-Beast represent two remarkably different paths taken by the products of the High Evolutionary's experiments. In contrast to Rocket, who became a member of the Guardians, Marvel Comics' Man-Beast allowed himself to be so consumed by hatred that it turned him into a full-fledged supervillain. By battling the Man-Beast in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Rocket can look into the mirror and see what he could have become in the MCU.
NEXT: Marvel's 7th Infinity Stone Could Solve An Adam Warlock Issue
Nicholas Raymond is a staff movies & TV features writer for Screen Rant. He has a degree in journalism from the University of Montevallo, and is the author of the psychological thriller and time travel novel, “A Man Against the World.” Nicholas’ love for telling stories is inspired by his love for film noir, westerns, superhero movies, classic films, and ancient history. His favorite actors are Tyrone Power and Eleanor Parker. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @cnraymond91.