Guardians of the Galaxy 3: Who is Adam Warlock?

While some of Thanos’s exploits pit him against other superheroes, most notably Starlin’s excellent Infinity Gauntlet crossover (which served as the inspiration for Avengers: Infinity War), he most often battled against Warlock. Furthermore, instead of physical battles in which he and Thanos beat each other up, Warlock usually engaged in philosophical debates with the Mad Titan, depicted by Starlin’s mind-bending pencils.

Warlock, the Magus, and the Guardians of the Galaxy

While Warlock certainly tangles with Thanos a lot, his true arch-enemy is a violet-hued madman called Magus. Decked in a purple version of Warlock’s signature lightning-bolt uniform and sporting a white afro, Magus leads the Universal Church of Truth, an organization whose dogmatic ways lead to soul-crushing conquest. To his horror, Warlock learns that Magus is in fact Warlock from the future, having grown more powerful, but more cynical after years of soul-searching.

Magus works as a villain precisely because he’s a rejection of all of Warlock’s hopes. He stands before Warlock as an inevitable end, a promise that the hero’s search for inner peace and good works will come to nothing. Worse, the Magus’s unflinching smile suggests that the perpetually grumpy Warlock will only find happiness when he gives into his domineering side, cynically embracing the power to harm others.

But Warlock doesn’t battle always battle Magus and the Universal Church alone. The Church has many times run up against the Guardians of the Galaxy, leading Warlock to join the team during the 2008-2010 run by writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, one of the key inspirations for the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. And even before the formation of the Guardians, Warlock often worked alongside its future members, especially the assassin Gamora.

Adam Warlock in the MCU

As this short history indicates, Warlock is a natural fit for a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, which is why he’s been teased in one form or another since the first film. He finally makes his MCU debut with Vol. 3, played by Will Poulter, but it wasn’t immediately clear what role he would serve in a universe that lacked both Thanos and Infinity Stones.

Trailers for Guardians Vol. 3 suggested that much of the movie would take place on Counter-Earth, complete with the High Evolutionary, who is the film’s big bad. Even before he left to become the co-head of DC Studios, James Gunn made clear that he intended the third entry of Guardians to the last, at least for this team, and in this trilogy-capper Warlock evolves within the confines of the film to become a Guardian himself, setting up a big future in the MCU – including a possible fourth film where Rocket is the captain of the team.

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