Saturday, November 29, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Meet and Greet: Adam Warlock

James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy introduced the masses to some of the more obscure characters in the Marvel Universe but one of the more interesting and complex characters from the Cosmic roster has yet to make his debut. After the jump, get to know all about Adam Warlock before he joins the Guardians and Avengers in the fight against Thanos!

Created by scientists to be a perfect being, Adam Warlock has journeyed through spacetime and served as both protector and tyrannical overlord of the universe. Warlock's ability to manipulate the quantum energies around him has evolved over time to give him a near limitless set of magical abilities. Warlock, in fact, believes himself to be a Quantum Magician and has used his abilities to manipulate and reform matter, emit powerful force fields and concussive blasts and create and travel through wormholes in spacetime. While he has died several times, Warlock has been reborn each time so, for all intents and purposes, he is immortal. His intricate connection to the Soul Gem, one of the 6 Infinity Gems, has made his own soul so powerful that not even Death herself can stake claim to it.

Warlock's origin is tied to the Enclave, a group of scientists, led by Dr. Jerome Hamilton, who strove to improve life on Earth by creating a race of perfect beings. Warlock was one such being, created by the Enclave at their hidden lab called the Beehive. Warlock, originally referred to only as "Him", quickly sensed the bad intentions of his creators and escaped. As he flew away from the Beehive, the energy he emitted destroyed the remote lab and the scientists within.

Now on his own, "Him" chose to explore space where he had an unfortunate encounter with Thor that resulted in him being nearly killed by the Odinson after he kidnapped and attempted to "mate" with Lady Sif. Following his encounter with the Odinson, Warlock retreated to the safety of his regenerative cocoon which was set adrift in space until discovered by Herbert Wyndham, the High Evolutionary. Wyndham gave him the name Warlock and took him under his wing, imbuing him with purpose and helping him understand the world around him. Wyndham also gave Warlock the object that would most define his role in the universe: the Soul Gem.

Warlock's cocoon is discovered adrift in space by the High Evolutionary

Under the tutelage of Wyndham, Warlock became the champion and savior of Counter-Earth, one of Wyndham's failed experiments, after defeating Man-Beast on several occasions before finally devolving him permanently. 

From here Warlock's adventures actually took a turn for the weirder and it's this weirdness that potentially intersects with his possible inclusion in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and near-certain involvement alongside all the heroes of the MCU against Thanos in the Infinity War. 

Following his adventures on Counter-Earth, Warlock came into contact with the Universal Church of Truth, a powerful religious entity bent on universal conversion to its doctrine, that used the faith energies of its believers to power its ships, its home world and even its Cardinals, the enforcers of its doctrine. The Universal Church of Truth worships is headed by the Matriarch and worships a supreme being called the Magus.

The Magus, a being of pure malevolence and power, is revealed to be a crazy future version of Warlock with a white afro. With the help of Thanos, the Mad Titan, Gamora and Pip the Troll, Warlock eventually defeated the Magus by wiping out the entire timeline that lead to his transformation into the evil counter-being and then using the Soul Gem to hold his potential future-self prisoner.

This interaction with Thanos began a cycle of events that eventually saw the entire Infinity saga play out. After dying attempting to help Earth's Mightiest Heroes prevent Thanos from destroying our galaxy, Warlock was once again reborn from the Soul Gem in order to kill Thanos, who was too powerful for even the combined might of the Avengers and Captain Marvel. Warlock, along with his allies Gamora and Pip, returned to the vast world inside the Soul Gem and lived there peacefully for a time until Thanos hatched his ultimate plan: the collection of the Infinity Stones and the destruction of all there was.

Through Warlock's planning, Thanos, who possessed all the gems in the Infinity Gauntlet, was distracted and defeated by Nebula. Warlock gained possession of the Gauntlet for a time and restored the universe to peace before giving up the Gauntlet and dividing the gems among 6 friends (himself, Gamora, Pip, Moondragon, Drax and Thanos) which came to be known as the Infinity Watch. 

The Infinity Watch prevented many Infinity Gem related disasters during their time, including schemes by the Magus and the Goddess, the purely evil and purely good sides of Warlock which he rid himself of while in possession of the Gauntlet. Warlock and Thanos became close friends despite their different world views and worked together almost as frequently as they opposed one another over the course of their time. As it stands, Thanos and Warlock are the only two beings whose souls remain outside of the reach of Death and each have had chances to reshape the universe in their images given their unique roles in it.

As it stands, Warlock always serves as the ultimate foil to Thanos and, for that reason, it's nearly impossible to imagine that he won't play a role in the MCU as we move towards the two-part Infinity War in 2018 and 2019. If we presume that Warlock will be a part of those films, it's appropriate to question when we might first meet Warlock and, likely, the Soul Gem. While his abilities as a sorcerer make it possible he'd be introduced in Doctor Strange, it's far more likely we'll see him appear in the 2017 sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy. Though many hardcore fans have long thought we'd seen him hinted at through his cocoon in Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy, director James Gunn recently refuted those claims, stating that the look of the cocoon was based on Warlock's but was NOT the actual cocoon of Warlock. If that's the case, it's very likely, given his inclusion as a part of the Guardians of the Galaxy comic team following the events of Annihilation, during which Warlock helped a team of heroes save the universe, that we might see him enter the MCU when the Guardians sequel hits screens May 5, 2017.

During his time as a member of the Guardians, Warlock and the team fought against the Universal Church of Truth, became involved in the Kree-Shi'ar War and repaired a giant fissure in spacetime that would have swallowed the entire universe. Following this, Warlock's evil counter-self, the Magus, returned and possessed the body of the powerful Quantum magician. After battling Star-Lord and the Guardians, the Magus was eventually defeated by the alternate Cancerverse Captain Marvel and the body of Warlock remained without a soul until recently teaming up with Thanos once more.

Given the relative obscurity of the majority of the Cosmic-based characters James Gunn works with, it seems he's been given license to freely change them as he sees fit to make them serve the story best and is not bound to any sort of comic-based origin stories (the origins of Drax and Star-Lord seem highly-altered and the Nova Corps, which exisits and an extremely powerful entity in the comics, is entirely de-powered in the MCU). With that as the accepted standard, it becomes very tough to try to predict how Adam Warlock will be portrayed on screen. As of now, the Guardians of the Galaxy has not been sub-titled. Gunn has joked about calling it Guardians of the Galaxy: Guardians of the Galaxy 2 or just leaving it as Guardians of the Galaxy 2, but he's also said it could "easily" pick up a sub-title. Given Marvel's reveal of their entire film slate gave the sub-titles to every other film and the fact that Gunn has said the entire story for his sequel is in place, it's hard to imagine Marvel does not have a sub-title in mind and that they are holding it back for one reason or another. Many believe that one possible reason is, despite many denials from Marvel Studios, that the film will adapt Planet Hulk as part of its story and revealing that would spoil the final act of Avengers: Age of Ultron. While I'm still unconvinced that Bruce Banner won't end up in space, I'm not convinced we're going to see a gladiatorial Planet Hulk story on film with the Red King as the villain. It seems there's a much more logical option for the Guardians that would open the door for the inclusion of Warlock.

It seems reasonable to think that Guardians of the Galaxy 2 will see Star-Lord and his team going up against a threat to the galaxy, given that they've chosen to guard it. We also know that part of this film will see Quill discovering the identity of his father and will need time to introduce a new Guardian or two or three (Moondragon and Phyla-Vell get my vote, if you're asking). All that seems to really preclude the inclusion of an entirely devoted Planet Hulk film. If Gunn choses to adapt the comics a little more closely this time around, the Universal Church of Truth would prove to be a worthy antagonist for the team while allowing for the adapted introduction of Adam Warlock. I'm not sure that general audiences are ready for all the madness that would come with the Magus and explaining evil, future counter-selves, but a religious empire bent on converting every being in the galaxy to belief in its doctrine through any means necessary certainly seems worthy of the Guardians' attention. 

Just how Gunn chooses to portray the origins and powers of Warlock will be interesting as will what relationship, if any, will exist between Warlock and the Soul Stone, one of two or three Infinity Stones we have yet to see introduced into the MCU. If Warlock's mystical abilities remain intact, he serves as one possible bridge between the Cosmic-based heroes of Guardians and the Earth-based Avengers. In the comics, Warlock and Doctor Strange have had several shared adventures as they deal in the same realms of power. In the 2008 Guardians of the Galaxy run, Warlock's mystical powers were revealed to stem from his abilities to manipulate and transfer energies, energies which were at one point absorbed and used against him by Vulcan, an energy-manipulating mutant. This sort of explanation for the source of his and Strange's powers would fit the science-based schema of the MCU and allow for a more natural introduction for both characters. 

It certainly seems as if it's just a matter of time before we see the introduction of Adam Warlock to the MCU. It could be done in a post-credit scene or within the body of Guardians of the Galaxy 2, but it needs to be done sooner rather than later (I've even caught myself wondering if Herbert Wyndham might not show up, or already have shown up, on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with all the "what will they become talk) if Warlock is meant to play as large of a role in the MCU battle against Thanos as he has done in the comics. One thing of which I am certain regarding the future of Adam Warlock is that if he is included in the MCU, there's no guy other than James Gunn I'd rather have redesigning his story. Warlock is exactly the kind of character Gunn would write the hell out of and have a blast doing so. Of all the Cosmic-based characters we've yet to meet, Warlock is one that has the most potential to blow general audiences away when they're introduced to him and I'm hopeful that introduction is just a few years away.