(This article contains spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2)
Longtime comic book fans have been awaiting the live-action debut of Marvel’s cosmic hero Adam Warlock. After what appeared to be Warlock’s notorious cocoon in The Collector’s museum in Thor: The Dark World (2013) and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), director James Gunn finally put the speculation to rest by officially introducing the birth of the character during a post-credits sequence in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2017). If you’re familiar with the character, you know that he plays a significant role in the Infinity arc that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is setting up. And if you’ve been keeping score at home, only five of the six Infinity Gems have been revealed, leaving one up for grabs: the Soul Gem. Warlock is indeed known to be the possessor and wielder of the Soul Gem, so it’s no surprise that this cosmic being is finally getting his moment.
There were many things that worked with Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, but the gold beings known as the Sovereign weren’t one of them. Their purpose in the film were nothing more than a simple plot device to keep the story fresh, after it was later revealed that Ego (Kurt Russell) was the true villain. However, in a post credits sequence, their leader Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) arguably made their existence at last worth while. After suffering defeat at the hands of the Guardians for the second time, an enraged Ayesha is left with no choice but to devise a plan to punish the Guardians once and for all. With the DNA of her people, she creates what she believes to be the perfect warrior, “capable of destroying the Guardians of the Galaxy.” What’s shown is a birthing pod (shaped like an awfully familiar cocoon) sitting next to a golden egg. Ayesha calls him “Adam.”
So who is Adam? Well, it’s complicated. In 1967, he had first appeared in Stan Lee’s Fantastic Four #66 under the name of “Him.” Due to his minor role in the comic, writer Roy Thomas later revamped Him as Adam Warlock in Marvel Premiere #1 (1972). A group of Earth scientists known as The Enclave had a vision of creating “the perfect being” with the power of superhuman strength and speed, flight, and regeneration. After ultimately rebelling against The Enclave, Warlock left Earth and decided to venture off into space. This would spin off into many adventures in the future, including his prominent role in the Infinity Gauntlet (1991) event.
So what’s Warlock’s deal with the Soul Gem, you ask? He was in control, and often the protector, of it throughout Marvel’s history. After briefly wielding the Gauntlet in Infinity Gauntlet, he helps defeat Thanos and distributes the gems among the other superheroes, creating the Infinity Watch. However, don’t expect Warlock to have an immediate impact in Marvel’s cinematic universe because Kevin Feige (president of Marvel Studios) has officially stated that although he intends to utilize the character in the future, he will not be seen in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War (2018). James Gunn even had bigger plans for Warlock in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, but scrapped him in the end, claiming that there were already too many characters in the film as it was.
Don’t count Warlock out for Avengers 4 (2019), however. In a recent social media update, Gunn confirmed that Guardians of the Galaxy 3 will take place after both Avengers’ films, and Feige never said anything about leaving Warlock out of the teasing for Avengers 4. Knowing that the official title for the fourth Avengers’ film hasn’t been released yet (to avoid spoilers), it’s possible that either Warlock will help save the day and help defeat Thanos or simply pose as a threat. Although he’s mainly seen as a hero in the comics, he has had his fair share of villainous activity under the name of Magus (but that’s a conversation for another day). Not much more can be said until Infinity War is released because as of right now, not much is known as to how the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will play out. In the meantime, expect Warlock to be a key player in Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Even if he’s left out of the cinematic Infinity arc, he could very well be the answer to the future, beginning a new arc for phase 4 and beyond.