SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains very mild spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. If you have not yet seen the film, please save this page and return after your screening!
In the last four years, writer/director James Gunn has brought a plethora of major Marvel cosmic heroes to the big screen -- and in the final chapter of his trilogy he will have the opportunity to introduce one of the most significant ones. It has been officially confirmed that Adam Warlock will have an important role to play in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, potentially as a villain squaring off against the titular team.
What should be noted, however, is that Adam Warlock's history in Marvel Comics isn't entirely straight-forward -- which is why we're here to help. Going through the character's past, we've plucked out eight essential things to know about Adam Warlock, which will have you on the road to prepare for his live-action debut. And what better place to start than the very beginning?
He's Been Around Since The Mid-1960s
While he wouldn't actually be called Adam Warlock until the early 1970s, Adam Warlock was first introduced in Marvel Comics in a two-part Fantastic Four story -- simply introduced as Him. The legendary Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were responsible for bringing him into the lexicon, and then it was Roy Thomas and Gil Kane who wound up fleshing him out -- notably by making him into a Christ-like figure. The character made regular appearances in print throughout the 1970s, but when the 1980s rolled around, he basically disappeared.
Adam Warlock's big revival came in 1990, courtesy of Jim Starlin. Thanos was collecting Infinity Gems, and Warlock wound up a big player in the popular Infinity Gauntlet arc. This happened for reasons we'll get into more later -- but the important thing to note is that Adam Warlock won't be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's big screen adaptation of the same story, The Avengers: Infinity War. It's been confirmed that the character won't be coming into play before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
He Was Created, Not Born
In Fantastic Four #66, readers were introduced to a group known as the Enclave, who were in the midst of trying to create the perfect artificial human in order to do their bidding. Almost immediately after being birthed from his special cocoon, he rebelled against the idea of being under the Enclave's evil influence, and decided that it would be better for himself and all of humanity that he fly into the cosmos and leave Earth for a millennia.
While exploring the cosmos, he encountered a being known as the High Evolutionary, and in addition to being given the name Warlock, he also gave him his first sense of purpose: rescuing a planet called Counter-Earth from one of the High Evolutionary's own creations, a genetically-accelerated red wolf called Man-Beast (it was on Counter-Earth that children called him Adam). Formidable as Warlock already was, the High Evolutionary provided him with a tool of great power as well, which brings us to our next point...
Having An Infinity Gem Has Been A Big Part Of His Whole Thing
The tool that the High Evolutionary gave to Adam Warlock was the Soul Gem -- one of the six immensely powerful Infinity Gems that can be used together in the Infinity Gauntlet to possess the abilities of a god. In the case of Adam Warlock, he wore the stone right on his forehead. Specifically, the Soul Gem allows its user to capture the souls of other beings, and it's an immensely powerful weapon to hold. Unfortunately, it also has its side effects, which we'll get into later.
During the course of the Infinity Gauntlet event, Adam Warlock got his hands on the titular glove, but it was decided by the entity known as the Living Tribunal that it was not a power he could be trusted to wield. Instead, he was assigned to give each gem to a different individual, with the intention being that none of them would be collected together ever again.
Don't Expect Him To Have An Infinity Stone In The Marvel Cinematic Universe
Having the Soul Gem is a big part of Adam Warlock's backstory, but it doesn't look like it will quite fit into his narrative in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A big part of this is simply the timing of his introduction. It's been 100% confirmed that Warlock will not be making his live-action debut until Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 -- which is not only set to be released after the Infinity Gem/Stone-centric The Avengers: Infinity War, but also confirmed to take place in the aftermath as well.
This doesn't discount the possibility that Adam Warlock may wind up with an Infinity Stone in some sort of Infinity Watch capacity after The Avengers: Infinity War... but we certainly don't expect him to wear it as a forehead accessory. This is primarily because it would be weird for more than one character to rock that kind of jewelry, and Vision has been doing that in Marvel movies ever since The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
He's A Hero, Not A Villain
You may have already put this together at this point, but while Adam Warlock was originally created with sinister intentions in mind, he has carved out a heroes life for himself. In addition to genuinely and generally functioning to do good in the universe, he has also teamed up with notable Marvel heroes many times in the face of incredibly dangerous threats. He certainly has his dark days -- as we'll discuss later in this article -- but he typically fights for the side of what's right.
How this will play into the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn't entirely clear at this point -- particularly because Adam Warlock's origins have changed a bit. Rather than being a creation of the Enclave, in the movies he is made by The Sovereign, and Ayesha specifically states that it is her intention for him to kill the Guardians of the Galaxy. Will he do so, or like his comic book counterpart, will he break against programming? We'll have to wait and find out.
He Has Tremendous Power And Abilities
Being born a perfect creation, you might have guessed that Adam Warlock has a few gifts -- including incredible strength, stamina, speed, agility, rapid healing, and flight. When he's in possession of the Soul Gem, he has the capacity to trap anyone's soul within a pocket universe -- but that's not something he can do otherwise. He can also return to his cocoon and regenerate himself, giving him an extended lifespan.
Adam Warlock has also had the ability to manipulate cosmic energy -- which has more than a few benefits. Part is that he can use it as a weapon, but he can also use it to travel at incredible speeds and create space-warps that allow him to travel from one side of a galaxy to another. It's easy to believe that the live-action adaptation of the character will feature him at his most powerful, though that's obviously not something we can confirm just yet.
One Of His Greatest Battles Was Against His Future Self
Having been around for a few decades in the comics, Adam Warlock has a handful of outstanding adventures, but one of most noteworthy involves his encounter with a group known as the Universal Church of Truth -- an intergalactic religious organization led by a ruler named the Magus. As it happens, the Magus is the bad mix of corrupt, insane, and dangerous, and as a result Adam teams with Gamora, Thanos, and a friend named Pip The Troll to stop him -- but it all comes with a fun catch. As it turns out, The Magus is a version of Adam Warlock from 5,000 years in the future who had the Soul Gem turned against him and was driven mad as a result.
Could we ever get to see a version of this story play out on the big screen? It's certainly not outside the realm of possibility. James Gunn has successfully set precedent for Marvel Studios to get super weird with their storytelling, and the cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is something that is very much going to expand in the coming years. So while we may not see Adam Warlock vs. The Magus in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, it's not the most unlikely thing that we could see a version of this story play out on the big screen in the next decade.
He's Spent Time As A Guardians Of The Galaxy
Both Adam Warlock and some version of the Guardians of the Galaxy have existed in Marvel Comics for decades, but it wasn't until the 2007/2008 event Annihilation: Conquest that Warlock found himself as part of the team roster. Part of the storyline involved the hive-mind alien force known as Phalanx trying to expand their dominion and take over the Kree Empire -- but in teaming up with a group of other intergalactic heroes (including Star-Lord and Rocket among others), Adam Warlock helps form the modern version of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Unfortunately, these events ultimately also bring around the return of the Magus, but the more important thing to take away for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the precedent. What it seems as though Adam Warlock may be introduced to the big screen franchise as an antagonistic force, it would be none to surprising to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 end with The Sovereign-created being fighting alongside some of our heroes.
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Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.