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SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. If you have not yet seen the film, and don't wish for specific details to be ruined, please bookmark this page and return after your screening!
When it comes to major movie franchises, there is arguably no bigger lingering question than "What will Marvel Studios' post-2019 plans look like?" Next year, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will begin to unveil their massive capstone to everything we've seen so far with The Avengers: Infinity War, and pit the heroic Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy against the evil, powerful Thanos. But what comes next? Who could follow in the Mad Titans' footsteps? Given some key introductions in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the answer very well may be Michael Korvac -- the central villain of the famed Korvac Saga.
While this particular story has always been an option thanks to the way that Marvel plays fast and loose with adapting comic book stories, the introduction of the "original" Guardians of the Galaxy team in James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 changes the game. Now that characters like Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone), Aleta (Michelle Yeoh), Martinex (Michael Rosenbaum) and Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames) are in play, there is opportunity to play out a faithful big screen version of the story that will offer spectacular action and plenty of crossover opportunities.
Orchestrated by Jim Shooter, David Michelinie, George Pérez and David Wenzel, The Korvac Saga was a major arc that played out in Marvel Comics in the late 1970s. As the title suggests, the center of the story is a man named Michael Korvac -- an ordinary human who lives in the year 3000 in a universe separate from the normal Marvel Universe (Earth-691 instead of Earth-616). While Korvac's tale begins with him as an ordinary computer technician, everything changes when the planet is invaded by an alien species known as the Badoon, and Korvac betrays the human race. After being transformed into a cyborg by the invaders, he winds up being used as a pawn in the plans of an Elder of the Universe, The Grandmaster -- but Korvac uses this as an opportunity to better understand cosmic powers. After conflicts with the Guardians of the Galaxy from Earth-691 (the aforementioned group of characters), he is ultimately able to travel across time and space to the normal Marvel Universe. Stealing the power of the cosmic entity Galactus and gaining god-like power, he makes plans to reshape the world -- leaving only The Avengers and the pursuing Guardians of Galaxy to stop him.
Given that the Marvel Cinematic Universe versions of Stakar Ogord & Co. don't come from the future in an alternate universe, certainly some details of the story would have to change, but not much would need to be altered in a canon live-action take. With the use of flashbacks and creative sci-fi storytelling, it would be easy to establish Michael Korvac as an existing former antagonist of the original Guardians of the Galaxy who has come back with a vengeance and starts to make a major power play. At first it could be the old Guardians teaming up with the new Guardians (a.k.a. Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, Groot, etc.) to try and take him down, but when he becomes too powerful they could turn to Earth's Mightiest Heroes (whoever they may be at the time) for assistance.
On beyond the fact that a three team team-up is bigger than the two teams uniting for Avengers: Infinity War, this move also gels with the proposed future for the cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Writer/director James Gunn has revealed that the outer space side of the franchise is set to be incredibly influential in the plans going forward for the massive comic book movie world, and the second post-credits scene of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 certainly confirms that establishing the original Guardians line-up is an important part of his campaign. Building to The Korvac Saga makes all kinds of sense within this direction.
To also borrow from Marvel Studios' general take on making movies, doing a big screen adaptation of The Korvac Saga makes sense simply because it's a great story to tell. It would offer chances for new characters to meet each other and for others to reunite; utilize many different introduced parts of the established universe; and bring plenty of opportunity for both interstellar and Earth-based action. It also comes fully-loaded with a mind-bending philosophical question at its conclusion that could hit audiences incredibly hard if executed properly.
There are hundreds if not thousands of directions that Marvel Studios could take from the comics once Thanos is out of the picture -- but The Korvac Saga certainly must be one in serious consideration. It blends epic intergalactic storytelling with many wonderful character opportunities, while also successfully doing something that is in a different wheelhouse than the story of the Mad Titan and his Infinity Gauntlet. It may not be the next major capstone project on the scale of what's happening in The Avengers: Infinity War, but it would be a terrific fit as the big event at the end of Phase Four.