James Gunn Explains Why He Never Included Nova In Guardians Of The Galaxy

Marvel Comics artwork of Richard Rider as Nova
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Along with introducing characters like Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy also spotlighted the Nova Corps, the military/police force for the planet Xandar. As such, that would have been a good platform to show off Richard Rider, the first human to join the Nova Corps in the comics. But that didn’t happen, and nearly a decade after the Marvel movie’s release, Gunn has explained why he didn’t bring in Nova.

The filmmaker’s refusal to include Nova wasn’t due to not liking the character, as James Gunn claimed a few years back he’d read three-fourths of all the Nova comics published up to that point. However, during an interview with Comicbook.com to plug The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (which Disney+ subscribers will be able to watch starting November 25), Gunn explained that it was important to him that Guardians of the Galaxy only feature one human protagonist, and Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, a.k.a. Peter Quill, already filled that role. Gunn explained:

Yeah, I never had Richard Rider in anything. He's just too big of a character and he seemed too... I didn't want to... From the beginning, when I came on board Guardians, I didn't want to have two human beings. I wanted to have one human being so that he could be surrounded in this world of aliens. And then we realized little by little, that all of these characters are the only of their kind, they're the only human being to them, you know?

James Gunn also mentioned that as the Guardians of the Galaxy’s story goes on, we see that the main characters are all the only members of their species shown in the movie, i.e. Rocket being the only one of these raccoon creatures, Gamora being the only Zehorbein, etc. So they’re “experiencing a similar enough feeling” as Peter Quill does being the only human in his cosmic stomping grounds. Presumably this is the same reason Nova wasn’t also thrown into Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Gunn is a big fan of Richard Rider, but he decided that the character just wasn’t a good fit for what he wanted to give audiences in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Fortunately for James Gunn and other Nova fans, plans are in motion to showcase Richard Rider in the MCU. In March, it was reported that Marvel Studios tapped Moon Knight writer Sabir Pirzada to pen a Nova project for Disney+, though it still hasn’t been officially clarified if this will be a series, a “Special Presentation” (like The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and Werewolf by Night) or potentially be the MCU’s first feature-length movie exclusive to the streaming platform. Whatever creative direction is taken, since it was implied in Avengers: Infinity War that the Nova Corps was eradicated when Thanos decimated Xandar while retrieving the Power Stone, the MCU’s Richard Rider could easily follow in his comic book counterpart’s footsteps and become the sole Nova Corps torchbearer.

CinemaBlend will pass along more details on the Nova project’s progress as they trickle in, but until then, following The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special’s Disney+ drop next week, Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 3 is slated among the 2023 movie releases for May 5. You’re also welcome to stop by the Mouse House’s streaming platform to watch the Marvel movies in order or take a look at the other upcoming Marvel movies.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.