Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 epitomizes the current state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in one very big way: it provides no direct connections nor references to any other current MCU story.
Considering most of the live-action members of the cast are done with the franchise after this movie, that’s not an inappropriate way to do it. This movie is the swan song for this iteration of this team of heroes, and so it makes sense they would want to focus on their story over that of the rest of the franchise.
But it’s still pretty frustrating. Just as it has been frustrating to watch most of the rest of the MCU’s shows and movies exist in their own separate bubbles the last couple years. But while the plot of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 doesn’t directly hook into any other ongoing stories right now, it certainly could be setting up some major storylines in the long term–like three or four years from now, or sooner
Warning: This article contains major spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
After teasing Adam Warlock in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, he finally arrived on the scene in Vol. 3. And, quite frankly, it’s hard to figure what purpose he might have, if any, in the MCU’s big picture. We expected he would factor into the Infinity Saga in some way, since in the comics it was the Soul Stone that truly made him a person. But Vision kinda took his place in that arc–Vision’s origin in the MCU is much closer to Warlock’s origin in the comics than Warlock’s own MCU origin is, but swapping in the Mind Stone in place of Warlock’s traditional Soul Gem.
What this means is that, absent his purpose from the comics, we have absolutely no idea what purpose Adam Warlock will be serving in the MCU after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. He was not a serious character in the least in this movie, serving almost entirely as a comic foil. So while he was a cosmicly important character in the comics, he’s pretty much just another super guy from space here.
So while he’s the most obvious choice for “character who’s going to matter” in this movie, the reality is that with the way Adam Warlock is developed in this movie, he probably won’t be important any time soon. Someday, he almost certainly will be. But not now.
If we’re leaving out Adam Warlock, the character in Guardians 3 who’s most likely to matter in other parts of the MCU in the near future is the High Evolutionary. Yes, I’m talking about the villain of the movie who is quite dead now.
The High Evolutionary is a majorly powerful character in the comics, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 makes a few mentions of his impact beyond what we see. He created those gold people, the Sovreign, for example, and Gamora makes a comment about some “corners of the universe” where they worship the High Evolutionary as a god.
In the comics, however, the High Evolutionary had nothing to do with Rocket’s creation. He likely was chosen for the movie version of Rocket’s origin for thematic reasons–so they could have a villain who’s worth seeking revenge against. But the High Evolutionary is one of those immensely powerful Marvel characters who’s got a pretty weird niche (instant, forced evolution) that would be hard to build a big arc around.
However, the High Evolutionary did play a part in a comic book multiverse arc that could have some relevance to the MCU’s Multiverse Saga. Dubbed the Eternity War, this story arc was one of those epic, cosmic ones that involve all-powerful fundamental beings, like Eternity from Thor: Love and Thunder. And in the comics it took place right after the Secret Wars storyline that the MCU is heading towards–Avengers: Secret Wars is currently on the schedule for 2026.
In the comics, Secret Wars was the culmination of a big multiverse storyline just like it will be in the movies, and it destroyed the old multiverse and created a new one. Afterwards, the embodiment of the first version of the universe attacked and captured the embodiment of the new, eighth universe. It’s some cosmic madness, like I said.
Now, one of the parallel Marvel universes, known as Earth-1610 or the Ultimates universe, is the home of an evil version of Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic. Known as The Maker, the reformation of a new multiverse gave this dimension-hopping genius the ability to exist in every universe at once. As part of this cosmic war he wanted to collapse the multiverse back into a single timeline. And apparently the High Evolutionary’s fast-evolution technology made it possible to do so, though The Maker had advanced the tech beyond the High Evolutionary’s understanding in the process.
There’s almost no chance the Eternity War will be adaptated in the MCU, because it’s just too weird and abstract–though I would have said the same thing about the comics version of Infinity War, which is nothing at all like the movie version, so anything is possible. And at the same time, after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, we’ve basically got Chekov’s multiverse-collapsing evolution gun on the table. So while the High Evolutionary himself may be extremely dead in this universe, there’s no reason to assume his destroyed ship actually had 100% of all his stuff on it or that his work can’t be reproduced.
We’ve still got Rocket, after all, who is established in this movie as being even smarter than the High Evolutionary is. There’s no one left in the universe who understands this tech anywhere near as well as he does, so it’s certainly possible that he’ll be more important in the future than any of us realizes.
But it’s probably pointless to speculate too much about the MCU’s future right now with Kang actor Jonathan Majors seemingly on the outs with everyone in Hollywood after being arrested for alleged domestic violence earlier this year. We still have absolutely no idea how Marvel is going to handle that situation, but if they choose to move on from Majors without casting someone else to play Kang, an evil Reed Richards could be just the ticket. Since Kang is Reed’s descendent in the comics, “evil Reed Richards” already was kinda the idea with Kang anyway.
That said, this sort of speculation rarely bears any kind of fruit, because the MCU doesn’t actually ever follow any of the comic book storylines–they just take some nugget of inspiration and blaze forward in their own new direction. Like they did with the Infinity War.
Next up on the MCU schedule: Loki season 2, with Jonathan Majors returning as several different Kangs. We’ll see if that sticks.
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