Guardians of the Galaxy and the Future of the MCU

I think one of the best aspects of the Guardians of the Galaxy films is their accessibility. You do not need to have seen every Marvel film ever to watch the movie and enjoy it. You do not need to be entrenched in the Marvel comics either.

However, I think that in that same breath, a lot of people gloss over the implications of the Guardians in the larger story being told by the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and with that, I’m going to lay out a few of my thoughts on how this series, and specifically Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, was pointing towards what’s to come in the MCU.

Nebula

Perhaps the least likely addition to the Guardians, Nebula proves her worth as both the straight man of the team and also as a competent neither-your-enemy-nor-friend. In the Infinity Gauntlet series (1991), Nebula features heavily on the evil side. When Thanos makes her an undying but hideous corpse of her former self, she, in turn, eventually takes the Gauntlet from him and remakes herself. The team of heroes (including Drax and Adam Warlock, from the mid-credit scene) are then forced to fight Nebula. Ultimately they trick her into undoing all of the damage inflicted on the universe by Thanos.

Now how will this play into the upcoming MCU? Nebula makes her intentions crystal clear at the end of Vol. 2. She is intent upon finding Thanos and making him pay for the damage he did to her body and the pain he caused her, a bit like her motivations in the Infinity Gauntlet storyline. I’m thinking that she will be one of the first characters to confront him in the Infinity War film, potentially serving as the catalyst for the entire thing. At the very least, she will likely be what draws the Guardians into the fight as the team has somewhat accepted her as one of their own. 

Celestials and Star Lord

The Celestials are a somewhat complex group to explain. They are one of the most powerful races in the universe, having existed since, perhaps, the beginning of time. As far as Earth is concerned, they meddled with early humans creating the latent Mutant genes. Of course, that will not feature in the MCU as Marvel Studios, unfortunately, has not regained the rights to the X-Men or Mutants from Fox.

They also conducted similar genetic experiments on the Skrull (who regularly come in to conflict with the Kree, who have featured heavily in the MCU). For Guardian specific connections from both the comics and the films, Knowhere is the remains of a Celestial. In the films, Knowhere is also where the Collector has his headquarters. 

Now for Star Lord’s parentage, we find out in GotG Vol. 2 that Ego (the living planet in the comics) is his father and is a Celestial (which is a change from the comics, where Ego is simply a living planet, and Star Lord’s father is a humanoid who rules an empire). What makes this potentially interesting is the implications for the future of the universe.

Ego says to Peter that they have the ability to “remake the universe.” Now Ego is thinking specifically of taking over the universe, making the universe one giant Ego, but the possibility is there that Peter will have to use his abilities as a Celestial to remake what Thanos has destroyed. Perhaps with a little practice and a lot of heart, he could wield the Infinity Gauntlet.

Now, I know that Ego clearly said that if he was destroyed, the light would be destroyed and Peter would lose his abilities, but I feel like this is too great of a possibility, Star Lord having residual power, for it to have simply disappeared. Why make his lineage something that is so entrenched and significant in the Marvel universe to simply end that storyline in a single movie. I guarantee his heritage will come up again. 

Adam Warlock

In the comic universe, Adam Warlock is an artificially created human, who possesses incredible strength and abilities partly influenced by his possession of the Soul Gem (in the films called stones). In the Infinity Gauntlet, Adam Warlock faces Thanos and is ultimately tasked with separating and protecting the infinity gems after the end of the conflict. 

In the films, the first Warlock easter egg seemed to appear in the Collector’s facility in Guardians of the Galaxy where a Warlock-esque cocoon was being kept. However, given the end credit scene in GotG Vol. 2, this was changed, with him appearing, instead, within a pod created by Ayesha of the Sovereign. This also likely means that he will not possess the Soul Stone as Feige has claimed that the character will not appear in Infinity War.

The soul gem is more likely to appear in Thor: Ragnarok (perhaps how Hella can destroy Mlojnir and Asgard), but perhaps transfer to Warlock in the proceeding films. Since Warlock is so significant to the original comic storylines of the Infinity War and Gauntlet, it seems likely that his connection to the next films will be made clear. 

The Watchers… and Stan Lee

This is perhaps the most delightful of the easter eggs. While it likely does not mean much in the way of the larger MCU, it is a wonderful nod to the two major theories about Stan Lee’s cameos in Marvel films. The first posits that Lee is in fact a Watcher, appearing throughout the films (and across film studios) as he oversees the universe. However, his direct actions in the films would suggest that this is not the case. The second theory lays out an intricate timeline by which an actual human would be able to live through all of the events of the cameos.

In GotG Vol. 2, we see Lee talking to the Watchers, who silently stand by, and he seems to be in the middle of a lengthy story about his life including the “time [he] worked as a Fedex delivery guy.” It would seem that James Gunn has confirmed that Lee is in fact the same character throughout the film franchises and is simply the most unlucky fellow alive. (The man just can’t catch a break!) Hanging out with the Watchers doesn’t seem too bad though.

It is quite possible that there is more to be gleaned from this film (James Gunn is a king at easter eggs), but this is what we came up with. Any thoughts? Let us know!