Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 is only one month away, but there’s still so little we know for sure about it. While we can easily speculate the fates of our beloved Guardians, the biggest mysteries of the film come with the new characters. The High Evolutionary, Adam Warlock, Lylla the Otter, and even the Gamora variant from Avengers: Endgame are all going to be wildcards in the somber conclusion to James Gunn’s trilogy. In today’s big theory, I want to focus on the relationship between the High Evolutionary and Adam Warlock, by way of the Sovereign.
If you want to get an idea of other potential storylines for the film, check out our Guardians of the Galaxy comics reading guides!
Adam Warlock and the High Evolutionary in the comics
In the comics, Adam Warlock is mainly known for his deep connection to the Soul Stone and his endless battles with Thanos. Most fans of Marvel’s cosmic comics would admit that it’s odd the MCU is introducing Adam after the Infinity Saga has already ended. However, if you dig into the history of the character, Roy Thomas’ first Adam Warlock story actually reveals some interesting details that could easily tie Adam into the events of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The secret lies in Adam Warlock’s connection to the High Evolutionary.
Both Adam Warlock and the High Evolutionary were pre-existing characters before Roy Thomas’ Marvel Premiere #1 in 1972. But they were radically different and wholly unconnected. Adam was originally created by a group called the “Enclave”. The Enclave were a team of highly accomplished bioengineers who were determined to design the perfect man. Their efforts resulted in an early version of Adam, who was known only by the name “Him.” Unfortunately, Him revolted against his creators and escaped from Earth, ending his original story.
Meanwhile, the High Evolutionary began as a normal man on Earth named Professor Herbert Edgar Wyndham. Similar to the Enclave, Wyndham was an expert in genetics and interested in the pursuit of a society of perfect human beings. But these early comics ended with the High Evolutionary exiled into space, due to his dangerous human experiments on Earth and his violent disregard for human life. At this point, both stories had come to an end, with both Him and the High Evolutionary seemingly out of Marvel’s orbit forever.
This is where the brilliance of Roy Thomas came in. Instead of creating his own characters, Thomas reached into the most obscure pockets of Marvel history and brought these two entirely unrelated characters together to tell an original story that made total sense in retrospect. The mad scientist in search of the perfect society, and the perfect man in search of a new community, both coincidentally lost in space.
In Thomas’ Marvel Premiere #1, the High Evolutionary discovers Him floating in space and recognizes his shocking, golden perfection. The Evolutionary takes him in like a child and gives him the name “Adam,” with the aim to build a new society of perfect specimens around him. In this one bold issue, Thomas crafted an entirely new origin story for these two strange characters and helped set the stage for several decades worth of cosmic Marvel adventures.
Yet as Adam grew up and began to understand his fuller potential in the universe, the two characters developed a messy relationship. Eventually, Adam fled and the High Evolutionary was left to sulk in his failures, never achieving the true perfection he so desired.
The Sovereign connects Adam Warlock and the High Evolutionary in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
In the films, there is a new opportunity to streamline both characters’ complicated comics backstories. For example, we’ve already seen that Adam wasn’t created by the Enclave. Instead, he was created by the Sovereign High Priestess Ayesha at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Ayesha does this in pursuit of “the next step in [their] evolution,” calling Adam “More powerful, more beautiful, more capable of destroying the Guardians of the Galaxy.”
In the comics, Ayesha was created by the same Enclave that created Adam. But here, her language falls exactly in line with the High Evolutionary’s M.O. In fact, it sounds so much like the High Evolutionary that it got me thinking: What if the High Evolutionary had actually created Ayesha and the Sovereign in the MCU? What if he had finally succeeded in creating a species so advanced that they could create the perfect being he never could?
This would directly connect Adam Warlock to the High Evolutionary in Vol. 3, without losing the original meaning of the Enclave origin from the comics. It would also immediately simplify both characters’ backstories and establish the MCU’s High Evolutionary as a serious, competent threat, rather than the strange failure of a scientist he is in the comics.
The movie could even begin with Adam as a “child” being raised by his “grandfather” the High Evolutionary. The events of the film could instigate Adam’s maturity and his eventual escape from the Evolutionary, perhaps with the help of the Guardians. In this way, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 would serve as Adam’s origin story, and a loose adaptation of Roy Thomas’ Counter-Earth saga, setting up Adam Warlock for future adventures in the MCU.
The consequences of the High Evolutionary creating the Sovereign
The Sovereign being created by the High Evolutionary might not seem like a big deal because the Sovereign are original to the MCU anyway. But if you think about the consequences of what this could mean, the significance of this quickly becomes clear.
If the Sovereign were created by the High Evolutionary, they must have come from a very different set of experiments than the ones that created half-animal characters like Rocket Raccoon. Given their more “perfect” golden appearances and much younger personalities, it seems like Ayesha and the Sovereign may be the High Evolutionary’s more recent test results. This would also imply that Rocket Raccoon and the Counter-Earth creatures are the High Evolutionary’s much older and “imperfect” failures.
The dichotomy between Counter-Earth and the Sovereign could be a central point of the film. The most basic story point might be a war between the two groups, but there’s potential for something much deeper. As we’ve seen across the films so far, Rocket’s imperfections allow him to feel incredibly “human,” with a sense of genuine emotional intelligence. This is a stark contrast to the golden “perfection” of the Sovereign, who are superficial, cold, and vapid.
Connecting to Gunn’s regular exploration of found family, Rocket and Adam could be thought of as cousins who represent two different eras of the Evolutionary’s creations. The Rocket/Adam dynamic could possibly mirror other sibling relationships in the Guardians films, like Mantis and Star-Lord, or Nebula and Gamora. If he’s feeling sympathetic by the end of the movie, Rocket might even use this connection to help Adam reclaim his independence, launching Adam’s larger arc in the MCU.
Adam Warlock after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
In another timeline, the High Evolutionary could have been a major multi-phase villain of the MCU, leading to a giant Avengers: Evolutionary War film in a few years. Alas, this is not that timeline. Based on his seemingly focused role as Rocket’s creator in this final Guardians of the Galaxy film, I don’t think there’s much real estate for him to continue in the MCU. If the Evolutionary lives past this movie, I would be surprised if he showed up for anything more than occasional small appearances as a minor supporting character. I think the Sovereign also have a limited future in the MCU.
However, Adam Warlock is another story. As shown in the Adam Warlock reading guide, Warlock is a major player in the Marvel Cosmic universe, particularly in stories involving Thanos and the Infinity Stones. It would seem like our 616 film universe missed the opportunity for a Warlock/Thanos dynamic, but what if we were to meet other Warlocks and Thanoses from the multiverse? Seeing Adam Warlock and Thanos on screen together at some point in the future certainly wouldn’t be impossible in the current saga of the MCU.
Furthermore, one of the most notable connections we can draw from the comics is the Infinity Watch. Featuring Adam Warlock, a Gamora variant, Drax the Destroyer, and Pip the Troll, the Infinity Watch includes several characters we already know from the MCU. The team was originally assembled to keep the Infinity Stones from Thanos, but with the multiverse and Marvel’s penchant for adapting stories in unpredictable ways, the potential of the team remains rich for an on-screen adaptation. Some version of the Infinity Watch could even be our new main cosmic team in the MCU as we head into projects like Nova and maybe even Silver Surfer.
But what do you think? Does it make sense for the Sovereign to be created by the High Evolutionary? Is this how you imagined Adam Warlock to debut in the MCU? Let me know on Twitter @vinwriteswords, and remember to follow the site @MyCosmicCircus for more Guardians of the Galaxy prep coming soon!