How Adam Warlock's MCU Story Can Work Without Thanos Or Infinity Stones

To some, the arrival of Thanos’ greatest enemy in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is coming a bit late, but it’s entirely possible that Marvel can do justice to Adam Warlock without actually using the Mad Titan or the Infinity Stones. Since Warlock wasn’t introduced in the timeframe of Avengers: Infinity War or Avengers: Endgame, Thanos didn’t get to have a hand in beating his biggest enemy from the comics. He missed out on the two MCU crossovers, but won’t be overlooked in Guardians 3, which has cast Will Poulter as the Golden Gladiator.

The movie will presumably follow up on the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 tease about “Adam” emerging from his cocoon and fighting the Guardians on behalf of Ayesha and her gold-skinned race called the Sovereign. Depending on how their encounter plays out, Adam could join the team and potentially headline the new roster going forward. Either way, he stands a very good chance at being one of Marvel’s biggest new additions to the MCU, especially when taking into consideration how instrumental he was to so many cosmic story arcs.

Related: How Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 Set Up Vol. 3's Adam Warlock

One issue with Adam Warlock being properly translated to the big screen is the absence of Thanos and the Infinity Stones. The aforementioned stories he was most important to centered on them, as Warlock was often the key to containing the Infinity Stones and thwarting Thanos' genocidal plans. The two have an iconic comic book rivalry, which has many fans concerned that Warlock might not work without his long-time adversary. But while it’s true that Adam is best-known for fighting Thanos and using the Infinity Stones, he doesn’t necessarily need either of them. Here’s how the character can work without them in the MCU.

The Adam Warlock-Thanos feud kicked off in 1977 when the hero saved the world from the Mad Titan, but he had already been around for ten years at that point. So by that time, Warlock had already shared a handful of adventures that didn’t even involve Thanos. Shortly after escaping from his cocoon and battling Thor, he was sought out by the High Evolutionary, who gave the genetically-engineered being a new purpose in life. The scientist gifted him with the Soul Stone and sent him to Counter-Earth, a parallel world created by the High Evolutionary.

The High Evolutionary’s mission for Adam Warlock was to find and defeat the evil Man-Beast, a wolf-like humanoid and a powerful member of Thor’s rogues’ gallery. While hunting the Man-Beast on Counter-Earth, Warlock made friends with a group of youngsters and, over time, he grew protective of the kids and formed a bond with them. Having them in his life taught him much about morality and humanity, and helped provide the character with direction. Since he was recently born, there was so much he didn’t understand about the world until meeting them. Adam also faced a great crisis of conscience when the Soul Stone started draining his opponents of their souls against his will.

Eventually, Adam’s battle with the Man-Beast and his mutated minions came to an end, which resulted in the comics moving on to the introductions of new Marvel characters, such as Pip the Troll and Gamora, who joined him and Thanos in a team-up against the Magus, a character stated to be a future version of Adam who was corrupted by the Soul Stone’s dark influence. Later, it was established that in reality, Magus is a part of Adam that was separated from him by the Soul Stone. It was only after the Magus was erased from existence that Marvel started to position Thanos as Adam’s archenemy.

Related: What Will Poulter's Previous Movies Reveal About GOTG 3's Adam Warlock

The Soul Stone was a driving force behind a number of Adam’s exploits, but doesn’t really fit into Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. However, the MCU shouldn’t totally write out the Soul Stone just because it was destroyed by Thanos. Instead, it should substitute it with something else to keep the essence of his character intact. The role it played in the threats he faced and the inner conflict he was forced to tackle should lend the MCU with plenty of storytelling potential. The comics include hundreds of Marvel artifacts, many of which are available to be reimagined with new abilities for the purpose of serving Adam in battle.

The Soul Stone’s deadly MCU rules are indeed reminiscent of how it worked in Adam Warlock’s comics, but not a direct translation. For this reason, the MCU could have Warlock find a different Marvel Comics gem, and give it the same power. It’s vampiric abilities and tendency to suck the lives out of people can offer something unique to how the MCU utilized the Soul Stone in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

Adam Warlock’s early stories in Marvel Comics prove that he can be interesting with or without the Mad Titan. Just like the other Marvel heroes, his relevance doesn’t hinge on any one villain. With his impressive powers, he could be vital to battles against any major MCU threat, whether it be Loki's recently established Kang the Conqueror or someone else entirely, such as Annihilus or Galactus.

There’s also the matter of his pre-existing rivalries in Marvel Comics. Man-Beast made for a fun opponent for Warlock in the 1970s, and while he’d certainly be a strange villain for the MCU, he may not be too weird for a future James Gunn movie. There’s also the Magus, a villain so powerful that Warlock often needs Thanos’ help to beat him. He could potentially work better as a crossover villain that forces multiple MCU heroes to team up. Because of Warlock’s deep connection to the Magus and the role he played in his creation, he’d be the ideal choice to be a leading figure in such a movie—not unlike the way he was used in the original Infinity Gauntlet comic. If Marvel follows this course in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and beyond, Adam Warlock can still attain the level of significance that he has in the comics with or without the presence of Thanos and the Infinity Stones.

More: Guardians Of The Galaxy 3: Predicting The Fate Of Every Character

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