Earlier this week Guardians of the Galaxy writer and director James Gunn took to his Facebook page to share some thoughts on the current trend of studios rushing into shared cinematic universes – something that Marvel Studios helped set the precedent for, beginning with Iron Man in 2008. That shared universe is the reason Guardians of the Galaxy was able to go from obscure comic to record-breaking, franchise-launching film.
In the comments of that Facebook post, Gunn chatted with the community, answering several fan questions and offering tidbits that may prove more interesting than the initial post. For fans of the hero known as Nova, Gunn’s words should erase any expectations of seeing him anytime soon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
That’s not to be confused with the Nova Corps., the Xandarian space police force introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy, led by Nova Prime Rael (Glenn Close) and Denarian Rhomann Dey (John C. Reilly). We’re referring to the Earth man Richard Rider who in the comics was deputized by Rhomann Dey and became a member of the Nova Corps., using his new superpowers to become a hero on Earth, later helping out the Guardians of the Galaxy on several cosmic adventures and becoming the founder of a new Nova Corps. (more on that below).
In the current Marvel NOW! set of comics, there’s another new version of Nova, a young teenager named Sam Alexander, but neither he or Rider are going to be used by James Gunn in Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
“I don’t want Nova right now because I think Quill being the only earthling is important. That serves the entire movie going audience and not just the handful of Nova fans. Sorry if that upsets you.”
Later, he followed up, “…And I have nothing against Nova in future movies, but it doesn’t serve the movie right this moment.”
As a Nova fan, it’s hard to argue this, even if we’d love to see a Nova film in Phase 3. Not only does the depiction of the Nova Corps. in Guardians of the Galaxy (the movie) not allow for or setup elite, super-powered Nova officers who can fly on their own and blast energy from their arms, but the time for Nova Centurions could be many years down the road. Remember, the Nova Corps. are pilots and police officers protecting Xandar. All they had to defend their planet against Ronan the Accuser and his weaponless brick of a ship were those little starfighters shown in the film’s final battle. In fact, the phrase “Nova Centurion” (the highest rank behind the organization’s leader, Nova Prime) isn’t even mentioned in the film. Perhaps the attack on Xandar and whatever happens next when Thanos acquires the Infinity Stone held in Nova’s vault could pave the way for the Nova Corps. evolving or acquiring the powers we see them have in the comics.
That’s something Marvel could save for further down the line, after The Avengers: Infinity War saga plays out. Remember, we’re just at the beginning of the cosmic universe and James Gunn himself, expressed his desire to see the Guardians of the Galaxy help launch other cosmic spinoffs. Maybe Nova can be part of “Phase 4” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or beyond.
Readers of the Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning run, arguably the best cosmic stories ever from Marvel, can easily picture an older Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) mentoring Richard Rider, calling him “kid.” That’s what happens in the books. And then by Phase 6 they can do something like introduce Sam Alexander for new Nova comics readers. The franchise isn’t going to stop.
Similarly, Gunn previously explained that Captain Marvel (the Carol Danvers version) – who has her own movie in development at Marvel Studios for release in 2018 – will also not appear in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Needless to say, if you’re wondering what happens after Phase 3, there’s a lot for the studio to draw from. Just look at how many characters are just getting their first introductions over the next four years of movies. And be sure to check out our list of some important names yet to be introduced in Guardians.
A few other interesting tidbits came from James Gunn’s comments (hat tip CBM) including the revelation that Marvel cannot use the villain Annihilus – a very important character who was essential in helping bring the modern versions of the Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova together. It was Annihilus who began his invasion of the cosmos by eradicating the Nova Corps, leaving Richard Rider as its sole survivor. For more on that, I highly recommend reading the Marvel Comics crossover events Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest – the events leading to 2008’s GOTG relaunch.
Gunn also mentions his love of the character(s) Starhawk, another original Guardian member like Yondu, and explains that the movie origins of Groot and Rocket may be quite different than their Marvel Comics origins. He also hints that there are other characters and alien races from the books that are potentially being avoided in the movies not because another studio owns the rights, but because there are complexities in multiple studios each owning partial rights to them. An example of that is how Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch can be used by both Fox and Marvel Studios but with restrictions to each studios’ versions.
All of this adds up to future Guardians of the Galaxy stories potentially deviating even further from the comics. We could see original Guardians (who in the comics are from the future) as present day members (i.e. Michael Rooker’s Yondu), entirely different origin stories (Drax, Groot, Rocket, etc.), different characters in different roles (Peter Quill’s father) and different aliens (we saw the Sakaaran used instead of the Badoon in GOTG and the Chitauri used instead of Skrulls in The Avengers). It really may be up to the creators and writer/directors like Gunn:
“I wish the MCU was that planned out (or do I?) But it simply isn’t. The ONLY thing in GotG that was connected to the rest of the Marvel Universe is the existence of Thanos and the existence of an infinity stone. Everything else – how Thanos was connected, who he was connected to, what were the properties of the infinity stone, etc, etc, were all basically made up by me. It’s much much looser than people think it is. And it certainly wasn’t planned out when they did Iron Man. They just thought about making a good Iron Man movie – which is exactly my point.”
Are you okay with the Guardians of the Galaxy movies telling their own original stories, inspired by Marvel Comics, rather than based on them? Or do you simply wish Marvel Studios owned the rights to all their cosmic comics properties?
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1, 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6, 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4, 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5, 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on July 28, 2017, Black Panther on November 3, 2017, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 on May 4, 2018, Captain Marvel on July 6, 2018, Inhumans on November 2, 2018 and Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 on May 3, 2019.
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