The Origin of Nova Needs The Death of The Corps
It might seem like a strange choice to introduce an entire Nova Corps-- make that a Nova Empire in one movie just to wipe them out completely in their next film appearance. If Thanos shows up with the Power Stone, then they would be wiped out off-screen, no less. But as hard a sell as that might seem... that's exactly how they were introduced into the Marvel Universe the first time around. And if we're being honest, the Nova Corps being almost completely extinguished is kind of their 'thing.
The story of how a single hero came to be The Man Called Nova is known to Marvel fans, but will also sound familiar to Green Lantern fans of the 1990s, too (similarities between the Nova Corps and DC's intergalactic, peacekeeping force are taken for granted by now). And even in broad strokes, the origin of Nova in the comics fits the Infinity War setup.
When Xandar, home of the Nova Corps is destroyed by a villain claiming to be a child of Thanos, one Nova soldier escapes to Earth. The soldier is Rhomann Dey (played by John C. Reilly in Guardians), who finds a high school student who will have to suffice as his predecessor. The student is a young man named Richard Rider: the last survivor of the Nova Corps.
It's an archetypal origin story, reflecting both that of Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner (published before and after Nova). Entrusted with the uniform of a Nova Centurion and access to 'The Nova Force' wielded by every Corpsman, Richard presented as Peter Parker blessed with cosmic powers he didn't understand. Which makes the adaptation of this story simple enough, after Infinity War claims the destruction of Xandar and the Corps.
But the origin isn't the story that earned Richard Rider his place in the history of Marvel's Cosmic mythology. That came later - and may actually be the version of the hero Thanos helps to create in Infinity War - and who could debut in Guardians 3.
Nova May Be The Only Corpsman To Survive Thanos
The 'Nova Force' mentioned earlier is more pivotal than it may sound to the story of Richard Rider. Put simply, it's the limitless, cosmic "power" that the early Xandarians were able to harness as the fuel of their Nova Corps. The Nova Force has never been defined more clearly in Marvel canon, but the 2005 Annihilation story used it to make Richard Rider the modern, movie-ready hero many view him as today. And once again, it all started with the destruction of the planet Xandar, and the extinction of the Nova Corps.
The comic event saw Richard answer a distress call to all Nova Corpsmen, ordering them to defend Xandar from an unstoppable cosmic army. This 'Annihilation Wave' burned the planet and every Corpsman assembled... all except Richard Rider. As the last surviving member of the Nova Corps, Richard was exposed to the truth of their power: the Nova Force was as mysterious as ever, but the access granted to each Corpsman was closely controlled by a sentient intelligence known as the Xandarian 'Worldmind.'
By this point, an intelligent planet has already been introduced into the MCU, making the Worldmind less of a stretch. By monitoring the Nova Force and collecting all Xandarian history, knowledge, and culture. the Worldmind effectively was Xandar. And with the planet and its Corps dying, it needed a host to protect it. Richard understood, and accepted the entirety of the Worldmind - and the Nova Force - into his body.
The last survivor of the Nova Corps, the last Nova, and a superhero powerful enough to take on the galaxy's worst threats was born. With Infinity War possibly taking place after Thanos wiped out Xandar to gain the Power Stone... Marvel's next movie hero could be floating in the planet's ashes, preparing to absorb the Nova Force as we speak.
The only question is: should Marvel Studios make it happen?
Nova Header Artwork by UncannyKnack on DeviantArt.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 release date:
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019