In building the roster of characters for the film adaptation of Guardians of the Galaxy, original screenwriter Nicole Perlman (currently working on Captain Marvel) had chosen the five characters we now know and love. These five however, were not the original characters from the comics. Perlman, and later with James Gunn's complete rewrite, took inspiration from the more modern (no longer the most modern) Marvel cosmic stories as told by brilliant writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.
Their epic cosmic crossover events Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest brought together Star-Lord with the likes of Drax, Gamora, Rocket, and Groot who we now associated as the headliner heroes of the Guardians of the Galaxy. But in Abnett and Lanning's GOTG run from 2008-2010 the team was much bigger than just five members, and we're only just starting to see that growth on the big screen this summer when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 brings familiar supporting characters Nebula and Yondu into the fold more, but also introduces Mantis.
You may then find it interesting that there was also going to be another...
When we spoke with James Gunn on the set of the first film and later the first film's junket and premiere, he mentioned to us that he loved the character known as Bug, but he couldn't be used since his rights are not at Marvel. At the time though he knew he wanted the sequel to have more female characters on the main team, and he totally delivers on that front for four leading ladies in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Knowing this, we found it extremely interesting that there was only one major change to the story of the sequel from its initial ideas to what was being shot when we visited the Atlanta Set of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in April 2016: One major character was cut from the treatment:
James Gunn: I'll say one major thing that happened during the treatment phase, not even during the script phase, during the treatment phase there was another character that was a major character. That was a part of the treatment. Although it kind of worked generally in the story, I got to the place where there were to many characters. I think Civil War handles a lot of characters really well, but they're minor characters, and in this movie every character has their own arc, their own thing. And I thought it was one character too many, so I took one of the characters out of the story about half way through the treatment phase.
Later when we and a group of movie bloggers and journalists sat down with Gunn for half an hour conversation, I asked if this character who was cut was another member of the team, and one that we could see in the future (i.e. Guardians of the Galaxy 3).
James Gunn: Yeah. Yeah for sure, I love the character actually. I loved everything about the character, I just didn't have room for him.
Was it a classic Guardian?
James Gunn: I don't know what you think is a classic Guardian. You mean Yondu, Starhawk classic Guardians? No.
There you have it. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 almost featured another modern Guardians comic character on its team roster. But as Djimon Hounsou's Korath said it best in the first movie, who?
First, Another Fun Theory
While it may seem at the surface that a ton of plot and character details have already been revealed about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, I don't believe that's the case. We don't know the true motivations of Mantis or Ego, or how the conflict within the Ravager factions will play out. We don't know the backstories of Rocket, Gamora, Nebula or Yondu, and we also don't know about the other mystery character played by Sylvester Stallone.
On the last bit, James Gunn previously said that Stallone's role is a "very, very key, important role" so count this next bit as rampant speculation but it's possible he's a form of "Elder" (like Benicio del Toro's The Collector and Jeff Goldblum's The Grandmaster) or better yet - and I'd argue, more appropriately - what if Stallone is playing an adaptation of one of the original Guardians from the comics? We already have Yondu from that original team and it would certainly offer several explanations for who Sharon Stone is playing, a self-described "hero" who has heat-related superpower. That fits the descriptions of Starhawk (who can be any gender depending on the universe) and Nikki. Google them if you're curious since that's a conversation for another day. We know the character James Gunn isn't related to the original team.
Okay, So Who Was The Other Guardian?
We know from Gunn's words that this cut character isn't one of those 3000-era Guardians so who could it be? As we explained earlier, it's probably not Bug due to rights issues (he's part of the Micronauts being published by IDW for Hasbro who are developing a movie on the license). And there are enough greenish skinned characters at the moment.
It's not Captain Marvel or Nova, definitely not Venom or The Thing from the most recent comics, and there's no way Gunn was getting into the complex lore of Angela (a character moved over to Marvel from Spawn). It's also not another "Earthling" given Gunn's words about wanted to keep Vol. 2 having only Quill as the connection to Earth (so no Jack Flag or Iron Man). It's definitely not Kitty Pryde given that she's an X-Men character at Fox so that leaves a few of the characters from the Abnett and Lanning days:
- Phyla-Vell (could have been connected to Captain Marvel)
- Moondragon (the not-actually-dead daughter of Drax who in the MCU would be an alien like him)
- Cosmo (the Russian dog who made a cameo in the first movie)
- Adam Warlock (the nemesis of Thanos)
Cosmo aside - he was more of a handler than an full-fledged member anyway - it's easy to see how the other three could have been used to flesh out some lore and relationships but for the most part, they aren't necessary right now - as Gunn says - for the story of Vol. 2. A reveal that Drax has a super powerful daughter would play nicely in a future movie, and the same could be said for fleshing out the lineage of Captain Marvel after she is introduced in Avengers: Infinity War and her own solo movie later. The best bet might have been Adam Warlock, especially given that his species is featured in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
The gold-skinned Ayesha, high priestess and leader of the Sovereign people, is a major antagonist in the sequel and her species genetically engineer and grow themselves in pods to embrace perfection. This is a very obvious starting point for an introduction to Adam Warlock but with Infinity War already in production for release in summer 2018, perhaps Marvel Studios is entirely skipping that character.
Then again, James Gunn did say he could use this unknown cut character in another future movie...
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Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is written and directed by James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as Baby Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Tommy Flanagan, Laura Haddock, with Sylvester Stallone, and Kurt Russell. Kevin Feige is producing, and Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Jonathan Schwartz, Nikolas Korda and Stan Lee are the executive producers.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) release date: May 05, 2017