Adam Warlock Explains: Who Is Will Poulter’s MCU Guardians of the Galaxy 3 Character?

Marvel Studios usually keeps things pretty close when it comes to new characters making their debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but not when it comes to Adam Warlock. We’ve known since the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 post-credits scene that the reign of this cosmic messiah is near, and now we know who will play the hero in Guardians 3.

But who is Adam Warlock and why is he such an important addition to the MCU? Read on to find out everything you need to know about this powerful but unstable Marvel hero. Here are the topics we cover:

  • Who is Adam Warlock?
  • Adam Warlock’s origins
  • Powers and Abilities of Adam Warlock
  • Is Adam Warlock a villain?
  • Adam Warlock in TV and Games

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Who is Adam Warlock?

Adam Warlock is one of the main players in Marvel’s cosmic landscape. His innate, energy-based powers already make him a force to be reckoned with. But when he wields the incredible power of the Soul Stone, Warlock becomes one of the mightiest warriors in the universe. Warlock is a frequent ally of teams like the Fantastic Four and the Guardians of the Galaxy, who often struggle to protect the universe from villains trying to dominate it.

However, Warlock is both one of the greatest threats to the Marvel Universe and one of its most valiant defenders. That’s because he has a darker side known as the Magus. While Warlock did his best to quell or destroy this darker side, the universe is never entirely safe from this tyrannical villain as long as Warlock himself survives.

Who will play Adam Warlock in the MCU?

Will Poulter will be Adam Warlock in Guardians Vol. 3. British actor best known for his role as Eustace Scrubb in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Maze Runner and Maze Runner: The Death Cure, The Revenant, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and the horror film Midsommar, where things didn’t do well at all for his character.

Warlock is both one of the Marvel Universe’s greatest threats and one of its most valiant defenders.

Adam Warlock’s origins

Like many cosmic Marvel characters, Adam Warlock was originally created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the pages of Fantastic Four (specifically in issues #66-67 in 1967). At the time, however, he was known simply as “He,” and it wasn’t until later, when writers like Roy Thomas and Jim Starlin got their hands on the character, that Warlock’s backstory and ongoing role in Marvel U. was really fleshed out. In these early stories, Warlock was treated as a messianic savior, with Thomas drawing heavily on the musical Jesus Christ Superstar for inspiration.

Starlin in particular played a huge role in shaping the character. It was he who linked the character to the Soul Gem and established the ongoing rivalry between Warlock and the fanatical Church of Universal Truth, led by Warlock’s insane future self, Magus. Starlin even killed the character when Warlock traveled forward in time and drained his own soul to prevent him from ever becoming Magus. Warlock eventually returned and several different incarnations of Magus followed.

The Warlock/Magus dichotomy. Art by Jim Starlin. (Image credit: Marvel)

The Warlock/Magus dichotomy. Art by Jim Starlin. (Image credit: Marvel)

The Infinity Gauntlet storyline was arguably Warlock’s most important act in the Marvel Universe, as he helped Earth’s heroes overthrow the almighty Thanos and claimed the Infinity Gauntlet for himself. That paved the way for a new series called Infinity Watch, in which Warlock and his allies (Pip the Troll, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Moondragon, and Thanos himself) guarded the Infinity Gems to prevent another villain from using the Gauntlet again assembles.

Warlock rose to the top of the Marvel Universe again during the 2007 crossover Annihilation: Conquest. He returned to help herd a new incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy (the one who would go on to inspire the films) and prevent further damage to the already fragile fabric of the Marvel Universe. Most recently, Warlock has appeared in several Thanos-centric graphic novels written and drawn by Starlin.

Powers and Abilities of Adam Warlock

Warlock was genetically engineered by a group of scientists called the Enclave who wanted to create a genetically perfect, synthetic human. Warlock has your standard superhero abilities of strength, speed, durability, and flying, as well as the ability to absorb and channel cosmic energy via “quantum magic”. Warlock also has the ability to retreat into a regenerative cocoon and heal his body of mortal wounds.

However, much of his power derives from the Soul Gem. One of the six gems that make up the Infinity Gauntlet, the Soul Gem allows Warlock to absorb the souls of other beings. It is this Soul Gem that caused a future incarnation of Warlock to go insane and transform into Magus.

Warlock also briefly wielded all six Infinity Gems following the 1991 Infinity Gauntlet storyline, making him one of the most powerful beings alive.

Art by Ron Lim. (Image credit: Marvel)

Art by Ron Lim. (Image credit: Marvel)

Is Adam Warlock a villain?

That’s a tricky question! Let’s just say he has a lot in the comics where he works these days for the protection and betterment of the universe, but also as mentioned above he has a second version of himself from the future called the Magus who… yes, a villain. Like a total villain. We’ll see if we can get both versions of the character in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

Adam Warlock in TV and Games

Adam Warlock has made a number of small cameo appearances in various Marvel animation and video game projects. One of his first multimedia appearances was Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems, which loosely adapts the story of Infinity Gauntlet and features both Warlock and Magus. Warlock has also appeared in animated series such as Silver Surfer, The Super Hero Squad Show, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and the direct-to-DVD animated film Planet Hulk.

As the Guardians of the Galaxy have become a more prominent figure in Marvel’s various multimedia projects, so has Adam Warlock. He recently appeared in the second season of the Guardians of the Galaxy cartoon (voiced by Eric Bauza as an adult and by Tara Strong as a child). He is also a playable character in the mobile game Avengers Alliance. But by far his biggest role to date was in 2021’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the finale of which adapts some of Adam Warlock’s key stories from the comics.

Adam Warlock as he appears in Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

Adam Warlock as he appears in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

Expect much more Warlock on television and in Marvel’s games as the character begins to make his mark on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Warlock made his MCU debut back in 2013’s Thor: The Dark World, as director James Gunn said that the cocoon seen in The Collector’s trophy room actually housed Warlock’s body. Warlock was originally supposed to be in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but Gunn chose to leave him out rather than cram too many characters into one film. Therefore, the film only teases its later appearance.

Instead, Warlock will make his debut in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2023. 3, where he is played by Midsommar and Dopesick star Will Poulter. If the comics are any indication, Adam will likely be the Wardens’ worst nightmare and their most powerful ally rolled into one.

This story originally ran in May 2017. It has been updated with the latest information about Guardians Vol. 1. 3 on July 26, 2022.

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