WARNING – This article will contain spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War. You have been warned.
By the time Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 rolls around, the Guardians may find themselves short-handed. This is because in Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos sacrifices his daughter and Guardians member, Gamora, to receive the Soul Stone. In doing so, he removed a crucial piece of the Guardians’ dynamic that needs replacement.
As a Guardian, Gamora serves two very important roles, among others. First, she is the only truly “serious” character aboard the Milano. Frankly, while each character has their serious moments, the majority of the Guardians are quite goofy. Gamora plays the important role of straight man to the rest of the crew’s antics. Any character looking to replace her ought to be capable of performing this role.
Second, Gamora is one of two female characters in the Guardians. Should she be replaced, it feels somewhat reductive to leave Mantis as the only female voice on the Guardians. Thus, should Gamora remain dead through the forthcoming Avengers 4, there must be a new character in the crew that meets these criteria.
In this article, I’ve picked a few of my favorite choices for this role, collected from comics and some appearing in the MCU. At the end of this article, my final choice is who I consider the best option for this part. If you don’t want to read my other options, go and skip to the end.
Before I go further, though, I’d like to give a shout-out to a few established characters that could work with the Guardians but most likely will not be used. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Quake would fit in well with the Guardians crowd. However, it’s extremely unlikely at this time that a television character will appear in the movies, and even less likely in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3.
Another character, Crystal of the Royal Inhumans, could gel with the Guardians. Thanks to the abject failure of the Inhumans television “show,” though, it is unlikely we will ever see the characters in live action again, even if they completely rebooted the characters. Additionally, any of the female members of the Guardians 3000 appearing in one of the five post-credits scenes of Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 would make suitable additions. Unfortunately, these characters feel more like Easter eggs than characters having any future prospects in the MCU.
A character yet to be established in the MCU showing previous ability to mix with the Guardians is Kitty Pryde. For a time, she filled the role of Star-Lord while Peter Quill managed the planet of Spartax as its king (long story). 20th Century Fox currently owns Kitty, but Disney’s pending purchase of the studio makes the adaptation of many popular X-Men characters, including Kitty, a distinct possibility. However, the deal will likely take a long time to go through, and by the time it does, Guardians 3 may already be scripted, making her an unlikely addition to the cast. That doesn’t mean she definitely won’t be added (who can forget the Spider-Man 3 fiasco), but seeing as Disney and Marvel Studios are much less likely to force studio intervention than Sony, I don’t think this is very likely.
Nebula has proven to be a strong foil to Gamora in the MCU. Whereas Gamora is naturally skilled and perhaps the least morally questionable Guardian (despite being an intergalactic assassin), Nebula is mechanically augmented and plainly evil in Guardians of the Galaxy.
However, by the time Infinity War ends, Nebula’s character has significantly developed. She has become closer to Gamora and only seeks to bring Thanos down. She has a crime-riddled past and a Swiss Army knife for a body, making her an asset for the Guardians as one who could fit right into the merry band of misfits and outlaws.
But, I don’t think Nebula is the most apt candidate for the team. For one, she might be a little too similar to Gamora. An assassin and adoptive daughter of Thanos who turns good and defends the galaxy may feel derivative of Gamora, making audiences yearn for a character that is more familiar. While I realize that Guardians audiences are already familiar with Nebula, they are much more invested in Gamora’s character. No disrespect to the character, but one of Nebula’s defining characteristics is being a second-rate Gamora. Essentially, I think most fans of the franchise wouldn’t want to see a derivative character playing Gamora’s role.
Also, while Gamora has ties to all of the Guardians, Nebula is connected solely to Thanos and Gamora. Assuming Gamora remains dead and Thanos is dealt with following Avengers 4, both these ties will be gone. Further, it is fairly likely that Nebula, too, will kick the bucket following Avengers 4. Even if she survives Avengers 4, I feel that other characters are better suited to fill this role.
Black Widow shares some qualities with Gamora. She is an adept fighter and killer with a spotty past (or, in her words, a lot of red in her ledger). She has also shown the ability to crack jokes and have fun with the Avengers while demonstrating a serious side.
She hasn’t had much breathing room in the films she’s appeared in yet due to the massive personalities consistently crowding her. So, moving her to James Gunn’s direction could develop her alongside her fellow Guardians-to-be. This move would also solidify the connection between the Guardians and the Avengers following Avengers 4. Further, this would put an interesting twist in Black Widow and Hulk’s relationship, as he just returned from his own interplanetary journey.
But, despite appearing in six MCU films, Black Widow’s relative lack of depth works against her. While much of what makes the Guardians work is their well-established backstory contributing to their motivations, Black Widow’s backstory is intentionally vague to provide her with some mystery. She also isn’t a blank slate like a new character and she lacks the rapport the other Guardians have with each other. It would be difficult to finagle an established character into the Guardians dynamic (though if anyone could do that, it would be Gunn).
Due to the nature of these films, it is also likely Scarlett Johansson’s contract will be expiring, potentially making the concept moot. Even if her character does not perish in Avengers 4, which is somewhat likely, it might be hard for Marvel Studios to ensure her return for future contracts. For these reasons, I believe a new character would be the best fit for this role instead.
America is one of Marvel Comics’ hottest properties right now. She’s a feisty interdimensional ass-kicker with cosmic-level powers, so it only makes sense to include her in the MCU at some point. Due to her run on the Young Avengers series, she’s also proven to work in a team setting. She has a larger-than-life personality that would translate well to the big screen. In addition, she comes from a somewhat dark background. Her parents were killed defending her utopian dimension from destruction. Her backstory could be fairly easily tweaked to better adapt to the MCU and the Guardians, but it could work as it stands.
That said, she would almost certainly be given better justice as an independent character, or as a member of a different team. She lacks the rough-around-the-edges feel of the Guardians, and she’s a bit too Lawful Good for the crew. A more rogue-ish character would probably be best. While it’s true the MCU—particularly the Guardians films—does not shy away from heavy character modification (for example, look at Drax, Mantis, and Yondu), I think changing too much of America Chavez’s character will detract from the spirit of the character that made many Marvel Comics fans like her so much in the first place.
A female Nova would create a unique opportunity in Guardians 3. First, the Nova character has been set since the first Guardians of the Galaxy and all but confirmed to be in the works in Infinity War, thanks to the destruction of Xandar at Thanos’ hands. Second, the character would remain grounded in Marvel’s rich pool of characters while allowing Gunn to completely invent a new character that still feels old.
An explanation of Nova’s comic book origin feels prudent, as the Nova Corps in the MCU have been depicted as an army of wet noodles getting trounced by Ronan and Thanos thus far. In the comics, the Nova Corps derive their energy from the Nova Force. This Force is essentially limitless in power, and provides the comic Novas with their abilities. Were the MCU to adapt this character, it could easily be explained that there were too many members of the Nova Corps, drawing energy away from the (in this case limited) Nova Force, making the Corpsmen weak. Leaving one surviving helmet with unfettered access to the Nova Force could allow for a Nova that is in line with comic book origins and also explain the relative weakness of the MCU Nova Corps.
Though the Nova Corps are essentially the definition of Lawful Good, the Nova character in Marvel tends to be a bit less by-the-rules. This is where this Nova runs into issues. The Nova that many Marvel fans know and love is Richard Rider, a beloved B-list or C-list character many fans might feel upset about over complete deletion. Richard Rider has fought Thanos, Annihilus, and countless other universal threats, endearing him to the fanbase. As a result, while I think a female Nova might be a good choice, I don’t think it would be the best choice. I believe the best choice is…
Quasar, man. Legendary superhero?
Obviously, this choice probably confuses some of you. The most well-known Quasar is Wendell Vaughn, an inescapably male character. While Wendell Vaughn is an alright character (honestly, I find him fairly boring, but that’s neither here nor there), I’m not referring to him. The mantle of Quasar has been held by many, many characters. Most recently, it was held by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Avril Kincaid, though I’m not talking about her, either. I am instead referring to Phyla-Vell.
Marvel history crash course: Quasar is the holder of the Quantum Bands, objects of immense power in the comics. They provide the user the ability to fly through space and manipulate energy. Phyla-Vell is a member of the comic version of Guardians of the Galaxy and is the daughter of Mar-Vell, the original Captain Marvel. She holds the Quantum Bands in the comics, thus making her Quasar.
We will almost certainly be meeting Mar-Vell in the upcoming Captain Marvel film. However, because the subject and titular character of Captain Marvel is in fact Carol Danvers—the current Captain Marvel in the comics—it is likely Mar-Vell will meet his demise, as it is intrinsically linked to Carol Danvers’ origin story. This sets up Phyla-Vell’s origin story. Fortunately, Captain Marvel is set to premiere on March 8th, 2019. Guardians 3 is set to premiere sometime in 2020, giving audiences plenty of time to get acquainted with Mar-Vell.
Since Captain Marvel will be set in the 1990s, Phyla-Vell has plenty of time to grow up into Quasar. The setting provides a further connection between the Avengers and the Guardians, as Captain Marvel will almost certainly join the ranks of the Avengers in Avengers 4. Captain Marvel has also served alongside the Guardians on numerous occasions in the comics, increasing the strength of connection between her and the group. In the comics, Phyla-Vell is also beholden to darker spots of her personality, as she becomes the villainous Martyr for a time. That allows her to fit in with the Guardians while providing a more serious role.
Any inconsistencies with her comic counterpart can be altered, as neither Phyla-Vell nor any Quasar are particularly popular characters. The power of the Quantum Bands can even be toned down to prevent her from appearing too powerful in comparison to the other Guardians.
For these reasons, I believe she is the most suitable candidate for filling Gamora’s shoes. Even if Gamora does not remain dead following the conclusion of Avengers 4, Quasar could fit into the Guardians in some other role because the character is fairly malleable. Unlike Nebula or Black Widow, she allows the writers to do more with her character, being unestablished, and unlike America Chavez or Nova, she has no external expectations associated with her character. This is why, in any circumstance, Quasar is the best option for new blood on the Milano.
Mike is a game and movie reviewer as well as an opinion article writer and overall geek. Hear his thoughts at @stollarbear on Twitter.