9:00am PT by Graeme McMillan
'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2': Who Are the New Mystery Characters?
Marvel's next Guardians of the Galaxy has started production, and the studio marked the occasion by officially announcing the names of four actors who'll be joining the cast of Vol. 2 playing roles that, for now, remain under wraps. But with almost half a century of comic book mythology to choose from, are the identities of the new characters ready to be uncovered?
The original Guardians debuted in 1969's Marvel Super-Heroes No. 18, although that group of characters — superheroes who fought to free Earth from a race of alien invaders in the 31st century, with occasional trips back to our times for team-ups with Spider-Man, the Avengers and whoever else was available — were mostly ignored in James Gunn's first Guardians for the more recent incarnation of the team.
The one exception was Yondu, played by Michael Rooker, although the onscreen space pirate owes little beyond his name and blue skin to the original comic book version. Nonetheless, this does mean that the other original Guardians — time-tossed human astronaut Vance Astro, living crystal warrior Martinex, dense super soldier Charlie-27 and the cosmically aware Starhawk — are available for potential appearances in future installments.
More likely, however, are the various other heroes who have spent time defending space from threats alongside Star-Lord, Gamora et al since the comic book reinvention of the team in 2008 (That team debuted in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, No. 1). While the core team as seen in the first movie have remained the core comic book Guardians since their reinvention, a number of other heroes have served with them. While it's expected that Kurt Russell is going to play Star-Lord's father in the new movie, could some of the following characters show up in Vol. 2 to help save the day?
An artificially created being who achieved cosmic awareness after rejecting his creators, Warlock has a long comic book history. He debuted in Fantastic Four, but it was Thanos creator Jim Starlin who made the character a fan favorite in a series of stories that included The Infinity Gauntlet, the 1990s series that serves as the basis for the Infinity Gems storyline threaded through Marvel's movies to date. Could Warlock show up in Guardians Vol. 2? It's not impossible, but given that James Gunn has said that the movie won't really tie in with Avengers: Infinity War, it's more likely that he'll be saved until the latter.
Carol Danvers, who's already pegged to star in her own Marvel movie — originally scheduled for 2018, now pushed out to 2019, but currently being written by Inside Out's Meg LeFauve and Guardians' Nicole Perlman — spent some time with the Guardians in their 2013-2015 comic book series. Some online fans are already speculating that Elizabeth Debicki might be playing Danvers in Vol. 2, but given Gunn's previous comments that the movie won't introduce any more human characters, it seems unlikely. Of course, Danvers is technically only part-human thanks to her superheroic alter ego …
Another unlikely candidate to show up is this Spider-Man villain turned superhero, who remains part of the current comic book Guardians despite having his own space-set series, Venom Spaceknight. While the former military man might fit in well with the cinematic version of the team in terms of attitude, it seems unlikely that Sony would be willing to let Marvel use two of the characters it has rights to in Marvel Cinematic Universe movies …
Phyla-Vell has a curiously complicated history that exemplifies confusing comic book continuity; she is the daughter of Marvel's first Captain Marvel — the alien hero who gave Carol Danvers her powers — and, in fact, a hero who used the Captain Marvel name before Danvers took it on. Her superhuman powers during her comic book stint with the Guardians, however, saw her adopting the identity of a second superhero, Quasar, whose "quantum bands" allowed her to manipulate energy in a variety of ways. Although the comic book version of the character is currently dead, that doesn't mean that she couldn't show up again onscreen when needed …
While the name "Angela" might not sound imposing on its own, the subtitles given to the character in her solo comic book series — Asgard's Assassin and Queen of Hel — should give an idea of just how dangerous she can be. They might also point to a connection with Thor, which is intentional; she's Thor's half-sister, kidnapped as a child and raised by quasi-angels as one of the deadliest women around. Her creative pedigree isn't anything to be sneezed at, either; she was co-created by Sandman and American Gods author Neil Gaiman, and debuted in the Marvel comic book universe as part of the 2014 Age of Ultron crossover event written by Powers co-creator Brian Michael Bendis.
Almost certainly the character to be played by newcomer Pom Klementieff — the key being that she was cast from a notice specifically seeking Asian actresses, with Mantis being the only Asian member of the team in comic book lore — Mantis is another character with a somewhat complicated history. The daughter of a supervillain, she became a prostitute who befriended a second supervillain out for redemption; together, they joined the Avengers (don't ask), where Mantis learned that she was destined to become the Celestial Madonna, who was "the most important being in the universe." In pursuit of this ambition, she leaves Earth to marry an alien and give birth to an important cosmic entity, before eventually becoming involved with Star-Lord, and through him, the Guardians.