Audiences were invited back to the vast cosmos of the MCU in the delightfully heartwarming and festive The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, priming viewers for their big return in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 next summer. According to James Gunn, the third film will bring not only his but also supposedly the team’s time in the MCU to a close. While he’ll be moving on to exciting new endeavors heading up DC Studios, this has fans nervous about their favorite ragtag group of cosmic scoundrels.
The team has grown and evolved greatly over the decade since its debut in Guardians of the Galaxy, introducing new members such as Mantis, Kraglin, and Cosmo the Spacedog. Looking forward, both Adam Warlock and Nova are joining the MCU soon, though perhaps not as members of the Guardians. Overall, while Gunn’s comments about the impending end of the team might mean that some of their missing teammates from the comics will never appear in the MCU, others do still have ways in. Whatever the case, these are the most powerful and coolest Guardians still waiting for their shot in the MCU.
In 2008, the modern Guardians of the Galaxy team came together in the comics, but there’s still one founding member missing from the MCU. Phyla-Vell is a prominent cosmic hero, daughter of Mar-Vell – played by Annette Benning in Captain Marvel – and sister to Genis-Vell. She is a powerful team member capable of absorbing and blasting out energy.
Phyla follows in her father and brother’s footsteps, becoming the fourth Captain Marvel, even before Carol Danvers took up the title. She also briefly becomes Quasar using the Quantum Bands but has since adopted a far more severe figure as Martyr, the avatar for the cosmic entity, Oblivion. Given her familial relationship and history with the team, and specifically Adam Warlock, Phyla could still be introduced in The Marvels or Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 featured some special guest appearances of the original Guardians of the Galaxy roster from the comics as Ravagers honoring Yondu at his funeral. They were made of Starhawk, Aleta Ogord, Charlie-27, and Martinex T’Naga, and further joined by Mainframe and Krugarr. Interestingly, like Phyla-Vell, a founding member of that team was absent – Vance Astro aka Major Victory.
He is an unexpectedly complex character – a powerful psychokinetic mutant astronaut who was lost in space for a millennium and who eventually styles himself off of Captain America. Vance further complicates his life by traveling back in time and interacting with his younger self, motivating him to remain on Earth, thus setting the stage for his development into the hero, Justice of the New Warriors. He isn’t a major character, but he’d be a cool inclusion in the future, whether as Major Victory among the Guardians or Ravagers or Justice.
Unfortunately, one popular member of the modern Guardians of the Galaxy is someone fans shouldn’t expect to see in the MCU at all. Bug was first introduced as a member of the Micronauts, a team of heroes based on the toy line of the same name – his name at that stage was Galactic Warrior. While Marvel will continually release comics with Bug as a member of the Guardians, his cinematic rights still rest with Hasbro, so the MCU isn’t in his future.
Interestingly, the trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania suggests there might be a group of characters similar to the Micronauts in the Quantum Realm. Perhaps some variation of Bug is involved in that conversely. It’s a shame because Bug is a cool and favorable addition to the team that could help merge various stories.
Major Victory isn’t the only character connected to Captain America among the Guardians. There is also Jack Harrison aka Jack Flag. He was an aspiring crime fighter, donning a patriotic visage to honor his hero, Captain America, to face off against the Serpent Society. Jack was exposed to some chemicals created by Mister Hyde – played by Kyle MacLachlan in Agents of SHIELD – and he gained powers similar to Captain America’s.
He does find his way off Earth and joins up with the modern Guardians, helping them defeat Thanos, Blastaar, and the Magus. Since his story would not need to be limited to solely the Guardians, Jack could still have a future in the MCU as an ally to Sam Wilson, joining the fray in Captain America: New World Order.
If there were one major Guardian fans would’ve expected to see in the MCU by now, it’s Moondragon. Heather Douglas has a tragic, yet strange backstory as her parents were murdered by Thanos, and then she was taken to Titan by his father, Mentor. Interestingly, her father’s soul would find a new body – that of Drax the Destroyer – so they have a complex connection that could’ve been interesting to unpack in the MCU.
That’s not to say the bald, telepathic prodigy won’t ever appear. It just might mean that her origins related to Drax will not be incorporated. She’d still be a logical inclusion in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, as her story could develop beyond the team – encompassing her relationship with Phyla-Vell, tenure with both the Defenders and the Avengers, and/or her ability to transform into an actual dragon. Plus, frankly, Moondragon is a badass character who many fans would quickly fall in love with.
It might come to surprise casual fans that Kitty Pryde of the X-Men has also been a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Indeed, she joined the team to take over for her then-fiancé, Peter Quill, even using his moniker of Star-Lord for a time. This all occurred leading up to the second Civil War run, but by the end of it Kitty has decided to remain on Earth as the new leader of the X-Men and cut off her engagement to Peter.
Steadily mutants are going to appear more and more within the MCU, so the days till Kitty Pryde’s appearance must be numbered. She’d be high on the list for the first roster of the X-Men for many fans, but her story will likely never entail her joining the Guardians like in the comics.
Another Guardians member most commonly associated with another team is Marvel Boy. In his case, it’s the Young Avengers. He is one of the few remaining members of the teen superhero team waiting for their introduction in the MCU, although, like Hulkling, Marvel Boy’s time must be coming soon. He could certainly come into play as soon as The Marvels, but he might just be saved for when an actual Young Avengers project occurs – if it does ever.
He is currently on the roster for the Guardians, alongside his new boyfriend, Hercules, who was introduced in Thor: Love and Thunder, being played by Brett Goldstein. It’s interesting to think about if the MCU will develop that relationship, or rather focus on him and Kate Bishop instead – although it would be best to showcase him as a powerful bisexual hero overall.
Nicholette “Nikki” Gold is another member of the original team, a child genetically engineered to live on Mercury. She is best recognized for her flaming hair and acrobatic skills, and despite her presence in the team’s early comics, she hasn’t popped up much since the formation of the new team. Although Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy did incorporate her as a significant character, so there’s hope she can also get some attention in the MCU.
As Sylvester Stallone and Michael Rosenbaum are set to reprise as Stakar Ogord aka Starhawk and Martinex, respectively, in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, perhaps Nikki might be incorporated in a small way. At the least, it would be cool to have some sort of reference to her along the way.
With Thor temporarily joining the Guardians after Avengers: Endgame, many thought Thor: Love and Thunder might end up partly adapting the Asgardians of the Galaxy arc. In the end, the Guardians were sent on their merry way pretty early in the film, but there could still be hope for one major missing Asgardian, Angela. She is Thor’s half-sister who joined the Guardians immediately upon joining Marvel Comics.
Interestingly, Angela was an original creation of Image Comics, but she was sold to Marvel by Neil Gaiman. Given how Hela’s backstory in Thor: Ragnarok of the long-lost sister, Angela’s introduction would entail some redundant story elements. However, if there is a way for her to still make an appearance in live-action, they should pursue it. Like Valkyrie and Sif, Angela is a fierce and powerful warrior, and her story could span beyond Thor or the Guardians.
Just as the Avengers have had the Dark Avengers, so too has the Guardians of the Galaxy been faced with the Dark Guardians. They were created by Starfox – introduced in Eternals, played by Harry Styles – and were composed of Nebula, Cosmic Ghost Rider, Gladiator, and Wraith. It was their goal to stop the return of Thanos from beyond the grave, taking dark and drastic measures to do so. Of those waiting to appear, Kallark aka Gladiator has the best prospects in the MCU.
He is a Strontian and one of the several comps for Superman from Marvel Comics. Importantly, he is connected to the Shi’ar Empire as the leader of their Imperial Guard, who are in turn crucially linked to the X-Men. As the MCU will certainly explore the cosmos even more following the conclusion of the Multiverse Saga and the X-Men will finally feature in the flesh, then Gladiator has great potential to appear.