The MCU often reinvents Marvel Comics’ main characters. Hawkeye was a very different character from his comics counterpart, and they removed Scarlet Witch’s mutant past completely. Similarly, Adam Warlock, who finally made his movie debut in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3, is very different from what Marvel Comics fans remember. Or was he? Actually, James Gunn reinvented him by going back to his earliest comic origins. And when we say he “reinvented him,” we literally mean “Him.” As “Him” was Adam Warlock’s original name.
Most Marvel Comics readers know Adam Warlock as the powerful being who owns the Soul Gem, and who often went toe-to-toe with Thanos. Not only did he have the standard super strength, invulnerability, flight, and energy projection powers, but he also had “Quantum Magic.” He was a central figure in the Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War ’90s crossover events, and spun out of those with his own title, Warlock and the Infinity Watch. So the version we saw in Guardians was a far cry from the ones modern comics readers knew. How was Will Poulter’s overgrown golden baby anything like his comic inspiration? Actually, he was. Just not a version most modern readers were familiar with.
Before Adam Warlock, There Was Marvel Comics “Him”
Adam Warlock wasn’t always called Adam Warlock. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created him as the antagonist in Fantastic Four #67 in 1967. A cult of nefarious scientists called the Enclave used all their scientific skills to create the perfect artificial being. Out of their cocoon chamber emerged a male-presenting being of perfect proportions with golden skin and hair. By nature, he had telepathy, incredible strength, and energy manipulation powers. He didn’t have a name, he was simply referred to as “Him.”
This perfect specimen of a man was essentially a newborn baby, with the accumulated knowledge of humanity dumped into his brain. But he had no actual experience with the world at large and acted much like an overgrown child. When he read the minds of his creators and saw they were actually evil, he turned on them and flew away into space. For years, readers had no idea what became of him, as Stan Lee and Jack Kirby left it open-ended. His story became something for future writers to pick up on. It took several years, but eventually someone did.
Marvel Comics Him Became an Outer Space Doctor Strange
In the early ‘70s, writer Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane remembered that Him was still out there in the cosmos. So they gave him a name, a costume (he was all but naked before), and made him a superhero. Writer Jim Starlin added even more story elements to Warlock in the following years. From the start, those early adventures saw him receive a glow-up, as he inherited the Soul Gem, an Infinity Gem which he embedded in his forehead. He became a wise mage character, like a cosmic Dr. Strange with magic added to his already formidable power set. When you needed a powerful sage voice in a billowy red cape to tell you what’s what with an impending cosmic threat, Adam Warlock became the go-to character.
MCU Adam Warlock Goes Back to the Him Basics
But for the MCU, James Gunn went back to square one. Will Poulter’s Adam Warlock did have a name from the get-go. It would have been silly to only refer to him as, well, HIM. But the rest of his appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 tracks with his first comics appearance. They birthed him from a cocoon as a fully grown adult, but was innocent and easily manipulated. He only understands serving his creators. In this case, the Sovereign, not the Enclave. But much like the comics, he recognized his creators were not noble, turning on them to help the good guys. Replace the Fantastic Four with the Guardians, and it’s very much the same scenario. Instead of flying off to parts unknown at the end, he finds a new family with the Guardians of the Galaxy.
It remains to be seen how much of Adam Warlock’s more well-established comics personality will remain as the character moves forward in other projects. For several decades, much of the comics version of Adam was informed by owning the Soul Gem. It gave him tremendous extra power and knowledge. Without it, how does MCU “baby Adam” become so wise? Although the MCU Adam has some sort of stone in his forehead, it’s definitely not an Infinity Stone. We know they were all destroyed. So much of the comic book Adam’s history was tied into both the Soul Gem and Thanos. Without those concepts, MCU Adam will likely deviate even more from the version comics fans know.
What Is Adam Warlock’s MCU Future?
As fun as it would be to see Adam Warlock in a future Guardians project, whatever form that may take, we honestly hope to see him in his own thing. Although a stalwart member of the Guardians in the comics, Adam Warlock was more famous as a solo hero first. A Disney+ show expanding on how this adult-sized golden infant became a wise cosmic sage would be fun. Will Poulter was perfect to play the big baby version of Adam, “Him 2.0.” But we’d love to see him evolve into the version most comics fans love, which is Superman meets Doctor Strange, only in space. Let’s see what happens with Adam Warlock a.k.a. Him in the future.