I want to preface this with a warning. If you have not yet seen the trailer for Avengers: Infinity War and are trying to avoid spoilers for the upcoming capstone to the MCU as we know it, 1: what are you doing on a comics news site and 2. Potential spoilers are incoming. Yesterday the co-founder of The Comic Panel Chris Micieli posted an article featuring some rather intriguing quotes from Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. The net result of his statements is that within the first 5 minutes of Infinity War, Thanos will establish just why he has been the underlying force weaving in and out of the MCU over the last 5 years. Since his first appearance in 2012’s Avengers, as he did the dramatic turn around in his throne in a post-credits scene, we have been lead to believe that he’s something more than just another villain (for the scoop as to why he completely justifies that build up, please check out my earlier piece “War on the Horizon”). When you take those comments and consider them in light of what we glimpsed in the trailer some educated guesses can be made and I, at least, am intrigued by the possibilities.
During the course of the trailer we see Thanos’ acquisition of the Space Stone (the blue one which used to be contained within the Tesseract that was our first encounter with the stones as seen in Captain America: The First Avenger.) However that is not the first Stone Thanos gains possession of. As the Space Stone attaches itself to the Infinity Gauntlet, you can clearly see that it’s joining the already captured Power Stone (the purple gem seen in the first Guardians of the Galaxy.)
When last we saw it, the Power Stone had been locked away for safekeeping by the Nova Corps on their home world Xandar. What better way to establish the threat that is Thanos, than for him to devastate, either in seeking the stone or immediately upon securing it, the planet that is the bastion of a peacekeeping order pledged to defend the galaxy from just his type of villainy? While at this point this is conjecture, I think it is a strong possibility based on our, admittedly limited, knowledge of events. It would definitely be a suitable debut moment for The Mad Titan while, at the same time, allowing for a slower build up to the main event. However, the potential ramifications of this are what has me excited for what the future holds in a way I didn’t think I would be until we saw FOX’s stable of characters debut alongside their MCU peers. You see, there is a precedent in the source material on which the MCU is based of Xandar and the Nova Corps being destroyed by Galactic threats.
While the Nova Corps played a prominent role in Guardians of the Galaxy they didn’t delve to deeply into the structure of the Corps itself. The Nova Corps, like any military structure, is broken into different ranks of soldiers each with access to differing levels of power they can draw from the Nova Force through the World Mind (an a.i. that acts as a conduit for said power in addition to being a trove of all the knowledge the corps as a whole has gathered.) What we saw, when compared to what exists in the comic universe are most likely the second tier of officers known as Millenians. While they have a limited access to the Nova Force that grants them some level of invulnerability, they rely on piloting 1-man sky flyers for combat as seen in their defense against Ronan “The Accuser”. This however is merely scratching the surface of what the Corps is capable of as higher ranks gain a wider array of abilities such as flight, energy projection/absorption, strength, and a higher resistance to injury. In other words the power to be a hero on par with the other giants that stride the landscape of the MCU.
Rider on the Storm
As I alluded to earlier, Xandar and the Corps have been wiped out in the comic books before. As a matter of fact it has been known to happen on more than one occasion (3 times to be exact) but regardless of which one you look at it all comes back to Richard Rider. Rider was first introduced back in 1979 by comics legend Marv Wolfman, gaining his power from the last remaining Nova who transfers his power to Richard in his dying act. Throughout the majority of the ensuing 38 years, Nova was a mid-tier hero who never really broke through to the upper echelons despite numerous solo titles and a featured role in the late 90’s/early 00’s teen group The New Warriors. That changed however as Marvel began to re-prioritize its cosmic adventures. Not unlike what is slated to be forthcoming with the next phase of the MCU. Beginning with the 2007 epic “Annihilation”, following another destruction of Xandar (hey, its comics) Nova became the sole focus of the entire Nova Force that powered the Corps and, along with Peter Quill (Guardians of the Galaxy’s Star Lord), reached his potential as a hero as they engage in a year long war with Annihilius and his army known as the Annihilation Wave. In the end , Nova himself defeats Annihilius ending the unprecedented army’s threat. While resting after the titanic struggle back on Earth, Nova became frustrated with the earth-bound heroes who were embroiled in perpetual infighting (Civil War) Rider realized he’d moved beyond them, choosing to forgo the politics of his home planet in order to focus on the galaxy at large. Back in space, the Rider/Quill duo continued to play a big part in pivotal events, even stopping a certain purple-skinned mad Titan with a jewelry fetish in the “Thanos Imperative”, sacrificing themselves by trapping all three in the extra dimensional Cancerverse (as bad as the name implies) where they battled for possession of a cosmic cube. We know that the Guardians of the Galaxy as we know it will end with Vol. 3, and aside from the forthcoming Captain Marvel movie, that leaves a sizable gap in the cosmic side of things which will need to be filled by new heroes if it is truly going to be a focus going forward. With the foundations laid down in Guardians, Nova seems like an obvious choice to help bridge that gap.
I may in fact be building a house on what amounts to nothing more than a pit full of quicksand, but given that Director James Gunn has mentioned that Marvel was discussing bringing Richard into the MCU back in August, the potential is definitely there. As he’s known to have a hand in shaping the direction of the cosmic side of the MCU going forward I’d say he’s a guy who would know. Whether we will get to see the Rider/Quill bromance on screen is a bit murkier, Marvel contracts are perpetually shifting, but even after Chris Pratt meets his current commitments keeping him involved as a side character rather than the focus might be a way to keep a beloved character in the picture while expanding the universe without requiring such a large amount of time from him and his blossoming career.
In my mind its less of a question of if Nova should be brought in but rather how Marvel can fit him onto their plate given the pending purchase of the rights to the lost members of their portfolio from FOX. Rider may have followed a long and winding road, but the “true” Nova has become a major player in the rich tapestry that has been woven forming the Marvel Universe. One who deserves to be brought to life on the big screen.