The Guardians of the Galaxy are heading to the big screen one last time for Vol. 3. While it appears that the third instalment will mark the end of this current iteration of the team in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there is every possibility that the roster of heroes will evolve and change for a new era. The value of the Guardians, from the perspective of the Marvel brand and within the MCU itself, is just too big to move away from.
The comics have seen a vast range of heroes join the Guardians, many of which have not been featured in the MCU, or have not been affiliated with the team on screen. As Marvel looks to its next eras and continues to map out what might happen with the squad, these characters are fantastic figures to draw inspiration from. Their inclusion into a future team would make narrative sense, provide plenty of intriguing conflicts and would help to define the Guardians outside of their original roster.
Created by Bill Everett, Mike Friedrich, and George Tuska in 1973, Heather Douglas is a fascinating figure and it’s an absolute crime that she is yet to be introduced to the MCU. Her backstory is as tragic as many other members of the team. After Douglas’ family witnessed the landing of Thanos’ spaceship, the Mad Titan eviscerated them, with Douglas narrowly escaping. Brought up on the planet Titan, Douglas would learn incredible martial arts and telekinetic skills, boosting her power through sheer determination. Taking on the mantle of Moondragon after a victory against a cosmic dragon, the character would eventually join the Guardians.
While her adventures are too many to detail, her relationships with the Guardians were forged in the fires of war. Interestingly, one version of the story sees the soul of Heather’s father placed in Drax the Destroyer, with the two sharing a familial bond. Ultimately, Moondragon’s origins meshes perfectly with what the MCU has already explored. Add this to the diverse power set that she brings to the table alongside her extremely serious personality and she would act as a great foil for the goofy group and a serious powerhouse.
Hercules has only just debuted in the MCU as a post-credits stinger for Thor: Love and Thunder but was originally created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1965. While not much is known about the portrayal of the character on the screen, the comics have pitched the demi-god as a bumbling but heroic figure, who has travelled the cosmos looking for adventure. While comparisons could be made between Thor and the Olympian, Hercules’ continued refusal to take on any kind of responsibility is certainly at odds with the Asgardians’ eventual rise through the monarchy.
Of course, the MCU has already seen Thor join the team, so they will be needing an equally brutish and fantastical figure to take his place. Hercules brings with him a dynasty of antagonists for the Guardians to face, with some of their most intriguing stories in recent years pitting the team against the Greek Gods of ancient times. The kind-hearted but naïve Hercules would certainly be an organic replacement for characters like Drax, as the team dynamic shifts. With Hercules needing to get attuned to the cosmos away from his father, perhaps a group is the best way for the character to find his feet.
She’s taken on the mantles of Quasar, Captain Marvel and Martyr across her career, but Phyla-Vell is a second generation hero, and daughter of Mar-Vell. She was crafted by Peter David and Paul Azaceta in 2004. With a classic cosmic comic book lineage behind her, Phyla-Vell’s position in the Guardians of the Galaxy seemed like a logical connection. Her time on the team might be brief, but Phyla-Vell made countless sacrifices to back up her team-mates and attempt to restore peace to the galaxy.
With super speed, strength, agility, flight and energy blasting capabilities, Phyla-Vell is the full package. She can also absorb energy from her enemies and gained the use of the Quantum Bands; an object that hasn’t been fully introduced to the MCU quite yet. With The Marvels looking to cement the Marvel moniker, it feels appropriate that Phyla-Vell could be making her debut very soon. As a hero with a true heart, the character would be a fascinating change of pace to contrast to the crooks and rogues that traditionally populate the Guardians.
Flash Thompson is one of the most notable characters to be bonded with the Venom Symbiote and was designed by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962. While he rampaged as a monstrous antagonist to Spider-Man, the character later honed his bond with the alien entity and transformed into the military-inspired Agent Venom in 2011. With a newer understanding of his capabilities, Thompson teamed up with the Guardians of the Galaxy at the behest of the Avengers, acting as their go-between. However, with the Klyntar acting up, Agent Venom added a dangerous dynamic to the team, and his allies were unsure whether Thompson could keep the beast at bay.
Flash Thompson is a current character in the MCU and while it’s unlikely that he’ll be bonded with the Venom Symbiote any time soon, it’s not entirely out of the question. With the big screen iteration having the potential to follow the military storyline of the comics, perhaps Agent Venom is a more likely transformation than the traditional ghastly variation. A spot on the Guardians seems even more far-off, yet the inclusion would be such a hilarious mis-matching of personalities that bringing Thompson onto the team could be an unexpectedly superb choice.
Angela was originally created within Image Comics in 1993 by Todd McFarlane and Neil Gaiman, before the character was eventually sold to Marvel in 2013. The creation effortlessly fit into the Asgardian comic runs and was identified as Aldrif Odinsdottir, the long lost sister to Thor. With this intergalactic origin story set out, a team-up with the Guardians of the Galaxy seemed ever-more likely. A misunderstood character with a great deal of inner rage, Angela has been both a friend and foe to Marvel’s heroes and thus brings plenty of fascinating conflict to settle with the rest of the team.
The MCU has established a version of the Guardians known as the Aguardians of the Galaxy, which includes Thor on the roster. As the deity of Thunder has moved on, that godly version of the team could be re-established with the powerful Angela in his place. Her stern and regal persona is a fantastic contrast to some of the whimsicality of the Guardians, and her awe-inspiring abilities would make her a genuine tank for the group to rely on.
Cosmic Ghost Rider
There have been numerous heroes to hold the mantle of Ghost Rider, but only one has stepped into place as the Cosmic Ghost Rider. The figure was imagined by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw in 2018. In a massive change for The Punisher, Frank Castle was the man imbued with the Spirit of Vengeance, hell bent on bringing justice to Thanos after the destruction he had caused. With a common enemy in the Mad Titan, Castle’s place on the Dark Guardian’s of the Galaxy was secured; a new team dedicated to stopping Thanos’ rise. His tactical prowess and supernatural gifts were valuable assets for the team.
The MCU doesn’t officially have a version of The Punisher in play at the moment, but with Frank Castle’s return seemingly confirmed for Daredevil: Born Again, that is likely to change. The supernatural side of the MCU is also shaping up with the likes of Werewolf By Night and Castle could be an unexpected debut point for a Ghost Rider on screen. It seems like a long-shot to see Cosmic Ghost Rider in the next line-up of the Guardians, but there are a few story beats taking shape that could lead there down the line.
Beta Ray Bill
Beta Ray Bill, who was created by Walt Simonson in 1983, has become an honorary member of the Asgardians and a worthy wielder of a Mjolnir-like hammer. Judged to be a monster, but unequivocally one of the mightiest heroes in all of Marvel, Beta Ray Bill was a valiant ally to bring into the Guardians of the Galaxy. His strength, speed and thunderous skills made the character one of Cosmo’s first choices when the dog began building a replacement for the Guardians.
Beta Ray Bill is highly sought after by MCU fans, with plenty of strong easter eggs supporting the theory that he could be imminently debuting in the MCU. With Thor’s franchise currently up in the air, the next obvious place to bring in the space warrior is via the Guardians. Bill is just absurd enough to fit into the team without any questions asked, but his great sense of humor would somehow provide an ironically down-to-Earth point of view to an alien scene.
A member of the Shi’ar Empire and leader of its Imperial Guard, Gladiator has been on countless versions of the Guardians of the Galaxy, from the Dark iteration to the replacement Annihilators. He was created by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum in 1977. Strong-willed and all-consumed by his purpose, Gladiator can be quite the unpredictable entity, considering he can become blinded by his mission. However, the intergalactic hero has proven himself on plenty of occasions, despite his undying loyalty to his Empire.
The MCU has yet to introduce the Shi’ar Empire, but with the likes of the Kree and Skrulls firmly established, it won’t be too long until the group comes into play. When that is the case then Gladiator is almost certain to be among the roster. With the current Guardians having firmly established a link with the Nova Corps which is now destroyed, Gladiator could join the team as an envoy to form a bond with a new major power.
An Eternal and brother of Thanos, Eros has found himself on the wrong side of the Guardians. But the romantic has also become a valued member of the team, even if Jim Starlin’s 1973 creation is arrogant. As part of the Dark Guardians specifically, Starfox sought to bring some order to the galaxy by hunting down Gamora in a bid to stop the return of Thanos. Although his intentions might have been just, it put him in the path of the main team, testing his might against the classic roster. His recent position as a rising member of the Eternals has portrayed him as a force to be reckoned with in the power struggle across the universe.
In the MCU, Starfox made a very brief cameo in Eternals. His fate is yet to be determined, but as a newer member of the Guardians, Eros could play the charming yet egotistical spokesperson for the group. Although he is scrappy in battle, Starfox’s charisma could bring a new dimension to a team so reliant on Star-Lord to talk their way out of situations. Eros could thus form a pivotal point to build a different Guardians around.
With countless directions for the MCU to go in, alongside other heroes like Quasar, Nova, Lylla and Adam Warlock to pull from, there are plenty of options for a different Guardians to form. Whether that is Marvel’s intention is to be determined, but these pre-existing comic book characters provide a whole range of unique stories to tell.