Adam Warlock - the Marvel history of the new Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 star

Will Poulter's Adam Warlock in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Will Poulter's Adam Warlock in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Adam Warlock is coming to the MCU in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, with actor Will Poulter embodying one of the most long-awaited and highly-anticipated characters by fandom for adaptation to the screen - and now viewers have gotten their first look at the so-called 'perfect being' in the first Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 trailer.

Adam Warlock's inclusion in the Guardians franchise has been danced around since the first film used a version of the cocoon that birthed him in Marvel Comics as an Easter egg. 

And with the character having played an important role in the founding of the version of the Guardians that was adapted to the MCU, fans have been awaiting Adam Warlock's full arrival for some time.

Interestingly enough, from the looks of things, Adam Warlock's semi-complex comic book history may even be making it to the screen mostly intact (though we're sure there'll be some surprises and an MCU twist or two). But even to comic fans, aspects of Warlock's history can be a lot to piece together.

But we here at Newsarama have access to the answers for these greater mysteries of time and space (AKA a vast knowledge of comic history), so we'll now unravel the comic history of the enigmatic hero known as Adam Warlock.

Who is Adam Warlock?

Adam Warlock in Marvel Comics

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Adam Warlock was born as 'Him,' a genetically engineered so-called "perfect man" created by a group of scientists known as the Enclave.

Introduced in 1967's Fantastic Four #67, (way before Rocky Horror, for all you aficionados of 'perfect men' in gold pants), Adam Warlock, known then by his original epithet, 'Him', was initially a villain - albeit a misunderstood one.

Though he was created by the Enclave for their own evil ends, Adam Warlock sensed his creators' intent to exploit his nature for their sinister goals and turned on them.

The Fantastic Four intervened as part of their search for Alicia Masters, Ben Grimm's then-girlfriend-now-wife, who was kidnapped to use her sculpting skills to craft the likeness for the Enclave's perfect man. However, 'Him' was already long gone - and working his way into the path of Thor, the God of Thunder, with the pair clashing after a run-in between 'Him' and Thor's ally/paramour Sif.

After his misguided fight with Thor, 'Him' found himself floating adrift in space in a newly formed cocoon when he was retrieved by the being known as the High Evolutionary, who is (probably not coincidentally) the main villain of Guardians Vol. 3, in 1972's Marvel Premiere #1.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

The High Evolutionary was then the ruler of a world known as Counter-Earth that followed Earth's exact orbit on the opposite side of the sun. On Counter-Earth, there were no heroes. But there was a villain - a renegade creation of the High Evolutionary known as the Man-Beast.

Seeking a protector for his more obedient creations and the other denizens of Counter-Earth, the High Evolutionary took advantage of 'His' inborn heroic nature, forcing 'Him' to strike a bargain to protect Counter-Earth, dubbing him 'Warlock.'

Along with his new costume and his purpose, the High Evolutionary also implanted the Soul Gem (an earlier version of the Soul Stone of the Infinity Stones) in Warlock's forehead, granting him expansive powers to protect Counter-Earth, whose citizens granted him the full name 'Adam Warlock,' finally completing his origin as the hero we now know, and who will be adapted into Guardians 3.

And it's also this decision, to give Adam Warlock the Soul Gem, that led to his involvement in one of the biggest Marvel Comics epics ever - the Infinity Gauntlet.

Adam Warlock in the Marvel Universe

Adam Warlock in Marvel Comics

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

As the guardian of the Soul Stone, Adam Warlock eventually found his way off Counter-Earth, exploring the cosmos of the Marvel Universe on a soul-searching journey. He even eventually encountered the manifestation of his own dark side in the villain known as the Magus, the head of an evil cosmic cult known as the Universal Life Truth who would be a presence in Warlock's life from there on out.

Through the course of his adventure with the Magus and the Universal Life Church, Adam Warlock came to know several familiar MCU characters including Drax and Gamora of the MCU Guardians of the Galaxy, and Pip the Troll, seen in the stinger scene of Eternals, who became one of his best friends and a lifelong companion.

After eventually defeating the Magus by trapping him in the Soul Gem, Adam Warlock finally began unlocking the full potential of his powers. The Soul Gem was the centerpiece of most of Warlock's stories through the '80s. He and Pip even spent a little time living peacefully retired in the utopian world inside the Soul Gem itself.

But he returned from retirement when Thanos began his quest for the Infinity Gems (the precursor to the modern Infinity Stones), eventually losing the Soul Gem to the Mad Titan, allowing Thanos to complete the comic book version of his deadly 'snap' in the landmark story Infinity Gauntlet.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

However, Adam Warlock was also instrumental in Thanos' eventual defeat, taking up the mantle of the Infinity Gems' protector when Thanos' Infinity Gauntlet was disassembled. Warlock became the leader of a team known as Infinity Watch, whose members, including himself, Drax, Gamora, Pip, Moondragon, and Thanos himself, each guarded one of the Gems - with Warlock once again taking the Soul Gem for himself.

Adam Warlock and the Infinity Watch would play a role in several '90s stories, but in the early '00s, he became more associated with the characters and concepts that have come to define the modern Guardians of the Galaxy with the story Annihilation: Conquest.

In Annihilation: Conquest, Adam Warlock once again crosses paths with the High Evolutionary, who sacrifices Warlock's body to Ultron as the evil AI's new host. However, by the end of the story, Warlock is reborn, and the circumstances of his return help inspire the formation of the version of the Guardians of the Galaxy that was eventually adapted to the MCU, including Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot, and Drax.

Since then, Adam Warlock's appearances have mostly centered around either the Infinity Stones or the Guardians of the Galaxy, with the character's presence in a story usually signaling that things are about to get real cosmic, real fast.

Adam Warlock in the MCU

Adam Warlock in Marvel Comics

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Adam Warlock has yet to appear in the MCU, though a version of his cocoon was an Easter egg in the Collector's menagerie in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and his creation was implied in the stinger scene of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, at the hands of Ayesha, one of the film's villains. 

Ayesha is herself an adaptation of the comic book character 'Her,' a being created by the Enclave as a potential mate for Adam Warlock, adapted into the MCU as the leader of the perfection-seeking beings known as the Sovereign, tying into Adam Warlock's original comic book backstory as a so-called 'perfect man.'

Interestingly though, some aspects of his story already have made it into the MCU, intertwined in the narrative of the Vision - who was created by the villain Ultron to be his host and imbued with an Infinity Stone before betraying his creator's evil cause. 

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

(Yeah, that's also similar to Vision's actual comic backstory - but the inclusion of the Infinity Stone gives the whole thing an odd Adam Warlock twist).

Still, that leaves more than enough room for a heavily comic book-inspired adaptation of Adam Warlock, right down to the inclusion of the High Evolutionary.

Now, will Marvel Studios stick one of the supposedly destroyed Infinity Stones on Adam Warlock's forehead by the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3? That's the big question that remains (aside from when he'll get to hang out with Pip the Troll, of course).

We'll find out when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 arrives in 2023.

Adam Warlock was a main character in the comic book story Infinity Gauntlet, one of the most impactful Marvel Comics events of all time.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)