The arrival of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is nearly here, which has many Marvel Cinematic Universe fans excited. The film has been advertised as the end of the road for this superhero group, signaling a changing of the guards on the cosmic side of the MCU. But before we can speculate about how the galaxy may look a little different after the conclusion of Guardians Vol. 3, we should first prepare ourselves for what’s to come. This time around, the Guardians of the Galaxy are facing off against a dangerous adversary who may change their lives forever: the High Evolutionary!
You may ask, who exactly is the High Evolutionary? Well, not only is H.E. one of the biggest villains from Marvel Comics, but he has a personal tie to Rocket Racoon. So whether you’re preparing for the film ahead of time, or have just gotten out of the film and want a bit more context for who actor Chukwudi Iwuji is playing in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, we’re here to help you learn more about Marvel villains coming soon to the MCU.
Herbert Wyndham: humble beginnings for a megalomaniac
The High Evolutionary first appeared in Thor #134 back in September of 1966, however in that appearance, he was already established as the villain we will come to know. Throughout his history in Marvel comics, readers come to know a different beginning for H.E., with a story that begins in Manchester England sometime in the early 20th century. Born Herbert Wyndham, the high evolutionary begins experimenting with genetics as a student in the 1920s.
Gaining some knowledge to unlock genetic codes from an Inhuman, Wyndham and his partner Jonathan Drew set off to Wundagore Mountian, building a laboratory to continue his experiments. It’s there a top Wundagore Mountian that things quickly change for Wyndham as he becomes closer to his High Evolutionary status.
Jonathan’s daughter Jessica becomes ill due to the localized uranium in the mountain, causing the Drew family to leave Wundagore. It’s then in Wyndham’s isolation, with a new suit of armor to protect against the uranium, that he begins his exploration development of New Men.
New Men, the High Evolutionary, and Counter-Earth
So what exactly are the New Men? Well, if you’ve watched the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 trailers, you’ve already caught a glimpse of them. New Men are a genetic mixture of animals and humans, with the appearance of animals and the stature and intelligence of humans. These creatures practically become his subjects and servants. He experiments with them, using them as his playthings for which he sees fit.
The High Evolutionary weaves in and out of Marvel Comics history, such as battling Chthon, witnessing the birth of Wanda and Pietro on Wundagore Mountain, and eventually launching his citadel into space and becoming a disembodied entity.
However, it’s with his return to Earth and gaining a body once again that the High Evolutionary’s true home, the one for which he is known, comes to be. Counter-Earth. His desire was to create a foil of Earth that lacked corruption, with images he deemed perfect. However, the corruption still found its way to Counter-Earth, with the help of Man-Beast, one of the H.E.’s creations. Counter-Earth became his new base of experimentation, where H.E. played God to his creatures.
The High Evolutionary also has ties to Adam Warlock (played by Will Poulter in Vol.3) having found his pod and presenting him with the soul stone. H.E. uses Adam to cleanse Counter-Earth of any imperfections. These two characters are so closely related in Marvel Comics, it’s only fitting that both characters would debut in the same film. Cosmic Circus writer Vin theorizes that the High Evolutionary created the Sovereign, further connecting H.E. and Adam Warlock in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
The High Evolutionary’s powers in Marvel Comics
Throughout the years, the High Evolutionary has exhibited a plethora of powers. Superhuman strength and intellect, healing powers, astral projection, telepathic abilities, even force fields, and mental invisibility. These are just a few of the powers attributed to him either because of his suit or gained through his genetic manipulation. Exposing himself to his Evolutionary Accelerator also helped develop some of these abilities, which speed up his own personal evolution.
However, High Evolutionary’s powers aren’t foolproof, thanks to Isotope E. H.E. built the Evolutionary Accelerator to control his evolution at will, however, Isotope E, which is highly unstable, causes H.E. to volley between different points in his evolution line. Sometimes this works in his favor, at other times he loses abilities and intellect.
Perhaps the most important abilities come from the High Evolutionary’s exoskeleton. The suit of armor is designed to protect the wearer at all times. The exoskeleton has automatic defenses as well as the ability to bring him back to life if killed. Between his abilities and his exoskeleton, the High Evolutionary is a formidable foe that is bound to cause a lot of trouble for the Guardians of the Galaxy.
The High Evolutionary in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
While Marvel Studios isn’t known for a 1:1 adaptation of its stories and characters, looking at the comics as a guide to what we might expect in the MCU. From what we know, the High Evolutionary’s story in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is rather similar to his comic book counterpart. From the trailers, and investigative work here at the Cosmic Circus, we know that Counter-Earth, New Men, and other aspects of H.E.’s story in the film. We also know Rocket Raccoon’s story is tied to the High Evolutionary, which is part of the emotional struggle in this film.
Whether the High Evolutionary is a more faithful adaptation or a new take on this decade-old character, I think fans will be in for a treat when Guardians Vol. 3 is finally here.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 arrives in theaters on May 5th. What are your thoughts on the High Evolutionary? Think he could be the Guardians’ biggest threat to date? Let us know on Twitter or in the Cosmic Circus Discord. And if you haven’t already, check out our High Evolutionary reading guide!
High Evolutionary Reading Guide
Adam Warlock Comics Reading Guide