Ronan the Accuser was memorably vile in the opening salvo of the "Guardians of the Galaxy" film franchise, but thanks to Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Gamora and Drax -- not to mention the sacrifice of many brave members of the Nova Corps -- Marvel Studios needs to find a new villain for "Guardians of the Galaxy 2."
Like any film franchise, "Guardians" will have to go bigger for its second outing. Luckily, the history of Marvel is filled with cosmic killers, galactic despots, space monsters and interstellar demi-gods, all perfectly ready to step into the vacated shoes of Ronan and Korath. We assume Nebula will return, because it would be a crime not to use Karen Gillan in a second film, but who can she team with -- or find herself competing against -- that can make the cosmos shake? Well, there's always Thanos, but other than the Mad Titan, CBR presents a few suggestions for who we'd like to see face off with Star-Lord, Rocket and the rest of the crew.
Lord Dyvyne, Judson Jakes and Blackjack O'Hare
The pair of Rocket and Groot was the emotional center of the first "Guardians" film, and while the second movie might center on Peter Quill's familial lineage, there is no reason things couldn't get personal for Rocket as well. The evil frog Lord Dyvyne, the cowardly mole Judson Jakes and the rabbit pirate Blackjack O'Hare were the villains of the mid-'80s "Rocket Raccoon" miniseries by co-creator Bill Mantlo and artist Mike Mignola. Dyvyne and Jakes were business rivals who ran mega-powerful corporations and tried to kidnap Rocket's lady love, Lynx, an heiress to another powerful conglomerate. The anthropomorphic despots hired Blackjack O'Hare and his Black Bunny Brigade to do the deed, starting a major rivalry with everyone's favorite space raccoon. While Marvel recently retconned these characters into false memories implanted in Rocket's brain, there's little reason that Rocket (and Howard the Duck! And Cosmo!) has to be the only talking animal in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thanks to Mantlo and Mignola, Marvel has a rich world comprised of cool space critters which would be perfect to enrich Rocket's movie back story.
He may not be big enough to be the sequel's master villain, but Terrax the Tamer would be an awesome heavy to see go toe-to-toe with Drax. With his huge ax and rocky hide, Terrax could make for a stunning visual presence as part of James Gunn world. Marvel may not be able to exploit the fact that Terrax was once the herald of Galactus, but there's no reason the ax-wielding force of destruction couldn't be a near-overwhelming threat to everyone's favorite group of space misfits. Terrax has the power to control stone, and is strong enough to have once levitated the entire island of Manhattan into orbit. Imagine this kind of power unleashed upon a movie screen! At the heart of every great villain, there is more than just power, and Terrax is a self-righteous galactic despot that truly believes himself worthy to rule. His brutality is almost soulless, making him the perfect adversary for the righteous champions of the everyman, the Guardians.
When Arnold Drake and Gene Colan used the murderous lizard race previously created by Stan Lee and John Buscema as the arch foes of the original team of future-based Guardians, they began a long history of conflict between the reptilian race and the Galaxy's protectors of tomorrow. That's right, when the original Guardians (Charlie 27, Martinex, Vance Astro and Yondu, returning to comics in the upcoming "Guardians 3000" series) first appeared, they gathered together to free the galaxy from the scourge of the Badoon. Since then, Marvel has used the Badoon as an intergalactic threat that has bedeviled the cosmos on many occasions. The lizard-like killers were responsible for the creation of Korvac (more on him in a bit) and have a complex structural hierarchy based on gender that could make for some fascinating drama if they were to appear on film. The bottom line is, the Badoon were the first foes the original Guardians ever faced, and that legacy combined with their visual appearance makes them ripe for a big screen debut.
It's ironic that two of Adam Warlock's supporting characters, Drax and Gamora, were major parts of the "Guardians" film, yet Warlock himself was nowhere to be seen. We saw his cocoon in "Thor: The Dark World," and again in the Collector's gallery in "Guardians," so one has to assume that his introduction is at least being considered. And if that's the case, could his evil clone be far behind? Warlock is the galaxy's savior, a cosmic messiah that will go to any length to protect the universe. Magus is just the opposite, a being made of pure ego who wants to remake everything in his own image. A would-be god, the threat Magus could bring to the next "Guardians" film could rival that of Thanos himself. In the pages of the comics, Magus was the being responsible for the Infinity War and is one of the galaxy's greatest cosmic menaces. Add to that the fact that he's a perfect back door to introducing Warlock and you have some very intriguing story potential for James Gunn and company.
Ego, the Living Planet
A giant planet with a face might seem a little too out there for some viewers, but with the not-afraid-to-get-wacky tone of Gunn's "Guardians of the Galaxy," we have to at least consider the idea that the filmmaker could make Ego work. After all, fans bought the idea of a sentient tree -- why not a sentient planet? Ego has a long history as one of Marvel's greatest galactic threats, a cosmic being so deadly and unimaginable that he (it?) transcends the silly nature of the concept. If Gunn made the giant Celestial head of Knowhere work in the first film, why not an omnipotent planet with facial hair? Ego is not just any planet with a face; he is a planet with a face created by Jack Kirby, which alone makes him worthy for film consideration.
Another Lee/Kirby cosmic madman, Annihilus might not be eligible for inclusion in a Marvel film as he has almost always been consider a "Fantastic Four" antagonist, but perhaps "Annihilation" changed all that. Fans owe the current day incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy to Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Keith Giffen, the architects behind the "Annihilation" event, which set the the stage for the new era of Marvel cosmic, an era that brought us the modern day Guardians. Annihilus is one of the most dire cosmic threats the heroes of the Marvel Universe have ever faced, and he also happens to sport one of Kirby's greatest designs. If Annihilus is available, it's difficult to think of a greater threat for the Guardians to face, quite frankly. The character's hunger for death and power is the antithesis of everything Peter Quill believes in, and that kind of conflict is the stuff legends are made of.
One would have to assume Marvel is looking for places to use Loki, arguably the greatest breakout star of its cinematic universe, and really -- how much fun would a Loki versus Guardians film be? Seeing Tom Hiddleston chewing scenery side by side with Chris Pratt would be simply amazing. Loki certainly can get cosmic; Loki's alliance with Thanos, as seen in Marvel's "The Avengers," is a well-established partnership, and while disguised as Odin, Loki did turn over an Infinity Gem to the Collector. An appearance by Loki could bring the Guardians closer to the mainstream Marvel Cinematic Universe, provide fans with a sequel villain they already love and build directly upon the post-credits sequence from "The Dark World."
Nothing says Marvel cosmic as loudly as the legendary Avengers foe, Korvac. Created by Steve Gerber and Jim Starlin, Korvac was the centerpiece of one of Marvel's greatest cosmic sagas of all time. Originally a throwaway background villain created by the Badoon (the Guardians connection deepens!) Korvac went on to become one of the greatest threats the Avengers ever faced. During "The Korvac Saga," the villain journeyed to Earth with godlike powers, pursued by the future Guardians of the Galaxy, setting up the first meeting between the two teams. With persistent rumors of a big screen Avengers and Guardians team-up, could Korvac's arrival on Earth be the way these two teams get together? It would certainly take a legion of heroes to bring down this omnipotent space god. Korvac's name is forever linked with the cosmic side of Marvel; perhaps the villain's near legendary status will make him attractive to the Marvel Studios brain trust.
Stay tuned to CBR News for more on "Guardians of the Galaxy 2."