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Everything We Know About ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’s New Villain: the High Evolutionary

High Evolutionary in Marvel Comics

The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 panel at SDCC dropped a special surprise for fans. Previously, viewers were made aware that Chukwudi Iwuji had been cast in an undisclosed role in the film, with James Gunn teasing it was a pretty major one. On July 23, 2022, Iwuji arrived at SDCC in full costume for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, revealing that he would be portraying the High Evolutionary. The film will mark the High Evolutionary’s live-action debut.

Iwuji will be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) alongside another newcomer, Will Poulter. Last year, Poulter was confirmed to have been cast as Adam Warlock for the film, after Warlock had been teased in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) since 2013. With Warlock appearing in the film, the High Evolutionary’s appearance is understandable, considering the two shared a connection in the comics. Meanwhile, fans at SDCC seemed to positively receive their first look at the two new arrivals.

The introduction of both Adam and the High Evolutionary is in line with the MCU’s recent leaning towards cosmic entities. Recently, we’ve had teases of the Living Tribunal, plus the introduction of Celestials, the Watcher, and Eternity in close proximity. Cosmic entities are beings who possess power on a universal or multiversal level that is far above that of a regular hero. While Warlock and the High Evolutionary are not quite cosmic entities, they come pretty close to them. Warlock has god-like powers and cosmic awareness, while the High Evolutionary has intelligence on par with cosmic entities. Hence, they serve as strong lead-ins to the MCU introducing more of their most powerful beings.

Who is Iwuji’s the High Evolutionary?

The High Evolutionary in Marvel Comics
(Marvel Comics)

Okay, buckle in. So, In Marvel comics, the High Evolutionary was born human and was named Herbert Edgar Wyndham. In the 1920s, he was a college student in England who became intrigued by the concept of genetic manipulation. As a result, he conducted experiments on rats in his family’s basement. When the Inhuman Phaeder gave Wyndham the key to cracking the genetic code, Wyndham succeeded in evolving his dalmatian into a humanoid figure. However, his creation was shot and killed, leading him to Wundagore mountain with fellow scientist Jonathan Drew. There, they could continue to conduct their experiments in seclusion.

Together, they created a citadel of science, built by Moloid slaves. There, Wyndham honed his experiments to the point that he was able to evolve animals into half-human, half-animal beings dubbed New Men. Around this time, Drew departed to grieve, after his wife was killed and his daughter fell ill. When he returned, he was possessed by the 16th century magician Magnus, and warned Wyndham about the god Chthon imprisoned on Wundagore. He also trained the New Men in combat, and they began to refer to Wyndham as the Lord High Evolutionary.

Chthon did end up breaking free, long enough to imbue his magic in the newly-born twins of a woman named Magda, who was seeking refuge on Wundagore. She departed after childbirth, leaving the High Evolutionary with the twins, Pietro and Wanda, whom he ultimately found foster parents for. After this, finding Earth too confining, the High Evolutionary departed for space, where he settled on a new planet, Wundagore II, and began building his own world: Counter-Earth. When his New Men revolted, though, he performed an experiment on his own genome that gave him god-like abilities.

The High Evolutionary as a villain, explained

The High Evolutionary has conducted so many experiments on his genome over the years, that his powers are akin to a god. He has the ability to evolve and devolve life forms, including himself. He also boasts superhuman strength, durability, energy manipulation, cosmic awareness, telepathy, telekinesis, and extra-dimension travel. The High Evolutionary has also evolved his intelligence so that it is equal to that of cosmic entities, making him one of the smartest humans in the Marvel universe. Additionally, through the use of a suit of armor, or exoskeleton, he can regenerate from injury and restore himself to life.

Over the years, the High Evolutionary continued his creation of Counter-Earth and conducted numerous unethical experiments to create the “perfect” evolved human. He was consistently targeted by the Beyonders and Celestials for his actions, rightfully so, which drove him to the brink of insanity. Essentially, the High Evolutionary is a cruel scientist and eugenicist who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals.

But is there any good within him?

While he’s done truly terrible, monstrous things, the High Evolutionary has shown some humanness. In the comics, he was known for taking various young characters under his wing, such as Warlock, and serving as a father figure to them. He was also the one who gave refuge to Magda and sought a home for Pietro and Wanda.

Ultimately, its his ambition (and resulting lack of empathy) that is his downfall. He does not value the lives of those he considers less-evolved and cares nothing for those he hurts or kills in his mission to create his version of a perfect world.

(featured image: Marvel Comics)

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Rachel Ulatowski is an SEO writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, YA literature, celebrity news, and coming-of-age films. She has over two years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.