We just learned that Kurt Russell has officially been cast (hooray!) in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel, and he isn’t coming alone. Star Lord’s cool new dad, who most definitely isn’t J’Son of Spartax, will be joined by The Knick’s Chris Sullivan and Macbeth’s Elizabeth Debicki in roles that are yet unspecified. This is a mix of both speculation and wishful thinking, but if I were a betting man, my money would be on Debicki playing Phyla-Vell, a.k.a. Quasar.
About a year ago, director James Gunn said he’s bring one of his favorite superheroes to the screen in Vol. 2, and he also said that hero isn’t necessarily a dude. We know Pom Klementieff is playing Mantis, one of the original Guardians on the 2008 Abnett & Lanning roster that inspired the film. Mantis could very well that favourite hero, and if Debicki is indeed playing a Guardian, she could also join Karen Gillan by shaving her head and playing Moondragon, who was eventually inducted into the Guardians’ ranks. Moondragon is bisexual, which would make her the MCU’s first openly LGBTQ character if they went that route, but what strikes me about Debicki is that she’s a dead ringer for Phyla-Vell. She and Moondragon were involved at one point, and she was also one of the original Guardians in that same 2008 series, but another the reason I’m leaning in her direction is her connection to a future Avenger.
Phyla-Vell was the second woman to go by the name Captain Marvel, the fourth overall after her brother Genis and their father Mar-Vell, the original Captain. There was a rumor that Mar-Vell would be in the film, possibly as Star Lord’s dad, although Gunn made sure to shut that one down pretty quickly. Carol’s solo film comes out a few months before the big finale in 2019, after her introduction in Infinity War Part 1. She’s going to be Marvel’s first cosmic Avenger, and unless they want to take the time to drop that whole mess on us in a movie that already has “67 characters,” then it stands to reason that there’ll be at least some connection beforehand. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 feels like the right place to take that first step.
Captain Marvel won’t be an origin story since we’re likely to see Carol in action the year prior, and regardless of whether or not she went by Ms. Marvel at one point, there’s probably already a Mar-Vell flying around some corner of the MCU. Carol hung out with Mar-Vell for about a decade in the comics before an accident gave her his powers and some Kree DNA. While Mar-Vell was killed off in 1982, Carol continued to go by Ms. Marvel for the next three decades, even leading the Avengers during Civil War, until she finally took up her late mentor’s mantle in 2012.
While they could certainly forego the whole Mar-Vell back story, carrying on his legacy is a big part of Carol’s identity in the comics. Her outfit is even meant to embody the idea of paying tribute, in this case to both Mar-Vell and the legacy of the American Air Force. My point is, Mar-Vell probably exists by now. He could already be dead for all we know, and since Marvel is starting to dig deep into their lore in order to expand their horizons (The Inhumans is going to be on par with the X-Men in terms of scale) they won’t want to introduce a dead Mar-Vell who never had any kids. That means no Genis and Phyla toys for them to sell, and at this point, I can see pretty much any Marvel character becoming popular in the next ten years.
If Phyla shows up, it won’t be as Captain Marvel, but as Quasar. She was the third Quasar, but since Marvel’s Quasar movie isn’t happening until 2027, there’s no real need for them to explain all that. Captain Marvel on the other hand, is being written as we speak. It’s going to be the studio’s first film with a solo female lead, and by the time it happens, it’s going to be as big a deal as Wonder Woman. Marvel started planting the seeds for Black Panther in last year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, so I expect they’ll do the same for Carol, and Phyla feels like the obvious way to go.
What I’m wondering is, if they do introduce Phyla, is she going to be a lesbian? Her sexuality is something they could very well leave unmentioned, because who the hell knows how it’ll impact the film’s box-office numbers, especially in the kinds of growing foreign markets that Marvel wants to capture long term. Probably not by a huge margin, if I’m being optimistic. People absolutely adored Guardians of the Galaxy, but that question is undoubtedly on the mind of any studio exec who has to oversee these decisions. I can’t recall the last studio blockbuster that had a prominent gay character. Has there ever been one? Kevin Fiege’s been asked about LGBTQ inclusivity repeatedly in the press, just like he was about Black Panther and Captain Marvel before those decisions were made, so I assume it’s come up behind the scenes more than once.
Northstar was one of the first openly gay superheroes in comics, so maybe it’s time for Marvel to start leading the charge once again? Either way, I’m sure we’ll know more as we get closer to May 5th, 2017.