It’s no secret that Guardians of the Galaxy 2 will introduce Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord and the rest of his unconventional team of heroes to a whole new bunch of characters, and though director James Gunn isn’t giving up exactly which Marvel figures will play a role in the sequel, he’s more than happy to rule out a pair of potential baddies.
According to Gunn, who responded to a fan inquiry on Facebook, neither Kang the Conqueror nor the Shi’ar Empire will appear in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – most pressingly because Marvel doesn’t own the rights to either of them.
“Shi’ar and Kang are both owned by Fox,” Gunn said, adding that, “All decisions about who is in GotG2 were made a long time ago.”
In the comics, Kang the Conqueror, a time-traveler from the year 3000 AD who is actually related to the Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards, has always been much more closely affiliated with the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, so it makes sense that Fox would hold onto the rights for him. The character has a long history of bumping up against superheroes, having first debuted (unofficially) in a 1963 Fantastic Four comic and gone on to menace the Avengers and other key groups at various points.
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As for the Shi’ar, they are one of the three main alien species in the Marvel comics, alongside the Kree (Ronan the Accuser belongs to that race) and Skrulls (owned by Fox). They are also more intricately tied to the X-Men than to any of the characters currently owned by Marvel.
Given that, who will actually be appearing in Guardians of the Galaxy 2? Of course, Star-Lord, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) are still in the picture, along with Yondu (Michael Rooker) and Nebula (Karen Gillan). It seems likely that Thanos (Josh Brolin) will pop up somewhere as well, possibly in a cameo.
Gunn has also announced his intention to introduce his “favorite superhero,” though it’s unclear who that is. Fans have suggested Starhawk, Beta Ray Bill and Adam Warlock as possible contenders, given that the director has communicated his affection for those characters in the past, but Gunn’s keeping his mouth shut.
We also know that Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) is definitely dead and won’t be returning, and that Nova won’t be appearing (at least yet). And based on the end of Age of Ultron, it’s possible, if not very likely, that the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) could pop up, if he indeed took the Quinjet into outer space to get away from humanity, as some have speculated.
Anyway, feel free to speculate. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 arrives on May 5, 2017.