When Guardians of the Galaxy released in 2014, it took viewers to some of the most exotic worlds from Marvel Comics, including the Nova home world Xandar and Knowhere, the city built in the severed head of a dead Celestial. If recent leaked set photos are to be believed, the franchise will continue this tradition with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
In a series of photos from Instagram user atlanta_filming, we can see various pedestrian objects such as police cars and advertising that appear to be from Earth. But if you look closer, you’ll notice that the writing on these objects belongs to a language not found anywhere on Earth. Even more curious are the photos of extras, who appear to be animals in humanoid form.
While some on the internet have cracked the language to discern the word “Counter” written on various signs, many long-time comic book readers did not have to go that far. All of these photos suggest that the Guardians will be visiting Counter-Earth. Created by Gil Kane and Roy Thomas for 1972’s Marvel Premier #1, Counter-Earth is exactly what it sounds like: an alternative Earth. Unlike the various alternate realities seen in movies such as Spider-Man: No Way Home, Counter-Earth exists in our universe, just in another part of the galaxy.
High Evolutionary, the nom-de-super of scientist Dr. Herbert Wyndym, created Counter-Earth after his stronghold on Mount Wundagore (a key location in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness) proved insecure. On a planet located across the solar system from Earth-Prime, High Evolutionary created a new world intended to mirror our planet, without the corrupting influences that plagued us. In addition to the humans on Counter-Earth, High Evolutionary created New Men, humanoid animals believed to be the next stage in evolution.
However, when an evil creature called Man-Beast arrived on Counter-Earth and spread dissension on the planet, the High Evolutionary recruited a hero to bring justice and order. Formerly known only as Him, the perfect man, the hero took the name Adam Warlock, and tried to teach the citizens of Counter-Earth through his death and resurrection.
With that summary, it’s clear to see why Counter-Earth would be so important to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The movie will finally introduce Adam Warlock, played by Will Poulter. In the MCU, Warlock is the offspring of Ayesha of the Sovereign, played by Elizabeth Debicki in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Presumably, the upcoming movie will track Warlock’s progression from the Sovereign to Counter-Earth.
Rumors have also been circulating that Guardians 3 will deal with the origins of Rocket Raccoon. In the comics, Rocket has no connection to High Evolutionary, but it wouldn’t be much of a leap to believe that the modifications and mutations he mentioned in the first film would take place on Counter-Earth.
Whatever the reason for stopping at this new planet, the set photos give hope that the Guardians franchise will continue pushing the MCU forward, to increasingly weirder and wonderful locations.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 releases on May 5, 2023.