How do you play a perfect person? That’s the challenge posed to actor Will Poulter, who’s preparing to play Adam Warlock in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
In a discussion with The Independent, Poulter described his process for getting into shape for the role. In short, it sounds a bit intense: “I wouldn’t recommend anyone do what I did to get ready for that job,” he told The Independent. In addition to spending lots of time in the gym, Poulter has been adhering to what he calls “a very, very specific diet.” That diet includes “quantities of food you wouldn’t necessarily want to ingest. And other times not enough food.”
Outside of his diet, Poulter can reveal little about his character. “It’s difficult talking about it because with Marvel it’s all secret squirrel…but the most important thing is that your mental and physical health has to be number one.” Physical goals must be “secondary,” the actor explained, because otherwise “you end up promoting something that is unhealthy and unrealistic if you don’t have the financial backing of a studio paying for your meals and training.”
Both Poulter’s fitness regimen and his concern for others are actually very much in line with his Guardians character Adam Warlock. Warlock first appeared in a 1967 Fantastic Four story by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. He was introduced there as “Him,” the perfect specimen created by duplicitous scientists. However, the character came into his own when handled by writer Jim Starlin, who gave him the moniker Adam Warlock and reinvented him as a galactic messiah who wandered around space looking for inner peace. More importantly for the current pop culture landscape, Starlin made Warlock the keeper of the Soul Gem, the first of the Infinity Gems, and often pitted him against his ideological counter, Thanos the Mad Titan.
Warlock will be entering a Marvel Cinematic Universe very different from the comic book world where he originated. Not only are the Infinity Stones (as they are called on screen) destroyed after Avengers: Endgame, but Thanos has been dispatched. Furthermore, Adam Warlock appears to be the creation of Ayesha of the Sovereign, a golden secondary antagonist in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, played by Elizabeth Debicki. Warlock’s coming is hinted in one of that movie’s five post-credit sequences, in which Ayesha proudly declares that her new creation shall be called “Adam.”
However Warlock appears in the MCU, it will be a far cry from the characters Poulter previously portrayed. The actor first broke out in 2007’s Son of Rambow, playing a child who creates a sequel to Rambo with his best friend. Over the years, Poulter has specialized in playing nerds and weasely creeps, from Eustace Scrubb in the C.S. Lewis adaptation The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to the ugly American Mark in 2019’s Midsommar.
Given the difference between these characters and Adam Warlock, it’s easy to see why Poulter works so hard. Fans will get to see the result of his efforts when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 releases on May 5, 2023.