James Gunn Teases “Incredible” Maria Bakalova in Guardians of the Galaxy 3

The breakout star of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm has joined the latest Marvel cosmic adventure as a key character.

Maria Bakalova as Borat's Daughter Tutar in Borat 2
Photo: Amazon

How do you follow up starring in a sequel to a beloved comedy, getting an Oscar nomination, and publicly embarrassing a political leader? If you’re Maria Bakalova, you go to space. Since her scene-stealing performance as Tutar Sagdiyev in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Bakalova has appeared in several projects, including the Judd Apatow comedy The Bubble and the upcoming A24 slasher Bodies Bodies Bodies. But her most high-profile gig has just been revealed by director James Gunn.

Tweeting in response to a Deadline article, Gunn confirmed that Bakalova will be in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the final entry in the cosmic MCU trilogy. “I guess I should be surprised it took you guys so long to get this one,” Gunn joked, before declaring, “[Bakalova] is incredible.” To be sure, such bragging on an actor is to be expected, especially in such a hyped-up movie. But the more interesting note comes in the Deadline tweet to which Gunn responded, which indicates that Bakalova will have a “key role” in the movie.

As of right now, we know very little about the next Guardians movie, save for the fact that it spins out of this year’s Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and that it involves Adam Warlock, played by Will Poulter. Set photos from the movie suggest that at least part of the movie will take place on Counter-Earth, a copy of Earth populated by animal-human hybrids and defended by Warlock.

But even based on those thinnest of hints, we do have a few ideas of what Bakalova’s key role could be. The most obvious guess would be Goddess, one of Warlock’s alter egos. Unlike Magus, a future version of Warlock who embodies all the selfishness and unrest inside him, Goddess is the manifestation of Warlock’s goodness. But while that might sound heroic, Goddess’s most prominent story involved her brainwashing several Marvel heroes in the 1993 crossover Infinity Crusade.

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The Counter-Earth in the movie could mean that Bakalova will be playing Ellie Roberts, one of the four human teenagers who become Adam’s disciples. Ellie and her friends give Warlock the name Adam (a decision made by Elizabeth Debicki’s Ayesha in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), and she serves a major role in one of the character’s first important stories. The death of Ellie’s younger brother Eddie partially drives Warlock to search for tranquility.

Outside of Warlock, there are several characters important to the Guardians of the Galaxy comics for Bakalova to play. Perhaps the most notable are Moondragon and Phyla-Vell, both key members of the team. In the comics, Moondragon is Heather Douglass, the human daughter of the man who becomes Drax the Destroyer and a powerful telepath. Her partner Phyla-Vell is the daughter of Kree warrior Mar-Vell (played by Annette Bening in Captain Marvel), complete with energy powers and super-strength.

Of course, all of this is just speculation. Knowing Gunn, Bakalova could be playing some out-of-left-field character we’d never guess. We’ll know for sure when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 releases on May 5, 2023.