According to Chukwudi Iwuji, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3's villain posed quite a challenge.
In the upcoming film, Iwuji plays the MCU's newest villain, the High Evolutionary. However, he's not new to the Guardians as he's the one who created Rocket Raccoon.
Director James Gunn cast Iwuji in the role after working with him on 2022's Peacemaker and, according to the Vol. 3 star, because the High Evolutionary was a challenge both on and off-screen.
Guardians Vol. 3 Star Talks Problematic Marvel Villain
In talking with DEK Magazine, Chukwudi Iwuji shed new light on his Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3's villain and Marvel's struggles with the character.
According to Iwuji, James Gunn wanted him for the High Evolutionary in order to "lay my stamp on it" and because the director saw "things in me so far that he wanted more of:"
“I knew that James wouldn’t have approached me to do it if he didn’t want me to lay my stamp on it. There was never a world where he was going to want me to do something that didn’t resonate with me. The reason he wanted me to do it is that he’d seen some things in me so far that he wanted more of."
In addition, the actor claimed Gunn felt "Marvel was struggling" with the decision to make High Evolutionary the antagonist as he's "not your normal superhero villain:"
"He [Gunn] felt that this character, that Marvel was struggling to get their heads around, is not your normal superhero villain. But even if it wasn’t the truly complex Shakespearean role that it turned out to be as we collaborated, I would have been interested anyway. I love this thing.”
Marvel Studios' alleged difficulties with the High Evolutionary character are understandable.
In the comics, the High Evolutionary - who began as a genetic scientist named Herbert Edgar Wyndham - experimented on animals, created a self-healing suit for himself, and established alternate versions of Earth, including Counter-Earth.
He also evolved his own intelligence and powers to that of cosmic beings.
In addition to telepathy and telekinesis, he could evolve and devolve life forms and manipulate matter at a subatomic level. In fact, at one point, Galactus had difficulties defeating him.
While the High Evolutionary is a significant threat, he's not one-dimensional. In fact, the comics have shown him to be well-intentioned and even compassionate at times.
No doubt adapting this baddie from page to screen was a complicated undertaking and one that James Gunn felt Iwuji could master.
However, just like the Guardians films themselves, Iwuji discovered that challenges were often offset with humor.
The actor shared how he could watch Mantis' Pom Klementieff "pour a glass of water and I'll find something funny in it:"
“Chris Pratt can crack jokes constantly, self-deprecating or situational ... he’s great at that. Sean Gunn, his jokes come out of nowhere – you think you’re seeing something serious, then you take a moment and go, ‘Oh my God, that was a joke, wasn’t it?!’ I can watch Pom [Klementieff] pour a glass of water and I’ll find something funny in it. Karen [Gillan] has a real Scottish dry wit, and then, of course, James is just like a sci-fi Mel Brooks.”
The Problem With the High Evolutionary
Again, it's no wonder that Marvel Studios reportedly struggled with this villain.
A sometimes well-intentioned baddie with a penchant for animal experimentation was problematic alone, not to mention his history of creating alternate worlds.
However, it's possible that the High Evolutionary's powerset proved to be a challenge as, on paper, the Guardians don't stand a chance.
Another problem may have been his comic book metal suit as the MCU is already crowded with characters wearing high-tech armor.
Knowing now this baddie was difficult to adapt, it will be all the more interesting to see Chukwudi Iwuji's take on the role when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 premieres.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 arrives in theaters on Friday, May 5.