Marvel Studios' Newest Villain Is the MCU's 'Cruelest' One Yet, Reveals Director

By Richard Nebens Posted:
Guardians of the Galaxy 3 High Evolutionary Thanos Killmonger

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will reportedly bring the MCU's cruelest villain ever in the High Evolutionary, as teased by director James Gunn.

Marvel Studios is looking to get back to the standard that the MCU has built for the last 15 years with Guardians 3, which will introduce Chukwudi Iwuji to the franchise for his debut after working with Gunn in the DCU's Peacemaker.

Iwuji's performance was already described as "explosive" by Gunn last year, setting high expectations for what his High Evolutionary will do to the fan-favorite team of intergalactic misfits in this threequel.

And with the High Evolutionary's superpowers being teased as something thrilling, new comments from Gunn will only ramp up the hype for his debut even further.

MCU's Cruelest Villain Yet Coming, Says James Gunn

High Evolutionary in Guardians 3
Marvel

Speaking with ExtraTV at the world premiere event for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, director/writer James Gunn shared new details on Chukwudi Iwuji's High Evolutionary.

Gunn specifically noted that Iwuji plays "the cruelest MCU villain" that the franchise has ever seen, highlighting the negative effects he'll have on Rocket Raccoon as Rocket's backstory is explored:

"This guy over here [Chukwudi Iwuji] plays the cruelest MCU villain we'll ever see. So you get to see how he negatively impacts Rocket, his little friends."

Iwuji also spoke with BlackTree TV alongside co-star Will Poulter about his villain, sharing some insight into how he played the role.

Iwuji made sure to avoid any attempt to make the High Evolutionary sympathetic - something that has been done with past MCU villains like Thanos and Erik Killmonger:

"I leaned into the opposite of judging and embraced it big time and said, 'Look, this guy's a villain.' I mean often certain [villains] in this universe, we lose the sight of them as villains because we are trying to find a way of making them sympathetic, you know? But that was something that James and I knew we weren't going to do with this guy. We were going to ride it until the end."

If there's any redemption at all for the character, Iwuji wanted it to "almost be accidental" rather than the actor trying to pull those feelings out of the audience:

"And if there is any subtle redemption, it should almost be accidental or because we are all humans and flawed. As opposed to me striving to draw that from the audience. So I really enjoyed commenting to the zealotry and the narcissism and the single-mindedness of the character."

And while this may be seen as something extreme, Iwuji compared it to what people see in the worst figures in real-world history with their "sense of zealotry and narcissism and single-mindedness:"

"As extreme as that seems, when you think of some of the most horrific figures in human history, there is a sense of zealotry and narcissism and single-mindedness. So James told me right at the start, 'Ground this character.' And I grounded him in that way."

How Will Guardians 3 Villain Stand Out in MCU History?

Although the MCU is best known for its deeper villains like Thanos, Killmonger, and even somebody like Tom Hiddleston's Loki, Marvel Studios does have a few bad guys that are just brutal forces of nature with no remorse.

Marvel has taken this route with villains like Hugo Weaving's Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger, who sought to use the power of the Tesseract to power his army and prove his superiority over the Nazis.

Moving toward the end of the Infinity Saga, fans saw that same brutality with Josh Brolin's Thanos. Even though he had something of a sympathetic plan to make sure the universe thrived, his ways of accomplishing that goal were purely cruel, wiping out half of all life and killing his own adopted daughter, Gamora, in pursuit of the Soul Stone.

That vicious nature then continued into Phase 4 with Spider-Man: No Way Home's Green Goblin, as Willem Dafoe got to truly explore the villain's crazy side in his return. This even led to Aunt May's death as the Goblin persona took over Norman Osborn, unleashing pure hell on all three Spider-Men as he showed a thirst for blood and chaos. 

While most of the High Evolutionary's story is still being kept under wraps, he's already won over early critics for being a villain that fans are going to love to hate upon his arrival.

And considering how Rocket and potentially others are in for a brutal ride thanks to Iwuji's villainous antics, seeing Gunn describe him in this manner should only increase anticipation for how epic the upcoming battle will be.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is set to debut in theaters on Friday, May 5.