Marvel Studios' latest blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, appears set for a near record-breaking opening weekend at the box office, but does it also tease plot spoilers for the third instalment?
Eagle-eyed viewers of James Gunn's latest addition to the hit sci-fi franchise, released in UK cinemas on Friday (28 April), spotted that one of five extra credit scenes teased what may await the motley crew of space heroes in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, confirmed for release in 2020.
The scene features secondary villain Ayesha, a golden goddess and ruler of the Sovereign people, played Elizabeth Debicki, who reveals she has invested all the resources of her people into a special birthing pod able to create the perfect being — Adam — intent on wreaking revenge on the Guardians of the Galaxy.
It is a name that fans of the original comics may recognise as referring to Adam Warlock, a cosmic figure in the Marvel comic book universe, previously hinted at in the original Guardians of the Galaxy film.
In the comics, Warlock is created by human scientists to be the perfect human, originally calling himself "Him". He eventually rebels against his creators, including superhero Thor, before heading into space.
During these travels, he gains possession of the Soul Infinity Stone — one of six ingots in the Marvel Universe, which each bestow immense power onto their beholder, which are being hunted down by the intergalactic warlord, and father of the Guardian's Gamora, Thanos.
The Space Stone, the Mind Stone, the Reality Stone, the Power Stone and the Time Stone have featured in Marvel movies to date, so Warlock's Soul Stone would complete the set.
It is not yet clear what exact role this story will play in the third film. As the Radio Times suggests, it could also hint at Warlock's involvement in upcoming crossover movie Avengers: Infinity War, as much as the third direct Guardians sequel.
Speaking about the third episode in the franchise, which will again see Peter 'Star Lord' Quill (Chris Pratt) partner with Gamora (Zoe Saldana), join Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Drax (Dave Bautista) and Groot (Vin Diesel) in saving the universe, Gunn confirmed he will return as director:
"So, after many months of ruminations and discussions, I know the answer. I could save this answer for the first, random interviewer to ask me during the press junket but instead I thought I'd share it with the most important people in the Guardiansverse – you, the fans, who have been so incredibly supportive and enthusiastic over the past five years, it has moved me to tears on a regular basis," Gunn explained.
"So, yes, I'm returning to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3."