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Guardians 3: How The High Evolutionary Is Different From The Comics

Contains spoilers for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3"

The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) is easily one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's most appalling villains. The "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" antagonist is completely focused on his self-stated mission to improve living things, but lacks the compassion and moral compass to do so ethically. He mauls, mutilates, incinerates, shoots, and torments countless animals in his quest to create perfect living beings, and routinely destroys entire self-created civilizations if (and when) they fail to live up to his impossible standards. He's petty, cruel, uncaring, and completely without empathy, outright mocking poor Rocket (Bradley Cooper) after shooting Lylla (Linda Cardellini). He's also prone to giving himself all sorts of brain-developing treatments, which makes him a very powerful and dangerous force to be reckoned with.   

Like most major MCU baddies, the High Evolutionary is based on a comic book character of the same name. However, even by supervillain standards, the character is so cruel that it's hard to believe that the MCU version could be an accurate representation of the source material. There are indeed some marked differences between the MCU and comics High Evolutionaries, to the point that the latter can be an outright benevolent figure in certain circumstances.

The comic book version of the High Evolutionary is from Earth, and his moral compass is far more complex

The comics version of the High Evolutionary is arguably even further removed from humanity than the movie version. This is somewhat ironic because unlike his "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" counterpart, he's actually from Earth. This High Evolutionary is an aspiring early 20th Century genealogist called Dr. Herbert Wyndham. He loves the teachings of future X-Men villain Mister Sinister and starts a bit of a mad scientist career, before eventually getting the hang of things and building his brain's powers to absurd lengths. Over the decades, he becomes so smart and strong that he poses a threat to the most powerful supervillains, and can even challenge cosmic beings.

Yeah, that's the thing. Though he's technically one himself, he does confront supervillains in the comics on occasion, and unlike the MCU version — who gets completely bodied by the Guardians in the grand finale — he's powerful enough to tangle with Galactus. The High Evolutionary tends to focus on his research and generally takes a bit of a "beyond good and evil" approach, which can make him either a valuable ally or a powerful enemy of any given faction, depending on the situation. He's upgraded multiple heroes, created numerous Marvel characters — though, surprisingly, Rocket isn't one of them — and held court on both Counter-Earth and Mount Wundagore (a location that plays a pivotal role in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness"). He's also significantly less mean and pointlessly rude than his MCU counterpart, opting instead for formal manners that make him either more or less annoying to be around, depending on your preference.

However, there are also similarities. Like the movie version, the comics High Evolutionary is closely connected to Adam Warlock, hides a badly mutilated face behind his mask, can play the villain due to his singular focus on his studies, and many of his hybrid experiments are dubious, to say the least. In a nutshell, you could say that the "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" version of the character simply focuses on the absolute worst aspects of the High Evolutionary and turns them up to 11.