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Guardians of the Galaxy's final boss, explained

The Marvel heroes face off against an epic villain with a long comic history.

Sean Keane Former Senior Writer
Sean knows far too much about Marvel, DC and Star Wars, and poured this knowledge into recaps and explainers on CNET. He also worked on breaking news, with a passion for tech, video game and culture.
Expertise Culture, Video Games, Breaking News
Oscar Gonzalez Former staff reporter
Oscar Gonzalez is a Texas native who covered video games, conspiracy theories, misinformation and cryptocurrency.
Expertise Video Games, Misinformation, Conspiracy Theories, Cryptocurrency, NFTs, Movies, TV, Economy, Stocks
Sean Keane
Oscar Gonzalez
5 min read
Guardians of the Galaxy game heroes

The Guardians of the Galaxy video game adventure has a dramatic climax.

Square Enix

The Guardians of the Galaxy game landed on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch via cloud gaming on Tuesday, bringing Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket Racoon and Groot on an epic Marvel adventure that sees them facing all kinds of alien threats.

The game "is a fascinating blend of the movie and comic book characters we've come to know and love," CNET said in our review, alluding to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and print history it draws so much inspiration from. This story may not be part of MCU canon, but it certainly feels like it could be.

One element that comes from the comics is the final boss -- it's a villain who first appeared in the '70s. Let's dive into a galaxy of SPOILERS.


Big Bad

The ultimate villain turns out to be the mightily malevolent Magus -- the dark side of the awesomely alliterative Adam Warlock. Both Adam's and Magus' origins are unclear in the game, but Adam was apparently found drifting through space in a cocoon.

He was awakened by scientist Raker and healed a bunch of terminally ill miners. They began worshipping him as a god, and the Universal Church of Truth formed around him.

As Adam grew more arrogant, Magus arose from his mind and sought to control every living being in the universe. Sensing Magus' growing power, Adam vanished into exile and Magus was trapped in the Soul Stone.

Magus in Guardians of the Galaxy game

After taking over Adam Warlock's body, Magus gets ready to stomp the Guardians in the game's final battle.

Square Enix

However, the Guardians inadvertently release Magus at the start of the game, and the Universal Church of Truth's influence quickly spreads throughout the galaxy. Acting through the body of Nikki Gold (the adoptive daughter of Peter's ex, Kor-El) and aided by Grand Unifier Raker, Magus convinces countless people to submit with The Promise -- essentially, a blissful illusion that reunites them with their lost loved ones.

The Guardians reject The Promise and find Adam, who helps them free Nikki and defeat Raker. All seems well… a little too well. After our heroes triumphantly fly away on their ship, the Milano, and the credits roll, Magus' name replaces those of random developers (hinting that his malignancy remains).

Cut back to the Milano, and golden boy Adam is looking a little dark as he fights apparent indigestion.

Adam goes bad in Guardians of the Galaxy game

Um, you're looking a little off there, Adam.

Square Enix

"Don't worry about little old me," he tells the concerned Guardians. "I feel simply fabulous."

They're forced into the final battle with Magus, who's ultimately defeated and trapped in the Soul Stone again. Guardians triumphant.

Does the game have a post-credits scene?

Midway through the credits, we cut to Peter talking to himself in the mirror, wondering how he and the Guardians will be able to take care of Nikki. Drax shouts in to say they've decided she'll take his room and he can sleep on the couch. 

This happens to the tune of Rick Astley's 1987 classic Never Gonna Give You Up.

After the credits, we get text updates on all the main characters. In summary, the Guardians' silliness continued, Adam got most of the credit for defeating the Church of Universal Truth and Cosmo the Spacedog remained the best boy (like there was any doubt).

There isn't any super clear sequel setup, though we get hints that the Mad Titan Thanos could be a future threat. He was allegedly slain by Drax in this continuity, but the villain's in-game profile notes that Drax reckons Thanos is alive, and space cops the Nova Corps are still hunting down the remainder of his army.  

Have we seen Adam or Magus in the MCU?

Adam has only made a brief appearance in the movies. In one of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2's many mid-credits scenes, Ayesha -- leader of the extremely golden Sovereign -- announces her plan to destroy those accursed Guardians with new creation "Adam," and we see a mysterious cocoon. 

MCU Adam Warlock cocoon

MCU Adam remains cozy in his cocoon.

Marvel Studios

Director James Gunn confirmed that Will Poulter will play Adam in the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie, which is due out May 5, 2023. We don't know how Poulter's portrayal of the golden superhero will play out -- most likely he will be an antagonist for the cosmic team of misfits. His role will likely grow afterward, possibly into that of an ally as in the game and comics. 

There haven't been any hints of Magus showing up in the MCU yet, but it's possible the next movie will start laying the breadcrumbs for his appearance. If Adam becomes a major player, Magus could show up as a major threat.

Adam Warlock comics

The character has been a major player on the cosmic side of Marvel Comics history.

Marvel Comics

What's Adam and Magus' comic book history?

Adam's first comic appearance came in 1967's Fantastic Four #66. He was created by a secretive group of scientists to be the perfect human, simply named "Him." This golden man fought the superhero team and Thor, before a beating from the latter forced him into a regenerative cocoon. When he emerged, he became Adam Warlock and was imbued with power of the Soul Stone.  

After kicking off his own adventures in the anthology series Strange Tales, Adam met up with Universal Church of Truth -- religious zealots  who power their technology with faith energy (sound familiar?) Leading this group is a powerful being called the Magus, later revealed to be a time-traveling Adam from hundreds of years in the future. To defeat him, Adam traveled to the future and captured him in the Soul Stone. 

The adventures of Adam Warlock and other cosmic characters, including Thanos and his adopted daughter, Gamora, came to an end in the '70s. 

When Marvel Comics' popularity began to soar in the '90s, more writers reached back into the archives and wiped the dust off unused characters. Adam, Gamora and Thanos returned to be part of Marvel's gigantic comic event, The Infinity Gauntlet

Magus in comics

Magus has been a cosmic threat several times in the comics.

Marvel Comics

That event ended with Adam obtaining the gauntlet and acquiring god-like powers. At the moment he obtained the Infinity Gems, all the good and evil aspects were removed from him. His evil side then took the form of Adam's former nemesis, Magus, leading to the Infinity War storyline, which is quite different from the MCU movie. Both it and Avengers: Endgame were more of a combination of the Infinity Gauntlet event and the 2013 Infinity story

In the comics version of Infinity War, Magus collects the Infinity Gems to once again form the Infinity Gauntlet, thanks to his army of evil superhero doppelgangers (Spider-Man's creepy copy is particularly memorable), but ultimately loses thanks to the combined efforts of Adam and Thanos. 

When the Guardians of the Galaxy comics were rebooted in 2008, Adam and Magus returned. They've shown up regularly in the years since.

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