The news about Marvel’s Nova movie could explain the mystery character teased to appear in the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. According to a report, a Nova movie is one of five projects Marvel is preparing to put into production in 2023. The others are a Thunderbolts movie, Shang-Chi 2, an Okoye show tied to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and the previously announced Fantastic Four. If the report is accurate, audiences could see the Human Rocket on the big screen in 2024 or 2025.
Originally introduced as a teenage cosmic superhero and a new take on the Spider-Man formula, Nova achieved a great deal of popularity as a solo hero, a New Warrior, and a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Through the existence of the Nova Corps in the MCU, the setup is already there for his character to make an appearance, but Marvel has thus far avoided the hero. However, comments made by Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige have made it clear that he remains on the radar for future MCU projects. Nova was nearly included in Infinity War and Endgame, but a decision was made to save him for a bigger role. Based on the news about Marvel’s 2023 plans, the chance for that to happen could arrive in Phase 5.
It’s possible that Nova’s MCU debut was the subject of James Gunn’s mystery character tease. In early October, Gunn said that “one of the greatest MCU characters of all time” would appear in Disney+’s Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. As for who this person could be, Nova immediately emerged as a favorite candidate among fans. At the time, many argued that Gunn, who tends to dive into obscure corners of comic book worlds, was most likely referring to a C or D-list character, as opposed to being a high-profile hero. However, A Nova movie being on Marvel’s Phase 5 slate would certainly boost his chances of showing up and meeting Star-Lord’s team in the 2022 special.
Marvel using its Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special to hype up the MCU Nova would make sense, but there’s some question over how it would work. It’s not clear if Marvel would be willing to put Nova’s origin story in a project other than his solo MCU movie, and the studio electing to make him an established superhero from the onset feels unlikely. After all, Richard Rider’s evolution from an ordinary teenager into an experienced protector of the cosmos is a key part of his comic story. However, it could be that its holiday-themed story will heavily involve a young Richard Rider before he gets his hands on the Nova helmet that gives him his powers. If so, the special could ultimately set up his Nova transformation in Phase 5.
Similar to how Loki laid the groundwork for Ant-Man 3’s Kang the Conqueror, there’s a chance the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special will shepherd Nova into the MCU and use his role to build excitement for a potential solo trilogy of his own. Finding a place for him shouldn’t be too difficult, especially since the Nova Corps are already a part of the story of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. The actions of Star-Lord’s crew could somehow factor into how Richard Rider obtains the iconic Nova Prime helmet.