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High Evolutionary: Everything we know about the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 MCU villain

Let's take a look at the MCU's newest villain

Still image of High Evolutionary in Guardians of the Galaxy 3
Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios will release Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on May 5—exactly six years since Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 debuted in theaters.

James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy francise has a bright, bold, visual flair and humor, which works perfectly when dealing with interstellar underdogs like the Guardians—characters who were unknown to the public at large when the first movie debuted in theaters. These are not superheroes that can stand on name recognition alone; they need a killer story and script to get a mainstream audience invested.

And the same is true for the supervillains. If Rocket Racoon is relatively obscure to the average person, then the guy he's fighting is even moreso. In the first Guardians movie, it was Ronan. In the second movie, it was Ego. This time around, the Big Bad is the High Evolutionary.

Who is the High Evolutionary? What is his role in the comics, and what is his relationship to Rocket? Here is everything we know so far.

Who is the High Evolutionary?

Illustration of High Evolutionary
The High Evolutionary is an alias for Herbert Edgar Wyndham, a British geneticist and 'mad' scientist. He debuted in Thor #134 in 1966. As a young man, Wyndham was obsessed with evolution and the attainment of perfection. Typically, evolution is an eliminatory process, where over the course of eons, positive traits 'naturally select' themselves, and thus reproduce in future generations. Wyndham wished to speed this process along via genetic engineering, and create organisms that functioned at their highest potential.

Oxford University expelled him, at which point he teamed with scientist Jonathan Drew and set up a lab on Wundagore Mountain, which is associated with dark magic and witchcraft within the Marvel universe. (We see Wundagore in Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, where Wanda Maximoff destroys the Darkhold and seemingly sacrifices herself.)

It's an ironic, classic Marvel twist: the High Evolutionary is a hero in his mind, engineering scientific breakthroughs and maximizing potential. But his arrogance and ambition to play God to a new race of people, without fully considering (or caring about) the ethics and consequences, makes him incredibly dangerous.

What are High Evolutionary's powers?

Illustration of High Evolutionary

Over time, Wyndham becomes isolated, and he disappears further down the rabbit hole of his obsession. He creates a silver plated suit of armor to protect him from werewolves and other dangers, and he begins experimenting on himself, evolving his brain to the point that he has psionic powers, and can manipulate matter—evolving and devolving it—with his mind.

His suit, meanwhile, is technologically advanced to the point that it gives him regenerative powers; anytime he has an injury, he evolves out of it.

All of this comes at a cost. The High Evolutionary's genetic makeup is now unstable, and in some storylines, his abilities vacillate wildly.

What's up with the High Evolutionary's experiments? And who are the New Men?

Illustration of High Evolutionary
The High Evolutionary's most prominent group of creations are known as the New Men, a group of animals (like tigers, and pigs, and alligators) who Wyndham evolved into humanoids, and then educated and trained to serve him.

It went well, at least at first. The New Men became the Knights of Wundagore, and collectively stopped the evil elder god and demon Cthon. And they were largely loyal to Wyndham, who they respected as their creator. A notable exception was Man-Beast, a red wolf/human hybrid who hated his creator and tried to kill him on multiple occasions.

Does the High Evolutionary factor into any mainstream Marvel plotlines?

Illustration of High Evolutionary
One recent comics revelation is that longtime mutants Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch) and Pietro Maximoff (Quicksilver) are not true mutants. They were born as normal children; Wyndham's genetic experiments are what gave them their superpowers.

Other than that, the High Evolutionary's experiments regularly bring him into contact with the X-Men and Avengers—sometimes as enemies, because they try to stop him—sometimes as allies, when they face a common threat or interest—and sometimes as saviors, when they step in to help Wyndham undo the messes he creates.

Who's playing High Evolutionary in the movie?

Chukwudi Iwuji as the High Evolutionary
Chukwudi Iwuji will play The High Evolutionary in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. This is his first major role in a film project of this size and scope. Iwuji first gained notice as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and has since played the namesake roles in Hamlet and Othello, and Edgar in King Lear.

Who is High Evolutionary in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

In an interview with Comic Book, Iwudi said about his character, "I think you've got sort of a nice range of the charming, crazy, arrogant, dangerous sociopath. I don't know how else to describe him, but he's all those things."

We already know that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. will delve into Rocket's origin story. We also already know from the first movie's dialogue that someone genetically experimented upon Rocket, and the process was both painful and traumatic. And based upon that, we're guessing that the High Evolutionary is the person who did the experimenting.

Though High Evolutionary did not create Rocket in the comics,the MCU plays fast and loose with comics canon, and this would make the most sense as a direction for this character in this story.

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