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Phyla-Vell: A guide to Marvel's cosmic superhero, her origins, and powers

Captain Marvel, Quasar, and Martyr... Phyla-Vell has gone by many names

Image credit: Marvel Comics

Spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 below.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 still
Image credit: Marvel Studios

If you’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, then you might have some questions about the young girl from the mid-credits scene. Who is this young heroine, and how did she wind up joining the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Meet Phyla-Vell, one of Marvel’s cosmic heroes. She’s been known as Captain Marvel, Quasar, and Martyr. Now that she’s made her debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, let’s break down everything you need to know about Phyla-Vell.

What is Phyla-Vell’s origin?

Phyla-Vell's first appearance
Image credit: Marvel Comics

The circumstances behind Phyla’s creation can be considered it’s own saga. It all goes back to Mar-Vell, the Kree warrior who operated as the superhero Captain Marvel. Mar-Vell fell in love with a Titan named Elysius. A romance between Marvel characters typically ends in heartbreak, and this one was no exception. Mar-Vell died of cancer, which left Elysius emotionally shattered.

Seeking to continue her late lover’s legacy, Elysius mixed Mar-Vell’s genetic material with her own, creating a son. This child was named Genis-Vell, and he was artificially aged to adulthood. Genis followed in his father’s footsteps and took on the Captain Marvel identity. When Elysius was killed by Lord Syphonn, Genis used a mixture of magic and science to recreate the universe, reviving his mother in the process.

This is where Phyla comes in. Inspired by Genis’ act of heroism, Elysius once again used Mar-Vell’s genetic material to create another child. Elysius artificially aged the child, who she called Phyla-Vell. Phyla made her first appearance in Captain Marvel #16 (2003) in a story written by Peter David and penciled by Paul Azaceta.

What is Phyla-Vell’s role in the Marvel Universe?

Phyla-Vell takes on the identity Quasar
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Phyla has tried on a few personas over the years. Phyla took on the identity of Captain Marvel during a period where her brother was insane, but this was short-lived. After Genis snapped out of his mania, Phyla came to accept his place as Captain Marvel. During a battle with Annihilus, Phyla was able to retrieve a pair of Quantum Bands that the villain had stole from the hero Quasar. Phyla took on the identity Quasar, in honor of the Quantum Bands’ previous owner.

The Quantum Bands leveled up Phyla’s powers, turning her into a more formidable warrior. During a conflict with a villain known as Magus, Phyla encountered the telepath known as Moondragon (who happens to be Drax the Destroyer's daughter). A spark of attraction ignited between the two heroes, and they quickly became inseparable.

Phyla-Vell joined the Guardians of the Galaxy during the launch of their 2008 comic book. This series, written by Andy Lanning and Dan Abnett, would serve as the basis for the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. However, despite Phyla’s prominent role in the comic series, she would not be included in the movies until Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

During a mission to save her beloved Moondragon, Phyla made a bargain with a demonic entity known as the Dragon of the Moon. In exchange for Moondragon’s life, Phyla would become the new avatar of Oblivion, the cosmic entity of death. Phyla embraced her new role and renamed herself Martyr.

Goodbye Phyla-Vell, hello Phyla-Vell

The Phyla of Earth-18897 comes to Earth-616
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Phyla’s heroic career came to an end in Guardians of the Galaxy #24 (2010). While hunting for the villain Magus, Phyla came across a cocoon she believed her target was hiding in. To Phyla’s surprise, the villain Thanos emerged from the cocoon. Thanos attacked Phyla with his optic blast, killing her before she had a chance to react.

Years later, Marvel would introduce the Phyla-Vell of Earth-18897 in Infinity Countdown #4 (2018). This version of Phyla was happily married to the Moondragon of her reality. When their world was threatened by a deranged version of Gamora, Phyla and Moondragon journeyed to the 616 universe to retrieve the Reality Stone.

After the Moondragons of Earth-616 and Earth-18897 fused into one being, Phyla was thrown for a loop. It was initially hard for her to see this amalgamated version of Moondragon as her wife, but Phyla eventually came around. Since then, the Phyla of Earth-18897 has become a permanent resident of the 616 universe. She’s currently a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

What are Phyla-Vell’s powers?

Phyla-Vell uses the Oblivion Sword
Image credit: Marvel Comics

As the daughter of the Kree warrior Mar-Vell and the Titan Elysius, Phyla-Vell has inherited phenomenal cosmic powers. As a hybrid, she is stronger than members of the Kree and Titan races and can easily best any of their warriors in combat. Phyla’s unique genetics have also given her the ability to absorb cosmic energy, which makes her somewhat of a power sponge.

Phyla has inherited her father’s cosmic awareness. This ability enhances her intuitive precognition and boosts her combat skills. Unfortunately, Phyla’s cosmic awareness is cancelled out when she wears her Quantum Bands. However, the Quantum Bands also boosted Phyla’s other abilities, leveling her up as a cosmic warrior.

While wearing the Quantum Bands, Phyla can conjure force fields and create energy constructs. After losing her Quantum Bands, Phyla discovered that she was still able to channel their powers through her Quantum Sword.

Why is Phyla-Vell’s role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Phyla screencap from GOTG 3 trailer
Image credit: Marvel Studios

Phyla made her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The MCU version of Phyla is one of the Star Children who was genetically engineered by the villainous scientist known as the High Evolutionary. During the film we see Phyla gleefully running on what we could only describe as a space-age hamster wheel.

It’s worth noting that Phyla is able to run the complete circle without being affected by gravity. It’s unknown if this is due to the “hamster wheel’s” gravitational pull, or if it’s a special ability Phyla has. During the exercise, the High Evolutionary notes that Phyla is able to run for hours without interruption.

During the final act of the film the Guardians rescue Phyla and the other Star Children, who find a new home in Knowhere. But the real surprise came during the mid-credits scene. After Star-Lord, Gamora, Nebula, Drax, and Mantis leave the Guardians, Rocket forms a new team. Phyla is included on this new team, along with Groot, Kraglin, Adam Warlock, Cosmo, and Blurp. This scene also identifies Phyla by name for the first time.

The scene briefly gives us some character development, with each character sharing their favorite musical artist. Phyla is partial to Korn and Britney Spears. The mid-credits scene ends with the new Guardians preparing to battle a monster. We don’t get a chance to see Phyla in action, so it’s unknown what abilities she has. However, we can confirm she has enhanced stamina thanks to the hamster wheel scene. It’s possible she has other powers as well, due to genetic engineering from the High Evolutionary.

It's worth noting that the script only identifies her as Phyla, rather than Phyla-Vell. There does not seem to be any connection between Phyla and the character Mar-Vell. The MCU version of Mar-Vell was introduced in the 2019 film Captain Marvel. The movie used a gender-swapped version of the Kree hero, who was played by Annette Benning. However, it’s possible that the High Evolutionary used Kree genetics when he created Phyla. If that’s the case, Mar-Vell could be Phyla’s genetic donor.

Phyla is portrayed by a young actress named Kai Zen. The child star is known for her various voice roles, such as Pepper on the series Eureka and Young Wandering Blade in Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight. In fact, due to her busy career as a voice actress, this isn’t even Kai’s first Marvel project. The actress voiced an unnamed girl during an episode of the preschool series Spidey and his Amazing Friends.

Buy tickets to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on Fandango or Atom Tickets.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the best superhero movie in the past six years

Joshua Lapin-Bertone

Joshua Lapin-Bertone: Joshua is a pop culture writer specializing in comic book media. His work has appeared on the official DC Comics website, the DC Universe subscription service, HBO Max promotional videos, the Batman Universe fansite, and more. In between traveling around the country to cover various comic conventions, Joshua resides in Florida where he binges superhero television and reads obscure comics from yesteryear.


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