Nova Was Supposed To Lead James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel Cosmic fans never thought they would see their favorite characters make their way to the MCU.

Marvel Cosmic fans never thought they would see their favorite characters make their way to the MCU.

Nova Was Supposed To Lead James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy

Talk about an epic fail as it is learned the original idea in the MCU was to have Nova lead the Guardians of the Galaxy.

I’ve always known that Nova was a part of the original script from Nicole Perlman but had no idea that Nova was (at least it sounds like it) actually going to be the main character in the movie.

I’ve also heard Nicole Perlman’s take on the Guardians of the Galaxy was on the more serious side, at least more serious than what Gunn did with the property, as Perlman is said to be a big fan of science-fiction (compared to goofy sci-fi fantasy: think Star Wars vs Space Balls or Empire Strikes Back vs Flash Gordon or compared to what Gunn did with the Guardians).

We can actually thank Perlman for the Guardians of the Galaxy hitting the big screen as back in 2009 she was a part of Marvel’s screenwriting program and she chose to adapt Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s (DnA) stellar 2008 Guardians of the Galaxy comic book run (which in part led to the creation of this very site as I helped Marvel promote the comics).

What’s interesting about it learned that Nova was going to be the leader of the team in the movie, that also likely means Perlman was adapting Abnett and Lanning’s 2007 Nova run. We can also probably add Annihilation as well, as the late Keith Giffen launched Annihilation back in 2005/6 (awesome event) which led to both Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy and lots more from DnA.

Update: It’s claimed James Gunn tried to screw over Nicole Perlman from getting a writing credit.

At the time, Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova were considered lesser-known Marvel properties, and I can recall being told back then by people at Marvel that then-EIC Joe Quesada didn’t care about them, that he only cared if they sold and if they didn’t they would get canceled (Quesada isn’t a fan and doesn’t get Marvel Cosmic). Marvel didn’t give the comics or Marvel Cosmic any marketing or budgets, but yet, Marvel Cosmic under DnA and editor Bill Rosemann continued to sell well and bucked the trend of declining comic sales after the first issue thanks to the editor-coined “rabid” Marvel Cosmic fans.

Regarding the news about Nova leading the team in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, the info comes from the new book out, MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios (via Reddit), which also adds Perlman came up with the idea of Peter Quill using a mixtape, not James Gunn:

Nicole Perlman initially had Nova lead GOTG, but it was decided a more roguish figure was needed. Quill’s mixtape was her idea, which the MCC opposed. Otherwise, they didn’t contribute much feedback because they believed GOTG would inevitably fail and they could reign in Feige.

nova 2007 2 iron man

So what happened with Nova?

Following Nicole Perlman writing a script, James Gunn came on board Guardians of the Galaxy and decided to cut Nova (fans think James Gunn hates Nova for some reason) in favor of using Star-Lord as the only human-relatable character (even though Peter Quill is a half-alien), who actually in the comics is the leader of the team.

Nova wasn’t even a member of the Guardians back then, and I think, Nova has only joined the team in recent years in the comics.

Back in 2018, Kevin Feige did tease Nova, and Jim Starlin recently revealed that 45 minutes of extra footage was shot for Infinity War involving the destruction of Xander (which could have led to Nova’s MCU intro).

“Nova is… if we have a big board with a bunch of characters that have more immediate potential, Nova is on that board,” said Feige at the time. “Because of the connection to the Guardians universe, because there are more than one examples to pull from in the comics that are interesting. And you’re absolutely right, he was in the earliest drafts of the [Guardians of the Galaxy].”

nova star lord killed off marvel thanos imperative

They will never be forgotten

So following James Gunn going with the goofier take on the Guardians of the Galaxy, you know what happened?

Marvel Comics fired the creative team that inspired the multibillion-dollar movie franchise, canceled all the comics, and killed off both Nova and Star-Lord (Quesada confirmed it wasn’t because of low sales). How about that for a kick in the ass?

Marvel Comics would relaunch Guardians of the Galaxy with the 30 variant covers for the first issue (recall how I said Quesada never marketed the 2008 title). And guess who became the new writer? Brian Michael Bendis who was a part of the MCU Creative Committee (that Feige hated) and didn’t have a clue how to write Marvel Cosmic. Nice.

Marvel Comics also relaunched Nova, but with a new teen angst version by the head of Marvel TV, Jeph Loeb, that fulfilled all the necessary politically-correct checkmarks, with that version now rumored for the MCU, of course.

james gunn dan abnett andy lanning
Andy Lanning, James Gunn, Dan Abnett

Blame James Gunn?

Credit to James Gunn, Gunn did actually bring back Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning on a Guardians of the Galaxy comic after they were fired, and DnA even visited the movie set, so it’s not Gunn’s fault the comics got canceled.

And even if the movie would have been closer to Perlman’s script, DnA still would have found themselves out the door in favor of the Marvel Comics crew running the show back then.

There is also no doubt what James Gunn did with the Guardians ended up being a big hit, but man, what could have been?!

Am I still bitter to this day? Yup. Then again, maybe it’s better it didn’t happen. Yup.

Richard Rider Nova Marvel
Richard Rider Nova
nova 2007 11
marvel cosmic timeline

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