Which MCU character would win in a fight, Captain Marvel or Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3‘s Adam Warlock? The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “most powerful” debate has raged among fans since Phase 2 rapidly began broadening the franchise’s roster of super-powered characters. Though there’s no firm consensus on which hero currently holds that title, the most common picks are Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch (especially after her WandaVision boost), and Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, though that may soon change with Eternals on the horizon.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will introduce another keen contender for the MCU Heavyweight title – Adam Warlock. Left enraged by the Guardians of the Galaxy and their light-fingered raccoon, Ayesha, leader of the Sovereign, set about advancing the genetic engineering of her people to create “Adam.” The most powerful and destructive member of the entire Sovereign species, Adam (the MCU’s live-action version of Marvel comic character, Adam Warlock) will debut fully in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and Will Poulter is now officially cast in the role.
Adam Warlock will immediately become one of the strongest entities in the entire MCU, and as a space-faring warrior wielding cosmic power, comparisons to Carol Danvers are only natural. Brie Larson’s ace pilot continues to play a major role in the overarching MCU narrative, and returns in her 2022 solo sequel The Marvels… but is Captain Marvel stronger than Adam Warlock?
Although their origin stories are very different, Captain Marvel’s MCU powers are broadly the same as her Marvel comics counterpart. Brie Larson gained superhuman abilities through raw exposure to the Space Stone, whereas the original Carol Danvers was a Kree/human hybrid whose biology mutated thanks to the Kree’s psyche-magnitron. Danvers received gifts similar to Mar-Vell (who was also present during the psyche-magnitron incident) and became the superhero known as Ms. Marvel, before eventually transitioning to her more familiar guise of Captain Marvel.
Carol’s powers have disappeared, changed, reawakened and faded over the decades, but generally consist of enhanced physical attributes (the typical strength, speed, stamina and durability), manipulation of cosmic energy, flight, and regenerative qualities. In the Marvel comics, Carol possessed a form of mental cosmic awareness to sense danger before it happened, which is missing from the live-action character. On the other hand, MCU Captain Marvel gets Binary Mode, burning through cosmic power to supercharge her existing abilities. Binary Mode is the MCU interpretation of Danvers’ Binary transformation in the comic books.
Adam Warlock’s combat repertoire in the MCU remains to be seen, but the comic character is a well established Marvel powerhouse. Rather than the Sovereign, Adam was created by the Enclave as the epitome of human evolution – a genetically perfect being harboring unique physiology and awesome powers. Like Captain Marvel, Adam possesses super strength, speed, stamina and durability, and casts cosmic energy as a weapon. He’s also extremely difficult to kill, having something of a distanced relationship with Death, and using his cocoon to resurrect even after being killed. Other powers Adam Warlock has displayed throughout his lifespan include telepathy, teleportation, proficiency in magic, telekinesis, pyrokinesis and advanced cosmic senses. Though much of Adam’s power derives from the manner of his creation, the Marvel character has been augmented further by the Soul Gem (an equivalent to the MCU Soul Stone), which was a gift from the High Evolutionary. Adam’s bond with the Soul Stone has evolved his existing powers, making Warlock one of the Marvel universe’s most formidable entities.
Will Poulter’s MCU Adam Warlock comes bearing a very different origin story. Rather than being designed as the pinnacle of human evolution, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘s post-credits sequence reveals Ayesha created Adam as the next evolutionary step of her own people, the Sovereign. In theory, this would make MCU Adam even stronger than the comic character, since the Sovereign are already superior to us measly Earthlings. Likewise, Ayesha’s Sovereign are renowned masters of genetic engineering in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, whereas the Enclave was a coalition of (admittedly brilliant and well-funded) scientists originating on Earth. Again, one could argue that the Sovereign’s alien technology should produce a more formidable Adam Warlock than the comic books.
However, Adam’s alien origins might simply be compensation for his lack of Soul Gem. A fair portion of Adam Warlock’s comic strength can be attributed to having an Infinity Gem lodged in his head, and this simply isn’t going to fly on the big screen. Thanks to Avengers: Infinity War, we know the Soul Stone resided with Red Skull on Vormir until Thanos came along, which means Ayesha almost certainly couldn’t use the orange-y jewel on Adam without some serious timeline gymnastics (which, let’s face it, wouldn’t be the first time). More likely, Poulter’s Adam Warlock will have nothing whatsoever to do with the Soul Stone, which leaves Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 two alternatives. Either Adam will be under-powered in live-action, or the Sovereign’s superior scientific knowledge means Adam gets all of his comic book powers without the influence of an Infinity Stone.
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘s post-credits scene, Ayesha promises her Adam will be capable of destroying Star-Lord’s eclectic crew of space bandits, suggesting Will Poulter’s character demonstrates his might as a villain in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. This might explain Thor’s role in the threequel, as the As-Guardian can stand up to Adam while the others run away. In the Marvel comics, Adam is not only a heroic character (usually), he also turns on his own creators. This means the MCU’s new addition will likely switch sides before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is over.
Assuming Kevin Feige and James Gunn allow Adam Warlock more or less the same complement of powers and abilities as the comic character, it’s he who would emerge victorious in a fight against Captain Marvel.
Although both Marvel characters are capable of absorbing and hurling photon energy, Adam Warlock’s range of cosmic attacks is much wider. Whereas Carol Danvers traditionally sticks to Dragon Ball Z-esque waves and blasts, Adam’s cosmic techniques show more versatility, including the kind of energy constructs and matter manipulation rarely seen from Carol Danvers, especially in the MCU. In addition to his proficiency with energy, Adam Warlock’s quantum magic capabilities provide yet another edge over Captain Marvel, and his potential to sense Carol’s attacks and teleport away would prove especially annoying to Brie Larson’s character. Captain Marvel’s only hope against Adam Warlock would be to somehow negate his cosmic powers and engage in a fist fight, where the experience and guile of Carol Danvers might overcome her godly opponent.
Of course, even if Captain Marvel could take Adam Warlock down, he’d simply slip into a regeneration cocoon and revive for a rematch, whereas Carol’s regenerative anti-aging qualities are far more limited. Whatever angle you approach it, Adam Warlock (assuming his MCU powers mirror the comic books) has several upper hands against Ms. Danvers.
This outcome is supported by their respective battles against other Marvel comics characters, Thanos in particular. Carol Danvers boasts plenty of impressive victories against her name, and fared better against Thanos than many other Avengers (both in the comics and live-action). Nevertheless, Adam Warlock enjoyed a much easier clash with the Mad Titan. Adam successfully defeats the Infinity saga’s villain in Jim Starlin’s original story, and while Mar-Vell (an earlier Captain Marvel) also boasts a victory against the Mad Titan on his record, Carol Danvers does not. Elsewhere, Adam Warlock knocked out the mighty Silver Surfer (as a kindness to prevent his death), took a blast from Galactus, and was omnipotent enough to become the Living Tribunal. Very little in Captain Marvel’s superhero career comes close to such feats.
All of which would suggest that, despite Captain Marvel’s position among the strongest on the Avengers’ roster, Adam Warlock ranks among the strongest beings in the universe, several steps above Carol Danvers. That won’t necessarily carry over into Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but Brie Larson should watch her back nonetheless – Adam Warlock goes higher, further and, indeed, faster.