The High Evolutionary in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 explained

Chris Tilly
High Evolutionary in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 is in cinemas now, so here’s a brief guide to villain the High Evolutionary in the comics, and how that fits with the character’s journey in the new film.

The first Guardians of the Galaxy had a pretty dull antagonist in the shape of Ronan the Accuser. Vol 2 was much more interesting with Kurt Russell’s Ego on villain duty.

Vol 3, which is currently topping the box office, features a brand-new baddie called the High Evolutionary. Though he’s been a mainstay of the comics since the mid-1960s.

So here’s a brief overview of the High Evolutionary’s history on the page, and how that fits into the movie. So BEWARE OF SPOILERS AHEAD….

The High Evolutionary in the comics explained

High Evolutionary in the comics.

Here’s how Marvel describes the High Evolutionary in a single sentence: “Playing god, the High Evolutionary demands humanity’s evolution and, through genetic experimentation, creates anthropomorphic beings but does not covet his creations.”

Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the High Evolutionary was alluded to and mentioned earlier, but first appeared in The Mighty Thor #134 in Nov 1966.

His real name was Herbert Edgar Wyndham, and while studying at Oxford, he began experimenting with genetic manipulation. Following his expulsion, he became obsessed evolution, splicing animals with humans and other animals, and so Marvel’s version of Doctor Moreau was born.

Experimenting on himself means his abilities have fluctuated, but Marvel says of his powers: “The High Evolutionary evolves his brain to its full potential; he has virtually unlimited knowledge and intellectual ability. His vast psionic powers enable him to rearrange matter… he can evolve and devolve life, increase and decrease his own size/mass, and travel extra-dimensionally.”

His efforts to evolve humanity have pitted the High Evolutionary against the likes of the X-Men and The Avengers. While he also tried to create a “Counter-Earth,” which directly feeds into the plot of GOTG Vol 3.

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

There isn’t much back-story for the High Evolutionary in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, so we don’t get a sense of what drives him. But he definitely has the same complex in the film as he does on the page, even stating late in proceedings: “There is no God. That’s why I stepped in.”

The movie begins with him grabbing a baby racoon, and it’s through his horrendous experiments that Rocket is created. While his torturing of several other animals forms one of Vol 3’s most tragic storylines.

The plot of the new movies focusses on the High Evolutionary’s efforts to capture Rocket, or more specifically capture Rocket’s brain, which he considers to be his own proprietary tech.

What is the High Evolutionary’s plan in GOTG 3?

The High Evolutionary admires one of his creations.

The High Evolutionary wants the raccoon’s smarts because he’s trying to create the aforementioned Counter Earth; a peaceful utopia filled with his genetic experiments. Trouble is, the first effort turns out just like actual Earth, with crime and violence rife.

The High Evolutionary is striving for perfection, claiming “Anything I’ve done, I’ve done for the betterment of the universe.” But he’s ruthless in his efforts, killing his living experiments when they fail. And ordering the destruction of Counter Earth – and everyone on it – during the film’s finale.

The Guardians won’t stand for that, and it leads to a dramatic showdown where they beat him senseless. But rather than kill the High Evolutionary, they let him live, because that’s what truly evolved people do. And because – as Rocket puts it – “I’m a freaking Guardian of the Galaxy.”

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 is in cinemas now. You can read our review here, while for more on the movie, head to our dedicated GOTG page, or check out the below articles…

Best Easter Eggs | Pete Davidson cameo | Who dies? | Counter-Earth explained | Number of post-credits scenes | Avengers: Infinity War reference | Phyla-Vell explained | Is Yondu in GOTG 3? | Chris Pratt wants to return | Lylla, Teef and Floor explained | Does Rocket die? | Doctor Moreau influence | Adam Warlock, hero or villain? | High Evolutionary explained | Soundtrack details | Description of post-credit scenes | All actors and characters | Runtime explained | Why Rocket is the MVP | Is it streaming? | What is Blurp? | Ending explained | GOTG movies ranked | Will there be a Vol 4?