Out of the various confirmed Disney+ series and films in development, audiences want to see NOVA the human rocket. A character originally similar in a few ways to Peter Parker, the publication of NOVA has showcased significant character development into one of Marvel’s richest cosmic characters. Essentially the Marvel version of Green Lantern and the Green Lantern Corps, Nova and the Nova Corps are a police and peace-keeping organization throughout the galaxy. Within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Nova Corps is the military and police branch of the Nova Empire. In this post, we’ll explore how the MCU has so far built towards either the Richard Rider or Sam Alexander’s versions of Nova.
NOVA (Richard Rider) Overview
Richard Rider, like many Marvel characters, was born and raised in New York. When he was a teenager in high school, the alien Rhomann Dey randomly selected Rider to become the next Nova and eventually Nova Prime. It was explained that the Nova Corps’ home planet of Xandar was destroyed by the intergalactic pirate Zorr, which killed everyone on the planet besides Dey. Because he was mortally wounded, Rider was selected out of desperation but overwhelmed by the power and knowledge. Now infused with the energies of the Nova Force, he gained superhuman strength, speed, durability, flight, and a Nova uniform which protected him in harsh environments such as space.
Rider helped Dey defeat Zorr before his passing and became the superhero Nova. In his years as Nova, he would fight in multiple intergalactic wars and witness the regular destruction of either Xandar or most Nova Corps members. When he became the last remaining Nova and Nova Prime, he absorbed the Xandarian Worldmind, which is a supercomputer composed of the memories and personalities of deceased Nova Corps members. Richard Rider, during his adventures, would interact often with the Guardians of the Galaxy and Kree Empire throughout his publication history. He would become a legendary leader of the Nova Corps and one of the most respected individuals in the galaxy.
NOVA (Sam Alexander) Overview
Sam Alexander was born and raised in Arizona, the son of previous Nova Jesse Alexander. Unlike Richard Rider, Jesse was a member of the black ops group unit known as the Supernovas. The obvious difference between Novas and Supernovas was the color of their helmets. Members of the Nova Corps would have golden helmets, but Supernovas used black helmets. Black helmets receive the Nova Force through built-in reactors instead of requiring the Xandarian Worldmind.
When Sam Alexander’s father went missing, the helmet was found by him, Gamora, and Rocket Raccoon. Sam was trained by them and during rough times would talk to the Watcher on the Moon. While Richard Rider quickly became a soldier and commander in various intergalactic battles and wars, Sam acted more as a scout to warn of incoming invasions. He joined other teenage heroes such as Miles Morales (Spider-Man) and Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) in creating the Champions team.
The MCU: How It Sets Up NOVA
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Nova Corps was first introduced in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. They haven’t appeared in person since, although they have been mentioned in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Captain Marvel, and Avengers: Infinity War. Within an early draft for Avengers: Infinity War, Nova was going to crash onto Earth and announce “Thanos is coming.” That didn’t pan out and that scene, inspired by Sam Alexander’s Nova introduction, was replaced by the Hulk’s return to Earth.
With Nova reported to appear in the MCU, the biggest question would be HOW the character could be realized. The Nova Corps we saw in Guardians of the Galaxy is very different than the comic book interpretation, although the ending of GOTG leaves a solid foundation. Before Thanos destroyed Xandar, already like the situation which led to Richard Rider’s origins, the Power Stone was in their custody. On Earth, with the Mind Stone and Space Stone studied by human scientists, great technological advancements and weapons were made.
Using the Space Stone for example, here are select technological advancements made on Earth:
- The new element from Iron Man 2 which partially recreates Tesseract energy as theorized by Howard Stark
- Arc Reactor technology – Developed as an alternative to the new element and later used to power Iron Man technology
- Light-Speed Engine – Designed by Kree scientist Mar-Vell using the Tesseract which ended up empowering Carol Danvers with cosmic superhuman abilities
If the MCU needed to introduce their version of the Nova Force, potential research of the Power Stone would make sense. If Tony Stark can create a perfected Arc Reactor in the 2000s and the Kree scientist Mar-Vell could develop the Light-Speed Engine in the 1980s, imagine what the Nova Empire could design studying the Power Stone for four years with highly advanced technology. Kree soldiers have also already been shown to wear special suits that protect them in space or hazardous environments, so the Nova Corps likely already has similar equipment as needed.
The Nova Empire could use this as a basis for a power source, like the arc reactor, to empower Nova uniforms. This could be used to explain their energy projection, flight, and other abilities. This wouldn’t be dissimilar from how Supernova helmets have built-in reactors that supply the user with the Nova Force. When Ronan possessed the Power Stone, he showcased powerful energy blasts so it’s likely the Nova Corps used that as an influence for their research. However, the biggest challenge would be explaining why Richard Rider or Sam Alexander would be unique among any surviving Nova.
With Richard Rider, the best route to go would include Rhomann Dey, played by John C. Reilly, crashing to Earth while wounded. I think a great way to explain the upgraded Nova uniform would be to say it was the first and only suit made with technology derived from studying the Power Stone. It’s possible after Thanos’ invasion, the remaining members of the Nova Empire put that research into military and weapon development instead of strictly scientific efforts. Based on Dey’s rank as a Denarian during Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s likely he could have reached Nova Prime by the events of Avengers: Infinity War. If the Nova Prime was killed during Thanos’ invasion, it would also make sense for Dey to be the next-in-line as well.
With Sam Alexander, the best route to go would be potentially after establishing Richard Rider as Nova. This is because the MCU can state that Sam’s father was killed in action by Thanos, serving as an inspiration for why Richard would select him as his partner out of respect. Sam Alexander would likely be a great addition to the MCU as he can join the Young Avengers and focus on Earth-bound adventures while Richard Rider handles larger cosmic threats with Captain Marvel or Thor. A buddy-cop Disney+ series would likely be a great route to take based on their dynamic in recent runs of NOVA comics.