James Gunn, the director of Guardians of the Galaxy, explains why Nova was left out of the film. The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise began in 2014, led by a strong ensemble cast that included Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star Lord, Zoe Saldaa as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon, & Vin Diesel as Groot. At the time, its tone, many new characters, & celestial setting set it apart from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Guardians of the Galaxy are one of the most beloved superhero groups in the MCU due to their familial bonds and witty humor, with a sequel under their belt, appearances in some few other MCU films, and an upcoming holiday special and third installment.

The Guardians’ core members have remained the same in the MCU, though the group has expanded to include Mantis (Pom Klementieff) & Nebula (Karen Gillan), as well as frequent appearances from Yondu (Michael Rooker). However, several of the team’s comic book characters have yet to appear onscreen, including Nova Corps member Richard Rider, also known as Nova. Gunn explains why Nova wasn’t included in the MCU’s Guardians of the Galaxy during an appearance on the Phase Zero Podcast. Here’s what the director had to say:

“I never had Richard Rider in anything. He’s just too big of a character and he seemed too… I didn’t want to… From the beginning, when I came on board Guardians, I didn’t want to have two human beings. I wanted to have one human being so that he could be surrounded in this world of aliens. And then we realized little by little, that all of these characters are the only of their kind, they’re the only human being to them, you know?”

Why Does The Guardians Ensemble Work?

James Gunn Describes Why Nova Never Appeared In Guardians Of The Galaxy

Rider, a New York high school student, was appointed to replace Rhomann Dey, last remaining member of Xandar’s Nova Corps, after Dey’s death in the comics. The adolescent was endowed with Nova Centurion abilities such as flight, superhuman strength, & enhanced resistance to injury. In the films, the Guardians team interacts with Xandar and the Nova Corps, but Nova is nowhere to be found. Despite being a fan-favorite character in the comics, Nova’s youth and other factors could have added too many elements for the Guardians of the Galaxy movies to juggle given the already large ensemble cast, thus Gunn’s mention of Rider being “too big of a character.”

While Nova fought Thanos alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy in the comics, he was absent from the MCU’s war against the villain, most likely for the reasons Gunn outlines above. Gunn’s strategy of including a member of each species on the team has been critical to the success of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. The multiple cultural clashes provide numerous opportunities for comedy and introduce audiences to parts of the MCU that they may be unfamiliar with, but the choice also speaks to the franchise’s overall theme of found family.

Each member of the MCU’s Guardians of the Galaxy team has a tragic backstory that has led to their current loneliness and difficulty trusting others. Because each character is the only one of their kind on the team and appears unlikely to get along with the other “alien” species, the team’s eventual deep bond and camaraderie is extra satisfying and heartwarming. Furthermore, having each team member represent a different species, planet, history, and culture provided balance to the team because each member was always an outsider. As a result, they connected with the others, which would not have been possible if the Guardians of the Galaxy team had only two humans.

Source: Phase Zero