Who’s Her? No, no, who is she? Right the first time actually, because Her happens to be her name! She has so many — Her, Ayesha, Kismet, J’Ridia Starduster, Paragon, and of course, She Who Must Be Obeyed — but whatever moniker she goes by, she’s the golden-skinned being that once planned a wedding with Adam Warlock. And now actress Elizabeth Debicki is playing Ayesha in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2!
Of course, some details will be massaged for the Marvel Cinematic Universe version (that sounded dirty) of the character, so we’re here to catch you up on Her and her story as it happened in the original comics. First, we go back to that fateful year 1977, when another sci-fi epic was wowing audiences in theaters…
The Enclave, a quartet of scientists determined to genetically engineer a new human race that would master the Earth and its future (yeah, that always goes so well), created the being known as Him in their Citadel of Science, or “Beehive.” They lost control of their Frankenstein’s Monster as anyone else might have expected, and while Him went on to become Adam Warlock, the Enclave picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and made another one: Paragon.
He wasn’t thrilled with their plans either, and so the Enclave were two for two while Paragon cocooned himself in an attempt to cook a bit longer. When the cocoon opened, Paragon was now a woman named Her, who set off to find her genetic equal.
Designed as another genetic construct in the mold of original Enclave creation Adam Warlock, Ayesha possesses many of the same powers, including her ability to function as a living storage vessel and manipulator of cosmic energy. Through her connection to that incredible resource, she can project energy offensively, use it for healing purposes in both limited (regenerative cocoons) and extensive (immortality) ways, reanimate the dead (bodily but not necessarily spiritually), achieve flight (in or out of breathable atmospheres), and even reorder objects on a molecular level. Even without any particular training, she also benefits from enhancement of all of her physical attributes, including strength and agility.
Created in the real world by the team of Len Wein, David Anthony Kraft, and Herb Trimpe, Paragon first appeared in The Incredible Hulk Annual #6 (1977), but Her emerged in Marvel Two-in-One #61 (1980) and immediately went looking for the only man in the universe for her — Adam Warlock. Discovering that he had died facing Thanos, Her attempted to resurrect Warlock but only succeeding in raising his body, not his spirit. Realizing this was no basis for a relationship — at least, not a long-term one — Her found new purpose as J’Ridia Starduster when defending an environmentally ravaged planet from an alien corporation called the Consortium.
The character’s intermittent appearances continued after that tale in Marvel Comics Presents #35 (1989), where Her returned to Earth, finally met a fully restored and disinterested Warlock, and decided to select Quasar as her new partner in adventure, adopting the name Kismet in Quasar #40 (1992). By this point, we have to assume that Her has some serious identity issues; well, wouldn’t you too? After some starfaring escapades, Kismet was reunited with the Enclave team, saving them from death and transforming them into lesser golden beings like herself. Later, two of them turned against Kismet — now called Ayesha (are you keeping up?) — and unleashed her on Marvel’s first family in Fantastic Four Vol. 3 #11 (1998). And if all that wasn’t enough, Ayesha (or whoever) has also popped up in some alternate timelines, including a future in which she and Quasar were the parents of Starhawk, who by the way was a member of the original Guardians of the Galaxy team in the comics. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired; time to regenerate in my cocoon…
From what we can tell, Ayesha’s origin will be substantially altered in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. For one thing, in this version she is the leader of an alien race known as the Sovereign (and perhaps any forthcoming MCU take on Adam Warlock will also hail from these gold-skinned folks’ world). The film begins with Ayesha hiring the Guardians to perform a mission for her, which subsequently results in her falling out with the team and hiring the Ravagers — led by an ugly named Taserface — to go after them. In other words, Ayesha is the villain of Guardians 2.
But since the cosmic thread of continuity in the Marvel movies will surely build in importance as we head into the massive mash-up that is Avengers: Infinity War, and since that epic tale features Thanos finally getting off his purple you-know-what and attacking our heroes, it’s likely that we’ll see some hints of what’s to come in the Guardians sequel. That could mean Warlock (whose cocoon may have appeared briefly in the Collector’s museum in both Thor: The Dark World and the first Guardians movie) finally makes his debut. But if he does, will he play hard to get with Ayesha on the big screen the same way he usually does in the comics? Time (and space) will tell…
Find Arnold T. Blumberg on Twitter at @DoctoroftheDead.