You can’t blame the Russos for having a little fun. Now that the blockbuster event movie Avengers: Endgame is behind them, Joe and Anthony Russo pulled our legs by “revealing” the Marvel hero Nova was in the crowded final fight against Thanos. The Russos later clarified it was a joke, but that’s not stopping legions of Marvel fans who only know the films from asking: Who is Nova?
Though Nova does not (yet?) have a solo film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he possibly already exists via the (now decimated) Nova Corps, which were introduced in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Here’s what to know about the latest Marvel “mystery” character that, even though he’s not in Endgame, can’t be stopped from appearing in the MCU in the future.
Meet Richard Rider
Richard Rider is just your average, run of the mill, bullied high school teenager when he is randomly chosen by Rhomann Dey — the last surviving member of the elite Nova Corps — to inherit his powers.
Left in a coma, Richard is instructed by Rhomann Dey, who gave Rider his powers in his final moments fighting against the evil Zorr, to succeed him and defend the planet. When Richard wakes up, he’s initially unsure if all that alien stuff was just a dream.
He quickly finds out it wasn’t, and steps up to fight Zorr as the new Nova.
In the decades that followed, Richard Rider would have many adventures as Nova, teaming up with heroes like Spider-Man and Thor and joining factions like the New Warriors. Richard also saw the reformation of the Nova Corps. on Xandar (which had been previously been destroyed by Nebula) and was named Centurion Prime, just like his bequeather Rhomann Dey.
Split between the Nova Corps and the New Warriors, Richard was in space with the Corps when the New Warriors found themselves at the center of Marvel’s Civil War. While Nova dealt with Annihilus in the crossover storyline Annihilation, the heroes of Earth were fighting each other in Civil War, which later inspired the 2016 movie Captain America: Civil War.
Meet Sam Alexander
In more recent years, a new teenager took up the mantle of Nova from Richard Rider. Sam Alexander, introduced in 2011 but starred in the newest volume of Nova in 2013, lives in Carefree, Arizona with an alcoholic father who yaps about being a “Nova Centurion.” But when Sam is injured and wakes up in a hospital, he meets Gamora and Rocket, who confirm to him his father isn’t delusional. He really was a Nova Centurion, and the Guardians of the Galaxy need his help.
In place of his father, Sam dons his helmet and becomes the new Nova. It was during Sam’s ongoing run that he participated in crossovers, like 2012’s Avengers vs. X-Men (he joined Captain America in the fight against Cyclops) and 2014’s Original Sin. In the aftermath of 2016’s Civil War II, Sam joined the teenaged superhero team the Champions, along with Ms. Marvel, Totally Awesome Hulk, young Cyclops (long story), Miles Morales, and Viv Vision.
Powers of a Nova
Those who take on the powers of a Nova, which come imbued in the costumes, gives wielders your standard issue superpowers: Enhanced strength, enhanced speed, flight, and energy projection.
Aside from willpower and imagination, you can think of Nova as Marvel’s Green Lantern: An alien police force that endows its users with superpowers and authority to right wrongs and fight injustice across the universe.
Is Nova in the MCU?
As far as anyone is aware, Russos included, neither Richard Rider or Sam Alexander have appeared in the MCU. But the Nova Corps have; they appeared in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, as the Nova Empire who are headquartered in Xandar, its capital planet. The Nova Corps, its law enforcement arm, were lead by “Nova Prime” Irani Rael (Glenn Close).
John C. Reily played Rhomann Dey, who unlike the comics wasn’t the last Nova Corps member but just a Corspman with a family, and Peter Serafinowicz (Shaun of the Dead, The Tick) as another Corpsman, Denarian Garthan Saal.
In Avengers: Infinity War, it is revealed by Thor the Corps (and Xandar) were destroyed by Thanos in his hunt for the Infinity Stones. As far as anyone is aware, there is no more Nova Corps. But that’s just how Richard Rider’s story began in the comics over 40 years ago.