The Guardians of the Galaxy are getting closer and closer to returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 set to arrive in 2023, and production on the verge of beginning, James Gunn and his team are finally putting the rest of the cast together. The first new member of the cast comes in the form of The Maze Runner's Will Poulter, who will be taking on the role of Adam Warlock, a character first teased at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Warlock is likely going to have a major role in the long-awaited Guardians 3, but there's always a chance we see him on-screen before that.
Poulter's casting news arrived ahead of production on Guardians 3, just far enough that it could raise questions about a potential early appearance. This may be a major role in the MCU going forward, so chances are Gunn, Kevin Feige, and the rest of the folks at Marvel Studios just wanted to do a thorough job casting the character. However, it's at least worth pondering where else Adam Warlock could show up, considering the timing of his casting announcement.
Several of the Guardians of the Galaxy characters will be featured in next year's Thor: Love and Thunder, which has already wrapped filming. That said, the characters could have some sort of post-credits scene that sets up their final movie, a scene that Gunn could be shooting at the start of his production. Perhaps Adam Warlock could pop up in a scene like that.
There are multiple cosmic-set, non-Thor MCU projects on the slate for 2022. This includes The Marvels and Secret Invasion, two titles that are sure to be directly connected to one another. Secret Invasion is a series starring Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury, who has taken up a post in space, dealing with issues out in the stars as opposed to those here on earth. If a powerful being like Adam Warlock was involved in any kind of issue, it stands to reason that Fury would at least hear about it.
Letting Warlock debut in another project, even if it's just as a quick mention, takes some of the heavy lifting from Guardians 3. It's how the MCU has always worked, teasing and introducing characters early on, allowing more time to be spent on their actual stories and journeys in the films or shows where they're actually featured.
Thor 4 and The Marvels are both confirmed for 2022, and Secret Invasion will probably debut next year as well. It shouldn't come as a major surprise if we see Will Poulter at some point over the course of the year. Then again, his first appearance coming in Guardians 3 wouldn't be too much of a shock either. We'll just have to wait and see!