Following rumors of Nova being set for a debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for its Phase 5, speculation among fans began in regards to how the character could make his first appearance. As it turns out, one fitting explanation for Richard Rider's origin story in the MCU as he becomes The Man Called Nova would be to show how he inherits the full power of the Nova Corps as its home of Xandar is destroyed. Rider takes on the Xandarian Worldmind as a means to preserve its existence, burdened with balancing the responsibility of having power to make a difference but also having to survive and protect the Worldmind. However, if the MCU is going to follow the destruction of Xandar being Rider's Nova origin story, the character's standalone film could bring Thanos back to the movies.
While Thanos was not responsible for the destruction of Xandar which brought Rider out as Nova, he is responsible for Xandar's destruction in the MCU. In Avengers: Infinity War, Thor explains that Thanos obtained the Power Stone "when he destroyed Xandar." Thanos, of course, is one of the best known Marvel villains as he served as the antagonist through the Infinity Saga films and came to the forefront for Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Josh Brolin reprising the role for a brief scene as the Mad Titan destroys Xandar would certainly become a possibility for a Nova movie.
For Marvel Comics fans, both Richard Rider and Sam Alexander are well known characters. However, the name of Nova may not mean much to the more casual fan who snacks on Marvel movies at the box office. Those casual fans, however, are familiar with Thanos as proved by Endgame's title of the biggest movie of all time at the worldwide box office. Not only would it be sensible in terms of the origin story to feature Thanos in a Nova movie but it would also be a smart play at the box office, especially if the villain made his way into a trailer or promotional materials.
This, of course, would all be set prior to the events of Avengers: Infinity War and would not be a permanent return to the MCU for Thanos who has now been killed off twice.
"Nova is… if we have a big board with a bunch of characters that have more immediate potential, Nova is on that board," Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told ComicBook.com in 2017. "Because of the connection to the Guardians universe, because there are more than one examples to pull from in the comics that are interesting. And you're absolutely right, he was in the earliest drafts of the [Guardians of the Galaxy]."
Whether or not Nova will be a character who gets their own movie or a supporting character popping up in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 or a Captain Marvel sequel remains to be seen.
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