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SYFY WIRE Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

GOTG Vol. 3: James Gunn says 'people are freaking out over' Chukwudi Iwuji's mystery role

Could the Silver Surfer be making his grand entrance into the MCU?

By Josh Weiss
Chukwudi Iwuji Guardians Of The Galaxy GETTY YT

Who exactly is Chukwudi Iwuji playing in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3? That's been the big Marvel question on our minds ever since James Gunn kicked off production on the long-awaited threequel back in early November.

At the time, the writer-director shared a photo of himself surrounded by the principal cast — all of whom we already knew about. Well, nearly all of them. Iwuji, who previously worked with Gunn on HBO Max's Peacemaker spinoff project, remains the only individual still shrouded in a cloak of tantalizing mystery. One of the most prevalent theories floating out in the digital ether posits that he'll be playing Norrin Radd, aka the Silver Surfer. Whether he's tackling the Herald of Galactus or another character entirely, fans should still prepare themselves for a knockout performance.

"It's going great. Chukwudi, who plays Murn in Peacemaker, is one of the main characters in the movie and people are freaking out over how good this guy is. Like, literally freaking out," Gunn told Collider about GOTG Vol. 3 during a larger conversation about his upcoming DC television series (streaming later this week). "And so, I think that I'm really happy. I gave a bunch of scenes to Marvel right before Christmas break and ... they were all really, really, really stoked. But also, it's not going to be the movie people... It's different than what people are going to expect. It's a hard road, but I'm really happy with it so far."

This isn't the first time he's hyped up Iwuji's role. When filming on Vol. 3 first began in late 2021, the director called him "one of the best actors I’ve ever worked with," and as such, decided to bestow him with "the role most every big name actor in Hollywood wanted."

"For me to come in with a guy like him who ... works with people of that caliber and — certainly for Guardians could have had anyone he wanted for this role...for him to have that faith in me, that's what you need as an artist," Iwuji stated during an conversation with The Movie Dweeb YouTube channel.

Guardians of the Galaxy 3 Logo YT

Iwuji also addressed the the swirling rumors, some of which have him pegged as other cosmic standbys like Nova, Beta Ray Bill, and the High Evolutionary: "I saw those recently, I've seen that. I saw Silver Surfer, I saw Nova, I've seen [others]. For me to wrap my head around the fact that I am the subject of speculation around the internet is kind of fun. But I have to stay mum, I can't tell you. I'd love to."

The actor is one of two confirmed newcomers to the Guardians universe — the other being Will Poulter (MidsommarBlack Mirror: Bandersnatch), who will officially step into the role of Sovereign-created super-being Adam Warlock. The rest of the ensemble is made up of returning actors: Pom Klementieff (Mantis), Dave Bautista (Drax), Sean Gunn (who plays the Ravager Kraglin and provides the motion-capture for the Rocket Raccoon), Chris Pratt (Star-Lord), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Vin Diesel (voice of Groot), Bradley Cooper (voice of Rocket), and Elizabeth Debicki (Ayesha).

The third film in Gunn's retro-inspired trilogy will be preceded by a holiday special on Disney+. While still scheduled to drop at the end of 2022, photography has yet to begin for the peripheral project, whose script is completed. Gunn revealed that the delay in filming has come down to the COVID-19 pandemic and its latest — and highly-transmissible — variant, Omicron.

"It's still upcoming in the shoot. We were supposed to shoot one day in L.A., and there's too much Omicron around, so we couldn't do it," he told Collider. "So we're going to have to fit it in. I haven't started yet. I'm excited to. It's fun. The holiday special is... I'm almost jealous of it, even though I wrote it because people freak out so much on how much they love the script for the holiday special that I'm almost like, 'Well, wait! I've got this movie here [that] I've been working on for two years. You love the holiday special that I literally wrote in a very short amount of time.' But, it is really funny and really good."

Barring any delays, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is slated to hit theaters on May 5, 2023. Viewers can check out Iwuji's in action as "ruthless mercenary" Clemson Murn when Peacemaker arrives on HBO Max this coming Thursday (Jan. 13).