Most of Avengers: Infinity War’s focus is on the heroes of the MCU taking on the Mad Titan Thanos, and establishing where everyone is going into Avengers 4 (which is the final part of Marvel’s Phase 3). With so much going on you’d think the movie wouldn’t have time do much else, but there where a few key scenes which (in classic MCU style) could well of been some clever setting up for future additions to the movie-verse, namely the superhero Nova.
The first version of Nova was Richard Rider, a high school student from New York who is selected by the final surviving member of Xandar’s Nova Corps to take on the power of the corps (and has a pretty similar origin story to DC’s Green Lantern). After using his new powers to reinvent himself as the superhero Nova, Richard eventually makes his way to Xandar where he helps in their war against the Skrull. Rider starred as Nova through a number of storylines and series from 1979 onwards, leading up to the creation and debut of the new Nova, Sam Alexander, in 2011.
Sam Alexander’s origin is a little different and involves his drunken father, who always claimed to be a part of the Nova Corps in his youth, going missing, only for Sam to discover his Dad was in the Nova Corps, and that Sam has to put on his father’s old helmet to save him. From there Sam becomes the new Nova, and goes on to be a member of numerous superhero teams such as the New Warriors, the Champions, and the Avengers.
Both versions of Nova share similar powers, being able to fly, harness superhuman strength, and project energy beams, but where Richard Rider was given his powers by the Nova Corps (via the Nova Force), Sam Alexander has to use the helmet to access the Nova Force. The actual set up for Nova in Infinity War was relatively small, and comes in a small line of dialogue between Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
After the Guardians rescue Thor they discuss Thanos’ plan and how they should act next, the god of Thunder explains that Thanos will be headed to Knowhere for the Reality Stone, as he has already been to Xandar for the Power Stone. Thor says that Thanos decimated the planet (which featured prominently in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie) and the Nova Corps along with it.
So now we know that the planet Xandar is at the very least in pretty bad shape, and likely a lot of the Nova Corps (if not all of it) is destroyed. The destruction Thanos brought to Xandar is never seen on screen, and although it wouldn’t necessarily have to, a possible Nova movie could feature show us Thanos’ attack.
With the destruction of the Nova Corps, the power of the corps and Nova Prime could then be transferred into a singular person, say Richard Rider or Sam Alexander, as a means of protecting Xandar in the future, or even at the point of Thanos’ attack. It would be vey cool (and very unlikely) if the full movie took place immediately before, during and maybe just after Thanos’ attack on Xandar giving us a smaller movie that still focusses on a big threat, and one that we’re already familiar enough with to understand.
Whether or not this small line of dialogue actually leads to Nova (probably the Sam Alexander version) becoming a part of the MCU is yet to be seen, and it could simply of been a throw away line to establish how Thanos got the Power Stone. That said Marvel are hardly ones to miss an opportunity, or better put, usually put these things in for a reason and so this being the gateway to bringing Nova into the universe is probably a pretty safe bet. Whether we see the character introduced in his own movie, a future Guardians of the Galaxy movie, or even a future Thor movie is all still up in the air, but I’d put a decent bet on the fact that we’ll see Nova in the MCU sooner rather than later.