Earlier this July, San Diego Comic-Con unveiled much-anticipated footage of the newest Guardians film, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3, with a more emotionally mature outing than previously seen (via IGN) from the galactic group. Fans will have to wait until next May for the final cosmic adventure.
2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy introduced Nebula as a villain, but throughout the MCU, she rose to become a beloved hero in her own right. Nebula as a character has many facades, as a ruthless assassin and a beloved sister and has proved herself a vital member of The Guardians of the Galaxy. These memes across the internet perfectly encapsulate Nebula’s character.
10 She’s Overshadowed By Gamora
Nebula made her mark in the first Guardians film as a formidable villain whose source of animosity is reserved for her green-hued sister, Gamora. The film clearly sets Nebula and Gamora on opposite sides, with Nebula loyal to Thanos and Ronan the Accuser and Gamora as a double agent.
Nebula’s competition with Gamora sets her on a villainous path, and her highly emotional connection with her sister keeps her from becoming completely evil. Her character arc throughout the MCU is learning to step out of her sister’s shadow and be content with herself and her abilities.
9 She Has Much Growth As A Character
Nebula is one of James Gunn’s best characters, transforming from a ruthless assassin to learning how to work as a team. Fighting her past self when going back in time to retrieve the Infinity Stones shows how far removed from her old self she is.
She stands up to her past self when past Nebula tries to kill past Gamora and proves to be a better version of herself. Her transformation from villain to antihero and the fact that she’s willing to see her past actions as wrong make her incredibly evolved from her first appearance.
8 She’s Made Friends
Nebula’s most surprising friendship that came from the horrific events of Infinity War was her bond with Tony Stark. Drifting on the abandoned spaceship in the far reaches of space and having just lost Peter to the Blip, Tony and Nebula spend their time playing a paper football game, and audiences see a side to her they’ve never seen before.
Nebula’s never been particularly close to any of Marvel’s mightiest heroes, but her time drifting with Tony in the recesses of space endeared the Avenger to her. Her upbringing secluded her from the friendship and care others could give her, and her adventures with the Guardians in the forthcoming sequel may see her grow even closer to them.
7 She’s Never Won Before
The driving force behind Nebula’s actions throughout the first part of her journey in the MCU is her need to please Thanos and her sibling rivalry with Gamora. Being the not-favorite daughter of the Mad Titan understandably causes resentment and self-loathing and hinders her ability to see herself in a positive light.
In Avengers: Endgame, Nebula’s small win against Tony at a silly paper football game has major personal implications for Nebula, as it is the first time she had won anything in her life. Coming from a past where she continuously failed in the eyes of her father, her surprise by a trivial win speaks volumes about how her past trauma affected her.
6 She’s Tough
As a villain, Nebula is just about as ruthless as they come. She’s a cybernetic assassin, whose skilled at hand-to-hand combat, maneuvering spaceships, and using multiple weapons. In her assassin days, she worked for Thanos to enact the Titan’s will at any cost, and with the Avengers, she utilized her unique skill-set as a trained killer.
Nebula has proven she can take a beating. Her cybernetic arm and face prove incredibly useful against her enemies, and she can be cold and calculating in times of danger and crisis. When she goes back in time to heist the Infinity Stones, she’s able to fend off past Nebula at her most maniacal and efficiently take the Stone to save her timeline’s universe.
5 She Bonds With Former Enemies
As a black and white villain, Nebula has made some bad decisions, but her alliance with the good guys in later films opened her up to more emotional feelings. Whether with the Guardians or the Avengers, being surrounded by inherent goodness forced her to care about more than herself.
While Nebula typically is a character who takes the lonesome path, her unlikely team-up with the Avengers and Guardians means she cares more than lets on. Her time as Thanos’ assassin alienated her from forming meaningful connections with others. Her bond with the Avengers moves her from a clear-cut villain to a more morally ambiguous and independent character.
4 Nebula Secretly Loves Her Sister
Nebula’s feud with Gamora is fundamental to her character, and they are among the best MCU siblings. Her hatred fuels her actions throughout the MCU, first for Gamora, then Thanos. When Thanos pitted the sisters against each other for his approval, Nebula became defined by her competition with her sister.
The reveal in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 that Nebula only wanted Gamora as a sister rather than a competitor is telling about Nebula’s inner conflict. She’s constantly at odds with her sister and wants to love her. Their bond is strengthened by precarious situations they’re put in, such as Gamora saving Nebula from Thanos in Infinity War.
3 Nebula Is Cool In Every Universe
Nebula’s radical transformation in Marvel’s What If… saw her in a drastically different light, both in personality and appearance. T’Challa’s role as StarLord in this universe relegated Nebula to a golden-haired love interest, with a smoldering Lauren Bacall appearance that audiences were surprised by.
The MCU’s Nebula is defined by a fierce antihero outlook, while audiences get to see a different version of her in the animated series. What If Nebula is a femme fatale to T’Challa’s rogue-ish Star Lord, but she’s just as cool and resourceful in this universe as any other.
2 She’s A Fierce Assassin
Nebula’s persona is defined by her role as a trained killer, and little else is known about her beyond this role. Audiences are first introduced to her by her calculating demeanor and merciless attitude.
Like other brave female Marvel heroes, Nebula is clever and quick-witted but also driven by her own moral fiber, which makes her rather unpredictable. She’s proved through her time with the Avengers that she’s willing to do whatever it takes to help her team win, including adding to the body count with little remorse.
1 She’s Been Through A Lot
The root of Nebula’s revenge against Thanos stems from his blatant torture and dismemberment of her as punishment. While little is known of Nebula’s past, audiences come to know her as having a vengeful streak, one that comes to define her.
Although Nebula is a unique hero to Marvel, she’s also a tragic figure. Beyond the cruel disfigurement and being used as a weapon, she’s made no governing decisions in her own life about her own life. Thanos using her as bait for Gamora to reveal the location of the Soul Stone proves she never meant anything to him, and her revenge-seeking plan to kill him befits the cyborg assassin.
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