Nebula has had one of the most complex stories in the MCU. She began as your common villain, killing good guys and fighting the heroes. The good streak that came equipped with Gamora was seemingly nonexistent in Nebula but Marvel had a plan for her. Instead of killing her off, as one might expect, she was allowed to survive another day. It was in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 where her heroic side finally started to blossom, leading to what would be a very redemptive story in Avengers: Endgame.
Having Fun for the First Time
You’re probably looking at this picture and saying to yourself, “What? Is that Nebula smiling?” Yes…it is. At the beginning of Endgame while Tony Stark and Nebula are stranded aboard Star-Lord’s ship they play a game. For nearly all of Nebula’s life, she has been trained to be a killing machine. The competition between her and her sister Gamora was never pleasant. They were always at each other’s throats, each daughter trying to prove dominion over the other, and as Nebula constantly lost their sparring matches Thanos would replace another part of her with something to augment her abilities.
Nebula didn’t know what fun was until this very moment with Tony Stark. For a second, she almost seems like a normal human being whose every instinct hasn’t been crafted to kill. It’s actually a really touching moment and the first step of her redemption story.
Taking Care of Tony Stark
Several seconds after we see Tony Stark and Nebula playing a game things turn morbid as Tony narrates the dire situation the two have found themselves in. With their rations depleted and one bag of oxygen left Nebula decides not to split it but gives the rest to Tony Stark.
It’s a moment of kindness we haven’t really seen from Nebula, immediately showcasing that this is a different character than the one we’ve gotten to know over the years.
Helping The Avengers
When The Avengers were trying to figure out where Thanos had departed to Nebula could’ve secretly stayed loyal to her father and not tell them of his location but after losing her sister to the Mad Titan and knowing that he had successfully wiped out half of all life she couldn’t stand by and let him get away with it.
It’s yet another sign of how much Nebula had changed. No longer was she the brainwashed assassin whose only goal was to impress her maniacal “father” who only saw her as a tool in his galactic cleansing. Instead, she was an independent woman who was willing to do whatever it took to help fix all of the bad things that she had done under Thanos’s name.
She had officially become a hero.
Nebula Tries To Save Herself
Nebula had changed. Her mission was to defeat Thanos but during the Time Heist there was a glitch. She was captured by Thanos and had to confront her villainous self from the past. After Gamora rescued her she went to stop 2014 Nebula from completing Thanos’s will.
When Nebula confronted her past self she didn’t shoot first and ask questions later. She instead tried to show 2014 Nebula a different path, but when faced with no choice, she would have to kill her past self to keep her sister Gamora alive.
It was a powerful moment in her storyline, for it was a literal testament to how far she had left her old self behind. Or, as Kylo says, “Let the past die. Kill it if you have to. It’s the only way for you to become what you were meant to be.”
Ha! That was the ultimate franchise crossover.
A Hero Risen
Nebula had never found her place in the galaxy but after turning her back on Thanos she realized what it meant to have…friends. At the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, she was still a loner but here, by the end of Endgame, she has joined the Guardians of the Galaxy, a new sense of resolve and purpose on her face.
It’s the final step to her redemption and a sign that yes, anybody can change.
This actually makes me feel sad about Loki, for he too swayed from villainy to heroism but unfortunately he would not survive Thanos. Wouldn’t that have been beautiful though? Loki and Thor at this moment standing side by side as brothers once more. That truly is a wonderful thought. 😢
Speaking of Thor, tomorrow the series turns to him. I can’t wait to share it with you.
I thank you for reading and I hope you have a fantastic day.