James Gunn has taken a lot of liberties in adapting the Guardians of the Galaxy to the screen. From turning Yondu into a space hillbilly to making Ronan more of a popcorn fart than a Cosmic powerhouse, Gunn’s MCU versions of some classic characters haven’t always landed with me. One character who puts a check in the plus column, however, is Karen Gillan’s Nebula. After being abused and tortured at the hands of Thanos, Nebula is finally free of her father’s cruelty and able to move in a new direction. Gillan talked about Nebula’s past and potential future recently at GalaxyCon Live.
During a GalaxyCon panel, Gillan said, “I’m interested to maybe try and take her to a place now where she’s starting to rebuild her life,” something which, after killing her old, murderous self, should be interesting. She noted that ever since her introduction in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Nebula has “just had a really hard time of it. Though she started off as a villain, the audience has come to see her with “sympathy and empathy” now that we’ve seen how terribly she was treated by Thanos.
I was able to use a lot of psychology essays on that character, because she’s someone who has dealt with abuse from her father from such a young age. Not to make it too heavy, but he pitted the siblings against each other — she would be inferior and the scapegoat, while the other one was the golden child. It’s actually a quite common thing to happen within families and siblings. I don’t have any siblings, so it’s something I really had to read up on.
To Gillan, watching Thor separate Thanos from his head in Avengers: Endgame seems to be a pivotal, if not cathartic, moment in Nebula’s life, freeing her up to think about her future for the first time.
In Avengers, she had to face the source of her abuse, then actually watch him get eliminated from her life. I’m sort of thinking about future Nebula in the sense like, ‘What is she going to be like now that that person’s abuse has gone out of her life? How is she going to build herself back up again?’ Because it’s an odd feeling, I think, for someone who’s been abused by a parent, because they still love them and they’re sad that they’re gone, but also they hate them and they’re glad that they’re gone.
Gillan’s portrayal of Nebula as the character has grown has been a highlight of Gunn’s films. Her transformation from villain, to begrudging ally to full on hero now complete, we can look forward to her next steps as someone trying to move on from an incredible amount of trauma as one of the Guardians of the Galaxy!
The release date Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is, like everything else, is currently unknown but it is believed we will see it in theaters in 2023.