Here's Why Nebula Switches Sides in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'


Nebula and Gamora have never had an easy relationship, whether you’re talking the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the Marvel comics they call home. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will have Nebula joining her stepsister Gamora and the Guardians on their mission, proving that sisterly love and loyalty is truly above all else … or, maybe not.

In Marvel’s comics, Nebula is a much bigger bad than she’s made out to be in the MCU, where she masquerades as a B-plot villain with a chip on her shoulder. Nebula actually gained control of the Infinity Gauntlet (the point behind all these mysterious, rainbow-colored power stones running around) from Thanos in the comics at one point after he turned her into a “living sculpture” of pain to appease his main squeeze, Death. Nebula has been omnipotent twice in her comics run since she appeared in Avengers #257 in 1985, interacting with hosts of cosmic beings and taking on the Avengers on multiple occasions.

Basically, Nebula is not to be fucked with, but the MCU has conveniently forgotten that due to deleted scenes and keeping Guardians somewhat separated from the Avengers’s franchise for the time being. Avengers: Infinity War in 2018 will be a different story, but that comes later.

For now, Nebula can’t very well steal the Infinity Gauntlet from Thanos and wreak havoc if Thanos isn’t there. So, she’ll kick it with the Guardians.

But how will Guardians Vol. 2 legitimize Nebula’s sudden change of heart? The last anyone saw of her, Nebula would rather tear off her own (bionic) arm and drop onto a moving ship rather than accept Gamora’s help. How do you go from despising someone to joining their galactic boy band of assholes two months later?

There is precedent in the Marvel comics for Nebula joining up with Gamora — as one of Gamora’s “Graces” in the Ronan: Annihilation series — but their “sister” storyline is very much not a thing, as Gamora is considered “the most dangerous woman in the universe” and runs the Graces as a cult.

Nebula taking on Ronan as one of Gamora's "Graces."

So it seems Guardians Vol. 2 will be veering away from anything to be found in the Marvel comics. If you’re Nebula, you probably join the Guardians for selfish reasons; it’s either self-preservation masquerading as wanting to repair her relationship with Gamora or wanting to get her hands on the Infinity Gauntlet.

The Guardians have come closer to the Infinity Stones than most in the MCU and have an understanding of their power. Nebula might be wanting to keep her friends close but her enemies closer. If she’s looking for revenge on Thanos (and wanting to follow comics continuity by stealing the Gauntlet for herself) then pretending to be “one of the good guys” could really work in her favor.

Karen Gillan, the actor behind Nebula, said that Nebula “is dealing with a whole lot of stuff” in Vol. 2. “We see a whole new side to her, a much more human side, actually, where we understand how truly awful and difficult her daddy issues are.”

And while “daddy issues” don’t necessarily equate “she’ll totally betray the Guardians and Gamora to seek revenge on Thanos,” it’s easy enough to assume that’s what will happen. Even Gamora’s Zoe Saldana has said that Nebula will be more “resentful and bitter” than ever, so sisterhood seems to be the last thing on her mind.

Discover what Nebula’s up to when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 premieres May 5.

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