Major Spoilers Ahead For Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3!
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 brings the current era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s favorite space-faring team to an emotional conclusion. The film beautifully wraps up character arcs for key heroes like Karen Gillan’s Nebula, who may very well be at the end of her time in the MCU.
Beginning her arc as a villain, Nebula was quickly established as one of the most tragic figures in the MCU, whose history was filled with nothing but pain and torment. Although Nebula was able to overcome her tortured past, there are several events in her history that she will never fully get over.
10 Thanos Most Likely Killed Nebula’s Family
Although it is never shown onscreen, Thanos likely killed Nebula’s entire family. As the main antagonist of the Infinity Saga, the villainous Thanos conquered worlds and slaughtered half of their population. Occasionally, he also took select children like Nebula as his own, raising them to be brutal killers like himself after killing their families.
Nebula’s earliest memories most likely involve Thanos slaughtering any family she once had before taking her in and raising her as his own. Like the other children of Thanos, Nebula grew to loathe and fear her father, knowing exactly what the Mad Titan was capable of.
9 Nebula & Gamora Were Forced To Be Rivals
Despite her harsh exterior, Nebula is one of the more sensitive and vulnerable Guardians of the Galaxy. Growing up, the only thing that she really wanted was a sister, hoping that Gamora would fill that slot. However, Thanos made sure to pit his daughters against one another, forcing Nebula and Gamora to be rivals rather than friends.
Nebula’s hopes for a sister were crushed repeatedly throughout her childhood, as she was constantly measured up to Gamora, only to be found lacking. What began as hope quickly boiled into seething hatred that Nebula would foster for years before finally making amends with her sister.
8 Thanos Tortured & Maimed Nebula For Her Failures
Not only was Nebula forced to be Gamora’s rival, but she was also severely punished for failing to measure up to her more talented sister. Each time Nebula fell short of Gamora’s skill, Thanos replaced different parts of her body with cybernetics, all in an attempt to increase her combat capabilities.
Thanos’s experiments were cruel and inhumane, making his daughter more machine than woman. However, his efforts were successful, as his so-called enhancements indeed made her one of the strongest Guardians of the Galaxy. However, Nebula lost a key part of her humanity as a result, which would take years to recover.
7 Nebula & Ronan Were Defeated By The Guardians
During the events of Guardians of the Galaxy, Nebula and Gamora were sent to aid Ronan the Accuser in destroying Xandar. Nebula remained with Ronan even after Gamora ran away, even going so far as to help him betray Thanos. However, their plans were foiled by the Guardians of the Galaxy, forcing Nebula to retreat.
Nebula spent the next several months on the run from both her father and the Guardians, with nowhere to call home. In choosing to aid Ronan, she had pushed away what few allies she once had, leaving her completely alone. And while she tried to survive on her own, Nebula was eventually captured by the Sovereign and handed over to the Guardians.
6 Nebula Was Captured & Belittled By The Guardians
During the first act of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the Sovereign hand Nebula over to the Guardians of the Galaxy. The team claims to have apprehended the fugitive in order to cash in on the major bounty on her head. They also proceed to belittle Nebula for her villainous actions, adding insult to injury.
While Nebula’s early interactions with the Guardians were anything but loving, she would eventually come to see their point and join their efforts to protect the galaxy. In fact, Nebula would later become a leader among the Guardians of the Galaxy, showcasing just how far she’d come since her days working as Thanos’s assassin.
5 Thanos Killed Gamora Before Nebula Could Save Her
Despite their turbulent relationship, there was no one in the galaxy who Nebula loved more than her sister Gamora. Unfortunately, during the events of Avengers: Infinity War, Nebula discovered that Thanos had killed Gamora in exchange for the Soul Stone and that there was nothing she could have done to save her.
Gamora’s end remains one of the MCU’s saddest deaths to this day, in part because of how profoundly it affected the people she loved. Nebula hated to show any emotion, but even she couldn’t help but show just how affected she had been by the death of her sister.
4 Thanos Succeeded In His Quest For The Infinity Gauntlet
After killing Gamora, Thanos eventually acquired all six Infinity Stones, thereby completing the Infinity Gauntlet. After a fierce battle with the Avengers, Thanos was able to snap his fingers and erase half of all life from the universe, finally accomplishing the goal that he had been pursuing for his entire life.
Thanos’s victory was the worst-case scenario for Nebula, as she was forced to watch her abusive father gain everything he had ever dreamed of. To make matters even worse, every other Guardian except for Rocket Raccoon was erased from existence as well, once more leaving Nebula with few friends.
3 Nebula Failed To Get Revenge On Thanos
Nebula’s main goal in life was to find and kill Thanos, finally getting revenge for the years of torment he had bestowed upon her. However, Nebula was not the one to finally put Thanos out of his misery. Instead, she was forced to watch as Thor ended Thanos’s life and once more when Tony Stark killed an alternate-reality version of the Mad Titan.
Nebula’s entire goal was wiped out when the Avengers killed Thanos, leaving her without a mission. Thankfully, she was able to redirect her energy to helping refugees on Knowhere, choosing to help others rather than seek revenge. Nevertheless, Nebula might have been able to sleep better at night knowing that she was the one to kill Thanos.
2 Nebula Was Forced To Kill An Alternate Version Of Herself
All the pain and torment that Nebula had endured as a daughter of Thanos suddenly came flooding back when she came face-to-face with an alternate-timeline version of herself from 2014. This Nebula was still far too afraid of Thanos to rebel against him, eventually forcing Earth-616 Nebula to kill her in order to save the Avengers.
Killing someone with her own face must have been a traumatic experience for Nebula, especially because she knew how easily she could have gone down the same path. However, Nebula not only literally killed the past version of herself, but did so metaphorically as well, breaking free of Thanos’s chains and becoming her own person at last.
1 Nebula Watched The Other Guardians Leave
The only true family that Nebula ever had was the Guardians of the Galaxy, who gave her an opportunity to redeem herself and find a new purpose in life. However, the events of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 caused many of the team members to go out on their own, leaving a few behind on Knowhere.
Nebula watched as the only family she ever knew went their separate ways. While this moment was highly necessary for each Guardian to truly find themselves, it proved bittersweet for Nebula. Thankfully, she had progressed to the point where she was able to take the other Guardians’ departures in stride, knowing that she would be okay with the life she had built for herself on Knowhere.
NEXT: Every MCU Movie The Guardians Of The Galaxy Are In
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