Among the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s many characters, Karen Gillan’s Nebula had one of the most prominent arcs over the two-part Infinity Saga climax of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Unless you’ve read the comics, having the former Guardians of the Galaxy antagonist play such a major role in the climactic event may have come as a surprise, but Nebula’s past and personal connection to Thanos gave a real pathos to her story and made her arcs one of the most emotional.
After Thanos’ death and Nebula’s redemption, you might think that her arc is completed and her story has been told, but the actress who plays her would disagree. Guardians of the Galaxy’s Karen Gillan thinks Nebula’s story is ‘just beginning,’ as she explained:
I don’t feel like her story is over at all. If anything, I feel like her story might just be beginning. We found her in a really broken, vulnerable place and over the course of the movies, she’s had to face the source of all of her abuse. She’s just had this huge, cathartic experience and the source of the abuse has been eliminated, so what happens next? That’s something that I think is incredibly interesting. The healing can start but that’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to be immediate either.
According to Karen Gillan, Nebula has already went through a huge emotional journey during her time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but her struggles so far may not be her whole story, merely the first chapter. Now it’s about what comes next for Nebula and how does she move on from everything that has happened.
Nebula got to have this cathartic experience, which could be seen as the end of her story, by helping the Avengers to defeat Thanos. So now the source of her abuse and pain is finally gone for good. Nebula also took a page out of Kylo Ren’s book. Adam Driver’s Star Wars character said to let the past die and kill it if you have to. Well, Nebula had to and did just that, literally killing her past self, the self that was broken and manipulated. Now she can become who she was meant to be.
For Karen Gillan, with one door closed another opens for Nebula’s story to continue. The dragon has been slain but the scars from the battle do not go away, at least not instantly, healing takes time. So Nebula will be dealing with whatever lingering pain there is, while also being forced to ask herself what’s next.
Nebula’s entire life has basically been defined by Thanos, first trying to prove herself to him and win his love and then trying to kill him. So who is Nebula without Thanos, what kind of person does she want to be now that he’s gone? As the actress said, the question of what’s next for Nebula is incredibly interesting and that’s why her story is far from over.
The most obvious place we could next see Karen Gillan as Nebula and almost certainly will is in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, perhaps aiding in the Guardians’ search for her sister Gamora. But with the possibility of the Guardians showing up in Thor: Love and Thunder, maybe Karen Gillan will make an MCU appearance there first.