Welcome back to Look of the Week, celebrating the best in TV and film sartorial excellence, past and present across sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genre classics!
(Warning: This piece contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, so proceed with caution!)
Nebula’s distinct blue and purple metal veneer was not a personal aesthetic choice or something she was born with. Every time she lost a fight to her adopted sister Gamora, Thanos “upgraded” her body with cybernetic enhancements. Hatred coupled with a desire to please her father figure is a dangerous combination, particularly when her entire being is a reminder of what Thanos did to her. Nebula’s journey from the first Guardians of the Galaxy to Avengers: Endgame has been one of the most rewarding to watch, cutting deep beneath her metal framework.
Detailed spoilers for Avengers: Endgame lie ahead.
Somehow, no one notices Nebula has a different arm. Even though her sleeve hides a portion, those are still some bad observation skills by these guys. After all, her metal fingers are visible in her white quantum realm suit.
Much like her body, Nebula’s clothing has a borrowed sentiment, which is always in a state of repair. A sleeve missing here, a tear there. The leather jacket worn in Endgame is different, as it is a complete garment with suede and textured panels. Despite all the big losses, Nebula has found her place in this team. The jacket as designed by Judianna Makovsky is a natural progression for a Nebula who has been working with the Avengers for five years. Makovsky has also been designing the costumes of this world for a long period; her costume tenure started with Winter Soldier and this is her fifth MCU movie outing.
Growth and the ability to change is a big part of Endgame. Altering the present by going back to the past is an element of this, but on a more personal level, these characters face a reckoning of a different kind. Nebula has changed more than most, and not just on a physical level. Infinity War is far from the first time Thanos has ripped her apart (before putting her back together), but unlike the Nebula from 2014, she knows there is way out of this abuse cycle.
Earlier in Endgame, her knowledge of Thanos is used to hunt him down. When Thor (Chris Hemsworth) aims for the neck, Nebula ends up with a face covered in her father’s blood. The trauma levels are high for this character that has been repeatedly pulled apart and put back together again with modifications. Considering she was meant to die in the first Guardians movie, Nebula’s journey from villain to hero is one of the most complex and rewarding. Karen Gillan's performance adds depth and pathos, as well as humor in her deadpan delivery.
In Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2, her rudimentary claw and tattered outfit were switched out for a Ravager ensemble and a sophisticated arm replacement. These parts of her were not from Thanos, which is the first stage in getting her to a place in which she could beat him.
The jacket upgrade in Endgame with its strapping embellished sleeves gives Nebula a fresh spin on her older ensemble, plus it shows the passing of time when Endgame jumps five years into the future (see both photos above to compare and contrast).
It is hard to tell when Nebula is happy, but she has made deep emotional connections. The makeup also means it is hard for Gillan to be too animated and she jokingly refers to the prosthetics as a “face prison” during an interview with Vanity Fair. This is also evident in the recently released behind-the-scenes shot of the MCU women at a lunch organized by Downey Jr., as Gillan insists she is “smiling on the inside.” I wouldn’t want it any other way from Nebula.
No matter the genre, leather jackets are a costume shorthand for a character who is edgy, tough and no-nonsense. For Nebula, this clothing choice is another form of armor. In Endgame, her asymmetric signature styling is replaced with this complete garment. It still emanates toughness, but it also underscores the self-worth she now has. Sure, this jacket is taken from her and is used as part of Thanos’ scheme, but she still wins in the end.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.