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Nebula: Our favorite BAEvenger

Contributed by
May 23, 2019

I don't know exactly when I started getting real thirsty for Nebula, but here we are.

Leaving the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, I can't say I held any particularly passionate feelings about the character, aside from finding Nebula to be an interesting side antagonist. I may have gotten extra defensive of Karen Gillan's accent, which isn't a great American accent but perhaps it's an absolutely spot-on angry space cyborg lady accent. But other than this and the Funko Pop figure that immediately ended up on my work desk, and unfulfilled fantasies of cosplaying as her, I hardly gave her a second thought.

But somehow, Nebula went from a went from feeling like kind of an underused supporting character to one of the most important in the MCU, and at the same time went from being "Hey it's cool to see Amy Pond in a Marvel movie" to "I want that mean robot lady to hurt me in the worst way."

Nebula Pop
I’m not into robots as a general rule.  Robots, droids, cyborgs, replicants, holographic girlfriend simulators — no judgment, just not my thing. Seeing this as a kid...

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...was not in any way an awakening moment for me.

I also seem to be wholly capable of seeing Karen Gillan as a perfectly nice, non-objectified actress. I respect her as a former Doctor Who cast member, I hear Selfie deserved better than it got, and I am quite excited for Gunpowder Milkshake to show its face around these parts. Yet, show me a couple of shots of her sitting around with the other MCU ladies in her blue head mold and suddenly I lose my ability to make words good. And that's precisely because of that aforementioned arc. 

When we first meet Nebula in Guardians, it seems that her main function is to be a scary lady nemesis to Gamora. But as we later learn, this is the point in her timeline when she is the most under Thanos' thrall. This is clearest when we meet that Nebula again during Endgame’s timey-wimey climax — and the dichotomy between how willing she is to kowtow to his demands versus the Nebula we’ve come to know, the one who recognizes his gaslighting, the one who reconciles with Gamora, the one who joins up with the Avengers after the Snap, and who even gently tucks Tony Stark in to sleep in the captain’s chair on the Benatar as it drifts silently through space.

What we see from Nebula between Guardians of the Galaxy and Endgame is a woman rebuilding herself. Just as Thanos replaced pieces of her with machine bit by bit, Nebula brings herself incrementally back to her own agency. She’s not magically relieved of her pain and her anger, but she learns how to channel it, how to make it the energy through which she can thrive. There’s something about that which very much appeals to me, perhaps for a reason as simple as often seeing myself too as a broken woman who has had to find her way back to something resembling a life.

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Credit: Marvel Studios

And maybe, just maybe I might have thought of a few other productive ways she could work out just a tiny bit more of that anger. With 2,195 entries on Archive Of Our Own featuring “Nebula (Marvel)” as a character, I’m certainly not alone.

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.

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