Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 star Karen Gillan says Nebula is "starting to rebuild her life" after the death of abusive adopted father Thanos (Josh Brolin) in Avengers: Endgame. There Nebula, through time travel, was reunited with the 2014 version of her adopted sister and former rival Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who was killed by Thanos in 2018 when the Mad Titan sacrificed his "favorite daughter" to unlock the Soul Stone — one of the six Infinity Stones Thanos required to fulfill his goal of eliminating half of all life in the universe — in Avengers: Infinity War, where Nebula first teamed with Earth's mightiest heroes in their attempt to prevent galaxy-wide genocide.
"I was able to use a lot of psychology essays on that character, because she's someone who has dealt with abuse from her father from such a young age," Gillan said during a virtual panel at GalaxyCon Live. "Not to make it too heavy, but he pitted the siblings against each other — she would be inferior and the scapegoat, while the other one was the golden child. It's actually a quite common thing to happen within families and siblings. I don't have any siblings, so it's something I really had to read up on."
For Gillan, who has portrayed the character since the first James Gunn-directed Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, added she admires Nebula for her ability to "slightly move past that a little bit."
"In Avengers, she had to face the source of her abuse, then actually watch him get eliminated from her life," Gillan said. "I'm sort of thinking about future Nebula in the sense like, 'What is she going to be like now that that person's abuse has gone out of her life? How is she going to build herself back up again?' Because it's an odd feeling, I think, for someone who's been abused by a parent, because they still love them and they're sad that they're gone, but also they hate them and they're glad that they're gone."
Nebula has "just had a really hard time of it," leaving Gillan feeling "sympathy and empathy" towards her character. In Vol. 3, Gillan added, "I'm interested to maybe try and take her to a place now where she's starting to rebuild her life."
Following the death of Thanos and his army at the hands of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) in Endgame, Nebula and the Guardians — Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) and Rocket Raccoon (voice of Bradley Cooper) — were joined by Thor (Chris Hemsworth) before leaving Earth in search of the time-displaced Gamora.
The fourth Thor movie releases February 11, 2022; Disney and Marvel Studios have not yet announced a release date for Vol. 3.