Of all the remaining superheroes, it might be Thanos’ daughter who ends up saving the day.
Let’s take stock, shall we?
At the end of Avengers: Infinity War, half of the world’s assembled people – superheroes or not – had been wiped out by a single click of Thanos’ fingers. The Snapture, as it has become known on the internet, was a devastating act made by possible by Thanos’ collection of each infinity stone and placing them in his gauntlet.
Black Panther is gone. Star Lord is gone. Doctor Strange is gone. Spider-Man is gone. Bucky is gone. Also gone: Scarlet Witch, Groot, Drax, Mantis, Nick Fury, Maria Hill, all the Pyms and Shuri. Dead. Or so Infinity War wants you to think.
How long any of these characters actually stays dead is a question for another story and another time. But it’s interesting to run down the list of names and see who survived and who didn’t among the Avengers. Because one of them is going to be the key to defeating Thanos. And we have an idea who that might be.
Courtesy of Captain Marvel’s end credits scene and the new Endgame trailer, we know that Captain Marvel is going to figure heavily in the next Avengers film. Thanks to those photon blasts coming from her fists, Captain Marvel is going to be a force to be reckoned with. She can fly through space, hurl alien spaceships from the sky and is imbued with an enormous amount of power. Thanos is toast, right?
Well, maybe. I do think that it will be a female superhero who fells the final fatal blow to that shrivelled up prune of a bad guy Thanos. But it might be someone other than Captain Marvel. It could be Nebula.
Nebula (Karen Gillan) joined the Marvel cinematic universe back in 2014 in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. She was a lean, mean, part-robot killing machine, raised as the adopted daughter of Thanos alongside her adopted sister Gamora (Zoe Saldana).
But foverer in Gamora’s shadow, courtesy of her older sister’s superior martial arts skills and favour with their abusive father. Their animosity powered the first film before ultimately being resolved in one epic fight in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The two sisters worked out their differences and united in the face of one common goal: defeating their father.
“As a child, my father would have Gamora and me battle one another in training,” Nebula says in the first movie. “Every time my sister prevailed, my father would replace a piece of me with machinery, claiming he wanted me to be her equal. But she won, again and again and again, never once refraining. So after I murder my sister, I will buy a warship with every conceivable instrument of death. I will hunt my father like a dog and I will tear him apart slowly, piece by piece, until he knows some semblance of the profound and unceasing pain I knew every single day.”
What’s that thing they say about revenge? It’s best served cold, yes. But it’s also the ultimate motivator. That’s what we saw Nebula up to in Infinity War, attempting to end Thanos’ life and winding up imprisoned and tortured as a result. Gamora frees her, with Nebula joining up with the remaining Guardians – as well as Iron Man, Doctor Strange and Spider-Man – on Titan. By this point, after decades and decades of torture and abuse, Nebula is primed to strike back at her father.
Of the Guardians, only she and Rocket survived The Snapture. And of those left on Titan, only she and Iron Man were left standing.
According to theories, Nebula is going to save Tony from certain space death and the two of them will team up to defeat Thanos. You know how it goes: this time, it’s personal. For Tony, avenging all his fallen friends, and for Nebula.
Gillan teased as much in interviews, telling Fandango that she has a “new BFF” in Endgame. “I can’t tell you [who it is]. I can’t,” she said. “But I promise you it’s brilliant and unexpected and just so good.” With Iron Man’s snark and Nebula’s aggressive dedication, the two would make a formidable team. And at some point in Endgame, we believe our intergalactic heroes will rendez-vous with the other space strewn Avengers in pursuit of Thanos.
From there, it’s not hard to imagine a world in which Nebula kills Thanos as a final, brutal act of vengeance. This is how it goes down in the comics, after all. Nebula snatches the infinity gauntlet from Thanos, stripping him of his power. Gillan mused recently that she’d like to just do that onscreen, going one step further and isolating how she’d kill her abusive cinematic father if given the chance.
“I would like to maybe take the Infinity Gauntlet, put it on, and then strangle him with it,” Gillan said. “And then say like, ‘Bye, Daddy’, or something.”
We like it. Of all the remaining Avengers, it’s Nebula who so distinctly has red in her ledger that she’d like to see wiped out. Sure, you can theorise yourself into a corner thinking about how Captain America and/or Iron Man will sacrifice himself for the greater good, how Captain Marvel will save the day, or how Doctor Strange is going to use that Time Stone to wind back the clock.
But we’re more interested in thinking about the very poetic justice of Nebula getting her vengeance, once and for all. Bye, Thanos.
Avengers: Endgame is in cinemas in the UK on 25 April and in the US on 26 April.