The Guardians of the Galaxy films are filled with characters who aren't your typical heroes. But the members of the team that most walks that fine line between good and evil is Nebula. Like Gamora, Nebula is a daughter of Thanos and has a tougher time than her sister getting out from under his shadow.
While Nebula has battled the Guardians in the past, she has also become one of their fiercest members. She has changed a lot over the course of the films and we have seen a lot of different sides of her, both good and bad. But which is the real Nebula? Here are some MCU moments that prove Nebula is a true Guardian of the Galaxy and Avenger, and moments that suggest she'll always be a daughter of Thanos.
After Thanos succeeds in his plan to wipe out half the universe, Nebula really seems to finds herself as a hero. While she might still be a little rough around the edges, she joins the remaining Avengers in keeping the universe safe following the catastrophic loss. But it is the time heist where she really proves herself.
With a glimmer of hope at bringing all their friends back, the Avengers travel through time to collect the Infinity Stones. Nebula officially becomes one of the team, joining the heroes in this dangerous task and Nebula knowing it might mean she'll face her father again.
During the time heist, Thanos from the past, who is still alive and well, learns of the Avengers' plans to reverse "the snap". Therefore, he sends past Nebula to infiltrate the team and sabotage their plans. Though Nebula from the past is very different from Nebula of the present, it shows how torn she is about serving Thanos.
Even as past Nebula is confronted with her future self, knowing that she will eventually betray Thanos, past Nebula cannot bring herself to do it. She dies a pawn in his games choosing him over the heroic path.
Pretty much all of the Avengers have a pretty good reason for hating Thanos, but Nebula holds the longest grudge of them all. We see throughout the various movies that Nebula is willing to go to extremes and put her life on the line in order to kill her abusive father. While revenge might not be the most heroic motives, it does seem to work.
Wanting to kill Thanos is the thing that put Nebula on her path to being an Avenger. She flies to Titan, prepared to join the other heroes in battling Thanos and joins them in ambushing him once "the snap" has happened.
Nebula's hatred for Thanos is not something that came up all of a sudden. His cruel ways have caused her to despise him for a long time and she probably would have betrayed him long ago if she wasn't so afraid of him.
Nebula is not a character who is easily intimidated, but Thanos' years of abuse have left an impression on Nebula. When we see the past version of Nebula choose Thanos, it isn't because she thinks he is right, but because she is convinced that he would never allow her to leave. That sort of psychological hold cannot easily be broken.
Sometimes suffering a great loss can help reveal a person's true self. In Nebula's case, it was the decimation of half the life in the universe that allowed her true colors to show. Though Nebula had shown hints of heroism before, after "the snap" she proved herself to be a true Avenger.
Nebula was once a person who was only interested in looking out for herself. After losing most of the only friends she has, Nebula changes her ways and helps the Avengers restore order in the universe.
Despite the heroic things she eventually does, Nebula certainly has a bad side. She does not like to be pushed around and fights back against anyone who might stand up to her. Because of that aspect of her personality, being on Thanos' side must be appealing.
Thanos is one of the most powerful beings in the universe. Though she might hate him, his power means that Nebula herself is also powerful. She can destroy her enemies and do what she wants as a daughter of Thanos. That power would be hard to walk away from.
Nebula and Gamora have really had a tumultuous relationship over the years. Nebula has tried to kill Gamora on several occasions which really made her seem like the eviller of the two. However, it is later revealed that Gamora might not have always treated Nebula so well in the past.
The two sisters eventually come to an understanding and show genuine love for each other. In fact, Gamora is probably the only person Nebula truly loves. With their new relationship established, it seems that Nebula is willing to follow Gamora down a more heroic path.
It's clear that Nebula has a lot of good within her. She knows right and wrong and seems drawn to do what is right. However, her harsh and torturous upbringing might have corrupted too much. Thanos attempted to break down her daughters and build them into ruthless killers. With Nebula, he might have succeeded.
We've seen the good that Nebula is capable of as well as the evil she is capable of. There might still be a battle between those two sides. Nebula might not be able to completely overcome the corruption of her upbringing no matter how hard she tries.
Nebula may not have always been heroic, but she is not the only Avenger with a dark past. Pretty much all the heroes have done things they wish they could take back, while someone like Black Widow has done things that still haunt her. However, it is Nebula's past that could keep her on the right path.
It is clear now that Nebula has put aside her more evil intentions and wants to do good in the world. She now seeks redemption like a lot of heroes. As she continues to seek redemption, Nebula seems to only become a better person.
Though Nebula clearly hates Thanos, her feelings are more complex than that. She does not just resent him for mistreating her but also for favoring Gamora. She might want to kill him but she probably wants his acceptance just as badly. So what happens if she gets that acceptance?
In Avengers: Endgame, we get a glimpse at how such a gesture might have changed Nebula. Before Thor kills him, Thanos suggests he was too hard on Nebula which seems to make her react oddly to his death. We then see past Nebula willing to stay with Thanos when he shows even the slightest bit of pride in her. With a little acceptance, Nebula might have been a devoted follower of Thanos.