When Karen Gillan appeared in the 2014 movie Guardians of the Galaxy, not even the film’s creators realized what an important and lasting role her character Nebula would have in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Over the course of four movies, Nebula evolves from a fierce warrior on the side of evil to a powerful (if tormented) ally of the Avengers. And for some fans, Gillan has proved herself to be perfect for the part.
Who is Karen Gillan?
Gillan is a unique Hollywood star, but not because she lacks anything in talent or looks. According to Cinema Blend, she hails from Scotland, where it seems she was primed to take on dramatic roles at a young age. She made her own amateur horror movies when she was just in her teens. Her parents fully supported her. In fact, her father even appeared in her movies, often smeared with ketchup to look like he was bleeding.
She found stardom in the UK, landing a plum role on television as Amy Pond, a companion of the famous Time Lord on Doctor Who. After doing some acting in movies in Europe, she came to the US to appear on Broadway in 2013.
Around the same time, she was cast as Nebula in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. She went on to appear in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. She’s slated to appear next year in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Why is Nebula ‘wounded?’
According to the LA Times, Nebula was originally not intended to survive past the first movie, but the character proved to be so compelling that the franchise’s creators decided to keep her around and watch her character develop. And what a development arc it turned out to be.
Nebula was originally a villain, the adopted daughter of the Avengers’ arch-nemesis Thanos. Thanos trained her and her adoptive sister Gamora to fight for him, but he treated her brutally, torturing and mutilating her whenever she failed. This abuse eventually helped lead to his downfall.
Over the course of the four movies she’s been in so far, Nebula turns on Thanos and Gamora, eventually joining forces with the Avengers to bring her adoptive father down. Along the way, she develops a bond with Tony Stark.
Fans noticed one scene they were in together, and they were impressed at how well Gillan portrayed her character’s emotional pain.
Paper football and important lessons.
Fans on Reddit got into a discussion of this important moment. In this scene, Nebula and Tony Stark are playing a game of paper football during a dark and hopeless moment.
Instead of treating her callously, as you might expect from him, Stark is almost tender, giving her advice. And the way Gillan showed Nebula’s response blew fans away.
“I love how “wounded” Karen plays her too,” one fan said. “She seems both dangerous and sympathetic. Like you want to give her a big hug, but only with assurance that she won’t stab you.”
Others were quick to agree, pointing out that they didn’t think Gillan got enough credit for her role. “Karen’s performance could get more praise,” one said. “She goes from over-the-top goof to a walking wound of an android. In interviews when they were asking all the cast the same questions, one was ‘who transforms the most’ and every single answer was Karen.”
Viewers felt that Nebula’s story deserved top-notch acting, and Gillan delivered.
“Nebula has always been second best and punished, criticized, and basically tormented. Notice how she cringes away from Tony when she wins, and her exceptionally cautious reaction when he acts gracious and complementary toward her.”
It seems that casting Gillan to play the part of Nebula was an excellent decision. As fans wait for the next movie to come out, they continue to be impressed by what she’s already done.
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