To achieve his goal, he’s seeking all six of the reality-altering Infinity stones that we’ve seen dotted around the previous Marvel films, assembling them in a special gauntlet which will give him power over all creation.
“If he gets all the Infinity stones, he can do it with the snap of his fingers,” Zoe Saldana’s Gamora concludes in the new footage.
Now, this is all very ominous and all that, but by now you’re probably wondering what on Earth this has to do with Karen Gillan’s Nebula.
Well, take a second look at Gamora’s words above, about Thanos ‘snapping his fingers’. As some fans have noticed, that motion is exactly how Thanos did carry out his “wipe out half the universe” plan in Marvel’s Infinity Gauntlet comic series of the early 90s, a storyline which is the (very loose) basis for Infinity War’s plot.
How this ties in Nebula is a bit more convoluted. Basically, what the dialogue in the trailer (also including Thanos’s suggestion that half of humanity will survive, which is nice) demonstrates is that directors Joe and Anthony Russo are adhering surprisingly closely to the comic-book plot, with both Thanos’s ultimate goal and the idiosyncratic way he gets it across pulled over pretty much intact.
So, how much else from the comic-book storyline will survive? What about the part where Nebula actually steals the Infinity Gauntlet and takes the power of the Infinity stones for herself, leading the assembled heroes to have to team up with Thanos himself to take her down as well.
Sounds crazy? Well, when RadioTimes.com talked to Gillan about the film, she said Nebula would have a fairly important role, and that her relationship with Thanos (along with Gamora, who raised her to become a brutal assassin) would be fairly central to the storyline.
“A lot of stuff that we have planted in previous films is going to all come together in quite an explosive way, I would say. Daddy issues will be faced,” she said.
“Thanos is the big bad guy, the ultimate supervillain, so this is the biggest fight that the Avengers will ever have. And being his daughter, Nebula will get entwined in there somehow.”
More recently, Gillan discussed the role with ScreenRant, seeming to suggest that her character’s importance in the Infinity Gauntlet comics would have some bearing on the finished film.
“I had no idea that this was where the character was going,” she said.
“I genuinely signed on to the role thinking it was eight days of filming and then I was going to die in the first Guardians. Three movies later and there’s three more to come out – it’s, like, crazy.
“It’s funny because I read the Infinity Gauntlet, which is what the new Avengers films are based on, as research for my character because it’s her biggest moment within the Marvel comic book world. Then to find out they’re making a double-bill feature based on that, I was just so excited actually because Nebula gets some really cool stuff.”
When we consider the fact that Gillan also told us last year that her absence from some of the trailers “makes sense”, you have to wonder if Nebula’s final importance in the film could be a spoiler Marvel is trying to keep under wraps.
“How do I say this without giving anything away? It makes sense – I feel like Nebula might be in future trailers,” she hinted ominously (and she was right – one brief shot of the character on an alien world turned up in the 30-second Super Bowl spot).
All of this conjecture comes with some major caveats, including the fact that Infinity War is already quite different from the Infinity Gauntlet storyline. Key Gauntlet characters like Adam Warlock and the Silver Surfer haven’t even been introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while the story itself also had a very different structure. In the comics, it was only after Thanos united the gems that the heroes came to stop him. In the film, they’re trying to prevent him getting his hands on them altogether.
Plus, and perhaps most importantly, the Nebula of the MCU is rather different to the one from the comics. There she is more of a textbook villain (and space pirate!) with less of a direct connection to Thanos (she’s his granddaughter in the comics, and they didn’t have a preexisting relationship). Gillan’s version became something of a reluctant hero in the second Guardians of the Galaxy film, and so her seizure of the Infinity Gauntlet might be less of a cataclysmic event if it happened anyway.
Then again, power corrupts, and absolutely power corrupts absolutely – so perhaps it could be Gillan’s Nebula, in possession of the Infinity Gauntlet, that provides Infinity War with a truly epic cliffhanger before the story is concluded in next year’s untitled Avengers 4.
Just think – the Avengers and Thanos having to team up, just a short while after he killed off several of their best friends? That’d be quite the send off for the first decade of Marvel films.
Avengers: Infinity War will be released in UK cinemas on 27th April