‘Guardians of the Galaxy 3’: Karen Gillan on Why James Gunn Is ‘Such a Good Director’ and What’s Next for Nebula

Karen Gillan‘s role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a complex one. While her acting speaks for itself, the star also gives credit to writer-director James Gunn for a particular choice he made with her character. Here’s what Gillan is saying about him and where Nebula will go from here.

Karen Gillan is Nebula in the MCU

Nebula is a crucial part of the MCU. She first appears in Guardians of the Galaxy, followed by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. She begins as a villainous character, but ultimately joins the side of the Avengers, proving vital to taking down Thanos.

When we last saw her, Nebula was back with Guardians, this time a full-fledged member of the group. She’s likely to prove invaluable in future installments, given all of the work that she did as a member of the Avengers during the five years in between the Snap and the Blip.

Director James Gunn was reinstated for ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ 3

Speaking of the future, it’s Gunn who is set to help make that a reality. But that wasn’t always the case. After helming the first two Guardians films, the writer-director was ready to complete his trilogy, with a rumored 2020 release date. However, there was a hiccup.

Gunn was fired by Disney in July 2018 after old tweets of his of a provocative nature circulated. Many were outraged at this decision, including the cast members themselves. He was reinstated in March 2019. During the time in between, he took on The Suicide Squad over at DC, so production Guardians 3 was delayed.

Gillan on Gunn helping her become Nebula

James Gunn and Karen Gillan
James Gunn and Karen Gillan | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

Nebula is a very unique character, even for this universe. Because of her robot-like appearance, “I only had my voice to convey emotions,” Gillan told Syfy Wire in a recent interview. So it was important that that voice be very specific. What they landed on was a mix between Marilyn Monroe and Clint Eastwood.

“It was James Gunn’s idea to do that, and that was one of those moments where the character was unlocked in an instant and I was like, ‘Oh, you’re such a good director,'” said Gillan. “Because she was kind of meh, and then she became really interesting.”

The character’s journey is ‘just beginning’

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There’s a lot left to explore of the character, Gillan told Fandom. “We found her in a really broken, vulnerable place and over the course of the movies, she’s had to face the source of all of her abuse. She’s just had this huge, cathartic experience and the source of the abuse has been eliminated, so what happens next?”

Gillan has plan to learn more about what someone who dealt with the kind of psychological trauma Nebula has might be feeling post-Endgame. She also wants to continue to “have fun” with the character, saying, “I feel like we’re really going to start to define who she is without Thanos looming over her.”

Will Gillan be in ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’?

There’s another opportunity for Nebula to appear on screen. In March 2020, Vin Diesel revealed that members of the Guardians of the Galaxy were set to appear in Thor: Love and Thunder. The film is set to premiere in November 2021, meaning that we could be getting some Nebula character growth earlier than we thought.