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Thanos' Horrific Nebula Treatment Teased His Infinity War Plan

Thanos’ rampage in Avengers: Infinity War saw the MCU's first major threat tear through its heroes as he fulfilled his genocidal plan, one that may have been secretly teased through Nebula's treatment in past movies. Fans were first introduced to the Mad Titan, Thanos, in a The Avengers post-credits scene where his menacing smile was the first hint of the threat the character would pose one day. In each of his appearances within the MCU, Thanos enjoyed a certain status of godhood that preceded him. When Nebula’s abuse was reflected on in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it provided a new perspective for Thanos’ god complex and how her abuse hinted at the nature of his plans all along.

In Guardians of the Galaxy, Thanos’ role was laid out much more clearly. He was portrayed as a galactic warlord whose name is feared across the cosmos. However, his connection with his daughters proved to be more interesting, more importantly, his relationship with Nebula. The first hint towards the nature of their relationship was shown during Thanos’ conversation with Ronan the Accuser. While Nebula appeared desperate for Thanos’ approval, it was made clear that Gamora was his favorite. Even though the resultant rivalry between Gamora and Nebula was somewhat hinted at in the first movie, it wasn’t truly expanded upon until Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, where the sadistic nature of what Nebula had to endure after every duel was talked about.

Related: Eternals Reveals Thanos' Avengers: Infinity War Plan Backfired

Thanos replaced Nebula’s body parts after every duel, eventually turning her into the relentless cyborg assassin that the audience was introduced to. It served as a crucial turning point for the character’s redemption by showing the extent of the abuse she had to face under Thanos’ command. However, it also served as a crucial look into the motives behind Thanos' plan. His God complex was embodied in Nebula’s scars, from his belief that the universe needed his “correction” to the ruthlessness of his methods. Her torture was an outline of the extent to which Thanos was willing to go for his beliefs. In subsequent movies, like Avengers: Infinity War, more was revealed about the specifics of what Thanos’ plan for the universe entailed: preserving the finite resources of the universe through the killing of half of all life. While many pointed out the obvious flaws of this plan, ranging from societal collapses to unequal distribution, there was a key detail that these critics failed to bring up: the Mad Titan’s plan was never meant to be rational.

The key trait that earned Thanos his title was his stubbornness that manifested into his God complex. Even as characters within the franchise told him that his plan was delusional, Thanos never believed that he was wrong, only that his experience on Titan taught him that he was the only one with the “will” to follow through with his perfect idealizations. His sadistic treatment of his own daughter, sharpening her beyond repair due to his own headstrong belief in his ideals, was the basis for the plan that he laid out in Avengers: Infinity War.

Further evidence of this was portrayed in Avengers: Endgame, where Nebula talked about how Thanos spent a long time personally trying to perfect her. As he did, he always talked to her about his “great plan.” It was made clear that he only saw Nebula as simply another vessel of the universe that needed his correction. Thanos’ unwavering belief that he never did anything wrong is what defined the Mad Titan, even in his final moments in Avengers: Endgame, where he told the sullen heroes that they ought to be grateful to him.

Despite Nebula’s minimal role in Avengers: Infinity War, it’s clear that her story and abuse was an indicator of Thanos’ true nature from the very start. The father-daughter bond simply proved to be another element within the Infinity War Saga that goes to show the detail and love that went into the dynamics between each character. Even though the looming threat of Thanos has finally drawn to a close, there’s still more that might be revealed about the Titan through his two surviving daughters, who will make their next appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

More: How Eternals Sets Up Galactus As The MCU's Next Thanos


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