MCU fans praise one of the franchise’s most unsung moving character moments

nebula
Image via Marvel Studios

As much as the action and spectacle might be the big hook to go see the studio’s movies, the MCU has arguably become as popular as it has because Marvel knows that the trick lies in making the audience fall in love with their heroes, so often the scenes the fans rave about the most are the smaller-scale moments that focus on character interaction over anything else.

Case in point, Marvel lovers are shining a light on a hugely unsung moment from Avengers: Endgame. Hidden among everything else going on in that three-hour epic, there’s a low-key sequence early on in the Infinity Saga finale that sees Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) do a bit of bonding. But it means a whole lot more to Thanos’ less-favored daughter than it seems at first glance.

The scene in question occurs when Tony and Nebula are marooned in space aboard the Guardians’ ship and so kill time by playing some paper football. As pointed out by one member of the r/MarvelStudios subreddit, there’s a deeper importance here for the latter character. “Nebula, after years of trying to beat Gamora and impress Thanos, always wanted to win. And never had fun,” they shared. “When Tony congratulates her for winning, you can see Nebula’s happiness. It was fun.”

For your viewing enjoyment, and a trip down memory lane, here’s the full scene.

A shout-out must go to Karen Gillan here for making Nebula’s reaction to Tony telling her she’s won so quietly heartbreaking. It’s clear that she has no idea how to react to that news as, like the OP reminds us, she’s neither won anything in her life before or even received any kind of positive reinforcement. Nebula has a hugely transformative time of it in Endgame overall, of course, what with the key role she plays in defeating Thanos.

After briefly being seen in Thor: Love and Thunder, Nebula returns in this December’s The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.