After the release of "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," it's never been more clear that these movies have essentially been one long love story … just maybe not between the two characters we thought all along. In James Gunn's long-awaited threequel, Chris Pratt's Peter Quill is struggling mightily to come to terms with the fact that this post-"Avengers: Endgame" version of Gamora (Zoe Saldaña) isn't the same one Peter shared all those sweet (and feisty) memories with throughout the previous "Guardians" films. Killed at the hands of the Mad Titan Thanos and more or less replaced by an alternate universe version from an earlier point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline, Quill means absolutely nothing to her. There's a funny moment when Star-Lord desperately recounts just what made him so attracted to the old Gamora in the first place, and Gamora retorts that his description sounds much more like her sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan).
The moment is played for laughs, with Quill and Nebula sharing an awkward moment where it seems like Quill actually is seeing Nebula in a new light, but that narrative beat doesn't really go anywhere (as interesting as it would've been). Instead, the rest of his arc in "Vol. 3" involves accepting that he and Gamora must go their separate ways. In a recent interview, Gunn provides some insight into his reasoning behind including that intriguing moment between the two Guardians.
But he also reveals that there's at least one person who still seems to be thinking about the potential of that pairing, and that's Karen Gillan herself.
An Unspoken Thing?
Since many people had never even heard of these characters before Marvel announced that James Gunn would be making a "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie due out in 2014, it's remarkable how much audiences became invested in this bunch of misfits and, specifically, the bond shared between Gamora and Peter. I can't imagine many shippers felt strongly that Quill should've ended up with the former-villain-turned-Guardian Nebula, and it doesn't seem like Gunn did, either. But in an interview with The New York Times, the writer/director admitted that Karen Gillan played the character as if she were nursing a small crush on the bumbling hero. When asked about the implications of the embarrassing exchange between Gamora, Quill, and Nebula in "Vol 3," Gunn had this to say:
"I never thought about fully going there, but do I think that Nebula, emotionally, is sort of that mean schoolgirl who's not going to show her feelings to anybody. Karen thinks that Nebula has a little bit of a crush on Quill that she doesn't quite know how to put together, and it makes sense because as we come to them in 'Vol. 3,' we realize that they are the two leaders of the Guardians. I think it's very normal in any close friendship to have some sort of occasional romantic or crush-like feelings."
The man's certainly not wrong about that, and I'm almost tempted to re-watch all of the "Guardians" movies (or at least from "Vol. 2" onwards, when Nebula truly becomes part of the team) to see whether Gillan's acting choice during scenes with Chris Pratt's Peter actually sticks out in retrospect. In any case, even without Gunn totally "going there," it's a neat bit of subtext in a very emotional movie.
"Vol. 3" is currently playing in theaters.
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