Avengers: Infinity War was full of death and destruction as Thanos established himself as a big bad by killing off half the Universe in order to bring balance to it. That led to the death of many important characters of the MCU, including the likes of Loki, Heimdall, Gamora, Vision, Bucky, T’Challa, Sam, Groot, Wanda, Star-Lord, Mantis, Drax, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Nick Fury, Hope Van Dyne, Janet Van Dyne, Hank Pym and Maria Hill. But there were actually some surprising names that survived, and two or those were Nebula and Rocket.
As everyone would have guessed by now that Thanos survivors were totally chosen and none of the characters survived accidentally. Directors Joe & Anthony Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely had a reason for every character who survived. The most surprising names that survived the snap were Nebula, Rocket, and Rhodey.
Out of these three characters, we may have the reasoning for Nebula to survive the snap in particular, as according to Redditor lionheart28 it has to do with the relationship established between Nebula and Gamora. He wrote:
“In the first IW we see the relationship between Thanos and one of his daughters, Gamora. Honestly for me that was one of the best if not the best side-plots we see throughout the IW. It shows the humanity of the Thanos, the good in him, the kind of good that spares half of the universe…”
“And as I have mentioned Nebula survived the snap for a reason. And the first dialogues between Nebula and Thanos in IW is: N: ‘You should have killed me.’ T: ‘It would have been waste of parts.’ I don’t know if it’s just a throwaway burn between them but I think it has a deeper meaning. Also, in the Infinity comic saga, we all know the condition [that] Nebula is in at the [start] and her importance towards the end. I think in the next, one of the first things Thanos will do will be kidnapping Nebula and making her life [miserable] like the comic version. And through that we will see flashbacks of Nebula and Thanos’s relationship over the years. With them we will see the madness of Thanos. The kind of madness that murders half of the universe.”
While this may be a good enough reasoning for her survival that will give us some more backstory at Thanos, but it will still not give her a vital task to do. According to a theory given by another redditor, it has been stated that Nebula survived the snap because she is the only one who knew about the location of the Soul Stone apart from Gamora.
Avengers 4 is expected to revisit every movie that portrayed an Infinity Stones so that the Avengers could prevent the snap, and that is how Nebula might come into play. She would lead the Avengers to Vormir in the past so that they could retrieve the soul stone before Thanos could and ultimately stop Thanos from ever snapping his fingers.
There was yet another theory which gives Nebula and Rocket another purpose, apart from leading the Avengers to Infinity Stones prior to Infinity War. Here’s what it is:
“Nebula and Rocket are both space pilots. Tony would have a hard time figuring out how to get anywhere from Titan without someone with experience piloting an alien ship as well as the necessary navigational skills. Same with earth bound avengers needing Rocket to find stones off the planet. This also allows for multiple space missions like in IW so that’s probably their primary purpose for surviving the snap with the original avengers.”
This also establishes a good enough reasoning, and what I think is that the reason for her survival may actually be a combination of all these theories. She could pilot Tony out from Titan using the Milano. Then after getting to know about Time Travel, she could lead the Avengers to Vormir in the past, and side by side, her backstory with Thanos could also be established.
We would only know for sure about this once Avengers 4 opens in the theatres. It comes out on May 3, 2019.
“A culmination of 22 interconnected films the fourth installment of the Avengers saga will draw audiences to witness the turning point of this epic journey. Our beloved heroes will truly understand how fragile this reality is and the sacrifices that must be made to uphold it.”