Warning: This article contains spoilers for What If…? season 2, episode 1, “What If… Nebula Joined the Nova Corps?”




  • The Children of Thanos are confirmed to be known as the Black Orcer in the MCU in What If…? season 2.
  • Nebula was revealed to be a member of the Black Order in the episode “What If… Nebula Joined the Nova Corps?”
  • Gamora’s membership in the Black Order is implied, suggesting her backstory is more terrifying than previously thought.

Marvel Studios has changed one piece of Thanos’ backstory in the MCU, with Phase 5’s What If…? season 2 finally revealing new details about his villainous team of allies. What If…? season 2 premiered on December 22, 2023, with “What If… Nebula Joined the Nova Corps?,” an episode focused on Karen Gillan’s Nebula, who is recruited into the Nova Corps following Thanos’ defeat at the hands of Ronan the Accuser. The Mad Titan Thanos himself wasn’t featured in the series’ premiere episode, but Marvel Studios has still managed to develop the supervillain’s backstory in some interesting ways, expanding his story even four years after his death in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame.

In the live-action MCU timeline, the Mad Titan Thanos spent much of his life acquiring a huge and formidable army, but its Generals were some of the most powerful and frightening villains in the MCU’s history. Collectively known as the Children of Thanos, Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight, Corvus Glaive and Cull Obsidian debuted in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. The group helped Thanos collect the six Infinity Stones, and fought during the Battle of Earth alongside their adoptive father in Avengers: Endgame. Along with the Mad Titan, the Children of Thanos were killed in Endgame, but received a new mention in What If…? season 2’s premiere episode under a new name.


Thanos’ Complete MCU Timeline Explained

Thanos was the major villain of the MCU’s Infinity Saga, and though he might have met his end in Endgame, his actions can still be felt in the MCU.

What If…? Season 2 Makes The Black Order Name MCU Canon

Prior to What If…? season 2’s premiere episode, the Children of Thanos had only ever been known by that name, with the group’s other moniker in Marvel Comics not receiving a mention. However, “What If… Nebula Joined the Nova Corps?” saw Garthan Saal deliver the first confirmation that the Children of Thanos also worked as the Black Order. The original Black Order in Marvel Comics comprised Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight, Corvus Glaive, Black Dwarf and Supergiant, though the latter two were replaced by Cull Obsidian in the MCU. These villains had been adopted by Thanos during his universal conquest, yet didn’t include Nebula and Gamora – until now.

The MCU Confirms Nebula WAS In The Black Order

Loki and the Black Order in Avengers Endgame

Originally, Nebula and Gamora weren’t depicted as members of the Black Order, despite having also been adopted by Thanos prior to their debuts in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Many have questioned over the last decade whether the pair had been members of the supervillain group prior to Guardians of the Galaxy, though Marvel Studios has never given any confirmation. However, What If…? season 2 has now changed this by confirming that Nebula was, in fact, a member of the Black Order, with Garthan Saal referring to her as “Black Order trash,” though she bites back noting that she is “former Black Order.”

Peter Serafinowicz’s Garthan Saal was last seen in live-action during 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, where his Nova Corpsman was killed during Ronan’s attempt to destroy Xandar. As a high-ranking member of the intergalactic police force, Saal surely had knowledge of the Black Order, and would have evidently looked down on Nebula had she been recruited into the Nova Corps. Although Gamora didn’t make an appearance in What If…? season 2’s premiere, it’s likely that she, too, was a member of Thanos’ Black Order prior to the Mad Titan’s death, proving that these two formidable warriors’ backstories are perhaps more terrifying than first thought.

New episodes of What If…? season 2 release daily at 3am ET/12am PT on Disney+.

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