An early version of Avengers: Endgame had Nebula wielding the Infinity Gauntlet. Endgame served as the epic culmination of the previous 21 Marvel Cinematic Universe films and brought a massive cast of characters together to defeat Thanos. It became the highest-grossing movie of all time and has fueled conversations in the months following. Now that the dust has settled, fans have learned about the many changes Avengers: Endgame went through before its release in theaters.
Nebula is one of the most prominent characters in the film outside of the original six Avengers and is now set to have her own solo comic series next year. Initially introduced as an antagonist in Guardians of the Galaxy, Nebula has become a hero largely thanks to her relationship with her sister Gamora. In Endgame, she teams up with the Avengers to reverse the actions of her abusive adopted father Thanos. This leads her straight to her past self, as the Avengers go back in time to retrieve the Infinity Stones. The 2014 Nebula is still under Thanos' thumb and is eager to win his approval.
According to CinemaBlend, a companion book for Endgame reveals an alternate ending for 2014 Nebula. In the film, she is killed by her present-day self when, during a tense showdown, she attempts to kill the 2014 Gamora. It's a powerful moment that shows how much the present-day Nebula has grown. However, an early draft saw Nebula attempt to wield the Infinity Gauntlet to try and please Thanos. The book reads:
While the Nebula from the past was killed by her future self in Avengers: Endgame, her demise was scripted a lot differently in another version. In that draft, she was able to intercept the Stark gauntlet during the massive game of keepaway in the film’s final battle. Wanting to prove to her father Thanos that she is a capable and strong warrior, Nebula tries to use the glove herself– a nod to the 1991 comic book series Infinity Gauntlet, written by Jim Starlin. This Nebula learns she is not powerful enough to use the Stones and survive.
This version would pay homage to the comics since Nebula once wielded the Gauntlet and survived. She used it to heal herself after Thanos nearly destroyed her. The moment likely wouldn't have had the same effect, however, since the Nebula using the Gauntlet would still be suffering from Thanos' abuse. 2014 Nebula arguably has just as tragic an ending as Tony Stark or Natasha Romanoff, because she isn't allowed to fight back against Thanos before she is killed.
In the MCU, Nebula's arc is one of the most fascinating and Avengers: Endgame capped it off well. While it might have been cool (and heartbreaking) to see 2014 Nebula take the Gauntlet, there is also something poetic about her death in the theatrical cut. It's tragic, yes, but it also serves as an important moment for the present-day Nebula. She saves her sister (despite this Gamora not being the version she knew) while also standing in the way of Thanos getting the Gauntlet. This is a Nebula who has struggled with abuse and found a way to be a hero despite everything she had been taught. It is one of the most powerful arcs in the MCU and leaves Nebula in an interesting place for Guardians of the Galaxy 3.