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In Guardians of the Galaxy, Thanos calls Gamora "his favorite daughter" in his meeting with Ronan. He even says this in front of his other adopted daughter, Nebula.

This doesn't make any sense for a couple of reasons. For one, Gamora eventually betrays Ronan and Thanos, while Nebula faithfully serves them throughout. Obviously at this point, he doesn't know that yet, but Gamora clearly has a lot of deep seated resentment of Thanos. Another reason this seems weird is that he says this in front of Nebula. He still needs her help, and surely insulting your family like this can't be good for morale.

Is there any reason that Thanos would call Gamora his favorite? Or is it possible he's just saying this just to offend or motivate Nebula?

If there's an MCU-level Canon answer, that would be awesome. But since I don't think it exists, an answer from the original comics or the expanded universe would suffice also.

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    Relations in a family can be quite complicated and parents not always favor the most vertuous child. Ask Faramir, son of Denethor, about that... – Taladris Dec 25 '16 at 12:33
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    Knowing Thanos, he probably did it just to tick off Nebula, therefore "inspiring" her to push herself harder. Wouldn't be surprised to hear that he called Nebula the favorite in front of Gamora to keep them at each other's throats. – Omegacron Jun 2 '17 at 2:48
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This gets answered in the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

In Vol. 2 we find out Gamora is the favorite because she kept beating her sister in combat. Every time Gamora won, Nebula got a body enhancement. They eventually make up after Nebula finally beat Gamora in combat.

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    It's funny, I just watched that movie last night, and during that scene I thought about this question, and was planning on self-answering. +1 for beating me to it I guess. :P – James May 5 '17 at 18:57
  • It's also worth noting that they made up because Gamora saved Nebula's life and then shortly later she returned the favor, not just cause Nebula finally won in combat. – James May 5 '17 at 19:13
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    That's the reason Nebula gives for not killing her. All she wanted was to best her once in combat. – Wesley May 5 '17 at 19:18
  • Wasn't Gamora also the 'first'? – Möoz Jun 21 '19 at 5:41
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    Thanos's ability to get the Soul Stone, and his reaction to it, suggests that there is more to the relationship than this answer claims. – aherocalledFrog Dec 5 '19 at 16:52
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Caution: I have written minor spoilers but only about the a few of the older movies (Infinity War & Guardians of the Galaxy). As I have seen throughout the Guardians of the Galaxy series and now with the two most recent Avengers movies, his favoritism goes much deeper than just appreciation for combat skill. If that was the only criteria, he would favor his Black Order members over her because it is obvious in Infinity War that they would probably beat her easily in a fight (unless Marvel is seriously playing down her combat abilities). And what's more, he was visibly crying when he had to kill her in Infinity War. My guess, as to the cause of his favoritism of her, would be that she was both the first one he adopted and because of how fearless and strong she seemed as a child. In his mind, it probably reminded him of himself and it gave him hope that someone might be able to truly understand his reasons for what he does and that he might not have to be completely alone in the universe. On top of that, her planet might have also been one of the first conquered by Thanos and as such, he might also see her as the sign of his starting "success" as well as proof to him that his plan could actually work. However, there is a minor detail saying that she is the last of her species even though Thanos only killed half of them. This detail is shown in the first Guardians of the Galaxy when Gamora is captured by the Xandarians. But I could just be reading really far into this and he really only likes her because she always beat Nebula in the past.

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    Welcome to SciFi.SE! Would you make breaking this up into paragraphs so it's easier to read? Thanks! – F1Krazy Jun 21 '19 at 6:36
  • If he was so old, it’s very unlikely that her world was first.I like the idea of reminding him of himself though. – Samalot Jul 27 '19 at 20:46
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If they were both the last of their species maybe that was one of likely many reasons. It is also likely that he started out killing entire species, then had a change of heart and only killed half later.

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    This seems like speculation, and the second sentence doesn't really even relate to the question. Plus the first sentence suggests a sentimentality that doesn't fit what we know of Thanos; the answer that he preferred Gamora because she always won seems much more in character. You should cite some other cases where Thanos demonstrates sentimentality. – DavidW Dec 4 '19 at 20:37
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    Gamora isn’t the last of her species. – TheLethalCarrot Dec 4 '19 at 21:24

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