‘What If…’ Season 2: How Did Nebula Disable the Planetary Shield?

Xandar planetary shield

The first episode of ‘What If…?’ season 2 brought as Nebula imagined as a member of Nova Corps. We know that the major plot of this episode was the fact that Nova Prime was working with Ronan in order to hand over the planet to him, but she ultimately failed despite having the codes to open the planetary shield. Later in the end, we see Nebula opening up Planetary Shield, which was supposed to stay in place for at least 50 years, so how did Nebula manage to open it up?

  • Article Breakdown:
  • Nebula managed to open the planetary shield by modifying the codes when she had access to the planetary’s mainframe core.
  • Nebula admitted as much when the shield started to close back again, trapping and destroying Ronan’s ship.
  • Nebula somehow managed to cause the planetary shield to malfunction, which opened it up.

What is the planetary shield?

After Nebula joined the Nova Corps following Ronan’s betrayal, the trouble kept following her wherever she went. At some point, Ronan attacked Xandar, aiming to take the planet down due to the Kree Empire being in eternal war with the Nova Empire. We know that Nova Prime activated the last ditch effort to protect the planet, encasing it in an impenetrable planetary shield, which cut off all forms of communication with outer space, including all airspace and the sun’s light.

planetary shield

Xandar was supposed to stay isolated in darkness for 50 years since there was no obvious way to take down the shield. This caused the negative side of the local population to rise up. We saw that Nova Corps were overwhelmed with the amount of crime that started taking place in Xandar as people were isolated and lonely. And the perpetual darkness only added to the effect of insanity that started taking root at Xandar.

Yondu died protecting the mainframe schematics

This is where Yondu’s death comes into play, as it plays a vital role in Nebula discovering an extremely sinister plan related to the planetary shield. Yondu’s Yaka Arrow, for some reason, had the schematics for the old Xandarian mainframe core, a database that contained every single piece of data related to the planet and the city. As Korg put it, it holds both unpaid parking tickets and codes for the planetary shield.

Xandarian mainframe core

It is my understanding that this code allows the individual to manipulate the shield and, in some cases, even open it up. The current mainframe core was beneath the city, and Nebula needed to break Yon-Rogg out of prison so she could gain access to it. Nebula figured out that someone was trying to open the shield in order to let Ronan take over the planet. That someone was Nova Prime. She was manipulating the events behind the stage all this time, but luckily Nebula was aware of it.

How was Nebula able to access planetary shield codes?

As soon as Yon-Rogg and Nebula broke into the mainframe, Nebula connected to the data core and started downloading and erasing data to safeguard it. Yon-Rogg, however, assaulted her and downloaded the data onto a flash drive. He escaped from the destruction of the core, and luckily, Nebula survived as well. Nova Prime was waiting for her. She explained that she needed a cyborg to access the mainframe since Nebula, as a machine, had that kind of access and that kind of communication with other machines that no biological being could understand.

Yon Rogg attacking nebula

So, Nebula accessed the mainframe and planetary shield code because she was half-machine which allowed her to manipulate the data easily.

What happened to the planetary shield?

When Nebula, Korg, Miek, Howard, and Groot assaulted the Nova Corps Headquarters, we could see that the shield started opening up as loading was on 90 %. The loading was soon finished, and Ronan started flying into the planet’s airspace as soon as the shield partially opened. However, somewhere down the line, the shield started closing back up again, which cursed Ronan’s ship and caused Nova Prime’s plan to fail.

shield generator codes

Nebula explained that she triple-crossed Nova Prime; she modified the planetary shield codes that Yon-Rogg downloaded from her because she could see it happening from a mile away. Somewhere down the line, Nebula added a code that the shield should only slightly open but start closing back up, presumably to destroy or trap Ronan’s shield.

And this was successful, as we could see Ronan’s shield blowing up. In one of the last scenes in the episode, we can see the Shield opening up again, and there are two options as to how that happened.

First, Nebula modified the code to allow the shield to ultimately open, or second, the damage that the shield sustained when it crushed Ronan’s ship put it in a permanent state of disrepair and caused it to open up. It’s also possible that the destruction of the mainframe caused the shield to spontaneously open.

In any case, even though Ronan was defeated, Xandar now lost perhaps its greatest weapon of defense, its shield. But it’s questionable whether that was a bad thing considering all the negative effects.

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