We’re just a few weeks out now from the worldwide release of Avengers: Infinity War, and with that, the beginning of the end for the initial Marvel Cinematic Universe arc.
So, who’s going to continue protecting the Earth with new heroes like Captain Marvel in Phase 4? Who’s going to hang up their cape and ride off into the sunset? And most importantly, who might not even live to have the choice? Now is the time to place your bets.
I’ve compiled my predictions below, ranking them from most to least likely to die at the hands of super-villain Thanos.
1. Captain America/Steve Rogers
Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that Chris Evans’ contract is up after Avengers 4, and that alone should be enough to make you nervous. It’s no guarantee of death, however; Robert Downey Jr.’s been past his initial contract for years, and that hasn’t stopped Tony Stark from showing up yet. However, Evans has recently stated that he has no intention of returning to the character, which tells us that Steve Rogers’ story is about to be finished, one way or another. Unfortunately, there are four major reasons why it’s more likely his story will end in death.
- Steve’s story isn’t really built for a happy ending. He’s a man out of his time and, with S.H.I.E.L.D. falling to H.Y.D.R.A. in Captain America: Winter Soldier and the splitting of the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War, he hasn’t had a lot of stable ground to rebuild much of a life for himself.
- There are two characters waiting in the wings who could, true to the comic book source material, take over the title of Captain America: Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson.
- Steve Rogers’ death is the one that would (arguably) hit the Avengers the hardest. While Civil War did shake things up, Steve has been their leader, their moral compass, and the heart and soul of the team. Losing him would be a real gut-punch, especially for Tony considering how Civil War left things.
- Marvel is very tight-lipped about potential spoilers. Word has it they wouldn’t even let Tom Holland, who plays Spiderman, read the whole Infinity War script because of his inability to keep secrets. Granted, it’s common knowledge that Evans’ contract is up, but to still let him say plainly there is 0% chance of new negotiations? I think they’re hoping that’ll be enough of a red herring for people to believe he’ll survive to see Avengers 4, so they’ll still be surprised when he dies one movie early in Infinity War.
Verdict: It was nice knowing ya, Cap.
2. Iron Man/Tony Stark
There are two ways this arc could go: Tony’s going to get to retire in peace, or he’s going to get the most tragically glorious death scene in franchise history.
Arguments for Option 1: After Spiderman: Homecoming, we know Tony’s about ready to settle down with Pepper. He’s got a growing mentor relationship with Peter Parker, meaning that even if he passes the torch to a younger group of Avengers, there’s still a connection should they need his tech that wouldn’t necessarily require Robert Downey Jr. to appear onscreen. After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Steve Rogers’ death would cause Tony a lot of angst, and it’s hard to be angsty if you’re dead. He’s also one of the few characters who actually could walk into the sunset if given the option; he has work, friends, and a relationship all outside of being an Avenger, unlike a lot of the others.
Arguments for Option 2: Tony’s about ready to settle down with Pepper. Anyone who’s ever watched a movie knows that characters planning weddings, retirement, or children are at a higher risk of being killed off. To add to that angst factor, all of the heroes, minus the Guardians, have some kind of connection to Tony, and from the trailers it’s clear they’re going to get to know him too, meaning EVERYONE would have a reaction to this death. Those who might be hit especially hard include Peter Parker, who sees Tony as a father figure; Steve Rogers, who has an as yet un-repaired friendship with Tony; James Rhodes, his best friend; and Bruce Banner, Tony’s science bro.
Then on a symbolic level, Iron Man was the film that gave birth to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so killing him off would be a powerful way to mark the end of this first chapter. Also, from Avengers: Age of Ultron, we know how desperate Tony is to avoid seeing all his friends, and the rest of the world, destroyed, and The Avengers showed us he’s willing to make the sacrifice play…
Verdict: This one’s going to keep me on the edge of my seat.
Thanos is out to collect all six infinity stones. The Mind Stone was responsible for
Vision’s creation and now resides in his forehead. This math does not add up happily. In the comics, Vision and Scarlet Witch have a romantic relationship, and based on character development in Captain America: Civil War and scenes from the Infinity War trailer, it would seem the movies are going to follow that route, meaning there’s not just the potential for plot fallout from Vision’s demise, but character angst as well, which only make it seem more likely.
Verdict: The odds are not in his favor.
4. The Guardians of the Galaxy
On the one hand, the Guardians just lost Yondu in their last movie, which makes it seem a little unfair that they might lose another character in Infinity War. On the other hand, they have a direct tie to Thanos in the form of his adopted daughters, Gamora and Nebula, so they’re likely going to be priority targets because A) they know him (and therefore how to beat him) and B) he’s probably not thrilled by their betrayal.
We’ve already seen Groot sacrifice himself for the team and come back, and Rocket and Yondu share enough traits that killing him could feel like repeating Guardians of the Galaxy 2 beats, so I feel like they’re probably safe this go round. What little we know of the plot also indicates Groot & Rocket will be on a separate mission to help Thor find some kind of weapon, so they’ll probably be out of the direct line of fire.
We also already know Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is happening, and it feels like a stretch to see that franchise going forward without Chris Pratt at this point. Star Lord is the lynchpin of the group right now, so I feel confident he’ll squeak by in this one. Gamora is the female lead of the franchise, so even as one of Thanos’ daughters, I feel like she’s probably going to get to go ahead to Guardians 3 as well.
Nebula has the potential for a redemption arc, and we know she hates Thanos with a passion, so right now my money is on her taking the hit if anyone among the Guardians’ team is going to die, but Drax also wants revenge and isn’t known for making very smart or strategic decisions, and Mantis, as a newer character, is a bit of a dark horse, so I can’t rule them out completely.
Verdict: The team will survive, but not necessarily every member.
5. Hulk/Bruce Banner
I’m not sure if there is a way to actually kill the Hulk, but if there is, Thanos is the villain powerful enough to do it.
Working against the Hulk is the likelihood that he will never get his own movie again; those have not worked nearly as well as his supporting appearances in other characters’ films. He’s already a tragic character—his superpower is not a blessing, but a curse he cannot always control, and it makes it impossible for him to live a normal life—and tragic characters do not get happy endings. Also, he and Natasha had an unexpected romantic storyline in Avengers: Age of Ultron, which ups the angst factor if he were to die.
Working in the Hulk’s favor is that it might be easier to convince Mark Ruffalo to make a few small appearances in multiple films rather than commit to a full film or franchise. Also, I really don’t know if there is a way to kill the Hulk. It was mentioned in The Avengers that Bruce even tried to shoot himself and the Hulk spat the bullet out, so anything that would work is going to have to involve the type of catastrophic and violent injuries that would result in instantaneous death.
Verdict: Watch carefully. The more mentions of Bruce learning to live with “the other guy” or even using the infinity stones to cure him, especially in the hopes of a future with Natasha, the more likely he’s going to die in the end.
Chris Hemsworth’s contract is up after Avengers 4, and while that does make me nervous for his fate in that movie, I believe he’ll survive Infinity War to face it. After the success of Thor: Ragnarok, Hemsworth has even expressed interest in even doing another Thor movie with director Taika Waititi, though that could be a red herring or simply wishful thinking.
The tag scene of Thor: Ragnarok and snippets from the trailers suggest that Thor will encounter Thanos very early in Infinity War, and the general agreement is that Thanos will likely threaten Thor to force Loki to hand over the tesseract (a.k.a. the space stone), then eject Thor into space where he will be rescued by the Guardians of the Galaxy. Whether Loki and the other Asgardians survive and how the Hulk gets from the ship to Earth is still up for debate, however…
We also know that after meeting the Guardians, Thor goes on his own mission with Rocket and Groot to find some kind of weapon, which will likely keep him out of the direct line of fire for much of the movie.
Verdict: I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but I think he’ll live.
7. Hawkeye/Clint Barton
Is he even in this movie? None of the promotional material mentions him, and yet not only is Clint Barton listed as a character in the IMDB credits, so is his wife, Laura Barton. Mystery makes me uneasy on this one, but considering Avengers: Age of Ultron spent so much time making us think Hawkeye was done for, only to switch it up at the last minute, I feel like it would be too potentially repetitive to kill him off in Infinity War. For me, the only satisfying arc that would involve Hawkeye’s death was if it involved dying for Wanda Maximoff, since it was her brother’s sacrifice that saved Hawkeye in Ultron.
8. Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff
While it has not been given a green light yet, this January Marvel hired a writer to start working on a Black Window movie, which would seem to indicate that she’ll survive Infinity War.
There are those who will argue that this is still no guarantee, considering her solo movie could easily be an origin story, taking place not only before Infinity War, but even before her first appearance in Iron Man 2. After all, we’ve gotten only hints of her past—the red room in Age of Ultron and an incident in Budapest in The Avengers—so there’s still definitely a story to be told about how Natasha Romanoff became the Black Widow. Her romantic storyline with Bruce Banner in Age of Ultron would also seem to put a bigger target on her back, especially if the powers at be were tempted to pull the kind of switcheroo they did with Hawkeye and Quicksilver in Age of Ultron (that would be a risky move considering how that was received). Not to mention that her movie is far from a done deal…
Origin story or not, I still think the willingness to explore a solo movie at all is evidence she’ll survive Infinity War. How invested can audiences be in the origin story of a character with no future? Maybe if it were coming out this summer or fall it could be set up with a funeral-type frame story, but this solo film will debut in 2020 at the earliest. That’s risking at least two years for audiences to move on. I don’t see a studio gambling their money that way.
Verdict: If she dies, my hope for her standalone movie dies with her.
9. War Machine/James Rhodes
Rhodey’s already had a rough go of it, breaking his back in Captain America: Civil War.
I want to believe this alone would take him out of the running for the death list in Infinity War, but let’s not kid ourselves. He has been a more secondary character so far, and among the other superheroes, his death would really only have a significant emotional impact on Tony Stark. If he dies, it’ll only be to up Thanos’ body count, and you want a character’s death to be more than that.
Verdict: Probably safe.
10. Sam Wilson/ Falcon
With Steve Rogers’ death being just short of guaranteed, Sam’s odds of survival are increasingly high. Sam Wilson is one of two characters appearing in Infinity War who has taken up the role of Captain America in the comics, meaning he could very well be the one taking it up after the film. Even if Sam isn’t the one, that would leave Bucky Barnes to take up the shield, and he’ll definitely need some help adjusting. Who better than Sam and Natasha, the same duo that helped the original Captain America acclimate to the modern world? If there is a Captain America 4, they will need him in it, whether he’s the title character or a teammate.
Even if there is no Captain America 4 to seal the deal, Sam’s death wouldn’t serve much of a purpose. Steve Rogers is the one closest to him, and while he would be sad to lose Sam, he’s lost soldiers before, so it wouldn’t do much to make him reevaluate things. It would just be upping Thanos’ body count.
Verdict: There’s nothing to be gained from killing him and too much they could still explore if they keep him.
11. Scarlet Witch/ Wanda Maximoff
Wanda has only appeared in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War, so I find it unlikely her character will be written out in only her third appearance, especially after the trouble Marvel went through to use the Maximoff twins in the first place, since Fox was trying to introduce their own version of her brother, Quicksilver, at the same time. With the romantic subplot between her and Vision developing and his high probability of perishing, she’s more likely to survive and carry out an avenging/grieving-centric plot.
Verdict: They killed her brother in the last Avengers movie; I think they have to wait at least one more before they consider killing her.
12. Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange ended with a clear set up for a sequel, and according to the rumor mill, Joaquin Phoenix turned down the part at one point because of the multi-film commitment it would require, so I find it highly unlikely that this character will die in only his second full appearance (third including the single scene he did for Thor: Ragnarok). Doctor Strange is also a necessary character if Marvel wants to dig deeper into the more “magical” characters and storylines in their catalog.
Verdict: Nothing’s certain, but I like his chances.
13. The Winter Soldier (aka White Wolf)/Bucky Barnes
With his best friend Steve Rogers almost certainly headed for death, Bucky has one of two possible fates: dying right alongside him, or inheriting the mantle of Captain America.
Scenario One would be to finally fulfill the promise Steve & Bucky made in Captain America: The First Avenger to stick by each other “’til the end of the line.” It’s poetic, especially considering that they finished The First Avenger separated by Bucky’s death & Steve’s cryo-nap and The Winter Soldier separated by Bucky’s warped memory. Civil War at least saw them finally fighting together again, but they still had to separate in the end to get Bucky the help he needed in Wakanda.
Scenario Two, however, is the more likely one. Sebastian Stan is contracted for nine films and, counting his appearance in the tag scene of Black Panther, Infinity War will only be his fifth. Becoming Captain America would not only complete his redemption arc, but also launch him into a new one as he will most assuredly struggle to live up to Steve’s legacy considering his dark past.
Verdict: The contract makes me feel pretty secure about this one.
14. Spiderman/Peter Parker
Tom Holland is the third Spiderman in sixteen years. If the third time is not the charm, this character is not going to get another shot, so I don’t think anyone from Sony, Disney, or Marvel is going to risk killing him off. Not to mention there’s already a sequel to Spiderman: Homecoming in the works. Granted, there is an argument that they could always have Miles Morales take up the role of Spiderman as he does in the comics, but I think that if/when that does happen, it will happen in a Spiderman sequel, where Morales can be more fully built up, rather than amidst everything else happening in Infinity War. I do think we’ll be teased a lot with Peter being in peril since he is the baby of the team and Tony will be especially concerned for him, but I don’t think he’ll actually die.
Verdict: They can’t afford to kill him.
15. Black Panther/ T’Challa
Black Panther had a record-breaking first movie, so studio execs are going to be looking to him for future franchise growth. They can’t do that if he’s dead. Now, there is the argument that Shuri could take over the mantle, but considering they just introduced the characters, I really believe that if/when they do that, it will be in a Black Panther sequel, not an Avengers sequel.
Verdict: If he dies, it’s way too obvious a signal that the Time Stone will come into play eventually and none of the deaths are guaranteed to stick.
16. Ant-Man/ Scott Lang
Again, is he even in this movie? He isn’t in any of the promotional material, but Paul Rudd is listed in the credits on the film’s IMDB page. Either way, he has his own movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp, coming out this summer, so he’s probably not going to be a heavy hitter until Avengers #4.
Verdict: He’s safe.
What do you think? Do your favorites stand a chance against Thanos? Comment with your predictions!