The build-up for Avengers: Infinity War has taken the world by storm. The first trailer debuted on the 29th of November, and became the most watched trailer in a day, with over two hundred and thirty million views in the first twenty-four hours.
The film is set to be a culmination of the last ten years of Marvel Studios movies, with a slow building story that will have spanned eighteen films. With a release date of May 4th 2018, and a sequel coming out next year, the events of Infinity War will see the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Spider-Man and newcomers like Captain Marvel and the Wasp reunite against the unprecedented threat of Thanos. The stakes have never been higher, and so the main question on our minds is: who’s going to make it out of the other side alive?
With the second trailer now on the net courtesy of the Super Bowl, and the penultimate film before Infinity War, Black Panther, in cinemas soon, we’re going to work backwards through all the main players and take a look at where each hero is at and what their chances are of surviving the highly anticipated Infinity War (and whatever the sequel ends up being called).
There will be spoilers for every movie in the series so far and speculation about the events of the films to come, ahead.
We’ll start with the heroes who, technically, have no allegiance to any team.
Captain Marvel, by the time Avengers 4 rolls out, will be the newest hero to audiences, but a character who has been operating in-universe since the 1990’s. As Marvel’s newest hero, their first female hero to have her own solo film, and presumably one of the most experienced (if she’s been active longer than all the other heroes bar Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow and some of the Guardians), she’s probably being positioned to take the leadership role in the Avengers going forward, if Captain America and Iron Man don’t make it out alive. Plus, Marvel would be insane to kill off their new, biggest, female hero.
Doctor Strange is also relatively safe (although the same can’t necessarily be said for his friends, like Wong) as his powerset and maturity mean he could be the Iron Man to Captain Marvel’s Captain America, assuming he was the join up with the Avengers post-Infinity War. Furthermore, Strange opens up Marvel’s magical side, and so to take him out of the picture would limit story-telling possibilities of future movies. On top of that, Strange has, so far, only been seen twice in-universe, and although we know his character fairly well at this point, he is definitely someone ripe for exploration as he takes centre stage.
Spider-Man is the youngest hero of the bunch, and arguably Marvel’s most popular character. As such, he brings a youthful perspective to the events of the movies. However, everyone knows Spider-Man’s story, so it wouldn’t be too farfetched to imagine they could kill Spider-Man off so that future films could experiment with a different type of Spider-Man (like his black successor, Miles Morales – soon to be featured in his own animated adventure) that further differentiates ‘MCU-Spidey’ from the likes of the Raimi and Webb eras. Ultimately, it’s unlikely, as Marvel, in many people’s eyes, have finally got Spider-Man ‘right’ and he is one of the few characters with a scheduled film coming out post-Infinity War part 2. One thing that is pretty likely, however, is that he’ll likely take a pretty brutal beating that will in turn spur on his mentor, Iron Man.
Black Panther is going nowhere. Like Captain Marvel is safe for being the big time female hero, Black Panther is safe for being the big time black hero. It’s just common sense. Plus, with him having just received his own solo film a mere three months prior to Infinity War, that would be way too soon to kill him. Think of it from a marketing standpoint; imagine a new character gets introduced that you’re interested in, but didn’t get a chance to catch at the cinema – and before their Home Entertainment is even released, you hear that they’ve been killed off in the next film along that’s come two and a half months later. That would be a poor sales strategy. Plus, killing off the first prominent black superhero would lead to a quagmire of racist accusations, regardless of if his death served the story.
Ant-Man & the Wasp have, frankly, less reason to make it through alive than the other newcomers. They don’t bring youth, magic or diversity (that we don’t already have, that is) to the table, and the only real unique thing they had going for them was that time Ant-Man shrunk so small he crossed into another dimension. But now Doctor Strange has that covered, so Ant-Man could essentially become canon fodder. However, the Wasp will have only appeared as a hero once by the time Avengers 4 rolls round, and it’s unlikely Marvel are brave enough to try and navigate a ‘the Wasp without Ant-Man’ landscape that killing off Scott Lang would put them in, even if it does mean another solo female hero.
THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Mantis is a strange one. Going off the comic-books, one might predict that not only will Mantis survive Infinity War, but she may even jump ship and join the Avengers, as she is the central character in one of the seminal Avengers stories. Unfortunately, the movie version of Mantis is a completely different beast, containing few similarities to her comic-book counterpart outside of looks. While killing off a character who is highly underdeveloped in comparison to the rest of her team may not resonate with audiences, she could act as fodder in the battle against Thanos’ armies, as Marvel clear the board. The alternative, however, is that Mantis not only survives, but takes centre stage in the Guardians lineup, as James Gunn has said he envisions a completely different line-up to the original Guardians going forward with Guardians Vol. 3, which is due to hit in 2020. Keeping Mantis around would anchor the new team in the realm of familiarity.
Rocket & Groot are a difficult pair to speculate about, because they are the two zaniest members of the Guardians, and the success of the Guardians partially comes down to how zany it is in comparison to other comic book properties. Having said that, Groot’s already died –in a way– before, so it’s unlikely he’ll die again. Furthermore, saying ‘I am Groot’ in different inflictions is probably one of the easier paychecks Vin Diesel’s going to get. With that in mind, it’s not too far-fetched to suggest that we may see a scene that mirror’s the original Guardians, wherein Rocket gives up his life to save his team-mates, leaving Groot to reflect on the death of his best friend, since he’s had his emotional arch fleshed out in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
‘Drax is dead’, is what I would say if I was confident that any of the Guardians were going to die. However, the fact that Guardians has mostly remained detached from the Earth-bound heroes likely means these characters will all survive so that director James Gunn can handle their stories in Guardians Vol. 3. Having said that, if any of the Guardians are going out – it’s Drax. Although Dave Bautista’s take on the character is beloved by many, the fact is, outside of some subtle, touching moments, he’s mostly there for comedic effect, and his current sole purpose in life is to end Thanos. Dying to help the combined powers of the Guardians and the Avengers end the threat of Thanos would not only complete his mission, but also allow him the peace of reuniting with his much-missed family through death.
Gamora, in a way, has as much reason to die off as Drax, but to be honest, it’s far more likely that she’ll live on. As someone whose life has been ruined by her father, Gamora needs to survive Thanos’ wrath in order to be the one to strike the killing blow, or at least be around to get the closure of finally seeing her father’s tyrannical reign over the galaxy end. Her sister, Nebula, on the other hand, may well be in danger. The two have resolved their differences, and Guardians Vol. 2 ends with Nebula setting out on her own to end her father’s life. Seeing her try and fail in her task, gaining redemption in doing so, would be a poignant moment that would also spur on Gamora to focus on undoing her father’s villainy.
Star-Lord is the Guardian with the most character development, and is arguably the only one to have finished their story (besides, maybe, Groot?). Furthermore, the star behind the Star-Lord, Chris Pratt, is one of the biggest names in Hollywood, and is at some point going to do something that requires he not be so closely tied to the Marvel brand. If we look to the comics, there’s even a precedent for Star-Lord dying against Thanos, as he sacrificed himself to end the villain in the crossover The Thanos Imperative. Going out to save his new family would be a fitting end to the leader of the Guardians, and would prove he’s not just the ‘asshole’ loser most of the Galaxy thinks he is.
THE (NEW) AVENGERS
Vision gon’ die. Although he hasn’t had a body for the entirety of the series, Paul Bettany; the man behind the make-up; has been around since the first Iron Man. Furthermore, he has an Infinity Stone – one of the very items Thanos is after, keeping him alive and bolted to his forehead. It’s highly unlikely that he’s getting out of this one, and if Marvel really want to show how terrible Thanos’ forces are, taking out the strongest Avenger is the way to do that. I will concede that the character may survive in some form; perhaps undergo another evolution. But Vision, as we know him, is dead.
Scarlet Witch, like Wasp, Gamora and Captain Marvel, is one of those characters who is generally safer due to her being female. Furthermore, one might surmise that her obvious character arc is rising to fight harder after the death of her lover, Vision. Unfortunately, she’s already been through this once, after her brother, Quicksilver, died in Age of Ultron. But, if you check the trailer, you may realise that we’re once again seeing just that. The humanized Vision and the Witch at their apartment, the Vision having the Mind Stone ripped out of his head, and later, in (presumably) Wakanda, a more emotional Scarlet Witch reuniting with Captain America.
Falcon and the Winter Soldier have little reason to be killed off. The actors obviously love making these movies, and as those closest to Captain America, they are the ones best suited to take his place when he passes on (whoops, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself there). Also, it’s worth noting that Sebastian Stan’s nowhere near the end of his contract, having been signed on for a whopping nine picture deal when he became the Winter Soldier. In the comics, both characters have become Captain America at some point, and it’s not hard to imagine a film seeing the pair trying to live up to Steve Rogers’ legacy. In spite of that, however, it’s unlikely that former mass-murderer Winter Soldier will actually take up the mantle of the world’s most admired hero in this continuity, so him dying alongside his brother-in-arms isn’t too far out of the realms of possibility. Because as fun as a Bucky/Falcon movie would be, what are Marvel actually going to do with the Winter Soldier in a world without Captain America?
War Machine isn’t going anywhere. Again, getting a bit ahead of myself, but like Falcon and Winter Soldier, War Machine is the perfect hero to step up and fill the void left by Iron Man, were it to come to that. He also suffered a pretty damning injury in Civil War, being accidentally blasted out of the sky by the Vision and shattering his back, so to see one of Marvel’s prominent black heroes get a spinal injury and then get killed off in his next appearance would not be a good P.R. move. Not quite ‘killing off Black Panther’ level bad, but definitely bad nonetheless.
THE (OLD) AVENGERS
Captain America is a goner. But I’ve already told you that, so I’m going to take it a step further. Not only do I predict that Captain America is going to die (Chris Evans’ contract is over; he’s said that while he would be happy to stick around, he also wants to try his hand at directing and he’s had the most successful films so he’d be going out on a high note), but I predict he’s going to die in act three of Avengers 3. Perhaps they’ll even mimic a certain comic book panel (as Marvel are known to do) and see him beaten down after boldly standing up to Thanos alone? Either way, depending on if Thanos is the villain for both films, Captain America will die in part one, sending Iron Man and whichever other attendees are left standing from the final battle on a new journey which may or may not involve time travel. Meaning Captain America will get a hero’s death, but we will see him again.
Hawkeye is the Avenger everyone always thinks is going to be killed off. So, in response, he pulled out a family to seemingly save him from harm. Of course, this means that a potential death would be more poignant, but I reckon it’s not going to come to that. Jeremy Renner has been seen sporting a darker costume in Avengers 4 set photos; one that is reminiscent of his time as the vigilante Ronin (in the comics, that is), leading some to speculate that someone close to Hawkeye will die, sending him down a darker path. Assuming that isn’t his family (that’s also happened in the comics), I imagine that after he’s sought out whatever vengeance he’s going for, he’ll take another shot at retirement.
Thor, on one hand, seems like a sure candidate for a trip to Valhalla. He’s completed his series, he’s become king of Asgard (and, we imagine, will soon become king of nothing) and grown into a wiser, more powerful character compared to the Thor we met at the start of Thor 1. However, his most recent film, Ragnarok, was the best of his series, and served somewhat as a deconstruction of the character and his mythology.
Leaks have told us that this film will see him on the search for a new weapon after his hammer, Mjolnir, was destroyed, which makes me think that Thor will see a rebirth of sorts, coming out of Infinity War not just alive, but with a new role that sees him restored to a more rounded variant of his former self. After all, there’s no point deconstructing a hero if you’re not going to build him back up again. But just for the record, his brother Loki? He’s served his purpose, swapped sides more times than anyone can be bothered to count, and is probably going to meet a swift end either sucking up to or betraying Thanos.
‘Black Widow is also going to die’, is another thing I would have speculated, had other evidence not come to light suggesting the opposite. In fact, even just a few weeks ago, I may have suggested she would die. Now, however, that seems less likely. People online have theorised that Hawkeye’s loss that leads to his darker costume is the loss of Black Widow. And that makes sense. If they’re going to kill off any main female characters, surely it would be the one who we know and care about the most? (Although some could argue that no one cared about Quicksilver and he’s basically the only person to die and stay dead.) But then they announced that they’ve found a writer for the Black Widow solo film, which probably won’t come around until at least 2020, after Avengers 4. So unless that’s a film told entirely in the past, Black Widow is sticking around for her long overdue solo adventure.
The Hulk is currently in the midst of his own ‘movie’, in a way. No, you haven’t missed a surprise Hulk film. Don’t worry. What I mean is, Kevin Feige and Mark Ruffalo, around the time of Ragnarok, explained how that film, together with Avengers 3 and 4 amounts to one solo film, Hulk-wise, wherein we’ll see all the character progression we’d otherwise see in a normal movie. ‘Act one’ of this Hulk story established that, due to his time spent on Sakaar, it’s now dangerous for Bruce Banner to turn into the Hulk, because the green goliath is forming his own unique personality and may resist turning back. We do, however, see Banner in the trailer for Infinity War, and many have speculated that he will don the Hulkbuster Iron Man armour, to be able to contribute to the battle without turning into the Hulk. That probably won’t last though, what with the Hulk also being in the trailer. So, hot take – the Hulk will survive Infinity War, and become his own fully formed character, but at the expense of Bruce Banner’s mind being lost.
Iron Man is perhaps the character whose fate people are most curious about. Some think he’s going to die, some think retire and some think he and Robert Downey Jr. may just end up sticking around forever. His contract ended a while back, and has since been extended so he can keep making these movies. He is Iron Man, after all; the centrepiece of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But, frankly, it’s probably time for people to move on, and Tony Stark’s reckoning is long overdue. He’s contributed to nearly every bad event to happen in the series of films; he’s bullied three people into becoming villains in his own series, enabled Loki’s plan in Avengers, helped design S.H.I.E.L.D./Hydra’s killer Helicarriers, created Ultron, drove away Cap in Civil War and spawned the Vulture in Homecoming. Really, he causes more harm than he does good. So, like I predicted that he will die in Infinity War, I think Stark will power forward, frantically scrambling to save the universe after the events of Infinity War, and it will end with him dying, saving everyone, mirroring his attempted heroic sacrifice in the first Avengers, acting his penance for his various misdeeds.
So, to sum up:
Won’t die: Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Ant-Man, Wasp, Groot, Gamora, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, War Machine, Hawkeye, Hulk
Will die: Nebula, Vision, Captain America, Loki
Might die: Mantis, Drax, Rocket, Star-Lord, Winter Soldier, Thor, Bruce Banner, Iron Man
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