This post contains frank discussion of the most crucial plot points of Avengers: Infinity War. If you’re looking for a spoiler-free, risk-free review, you can find it here. But if you’re about to wander into the article below it either means you have already seen the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or you really, truly don’t mind knowing what’s to come. We’re going to give you once last chance to bail out but after this GIF, the gauntlets are coming off.
Almost everyone paying attention headed into Avengers: Infinity War knew some people were going to die. After all, the contracts are soon up on some major franchise stars. Plus you can’t tease a big bad villain like Josh Brolin’s Thanos for 13 movies without some kind of sacrifice from Earth’s mightiest heroes. Some comic-book aficionados with a passing familiarity with Thanos even suspected that his quest for the Infinity Gauntlet might end with him snapping his fingers and wiping out half of all existence. By the time Zoë Saldana’s Gamora mentioned it as a possibility a few times in the movie, hopefully the rest of you were prepared as well. Who died? Who survived? Who will probably return? We’ll get there.
But even those who smugly suspected they knew who might be toast in the movie (Chris Evans,the most reluctant actor in the M.C.U., was at the top of many death pools) were in for a surprise when some unexpected characters faded to ash just as the credits started to roll. Spider-Man??! No! We just got this one!
Then again, as the credits rolled, maybe you had already figured out that most of the characters who crumbled after the Thanos snap already have sequel movies planned. What, you thought Disney was about to leave all of that potential Black Panther 2 money on the table by wiping out Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa? No way. And actually, the comic book aficionados will be the first to tell you that all that “death” in the final seconds of Infinity War wasn’t even the most intriguing part of the movie. It’s this line right here from Thanos to Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark.
What seems at first glance like a surface commentary on legacy, and whether Stark’s will outlive him, will strike some people as a hint that, not only did half the Marvel cast crumble to dust, they might have been wiped out of all existence. Which means the as-yet untitled Avengers 4 coming out in 2019 may not deal with the aftermath of a mass genocide, but, potentially, a completely alternate reality where characters like Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), T’Challa, etc. never existed at all. It’s ambitious, hardcore comic-book-y stuff, but Marvel has been prepping audiences for a swing this big for a decade now. To make sure we’re all ready for what’s to come, here’s a rundown of the deaths that may or may not stick after Infinity War.
WHO IS STILL ALIVE?
You’ll notice that all of the surviving heroes from Infinity War are pretty much the people we expect will be hanging up their capes and weapons by the end of Avengers 4. In other words, the core team of Iron Man (Downey), Captain America (Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) are all still in play with an added bonus of Don Cheadle’s Rhodey. Thanos is still around, too. Don’t forget. Will all of them survive Avengers 4? Oh most assuredly not. Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) are representing the Cosmic crew. Wong (Benedict Wong) was last seen scurrying off to guard the Sanctum Sanctorum. Okoye (Danai Gurira), Shuri (Letitia Wright), M’Baku (Winston Duke, not pictured) are all holding it down for Wakanda. A tantalizing prospect is that if T’Challa was wiped out of all existence, someone like Shuri or M’Baku might be the new leader of Wakanda. Just chew on that idea while we consider the heroes who skipped the battle altogether.
WHO WASN’T EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE THERE TODAY?
Infinity War mentions in passing that both Scott (Paul Rudd) and Clint (Jeremy Renner), a.k.a. Ant-Man and Hawkeye, took a deal with the government after their brief jail time in Civil War and are under house arrest. That means we don’t know if they, or Hope, a.k.a. The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), made it through this cataclysmic event uncrumbled. Ant-Man and The Wasp have their own movie this summer so we’ll likely find out then. Their film—a fun caper—takes place before and during Infinity War so one or both of these heroes may dissolve just as their credits start to roll. But bear in mind that the Ant-Man movies deals with the concept of the Quantum Realm a.k.a. a super teeny-tiny place in the galaxy where maybe Thanos’s reality-bending snap can’t reach. Will Scott and Hope emerge from their Quantum adventures only to find the world has been turned upside down by the Infinity War? Will they be some of the only characters who remember what the world used to be like?
Meanwhile in space . . .
Weirdly, we see Thanos lay waste to Thor’s ship but don’t see what happened to some important people who were on board. Popular Ragnarok characters Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi), and Miek were nowhere to be seen. We saw a lot of super-dead Asgardians but is it possible that these three—all of whom Marvel guru Kevin Feige has said have promising futures in the franchise—escaped with at least some of the refugees Thor spent all of Ragnarok trying to save? It would feel a bit cheap for all of Ragnarok to have been for nothing.
Okay, enough with the survivors. Let’s bring out the dead.
THEY MAY HAVE TURNED TO ASH BUT THEY ALSO HAVE PLANNED SEQUELS SO, DUH, THEY’RE COMING BACK
Black Panther (Boseman), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), and the Guardians of the Galaxy all have announced sequels from Marvel. Sebastian Stan a.k.a. Bucky Barnes a.k.a. the Winter Soldier is nowhere near fulfilling the nine-picture deal he signed with the studio. Marvel hasn’t officially announced another movie for Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), but there have been plenty of rumblings that one is in the works. So it feels fairly safe to tell you not to mourn for these fallen heroes. While we’re here though, let’s spend a second thinking about why Doctor Strange gave up the Time Gem in order to protect Tony Stark’s life. It would seem Strange saw something in the future and believes that in order to defeat Thanos in the long run, the Earth is going to need Iron Man. He may have sacrificed himself in the short term, but Dr. Stephen Strange is likely as hopeful as we are that he will be coming back.
WHO IS IN A BIT MORE TROUBLE?
I suspect all the ashen heroes will be resurrected once Avengers 4 plays out, but Mackie’s Falcon and Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch don’t have the security of a planned sequel to guarantee their return. Olsen’s character in particular feels as though she might be at the end of the line. Both Scarlet Witch and her android boyfriend Vision (Paul Bettany) have been problematic ever since they joined the franchise in Age of Ultron. Their reality-bending skills are almost too powerful for the M.C.U. to contain. In big scrums like the tarmac fight in Civil War, they often have to be sidelined because no one could possible beat them in a fair fight.
As for these two erstwhile, dusted S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, it’s tough to say. Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury will be back for 2019’s Captain Marvel,—did you catch her cameo of sorts?—but that is a prequel set in the 1990s, so, no guarantees there. Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill? Well, she’s anyone’s guess.
WHO SHOULD STAY DOWN
Not every death in Avengers: Infinity War came at the snap of Thanos’s fingers. The movie kicked off with two weighty deaths that quickly established Thanos as a force to be reckoned. First, Idris Elba’s Heimdall sacrificed himself in order to jettison the Hulk back to Earth. Though the character really came into his own in Ragnarok, it would feel cheap for this death to be undone.
Even cheaper would be yet another unlikely return for Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. Delivering audiences a gruesomely poetic death worthy of the Shakespearean influences from the original Thor film, Hiddleston deserves to keep that death. “No resurrections this time,” Thanos intoned, reminding the audience just how many times Loki has cheated death. Hiddleston gave the BBC what sounded like an exit interview for the franchise earlier this month so, truly, this is probably it for everyone’s favorite trickster god.
This may be it for poor Vision. But at least if Paul Bettany had to go out after a decade in the MCU first as the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S. in Iron Man and then as the android Vision, we finally got to see his human face. He’s probably gone for the same reason Scarlet Witch is gone but if Thanos is defeated and the Mind Stone is returned, well, never say never.
And at last we come to the most complicated death in Avengers: Infinity War. Gamora’s demise hit the movie pretty hard. It was the inspiration for a killer C.G.I. show of emotion from Brolin’s Thanos and the motivation for Chris Pratt’s Star Lord to spectacularly blow it for the rest of the Avengers. As much as we dislike the idea of a female character dying in order to motivate both her father and her boyfriend, this is a death that should linger. It can’t be undone. It shouldn’t be undone. This should be the major sticking point to give Infinity War any sense of stakes. But, let’s be real, Gamora’s probably coming back. In an unusually candid interview last year, Saldana both may have blown the title of Avengers 4 (she says it’s Infinity Gauntlet) and implied she’ll be in it. Maybe Gamora will just be a flashback or a wraith like Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull, but it’s hard to believe the Guardians franchise will continue on without her. Which is too bad. If Marvel had guts, they’d make this one stay.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
R.I.P. to Wanda Maximoff’s thick Sokovian accent. It died without fanfare or mention somewhere between Civil War and Infinity War. We may never see its like again.