The huge threat to the universe that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been teasing for just about the last decade is almost here. The Mad Titan Thanos arrives next week, in search of the Infinity Stones and looking to kill half of all life. All of the MCU heroes are coming together to fight Thanos, but surely not all of them will make it through “Avengers: Infinity War.”
Nobody knows for sure who is going to come out alive once the dust settles and the Infinity Stones realign reality. But that won’t stop us from making some educated guesses based on what we know of the MCU stories up until now, the hints hidden in the movie’s trailers, and the background information about actor contracts and future movie plans. Plus, it’s fun to just make wild, overly analytical guesses about what could happen in the movie when everyone in the MCU finally comes together with a common goal: to not get squashed by Thanos.
So let’s go down the list of major characters in “Avenger: Infinity War,” and our odds of them taking one for the team.
Beloved MCU villain Loki has come a long way over the many movies he’s appeared in, but in “Thor: Ragnarok,” he went through significant character development. When Asgard needed him — and when Thor needed him — he was there. He seems to finally have gotten over some of his resentment for his brother and his father, learned a thing or two, and at least briefly embraced being less of a villainous jerk.
Of course, the trailers for “Infinity War,” and the setup during the mid-credits scene of “Thor: Ragnarok,” suggest that things with Loki in the next movie will be complicated. We know Thanos captured the Asgardian ship, and it was heavily implied that Loki stole the Tesseract from Asgard’s vault before the planet was destroyed. It seems pretty clear that Loki hands over the Tesseract — which contains the Space Infinity Stone. Loki previously worked for Thanos in “The Avengers” when he attacked Earth, and we’ve seen him in the trailers with Thanos’ elite squad of lieutenants, the Black Order. So there’s a good chance Loki joins up with the bad guys. The question is, will he die fighting the Avengers and his adopted brother? It seems like what’s more likely is that Loki will double-cross Thanos in one final redeeming moment, and die to protect Thor. Either way, Loki is as good as dead.
A big to-do like “Infinity War” needs really high stakes, even more than the usual “the world is about to end” stuff that the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies get up to. Driving those stakes home means MCU characters are going to have to die to sell just how big a deal Thanos is. Heimdall is high on the list of people who are recognizable enough to matter to the audience, but expendable enough that the story can lose them without it creating a major hurdle.
Heimdall popped up in the first two “Thor” movies in a limited way, but he really got some spotlight in “Thor: Ragnarok.” As a savior of the Asgardian people and a kicker of the asses of Hela’s army, he’s proven himself to be formidable and heroic — and more interesting than just being the guy who stands at the Bifrost gate, waiting to turn it on and off. In fact, Heimdall rising in the estimation of fans of late means he’s even more likely to die, since it’ll be even more resonant. It’s time to come to grips with the fact that we’ll probably lose Heimdall in Thanos’ war.
Angry characters on a vengeance-fueled vendetta are extremely prone to dying at the end of their stories, especially if they’re bad guys who turned good. Nebula — being the daughter of Thanos who hunted the Guardians of the Galaxy in the first of their movies before teaming up with them to stop Ego in the second one, and then setting off to kill Thanos as that movie came to a close — checks all the boxes of a tragedy waiting to happen. We can only hope, then, that when Nebula goes out, she goes out with a bang.
One of the Guardians of the Galaxy
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is already on the Marvel schedule for 2020, so it’s safe to say that most of the group will need to make it out of this whole deal alive because rebooting that franchise already would be kinda weird. But at the same time, there’s certainly room to kill off at least one member of the team. It wouldn’t be Gamora, because she’s gotta cry about Nebula’s sacrifice. I would guess it won’t be Mantis, just because that prospect doesn’t really feel right tonally. It probably wouldn’t be Rocket, because he’s Rocket. And they won’t kill Groot again. So if any of the Guardians is going to bite the dust in “Infinity War,” my money would be on either Star Lord or Drax going down.
Odds of any one of the Guardians dying: 5/1
Somebody from Wakanda
T’Challa, Okoye and Shuri are probably safe. Lupita Nyong’o is apparently not in “Infinity War,” so she is obviously safe as well. Our guess for a Wakandan character to die would be either T’Challa’s mother, Ramonda, or M’Baku. M’Baku would no doubt have a totally sick death if he goes, but he’s such a fan favorite that if they had planned to kill him off, they may have reconsidered after seeing his reception in “Black Panther.”
Odd of any key character from Wakanda dying: 5/1
Don Cheadle may be the greatest actor involved in this franchise, but Colonel Rhodes has functioned basically as a sidekick in this franchise — and in a “people are gonna die in this movie” situation, that puts him squarely in the category of “characters who are expendable.” On the other hand, if Tony dies then Rhodie would be primed to fill that void going forward. This one feels like a coin flip.
Vision is in a pretty precarious position when Thanos comes to town. The Mad Titan is hunting Infinity Stones — and Vision is an Infinity Stone. It looks as though “Infinity War” is in large chunks about the Avengers trying to protect Vision from Thanos’ attacks, with much of the group taking him off to Wakanda for safekeeping. But the trailers also suggest that it’s not going to work, with Thanos’ goons trying to pry the Infinity Stone out of Vision’s head. Another shot seems even more extreme, potentially hinting at Vision’s head being severed entirely. And since Thanos’ whole deal is creating the Infinity Gauntlet and bending reality, it seems naive to think he won’t eventually get all the stones together, which is bad news for Vision.
It’s going to be sad, too. The trailers hint at the growing relationship between Vision and Wanda Maximoff, also known as Scarlet Witch, and seem to suggest we’ll be seeing a lot of longing looks between the pair leading up to Vision’s eventual demise.
All that said, the trailers also give a clue that what would be death for other people might not be for our weird magic robot friend. There’s one shot in the trailer that shows a headless character with a cape billowing, not crumbled on the ground but standing (or hovering) above it as if alive. It’s tough to say exactly what we’re seeing there — the cape looks red in the trailer (not gold like Vision’s), so that could be some sort of headless Thor. And we’ve also speculated that Doctor Strange’s Cloak of Levitation, which is apparently sentient, could become more than just a piece of clothing. But a headless Vision could definitely work — even Vision doesn’t fully understand what Vision is, so maybe losing his head and the Mind Stone won’t mean he’s completely lost.
But ultimately whether or not that headless is immaterial to whether Vision is gonna die in “Infinity War.” And it definitely looks like he’s gonna die.
Side note: here’s the image if you wanna make a guess. Definitely some major Thor-looking elements there.
Thor, as mentioned, could be the one who loses his head and survives — he’s a god, after all. But Thor, like Tony Stark, has had a complete arc over the course of the five movies he’s appeared in, finally achieving his full power in “Ragnarok” after losing his eye and his father, Odin. Which, in these sorts of stories, means he’s finally poised to go out in a blaze of glory. He’s lost pretty much everything at this point — his home and most of his people before this movie, and probably the rest of his people at Thanos’ hands at the beginning of this movie. Thor may very well be the last of the Asgardians after the first act of “Infinity War,” so it would be fitting for him to die taking down the ultimate big bad.
On the other hand, it would also be fitting for him to rebuild Asgardian civilization and serve as a sort of an elder adviser to the Avengers and the rest of the good guys moving forward.
“Thor: Ragnarok” likewise completed Bruce Banner’s character arc, as he has finally after all these years accepted who he is. He’s finally comfortable in both his skins, and that feels like a death sentence for him.
It’s a sad fact that Cap’s days have felt numbered ever since he was thawed out of the ice after having been out of the world for 66 years. Cap cuts a tragic figure, losing everything to defeat HYDRA and Red Skull, including his only love, Peggy Carter. He’s been pretty sad stuck in the modern era, too, since he doesn’t feel at home there — and modern America and the rest of the world have him pretty disappointed. So Cap’s a beloved hero, but an unhappy one who’s trapped in a world into which he doesn’t fit, and his only love is gone. That’s a perfect cocktail of tragedy that makes him a great candidate to consign himself to the void in service of his friends, and Earth.
Add to that the fact Chris Evans has said publicly that he’s ready to move on and that his Marvel contract ends after “Avengers 4,” and, well, it’s pretty obvious.
Cap was always going to go down fighting, and very likely in the service of protecting his comrades, so we’ll probably see that in some capacity in “Infinity War.” The trailers include a pretty potentially horrible shot of Cap catching Thanos’ monster hand and straining to hold the Mad Titan back, which looks like it really could be Cap’s last moment. We’re guessing Marvel Studios’ marketing team wouldn’t put the four seconds immediately preceding Cap’s grisly death in a trailer, though — plus, in those Wakanda scenes, Cap hasn’t gotten back his iconic shield, and it would be weird if he died without it. We’ll definitely get a hero shot of him reunited with that faithful companion before Cap buys it.
Clint “Hawkeye” Barton
Poor Clint has always been the odd Avenger out, since his power — extremely good aim specifically with a bow and arrow — has somewhat limited applications. He’s instead usually been used as the “regular human person” of the core Avengers squad, primarily providing things like SHIELD expertise, and humor. That’s not to undercut his value to the team, since Clint has proven time and again how integral he is, but the guy’s about ready to hang it up now that actual superheroes and godlike aliens are around.
This situation doesn’t bode well for Hawkeye, really. He’s got a family and a bunch of young kids, and we know Linda Cardellini, who plays Clint’s wife Laura, will be back for “Infinity War.” Between his “getting too old for this shit” routine, his relatability as a mostly non-super, and his extremely adorable family who would be devastated by his death, Clint has a lot of things stacked up against him that would make his loss a heart-wrencher.
On the other hand, all of that would also make it fit for a super person to die saving Clint, prompting him to ask why. “Because they need you,” the super person would say. His conspicuous absence in the marketing also, possibly counterintuitively, implies to us that his role is too important to be that of just another dead body. It would be weird for him to die in whatever secret battle is the only one he’s involved in.
If anybody can be considered the main character of the entire Marvel Cinematic Univers so far, it’s Iron Man. All the movies he’s been in have been as much about developing his arc over the past ten years as they have been about anything else, and so it follows that “Infinity War” could easily conclude with Tony making the ultimate sacrifice.
Remember, too, that the human suffering Tony caused didn’t end when he ordered Stark Industry to stop manufacturing and selling weapons. The entire Ultron thing was definitely his fault, and the Vulture in “Spider-Man: Homecoming” only existed because Stark Industries tried to run all the small business salvagers in New York out of business after the first “Avengers” movie. Tony Stark has been both the main hero and, arguably, the main villain of the MCU. If Tony can finally come to grips with that fact, it will make his end all the more impactful. I hope we get a tear-filed monologue before Tony goes!
(Half of) Everybody
Thanos’ stated goal is to wipe out half the population of the universe. The reasons are complicated in the comics (he’s in love with the physical manifestation of Death and is trying to impress her, and also he’s mad) and haven’t come up yet in the films. We know he’s going for that, though, and the thing about having a gauntlet filled with super-powerful magic gems that have the ability to literally reshape reality is, it would be kind of dull if it never got used to its full potential. The Infinity Gauntlet is the ultimate Chekhov’s Gun, and to not see it used in its full glory would be a letdown. So it seems likely Thanos might actually accomplish his goal, or least a part of it, in “Infinity War.”
We have some other evidence that suggests “Infinity War” might not end on a high note. There are two movies between “Infinity War” and “Avengers 4” — “Captain Marvel” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp” — and they both pointedly take place before “Infinity War.” Captain Marvel jumps all the way back to the 1990s, while the “Ant-Man” sequel pops up sometime in the post-“Captain America: Civil War” era, but before all the major changes that “Infinity War” is sure to create for the MCU. No movies are going to address the aftermath of “Infinity War” until “Avengers 4” pops up in 2019, and that means that “Infinity War” could easily end with the good guys losing.
The thing about the Infinity Gauntlet and its incredible power is that it gives “Infinity War” and “Avengers 4” a potential “get out of jail free” card when it comes to Thanos winning and characters dying. The Time Stone in particular makes traveling back in time possible, and the power of all the stones together can change the fabric of reality. Just because the Avengers lose or die in “Infinity War” doesn’t mean they have to stay dead, potentially.
Black Panther, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, Bucky, Doctor Strange, Wong, Spider-Man, Ant-Man, the Wasp, most of the Guardians of the Galaxy
If “Infinity War” doesn’t end with a Thanos victory and all the heroes dead, these are the characters we feel are absolutely safe.
Black Widow seems poised to lead the Avengers going into the next phase. Scarlet Witch is just too good to get rid of, plus she and Falcon very much have the vibe of Avengers: the Next Generation. There’s no way they gave Bucky the White Wolf title only to kill him off before he can be the White Wolf in a “Black Panther” movie. Doctor Strange and Wong haven’t been around long enough to kill off. Ant-Man seems too important in the near term to kill off — though “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is set before “Infinity War,” its placement on the calendar here would indicate he and the Wasp are extremely important in the near term.
And, of course, Spider-Man and the Guardians are the only characters who have movies on the schedule beyond “Avengers 4,” so they have to make it through all this more or less unscathed.
And yeah there’s just no way Black Panther is gonna die here. Just no way.
BONUS: Nick Fury
We actually don’t even know if Nick Fury is in this movie — Sam Jackson has said he’s not in it, but he’s been spotted around set from time to time. But if he is in it, will he die? Mur guess would be no, since he hasn’t shown up in the MCU at all since “Age of Ultron.” But honestly, since we know absolutely nothing about the context in which he might appear, it’s tough to gauge this one.