Spoilers spoilers spoilers spoilers obviously, read the headline!
Since we first found out that Avengers: Infinity War was happening, and that the world-killer Thanos (well, half of a world) would be at its core, it was clear that stakes would be high. Thanos coming into the possession of the Infinity Gauntlet, which holds the stones that harness the power of the universe, was also coinciding with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s tenth year. That milestone is part of a shift that has already introduced, and will continue to introduce, even more new superheroes as others phase out.
The popular guess for how those legacy characters (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and others from the origins of the MCU) would indeed phase out was that they would be killed off by Thanos in wonderfully heroic Infinity War deaths. But one of the best things about Avengers: Infinity War is how it subverted those expectations. Those heroes didn’t die — the newbies did.
What does “dead” really mean, though? In the comic book world it’s a very tricky and often impermanent thing. Because of that, it’s hard to really understand the weight of it or feel fully emotionally invested when a character dies. Will they be back?
The deaths of Infinity War happened in two very different ways. Several characters were straight-up murdered by Thanos, while others were erased from existence when he snapped his Infinity Gauntlet-adorned fingers. For our purposes, we’ll call that latter move “being dusted,” since they essentially crumbled into dust and disappeared.
So up first, the traditionally-murdered victims:
- Loki — Choked to death by Thanos after Loki attempted to knife him.
- Heimdall — Murdered via sword to the heart by Thanos to further punish Thor.
- The Collector — Wiped out (presumably) when Thanos raided his planet for the Soul Stone.
- Gamora — Thrown off a cliff and killed as a sacrifice so Thanos could collect the Soul Stone.
- Vision — Mind Stone plucked from his head by Thanos, lifeless android body thrown aside.
- The Black Order — Taken out by the Avengers
Any of these characters could come back. But will they? Should they? Emotionally, yes, I would obviously choose to have more Loki and Heimdall and Gamora. I would actually watch a movie with just the three of them. And Vision in there just for kicks, why not? His relationship with Wanda is one that is weird enough to work, and her choosing to kill him by destroying the stone to keep it from Thanos was an incredibly intense moment for both of their characters. (The Collector I could take or leave).
However, narratively — as we enter this new phase of the MCU — it would be pretty bold to leave them behind as the very real carnage of Thanos’ universal war, and to explore what it’s like to have real stakes. Because … the folks who got “dusted” are (almost) all part of that post-Avengers 1 group of heroes (plus a few key S.H.I.E.L.D. agents).
- Peter Parker / Spider-Man
- Stephen Strange / Doctor Strange
- T’challa / Black Panther
- Bucky Barnes / The Winter Soldier
- Peter Quill / Star Lord
- Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch
- Sam Wilson / Falcon
- Maria Hill
- Nick Fury
Update: The Russos have also confirmed some of the offscreen deaths as well.
As sad as these “deaths” were when they happened (Bucky calling out “Steve…”, Peter’s emotional demise with Iron Man holding him, T’challa going to assist Okoye and then vaporizing, etc), everyone also knows that these characters have sequel movies coming out. The casts of some of those movies could change some (especially the Guardians), but there’s no way that Stephen Strange and Peter Parker are actually out of commission.
Still, we don’t know exactly how they might return, or if they’ll return in a way that restores the timeline to pre-Thanos events or not (there seems to be a hint that Strange helped put into place the one timeline where they ultimately “win”). Gamora and Vision’s deaths being specifically tied to the acquisition of stones could give them a different fate from Loki and Heimdall, but regardless, this all gives the Phase 1 heroes a very specific mission (and likely conclusion) to bring their friends back from the dead. However, if the MCU really wanted to shake things up, it could split the teams up into two different dimensions (do we know the “dusted” folks are dead, or just somewhere else?) That would be a little wild for the movie universe, but pretty standard fare for the comic one.
Let us know in the comments who you think is really gone, and if they aren’t, how they might return. Plus, if you could only save one lost Avenger, who would it be?
For more on Avengers: Infinity War, click on the links below:
- ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Post-Credit Scene, Explained
- ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Ending Explained: Where Does the MCU Go From Here?
- ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Spoiler-Free Video Review
- ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Review: Marvel Gives Us Everything and Nothing