We still have some waiting to do before the Russo brothers unleash their gigantic two movie conclusion (and new beginning) to the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe with 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War and 2019’s untitled sequel. Filmed exclusively in expansive IMAX, Avengers: Infinity War promises the largest superhero cast ever assembled, with a whopping 67 characters sharing screen-time, including the long-awaited (now confirmed) crossover between the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
A two year wait won’t stop us from drooling at the myriad of potential events we’ll see in the Russo’s Avengers: Infinity War opus, which will also pit our heroes against the mighty Thanos, and his gauntlet containing the awesome power of the united Infinity Stones. With the conclusive nature of this story and the fact that a bunch of contracts for MCU favorites such as Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth will expire soon (and Robert Downey Jr. negotiates one film at a time), it looks increasingly probable that many of our beloved heroes won’t make it to the other side of Avengers: Infinity War alive. With this sad likelihood in mind, the MCU will need fresh blood to fill the ranks of the Avengers, and protect us from threats based on Earth, in space, or from the world of the supernatural.
Here are the 15 Marvel Characters Who Definitely Won’t Die In Avengers: Infinity War
As we already know, Mark Ruffalo’s Jade Giant is set to have a pivotal supporting role in next year’s Thor: Ragnarok. When first announced, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige insisted that Ragnarok plays as important a role to the overall Phase 3 story as Captain America: The Winter Soldier did for Phase 2. What did he mean by that? Will Ragnarok and Infinity War provide enough time to wrap up Hulk/Bruce Banner’s story, considering he’s only had fairly limited screen time in the MCU so far? We wouldn’t bet on it.
If Thor: Ragnarok is incorporating some elements of the classic Planet Hulk storyline, where an exiled Hulk fights in gladiatorial combat and eventually becomes ruler of the planet Sakaar, is it too much of a stretch to believe that Marvel would want to adapt the equally beloved arc World War Hulk for Phase 4? Who wouldn’t want to see a enraged King Hulk and and his intergalactic army attempt to conquer the Earth?
14. Sharon Carter
Emily Van Camp’s former S.H.I.E.L.D. and current C.I.A. agent Sharon Carter has finally stepped out of the shadow of her legendary great aunt Peggy Carter. She was most recently seen as both a valuable ally and brand new love interest for Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, in Civil War. With Peggy sadly now at rest, Sharon will likely have a far expanded role in the MCU from Phase 4 onward as one of the few people intimately close to Captain Steve.
As one of the few major non-powered (but still tough as nails) players in the Marvel cinematic universe, Sharon has the potential to ground the viewer in reality, and allow us to see many of the superpowered characters of the MCU from a more human perspective. Also, if Cap doesn’t make it out of Infinity War alive perhaps Sharon could be a left-field contender to take up his mantle?
With Chris Evan’s Captain America contract almost at its end, the star-spangled Avenger has never seemed so mortal. His number may very well be up by the time Avengers: Infinity War reaches its epic conclusion. Those familiar with comic book lore already know that Sam Wilson, AKA the Falcon, has recently been among the small number of Steve’s allies to have wielded the shield in his absence. Whether or not Falcon picks up the shield, actor Anthony Mackie’s good humored charm will really help fill the void that Robert Downey Jr. could leave should he choose not to return as Tony Stark/Iron Man.
The Falcon immediately cemented his status as a good friend and equal to Steve Rogers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and his short, but sweet appearance in Ant-Man threatened to steal the show. His role further was expanded in Civil War, as did the flying marvel’s tech– with the addition of his robotic drone Redwing to his already impressive flying harness.
12. The Winter Soldier
The most likely replacement for a deceased or out-of-commission Steve Rogers would be his life-long comrade/one-time brainwashed enemy Bucky Barnes, AKA The Winter Soldier. Comic book aficionados will be aware of Greg Rucka’s epic run of Captain America issues, where Bucky filled in as Cap, while Steve was (temporarily) deceased at the hands of Crossbones. What better redemptive arc for Steve Rogers’s childhood friend than continuing his good work as the new Captain America after causing so much harm over the years as the ruthless Winter Soldier?
Anyone who’s caught up with the MCU will know that Bucky is currently cryogenically frozen in Wakanda, but even if Cap should remain in the land of the living post-Infinity War, Sebastian Stan’s nine movie contract guarantees that the Winter Soldier will remain a staple of the Avengers and the MCU for many years to come, no matter what name he may adopt.
After a memorably troubled development period, Ant-Man finally hit the screens as the only new solo franchise in the Phase 2 Marvel line-up. Despite not quite hitting the blockbuster heights of Guardians of the Galaxy ($519 vs $773 million in worldwide box office), Ant-Man was well enough received by critics and audiences to justify a quickly green-lit sequel, the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp. Marvel were right in keeping the faith with Paul Rudd’s very funny take on former jail bird-turned-shrinking crusader Scott Lang, as he is undoubtedly the MCU’s funniest hero and arguably provides the otherwise serious Civil War with its biggest laughs as the awesome Giant-Man.
After Infinity War could the normally irresponsible Scott Lang adopt a leadership role within the ranks of the Avengers? As one of the comic’s original members you can expect him to remain on the team for Phase 4 and beyond, should Cap, Iron Man, and Thor become either dead, retired, or M.I.A.
10. Rocket Raccoon
The surly Rocket Raccoon is simply too cute to die. If that isn’t excuse enough, there are just far too many reasons to keep him around as a core component of the MCU for the foreseeable future. It’s already been established by James Gunn that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is mostly Peter Quill’s story, and that Guardians Vol. 3 likely won’t arrive until sometime in Phase 4. A great story to potentially explore in a Guardians three-quel would be Rocket’s tragic origin and the vile experimentation he was subjected to.
There’s still so much to learn about Rocket and his life prior to joining his Guardians of the Galaxy teammates. In Phase 4, it’s going to be so much fun watching the Bradley Cooper-voiced Rocket interact with the population of the MCU. We’d love to see an out-and-out comedy flick about Rocket Raccoon and Groot, maybe even set on Earth. Is a buddy comedy with Seth Green’s Howard the Duck totally out of the question?
For starters, Groot has already “died”, in the massively emotional finale of Guardians of the Galaxy. Of course, he quickly regrew into the little Baby Groot we’re going to quickly learn to love in next year’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. As with his compadre Rocket Raccoon, there’s simply too much of his story that hasn’t yet been explored in the MCU.
Is the lovable Groot the only one of his species? How does his simplistic, yet expressive language work? What is the true nature of his origin and what is the extent of his power? Will the resurrected version of Groot grow back into the original version of the Vin Diesel-voiced character? We’ll likely find out at least some of the answers in Phase 4! But in the meantime, just like with Rocket, there is far too much comedy gold to be mined from Groot interacting with other established Marvel heroes for him to die in Infinity War.
8. The Wasp
Evangeline Lilly had plenty of time to shine as Hope Van Dyne in 2015’s big hit Ant-Man, but unfortunately she has yet to appear as her alter-ego, The Wasp. Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym finally entrusted his wife Janet’s Wasp suit to his daughter Hope in the mid-credits of Ant-Man, but we likely won’t see her in costume until 2018’s already announced Ant-Man and the Wasp. Lilly’s fantastic romantic and comedic chemistry with Paul Rudd, and the Wasp’s status as one of the comic’s original Avengers members makes her a likely staple of the new Avengers team, post-Infinity War.
As seen in Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man, Hope is a skilled martial artist and instructor, so there’s a good chance she could take on a mentor/coach role within the new team. Besides, Hope, Scott, and Hank still need to rescue Janet Van Dyne from the terrifyingly expansive quantum realm where she is trapped.
Well, considering the fact that James Gunn has already confirmed that neither Thanos nor the Infinity Stones will make an appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Mad Titan makes his presence felt in a significant way in Thor: Ragnarok. It’s safe to assume then that Thanos’s adopted daughters Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) won’t come face-to-face with their estranged father until some point during Avengers: Infinity War.
Considering that Thanos murdered Gamora’s real family, it isn’t a stretch to theorize that it could be Gamora who eventually slays the insane titan for revenge or at least puts a stop to his reign of terror. Turned into one of the galaxy’s most feared and dangerous assassins against her will, Gamora has a very personal grudge against her unwanted surrogate dad and we’d love to see a happier, more carefree Gamora in the inevitable Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Simply put: without Peter Quill, there is no Guardians of the Galaxy. Chris Pratt is climbing the highest echelons of Hollywood royalty after the surprise success of 2014’s Guardians and the record destroying hit Jurassic World in 2015. It’s pretty safe to assume that Marvel wants to keep him as the charismatic face of one of its freshest and most important franchises for as long as possible.
As much as we love the entire Guardians of the Galaxy cast, the endearing slacker (and token Earthling) Peter Quill has largest overall story to resolve. Would Gunn really introduce his father, Ego the Living Planet, in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 only for the Russos to kill Quill off in Infinity War? Highly doubtful. We’d love to see him back home on Earth for a spell, wrestling with non-’80s tech and discovering new tunes for the inevitable Awesome Mix Vol. 3.
5. Black Widow
Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanov, AKA Black Widow, has been an integral part of the MCU since the earliest days of Phase 1, from her first appearance as the super-spy in Iron Man 2. Since then she has been confined solely to supporting roles, both as a full member of the Avengers and as the key S.H.I.E.L.D operative in the superb conspiracy thriller Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Most recently we saw a softer side to the heroine in Avengers: Age of Ultron, with Joss Whedon forging an unlikely romance between Romanov and Mark Ruffalo’s Banner that will perhaps be further explored in Infinity War. Fans have been asking for a Black Widow solo movie for years now, and Kevin Feige has recently hinted that this could very well be a possibility for Phase 4. The Avengers mastermind Joss Whedon had already suggested that he’d love to direct should that be the case.
4. Doctor Strange
Marvel should feel pretty confident in the box office potential for the upcoming introduction of Doctor Strange, whose eponymous film will be released in November 2016. Scott Derrickson’s directorial debut for Marvel Studios is the first new solo franchise of the massive Phase 3, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange adds some serious thespian pedigree to the MCU. A whole new meta-physical, psychedelic, and supernatural corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to be opened, no doubt providing so much potential for exciting story arcs and mind-bending ideas that can be explored over the next several years of movies.
Stephen Strange is an absolute certainty for membership in the post-Infinity War Avengers team and it’s not difficult to imagine the Doctor forming a bond (or rivalry) with Scarlet Witch due to her similarly mystical powers. Dr. Strange’s face-off against his nemesis, the dread Dormammu, in his own eventual sequel is also surely in the cards.
3. Black Panther
Prince T’Challa of the small African nation of Wakanda was introduced to awesome effect in this year’s Captain America: Civil War. Chadwick Boseman really captured the Black Panther’s regal, stoic, and ruthless nature, as well as his dexterous fighting ability. As the new monarch of arguably the most technologically advanced nation on the planet, it’s possible that T’Challa could become the Avengers new financier if Tony Stark is no longer around to bankroll them.
T’Challa’s role in the upcoming Infinity War is unclear, but there’s no doubt the Russos will include him as a key Avenger. Before then we can look forward to Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther solo flick which will likely pit T’Challa against Andy Serkis’ Ulysses Klaw. Marvel is counting on the general audience embracing a new generation of heroes like Black Panther, Dr. Strange, and Captain Marvel throughout Phase 4 and beyond. We can look forward to new trilogies for a more interestingly diverse catalogue of Marvel characters than were initially introduced in Phase 1.
Marvel absolutely hit a home run with their inclusion of Tom Holland’s new take on Spider-Man in Civil War. His scrawny, likable teenage Peter Parker was widely considered by fans and critics to be the most accurate interpretation of the wall-crawler yet seen on screen. After years of Sony getting it mostly wrong, it was so gratifying to finally see Marvel’s flagship character at home and able to share screen-time with the rest of the MCU. Next up is 2017’s high school set Spider-Man: Homecoming (has their ever been a more apt title?) directed by Jon Watts (Cop Car, Clown).
Sony knows that it needs Marvel to usher Spidey back to the very top of the superhero food chain and it’s in everyone’s best interests to make Spider-Man a billion dollar franchise. Spider-Man is still Marvel’s largest source of merchandising revenue and with Cap, Thor, and Iron Man all potentially off the playing board for the immediate future, the Avengers need long-term recognizable members. Spider-Man has the best rogues gallery in comics (next to DC’s Batman) so you can expect solo Spider-Man movies for many years to come. Hopefully this time, under Marvel’s leadership, they’ll be able to finally do Venom justice!
1. Captain Marvel
What better character to take the lead of Marvel’s new team of Avengers and herald a brand new (possibly cosmic) direction forPhase 4 of the MCU than Carol Danvers AKA Captain Marvel? Brie Larson was a favorite prior to her casting reveal at this year’s San Diego Comic-con, and many fans were elated that the Oscar-winning actress had actually nabbed the role. Captain Marvel‘s filmed origin will differ greatly from the comic book source material, as it has been deemed too similar to DC’s highly criticized Green Lantern and it’s likely she’ll be first introduced in Avengers: Infinity War, but we’re confident they’ll make changes that honor the spirit of the character and are true to Carol’s personality.
At this point it’s unclear who’s directing the 2019 film, but Guardians of the Galaxy writer Nicole Perlman will be scripting and, as the last Marvel movie released before the untitled follow-up to Infinity War arrives in 2019, it’s very likely that Captain Marvel will serve as a direct lead in to the ambitious sci-fi epic.
Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming– July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; Avengers 4 – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.