Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Avengers: Infinity War
The death count hit an all-time high for the MCU in Avengers: Infinity War, so audiences are no doubt desperate to discover who will be killed off permanently in next year's Avengers 4. With time travel playing an integral role in the upcoming Avengers assemblage, the deaths from Infinity War can be undone. This much is certain. However, that won't likely save the remaining survivors in the battle's finale—nor will it prevent any resurrected characters from making a swift return to the grave before the credits roll.
As tragic as the end of Infinity War might have been, everything is fixable. Not unlike other movies where the villain ends up succeeding in the end, Infinity War strips hope to the bone; but the heroes are essentially gifted with a do-over. They get the chance to pursue the comeback of all comebacks (resurrecting the lives of half the entire universe). That said, though, as is the case with all wars, permanent casualties are inevitable. In the same vein of Thanos needing to sacrifice something for the sake of "the bigger picture," some Avengers may need to lay down their lives for the greater good.
So, seeing as it'll be difficult saying goodbye to the MCU's beloved characters (some who've been around for the past decade), it might help to be emotionally prepared. Nothing is certain (not only because the Avengers 4 script is so tightly bound in secrecy, but because there are no sure bets with time travel), and the surviving roster of Avengers may well meet their makers in the final fight against Thanos.
Captain America and Iron Man
Though there is technically no way to know for sure what the ultimate fate will be for characters in the MCU, Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man) and Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America) have all but confirmed their respective ends with the franchise. Not only have neither of the two actors renewed their contracts for future films, they've publicly stated their wishes to call it quits. Downey Jr. stated that he might have room left for one more Iron Man movie, while Evans told The New York Times that it's time he jumps ship. So, unless their statements are little more than attempts to throw people off, Avengers 4 could well be the end. And if that does turn out to be the case, how exactly might it happen? And is there a chance that their exits won't result in death?
Tony Stark may have never been officially marked for death, but his end is almost certainly nigh. His entire character arc since the first Iron Man revolved around paying for the sins of his father (on account of war profiteering). Tony's innovations saved a lot of people, but also killed plenty others as well (see: Wanda and Pietro Maximoff), and he's been constantly attempting to make up for his mistakes. By the time he reaches Infinity War, he seems indifferent to his own survival—which is saying a lot for someone as inherently self-serving as Tony Stark. At the end of Infinity War, he experiences a near-death moment after Thanos stabs him, and even in the poster for Infinity War, Tony is positioned in the "Jesus pose," which is to say the visual cues suggest that he might end up sacrificing himself in the end. Obviously, that didn't turn out to be the case, but the battle isn't over just yet...
As for Steve Rogers, his character arc was set in motion from the very beginning as well. Even before he's beefed up with the Super Soldier serum, Steve displays a repetitive trend of selflessness (remember when he jumped on the dummy grenade in The First Avenger?), and his journey has only gotten significantly more complicated. He's never fit in—not in the past and not in the future—and that's given him the unique ability to remove himself from the equation, putting others before himself without a moment's hesitation. Now, given the stakes of Infinity War, it's fitting that his arc would pay off with the ultimate sacrifice (even though he tells Vision that the idea of sacrifices won't even be entertained, which would lend itself to some lovely dramatic irony).
All that aside, however, the end of Tony and Steve doesn't necessarily have to result in death. In fact, given that time travel is a key component in Avengers 4 (which, by extension, opens the door for potential alternate timelines and dimensions), their ends could end up playing out like an episode of Doctor Who. The character Amy Pond and her husband are drained of their potential energy by the villainous Weeping Angels by way of being sent back in time in a wonky sort of paradox. So, if the MCU decides to send off the team's original leaders, without killing them, this new foray into time travel could turn out to be literal life saver in the end. If the franchise does end up going down this road, it could even leave the door open for a potential return for these characters somewhere down the road. It's long shot, for sure, but it definitely keeps the ball in Marvel Studios' court.
The Original Avengers
After Thanos snaps his fingers, wiping out half the universe, only a minor portion of the Avengers are left alive—specifically, all of the original characters from Phase One, as well as a few extras, like Rocket (and Ant-Man, if these behind the scenes photos from Avengers 4 are any indication). And though this was something worth celebrating at the end of Infinity War, it doesn't come close to keeping them safe in the final showdown.
With Tony and Steve out of the way, that leaves Thor, Bruce, Natasha, and Clint. On one hand, Natasha seems like the safest bet, considering a Black Widow movie is in the works. Only, in the MCU, safe bets don't exist. Since the standalone movie will most likely turn out to be set before Natasha's induction into the Avengers, Natasha's fate at the end off Avengers 4 is up in the air. In fact, the Black Widow movie could easily turn out to be a salute of sorts - honoring her memory, as opposed to continuing her story.
As for Bruce, it's tough to say. He and his green alter ego have been mostly backseat drivers for the whole of the MCU up to this point, so their collective fate is difficult to grasp for the long run. Mark Ruffalo is contractually obligated to star in one more movie following Avengers 4, but that could mean one of two things: he renews his contract for more movies or he does, in fact, die in Avengers 4, only to show up in a flashback for a future movie. However, even though it's unlikely Hulk will ever get his own standalone movie, his arc has finally started to pick up steam following Thor: Ragnarok; so unless he and the green guy round out a perfect sendoff in Avengers 4 before falling victim to Thanos, chances are he'll stick around a little longer.
The same can't be said for his Ragnarok sidekick Thor, unfortunately. Having rounded out a clean, if not imperfect, trilogy, it feels like the right time to pass the torch onto new Asgardian leadership—perhaps to Tessa Thompson's Valkryie (who is still alive). Thor has lost everything in his pursuit of intergalactic peace, even explaining to Rocket in Infinity War that he has nothing more to lose. So, given that he has personal beef with Thanos, it's borderline inevitable that he'll try his hand at a Round 2 fight. And what better way for a soldier like Thor to perish than in the heat of battle? On the other hand, though, not wanting to divert attention from Tony and Steve's individual deaths could easily be what saves Thor's demise for sometime later in the franchise—assuming he renews his contract that ends with Avengers 4.
Last in line is Clint Barton (also known as Hawkeye, and returning as Ronin in Avengers 4). Though missing in action during Infinity War on account of being under house arrest post-Captain America: Civil War, Clint returns to the action in Avengers 4, likely on account of his family perishing due to Thanos' finger snap. When he returns, he'll be meaner and madder than ever, making him an integral re-addition to the team. And given the fact that Jeremy Renner has a standalone Hawkeye movie in his contract, expect to see him make it out alive in this outing.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018