Avengers: Infinity War's Ending: What Happens, What It Means, & What's Next

Tony Stark with Dead Avengers

Half The Universe (And Avengers) Die

After Thanos Space Stones out of Wakanda, the Avengers in both the African nation and on Titan are left in a state of shock. At first, everything's OK, but then Thanos' plan is enacted: people begin to move slowly, feeling strange, before fading away into dust. Half of the universe dies. Of the core heroes, Bucky, Black Panther, Groot, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, Star-Lord, Mantis, Drax, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man all disappear (as well as Nick Fury and Maria Hill in Infinity War's end-credits scene), with mass disintegration seen also on the Wakandan battlefield.

This leaves a very small Avengers team behind: Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, Bruce Banner, War Machine, Okoye and M'Baku are the only survivors confirmed on Wakanda, with only Tony Stark and Nebula on Titan. Essentially, the numbers have been shaved down the original core heroes from The Avengers, along with War Machine (who was also present in Phase 1), Nebula, Okoye and M'Baku.

Due to not being shown after the snap, we don't know the status of Shuri or Wong, neither do we know what's happened to absentees Hawkeye, Ant-Man, Wasp or any of their related characters (although given the fellow Phase 1 survivors, Clint seems safe). One unseen hero who does seem to have made it through is Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel, who responds to Nick Fury's page in the end-credits scene.

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What The Avengers' Deaths Really Mean

While half of the cast dies, providing murder of characters on a scale that makes Rogue One: A Star Wars Story look restrained by comparison, the grand purpose of these deaths isn't anything of permanence. After all, most of these characters are coming back; Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther all have sequels in development, while Bucky and Doctor Strange are too integral to the future of the MCU to be wiped away with the movement of two fingers (and it's possible those lost along the way like Gamora could also return).

This impermanence has often been a problem for Marvel, yet it works here because the purpose is different. Whereas in the past the movies were trying to make you genuinely think characters were gone for good despite knowledge of narrative or behind-the-scenes concerns challenging many's suspension of disbelief - think Nick Fury's passing death fakeout in Captain America: The Winter Soldier long before Samuel L. Jackson's initial contract was up - here it's more obviously about the in-the-now emotion making way for a new story.

Sure, there is a premium on tragedy. We start with Bucky, who Captain America has fought three solo movies to protect, vanishing right in front of him, then have a multitude of characters we've got to know since the original Avengers fade away - including a bemused Groot - culminating in a terrified fifteen-year-old begging his helpless surrogate father figure to save him. The entire movie operates with some degree of shorthand - Wakanda wouldn't make much sense if we hadn't been introduced to the country in Black Panther two months prior - but here it becomes an asset, allowing each disappearance leave an impact. The saying goes that one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic - yet Infinity War makes you feel every one.

But that isn't the long-standing purpose. Infinity War isn't pretending to be anything final. What makes the death so heartwrenching is that they come after the heroes should have won - they destroyed the Mind Stone and stabbed Thanos - and it's juxtaposed against the victory of a villain who we nevertheless understand - and there's still a glimmer of optimism. As the devout Captain America blasphemes, "Oh God."

Key Release Dates
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
  • Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
  • Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
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