On the surface, it shouldn’t be so tough to understand: in life, people die all the time. Usually the bigger the hero, the more glorious and unforgettable their final sacrifice, in real life or fiction. So why is that NOT the case in modern entertainment? For starters, the amount of movies and TV shows based on existing, fan-favorite or critically acclaimed books, comics, or previous versions is bigger than ever. But oftentimes, memorable character deaths or horrible trauma is the reason they’re acclaimed in the first place. But unlike TV shows or movie franchises, authors write their story from start to finish before releasing it – which means fans never got a chance to pick a favorite, or threaten to stop reading if the story took a turn they hated.
Add in things like franchise potential for future spin-offs, lengthy actor contracts the studios don’t want to waste, and good old fashioned laziness, and it isn’t even hard to find proof that the more recognizable the hero, and the more devoted the fan following, the less death is even a concern – but that doesn’t stop famous examples from still trying to fool their audiences.
Game of Thrones
Yes, even one of the most kill-crazy TV shows in history can’t help but hit the Undo button when it really counts – but to make things even sillier, the death of Jon Snow lacked any meaning at all, if you noticed the completely obvious and foreshadowing clues the showrunners couldn’t help but include.
When the audience watched as a dead man was brought back to life by the Lord of Light (S3E5) – a fact soon shared with the Red Priestess – and the revelation went absolutely nowhere, plenty of fans saw it as a clear sign that the next death wouldn’t be what it seemed. Especially when a popular fan theory claimed that if anyone was going to survive the show’s murders, it was Jon Snow.
At long last, Jon met his end at the hands of the Night’s Watch. We want to say that it was a cruel, trolling moving by the showrunners knowing Jon would be revived in the next season, but they COULDN’T EVEN KEEP FROM SHOWING the Red Priestess arrive the scene before his death! Actor Kit Harrington even had to pretend to say his goodbyes to the cast, shedding tears for their adopted brother, every bit in the dark as viewers. But George R.R. Martin has resurrected even more dead characters in the books, so maybe we’re lucky.
Marvel’s Civil War
The Russo Brother admitted from the start that their movie version of Marvel’s Civil War would be different from the comics – not only would hundreds of people NOT be killed in order to pit Cap and Iron Man against eachother, since a dozen would do – but the comic event that was packed with tons of shocking deaths, reveals, or injuries was stripped of all of them. And the reason is obvious: you can’t murder a hero without bringing the entire audience down, or scaring young viewers. You can’t show Johnny Storm being beaten by a mob for… a few reasons, and most of all, you can’t end the movie by killing your cash cow, Captain America – even though that was the final moment that drove home just how important the comic event really was, seeing the mantle pass on to his sidekick, Bucky.
Where DC went through with killing Superman in a pretty gruesome death scene before revealing he was actually totally fine, don’t worry about it, Marvel never even came close. Bucky loses an arm he’s already lost, but when you have two billion-dollar heroes fighting to the death… it’s pretty obvious the studio needs both of them to walk away – since the actors are either still under contract, or pre-production on their next movie is already underway.
We’d like to say that Captain America stopping the fight was a brilliant ending, and it might still be, but it’s really the only one that results in more movies – and a potential team-up when all is forgiven. But one thing is clear: fans hoping to see Captain America’s death play out in the MCU shouldn’t hold their breath. Not until Chris Evans starts asking for too much money, anyway.