It's long been rumored and even somewhat confirmed by Avengers mastermind Joss Whedon himself, that the Avengers team will be shaken to its core in the upcoming Marvel movies - starting with Avengers: Age of Ultron. Perhaps the original team was just too good to last - or maybe there's more tragedy in store than we originally thought.
Potential SPOILERS will follow!
Beware, True Believers!
There's a certain rumor going around that Avengers 2 may see a founding member sacrificing themselves for the greater good. Maybe you could look at it like a more serious or permanent version of what Agent Coulson did in the first Avengers movie, but this would also be a sacrifice that would directly lead to the defeat of Ultron in the final battle.
The theory, which you can find over on the Marvel wiki website, goes a little something like this (final Warning!): Hawkeye is aboard the Avengers' Quinjet, which is about to explode, and in his final act is to shoot an arrow that will upload a Stark designed virus into Ultron. This will cause Ultron to jump between robot bodies until he lands in an Iron Man suit that will permanently kill him.
What Makes Sense
There is of course some precedent for this kind of Hawkeye maneuver. Everyone will recall from the first Avengers movie that he's pretty good a shooting an arrow into a computer. Not only is Hawkeye a helluva superhero, he'd be a dynamite guy to have on your IT team.
Also adding a bit of support to this rumor is Jeremy Renner's current situation with his Marvel contract. Of the OG Avengers lineup - only Renner and Scarlet Johansson have movie-to-movie deals, meaning if someone is going to die in Avengers 2, and let's face it, the chances are really good that they'll be upping the stakes in this sequel, then it will probably be either Hawkeye or [Black Widow](movie:1070824).
What Doesn't Add Up
There are of course many reasons to scratch ones head over this particular spoiler. The logistics of Hawkeye being in an exploding Quinjet and firing an arrow into Ultron aren't exactly the easiest to picture in the mind's eye. The rumor goes on to say that Captain America would also be wielding Thor's hammer in this grand finale. That is something that's already been teased in Avengers 2, but Cap being able to lift the thing and being able to effectively use it are two different things.
Also, an Avenger dying in an exploding plane isn't the way I'd picture any member of the team going out. Even Hawkeye. First of all, it's the kind of death that you don't even have to be a Marvel superhero to end up not dying in. Second of all, it's about dead last on the list of ways an Avenger would die on screen. He needs to be bleeding to death in someone's arms, probably Black Widow's, or dying at the literal hands of the bad guy, not by an exploding plane.
What do you think - any potential to this possible spoiler or are you currently choking on that big ol' grain of salt? I'd put even odds on Hawkeye biting the dust in [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](movie:293035), but this just doesn't seem like the way he'll be going out.