-- Warning - potential SPOILERS for Captain America: Civil War (and Avengers: Age of Ultron, if you haven't already seen it) lie below - as well as for the comic-book story-line on which it's based... --
Now, with all the rumors floating around about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it'd seem fairly safe to assume that the vast majority of our favorite Avengers are going to come out of the upcoming Captain America: Civil War in more-or-less one piece. After all, there's 2018 and 2019's Avengers: Infinity War Pt's 1 and 2 to be starred in - not to mention potential cameos in any number of solo movies in the meantime.
Fans of the comic-book version of Civil War, though, know all too well that there's no guarantee we're going to see all of our favorite characters make it out of the movie alive - and so it seemed like it might be worthwhile to take a look at just who we're most likely to see meet their maker.
And so, descending order:
Which Avenger Is Most Likely to Die in Captain America: Civil War?
First up, and in at number twelve, it's:
Namely Thor and Hulk, who are currently expected to not actually be appearing in the movie. If they do turn up in Civil War, though, the odds of them immediately dying seem almost insurmountably slim. Especially since Thor has a solo movie coming out a year later, and Hulk will almost certainly be integral to Infinity War...
11. The New Guys
Similarly, since the Black Panther and (most likely) Spider-Man are only just set to be introduced to the MCU in Civil War, and have already-announced solo movies coming out the following year, they're pretty much 100% safe.
10. Black Widow
She may not have her own solo movie, but Kevin Feige has been pretty open about the fact that Black Widow has a big role to play in the rest of the MCU's Phase 3 - which suggests she's going to make it through the movie in one piece. Also, she's one of the only truly bad-ass female superheroes we've got - she can't leave until Captain Marvel arrives at the earliest...
9. Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch has a similar safety net to Black Widow - she's almost certain to have a key role in Inhumans, late in Phase 3, meaning she's all but nailed on to stick around for the duration. Also, if they killed off both Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver within a year of first introducing them, it'd basically render Age of Ultron completely pointless.
Now, I'll be honest: Falcon could actually easily be a fair few places down this list - his death would, after all, arguably have the most resonance for Cap, if that's what the plot demands - but I'm just not willing to accept it. There must surely still be adventures to come for Anthony Mackie's distinctly bad-ass Falcon - possibly even in the role of Captain America, as in the current comic-book Marvel Universe.
7. The Vision
Now, this one's where the comic-books start coming into play a little - with The Vision being the most obvious analog for the comic-books' Tony Stark-controlled Thor Clone (don't ask). He's far more likely to stick around till Infinity War - at which point there's a good chance Thanos is going to try to kill him for the Infinity Stone in his forehead - but a noble death at the end of Civil War (and a post-credits body-snatching) could fulfill a similar function. Plus, he's a pretty plausible character to resurrect whenever another movie needs him...
6. Maria Hill
Now, Maria Hill may not technically be an Avenger - but she's still got a shot at dying nobly like one. She is, after all, one of the few characters with close ties to both Tony Stark and Cap, and she's been around since The Avengers, so her death would make for some decently weighty emotional impact. Also, in the comics she's basically the story-line's villain, so there's every chance her role has already been completely altered, anyway...
5. War Machine
Another in a long line of 'ones I really don't want to happen' (otherwise known as pretty much the whole of this list), the loss of War Machine would obviously be a massive trauma for Tony Stark, as well as to everyone hoping to see him take over the on-screen Iron Man armor one day. If it happened early in the film, however, it could provide a plausible explanation for Stark becoming a little unhinged, and leading the fight against his friends.
Y'know what? Just...no. No deal, Marvel. We only just got our first chance to see the classic comic-book Hawkeye on the big screen (in all his snarky, non-mind-controlled glory), so killing him off now is NOT OK. That being said, he's also arguably the most expendable (ex-)Avenger, and decidedly easy to injure.
Could he replace the comic-book Civil War's Goliath as the hero we see die in combat?
Possibly, but can someone please preemptively start a petition to make sure he isn't?
3. Nick Fury
Now, admittedly, since Nick Fury has already 'died' on screen, this wouldn't necessarily have as much resonance as other surprise deaths - but as long as he died in a way that was obviously not faked, it could still be a fascinating way to completely screw with the entire team's heads. After all, Fury was the one who brought the gang together in the first place...
Now, though, we head into the big two - and a surprise first place...
2. Captain America
Yup, that's right. Cap doesn't get the number one slot - despite his very much dying at the end of the comic-book Civil War.
Y'see, that iconic moment is both what gets Cap near the top - his death would fit the comic-book canon, and there's already a ready-made replacement in Bucky Barnes - and also what makes it problematic.
After all, everyone who'd read the comic would be expecting it the whole way through the movie - as would anyone who'd had it spoiled for them on the internet (Hi there!) - thus removing most of its impact.
Which is where our number 1 comes into play:
1. Iron Man
Yup. That's right.
Iron Man might actually die in Captain America: Civil War.
After all, if Tony ends up playing the role of (sort of) villain in the film, it's entirely possible that he'll also ultimately end up nobly sacrificing himself for his teammates in a character-redeeming conclusion of some kind.
Throwing Cap out of the way of an attack from Baron Zemo, anyone?
Of course - the ideal outcome in all of this? None of our favorite heroes dying at all. That's what I'm still hoping for, at any rate...