***Warning: spoilers for previous MCU movies and potential spoilers for phase 3 MCU movies ahead***
By now, most of us have seen the epic summer-movie kickoff event, Avengers: Age of Ultron. And hopefully we're all caught up on all of Marvel's Phase One and Phase Two movies and other projects. With Phase Two set to close up with Marvel's Ant-Man on July 17th, we are ready to head into what could potentially be the final phase of the legendary Marvel Cinematic Universe (although I sincerely and desperately hope we get Phase Four and beyond). So far the biggest problem most people have with the MCU is the fact that, while some protagonists do die, they rarely ever stay dead. Here's a quick refresher on which characters have died or 'died' in the MCU, only to be brought back later on:
Thor in Marvel's Thor
When Loki sends the Destroyer to Midgard (Earth) in the first installment of the Thor franchise, his goal is to kill Thor in order to ensure he will have nobody to challenge his ascension to the throne of Asgard once Odin decides it is time. And he succeeds, but within moments of Thor's death, Odin, still in his Odinsleep, sends Mjolnir to him, resurrecting Thor at the same time. Officially the shortest death in the MCU.
Loki in Marvel's Thor
After Thor returns to Asgard and reveals Loki's treachery, the two brothers have an epic battle on the Bifrost, ending with the destruction of said teleportation device, and Odin catching his sons before they fall to their deaths. Loki, holding on to the end of his staff, attempts to reason with Odin, saying he could have destroyed Jotunheim. Odin denies him, and Loki lets go, falling to his apparent death. It is later revealed that Thanos and The Other saved Loki in order to have him conquer Earth. And before you even say it, yes, I know that Loki isn't a protagonist (most of the time). I just included him because... well... he's Loki!
Bucky in Marvel's Captain America: The First Avenger
While Cap, Buck, and the rest of the Howling Commandos pursue Arnim Zola back in World War Two, the team infiltrates Zola's train, killing most of the Hydra followers on board and capturing Zola himself. In the process, Bucky seemingly falls to his death after saving Cap from a heavily armored Hydra soldier. Later on in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it is revealed that Bucky survived the fall, only to be turned into a Hydra super-assassin. Drama and action ensue.
Agent Phil Coulson in Marvel's The Avengers (Avengers Assemble)
After a mind-controlled Hawkeye and a rage-filled Hulk begin to destroy the Helicarrier, the rest of the Avengers are occupied in attempting to stop them and save the Helicarrier from crashing to the ground. This leaves Loki free to escape. Except for the fact that the legendary Phil Coulson is ready to stop him with a gun modeled after the Destroyer. Unfortunately for our dear friend Phil, Loki uses a fake image of himself to distract the heroic agent, and Couslon gets an alien scepter to the heart. Fast-forward to Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and it is revealed over time that Coulson was brought back through project T.A.H.I.T.I. By the way, Joss Whedon is wrong, Phil Coulson lives!
Pepper in Marvel's Iron Man 3
Pepper is captured by the movie's surprise villain Aldrich Killian and is injected with the Extremis virus, and in the final battle she slips from Tony Stark's grasp, falling into a fiery explosion below, seemingly perishing. Within minutes, however, she emerges from the flames and destroys one of Stark's Iron Man suits, which had targeted her for the regenerative Exremis virus in her body.
Loki (again) in Marvel's Thor: The Dark World
Shortly after Asgard is attacked by the Dark Elves, Thor frees Loki from prison to help him get Jane and the Aether to Malekith, in an attempt to destroy the Aether and Malekith. The plan ultimately backfires, leaving the Aether in the possession of Malekith and Loki seemingly dead after being stabbed by Kurse. Turns out Loki only used his false apparition to make it seem as if he had died, freeing him to go back to Asgard and claim the throne.
Director Nick Fury in Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier
After barely escaping an attack on him by Hydra agents disguised as Washington D.C. police, Fury retreats to Steve Roger's apartment, only to be shot by The Winter Soldier, seemingly dying in the hospital shortly thereafter. It is revealed later in the movie that, while he was severely wounded, the former Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. had survived.
Groot in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy
Towards the end of this awesome movie, Ronan's ship is crashing, with the Guardians still aboard. Groot decides to sacrifice himself to save the others, forming a sphere around the other members of the team. This form is destroyed when the ship crashes, but the rest of the Guardians survive and defeat Ronan. Right at the end of the movie, it is shown that Groot is growing back from a single twig of his old form.
Those are the infamous 'ha, gotcha' moments that the MCU has been plagued by in its history. However in recent movies, some protagonists have died, and stayed dead.
Frigga in Marvel's Thor: The Dark World
The first major protagonist death in the MCU that seems set to be permanent, Frigga's death was actually quite a shock to me, but it provided Thor: The Dark World with some of the saddest scenes ever seen in MCU continuity. One of the most visually beautiful and emotionally moving scenes in modern cinema was, in my opinion, the Asgardian funeral for Frigga and the brave warriors who died defending Asgard from the Dark Elves. Her death also served to give more meaning to Odin's character.
Quicksilver in Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron
When asked about whether or not an Avenger would die in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Joss Whedon responded with this: "Death, death, and more death." I personally was expecting multiple Avengers to bite the dust, but with Captain America: Civil War in the not-to-distant-future, it makes sense to keep most of the Avengers alive for now. I was surprised that Quicksilver was killed in his first appearance, but then it also gives a bit of unpredictability to the future movies in the MCU, knowing that any character is fair game to be six feet deep. Quicksilver's death also completed his character arc, as he went from wanting to kill the Avengers and almost getting Hawkeye killed, to betraying Ultron, to joining the Avengers, and finally to saving Hawkeye and a child by giving his own life.
Now, here's where things get interesting.
Which heroes will be defeated before 2018's Avengers: Infinity War Part One?
Here's how this is going to work. I am going to name the protagonist who I believe will die, what movie they will die in, and a couple other details and background for each death. This is all entirely speculative, by the way, so if I somehow guess Marvel's hit-list and they decide to put me on it because of this, you all know what happened. Please, tell my family and girlfriend I love them.
Last warning: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!
Still here? Good.
Let the slaughter begin!!!!!!
A few months ago, leaked set photos confirmed a funeral would be happening in Captain America: Civil War. Speculation ran rampant on who was going to die, until a couple more photos were leaked, showing Captain America as a pallbearer for the funeral, and, in the following picture, confirming Peggy Carter would die.
This will likely happen pretty early on in the film, and will set the tone for one of Marvel's darkest movies yet.
I believe that Colonel James 'Rhodey' Rhodes will die in Captain America: Civil War. In the comic book run there were two major deaths, the first of which being Bill Foster's Goliath. Seeing as Bill Foster hasn't even been mentioned yet in the MCU, it is safe to assume that he won't be making an appearance any time soon. So in order for the movie to contain as much emotional weight, we need someone to take his place.
While rumor has it Cap may simply surrender and be locked away by the end of his three-quel, Captain America: Civil War, I believe the movie will remain faithful to the comic book story arc in that Captain America, Steve Rogers, will meet his demise. While in the comics it was Sharon Carter, aka Agent 13, who was brainwashed into killing him, I believe the Russo brothers will take a different route, and perhaps have Cap make the sacrifice that saves his team, or, in a surprise twist, saving Iron Man, his adversary in the upcoming movie.
The Ancient One
Marvel's second 2016 movie will introduce us to Doctor Strange and his teacher, The Ancient One. In the comics, this character is male, but in a very Hiemdall-esque fashion, they pulled a gender swap in the transition from comics to movies. (You may recall that Hiemdall is a white male in the comics, but is portrayed as a black male in the MCU).
Regardless, the Ancient One is killed in the comics, and to give Doctor Strange a reason to fight and use his powers for others, the Ancient One's death will provide proper motivation.
Nobody has announced anything yet, but I'm willing to bet that Adam Warlock will be properly introduced into the MCU in 2017's Guardians of the Galaxy 2. And that he will fall to Thanos between the aforementioned film and the end of Avengers: Infinity War Part One. The most likely movie candidates for his demise are the following, in order of release date: GOTG2, Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War Part One, and Captain Marvel. Thanos will be after Adam Warlock because he has possession of on of the Infinity Gems, specifically the Soul Gem. And Thanos greatly prefers killing over asking nicely.
Thor, Sif, Odin, The Warriors Three, Heimdall, and all the rest of Asgard
Previously, I had predicted Thor would die in Avengers: Age of Ultron, only to be resurrected in the beginning of Thor: Ragnarok, but if you've seen the movie *spoilers* that didn't happen. (Check that article out here). For those of you who do not know, Ragnarok is one of three things in the Marvel Comic Universe: an evil Thor clone, a sword Thor used to kill the World Serpent, or the freakin' end of Asgard, along with the deaths of all her inhabitants. I'm willing to bet its the third one, and that Thor will be unsuccessful in saving his beloved home. This will be the first MCU film where the good guys lose, with no bright side. Might want to bring some tissues to the theater for this one, I know I will.
A key part of the origin story of Captain Marvel is the death of Kree hero Captain Mar-Vell. I expect his death to happen at the beginning of the Captain Marvel movie, giving Carol Danvers her superpowers. But if you want to see more than just Captain Mar-Vell's death on screen, don't worry. I predict he will be introduced a few movies earlier, to give his death a meaningful impact for us movie-goers.
After watching Avengers: Age of Ultron a few times, I realized something: Vision will die, simply for the fact that he has an Infinity Gem. As soon as Ultron put the Mind Gem in Vision's forehead, I knew that Thanos would not stop until he had killed Vision and ripped the Mind Gem from his forehead. This will likely be one of the driving plot points behind Avengers: Infinity War Part One, with Earth's Mightiest Heroes doing everything they can to ensure Vision is kept safe from Thanos' goal of completing his Infinity Gauntlet. Honestly, this death is so obviously coming, and it hurts knowing it.
There it is. What I believe to be Marvel's hit-list for all Phase Three movies except for Avengers: Infinity War Part Two.