(Warning — theoretical SPOILERS for future movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including this summer's Captain America: Civil War, lie below. Proceed with theoretical caution, and all that...)
Now, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never been shy about straight-up-murdering fan-favorite characters (though, admittedly, most of them do tend to come back to life shortly after, CoughCoulsonCough), and with the huge influx of heroes set to arrive over the next few years, it seems likely that death is still set to be heading to Avengers Tower sometime soon.
Just who we'll see shuffling off this mortal coil, though, remains to be seen. Here, though, are my personal predictions for...
Who's Going To Die During 'Phase 3' Of The MCU
And, to keep things stream-lined, let's do this film-by-film, shall we?
'Captain America: Civil War' (May 2016)
Who's Going to Die? Well, the big rumor has inevitably been Captain America, and there's been a lot of talk of War Machine meeting his end as well. With both of those being a little signposted at this point, though, there's a good chance an unexpected Avenger'll be departing. Hawkeye, for instance, made it through Age of Ultron — but he might not make it through Civil War...
'Doctor Strange' (November 2016)
Who's Going to Die? Well, seeing as the chances of us seeing a previously introduced character in more than a cameo role are perilously slim, we're most likely talking a new face here. Could Chiwetel Ejiofor's Baron Mordo sacrifice himself towards the end of the movie, perhaps, in redemptive (and expensive contract-limiting) fashion? If not, there's always Tilda Swinton's Ancient One, who pretty much has to die in order for Doc Strange to take over as the Sorcerer Supreme.
'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' (May 2017)
Who's Going to Die? This one likely depends on two key factors: money, and money. If Rocket Raccoon and Groot retain their popularity throughout 2016, they're surely safe — and the gender imbalance of the team surely keeps Gamora safe. Star-Lord, on the other hand, could theoretically 'die,' before returning somehow in Avengers: Infinity War, and there's always the possibility of Drax being tragically killed by Thanos. More likely? Michael Rooker's Yondu dies swearingly, possibly just before revealing who Star-Lord's dad is.
'Spider-Man' (July 2017)
Who's Going to Die? Uncle Ben. In flashback. It's a Spider-Man movie, after all.
'Thor: Ragnarok' (November 2017)
Who's Going to Die? Well, in theory, the whole of Asgard. Ragnarok is, after all, the end of the world, and someone has to die for that to make any kind of sense. With total annihilation unlikely to win the day, though, a likely bet is Idris Elba's Heimdall, seeing as Elba very much wants to leave the MCU, and we as fans actually give at least half a crap about Heimdall's well-being.
'Black Panther' (February 2018)
Who's Going to Die? T'Chaka, The Black Panther's dad, seems a likely bet, though odds are he's going to be killed either during or just before Captain America: Civil War. Other than that, similar rules to Doctor Strange would seem to apply, wherein it's tough to kill off a major Marvel hero in a movie they aren't actually starring in...
'Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1' (May 2018)
Who's Going to Die? In short? Everyone. Back in the comic books, Thanos once killed half the universe in an attempt to impress the living embodiment of Death, and there's a pretty solid chance that'll happen on the big screen, too.
After all, if you kill off most of the MCU's big hitters (I'm looking at you, Thor, Iron Man, and Cap), then the second string will be forced to step up. Which would also explain how the two halves of Infinity War are going to be spanned by...
'Ant-Man and the Wasp' (July 2018)
Who's Going to Die? Hank Pym. All the way. Michael Douglas is the only expendable lead, and there'd be nothing more tragic than him finally finding his true love, Janet 'original Wasp' Van Dyne, only to die himself.
Alternatively, he could just disappear in the Microverse, and be 'lost forever,' before coming back four years or so later for the sequel.
Next up, in our Infinity War-break?
'Captain Marvel' (March 2019)
Who's Going to Die? Well, that once again probably depends on who turns up in the movie. If Carol Danvers's original comic book origin story shows up at all, there's always the chance of us seeing the Kree Captain Mar-Vell die (especially if he's introduced in Guardians Vol. 2), but it seems more likely that we'll see Carol save the day pretty emphatically.
We could always catch a glimpse of Carol's younger brother, Steven, in flashback, though — and then, as in the comic books, discover that he died tragically young, serving in the armed forces.
'Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2' (May 2019)
Who's Going to Die? Whoever doesn't want to renew their contract. There's a pretty solid chance that at least one of our original Avengers isn't going to make it out of Phase 3 alive — and from a purely monetary perspective, it may well be Tony Stark. With Robert Downey Jr. making an insane amount of money from each and every Marvel movie he appears in, a strong showing for Phase 3's solo movies could persuade Marvel Studios to let him go out in a blaze of glory, saving the entire damn universe.
If RDJ opts to stick around, though, there's always the chance that Cap, Thor, or Hulk could do the same. The Vision is also a pretty solid bet for a noble death — though of course they could likely just rebuild him.
If Black Widow dies before getting her own solo movie, though, there's going to be hell to pay...
'Inhumans' (July 2019)
Who's Going to Die? The newly introduced Inhuman royal family are likely pretty much safe — assuming they actually make it into the movie at all — but I'd be a little more concerned for any members of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast that make it to the big screen...
Alternatively, if the movie heads into space — as the comic book Inhumans have on several occasions — we could well see a Guardian of the Galaxy affiliate lose their battle with mortality. Benicio del Toro's Collector, for instance, would make for an intriguing cameo/sacrificial lamb.
The big question now, though?