The DC Extended Universe made a fairly bold move in its second outing of the franchise earlier this year when Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice "killed off" the DCEU's premiere superhero, Superman/Clark Kent. I use the phrase "killed off" lightly here though, as we all know Henry Cavill will be putting on Superman's spandex for another round in the upcoming Justice League, because good superheroes rarely stay dead.
It was a bit of a surprise though, to see the Man of Steel offed in a nod to DC Comics' Doomsday! and The Death of Superman so early on in the troubled franchise. And Marvel's rebuttal in the form of Captain America: Civil War was just as surprising, but on the other side of the coin.
Why Did No Avengers Die In Civil War?
Long had rumors of a major character death swirled around this installment in the near-decade-old shared universe that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Though we did say goodbye to a pretty damn important character from the early days of the MCU and the corresponding television shows — Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). But, perhaps surprisingly, none of the superheroes who make up the Avengers went down for the long nap during Civil War.
We've managed to make it eight years with no major character deaths in the primary Avengers team — Aaron Taylor Johnson's Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron aside 'cause, y'know, he'd only just been inducted into the team by Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). It's a very good record for a superhero team, especially one as disconnected as the Avengers.
While rumors of the death of Captain America (Chris Evans) as per the post-Civil War comics were abundant, every member of the Avengers got out of the frying pan more or less intact — the exception being poor War Machine (Don Cheadle), who ended up partially paralyzed after the Leipzig Airport Battle. But why did this happen?
Part Of It Is The Practicalities
Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely spoke to ComicBook.com back in July, and they revealed their reasoning behind why none of the Avengers kicked the bucket in Civil War.
There are a few reasons for this, one of which is the practicalities of writing one movie in a shared universe. Certain characters will already have been written into future movies and will need to be maneuvered into place for them, which puts certain restrictions upon the screenwriting process, as Markus explains:
Markus: "There is a corporate decision of, 'We want that guy fighting in that movie, so you can't kill him.'"
Sadly, this is the nature of the beast. We always knew that Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) were going to make it through Civil War, because we already know they have upcoming movies. In that way, we're never going to be too surprised. But there are a couple more story-based reasons explaining why none of the Avengers shuffled off the mortal coil in Civil War.
- The Deleted Scenes We'll Be Seeing On The Captain America: Civil War Blu-Ray & DVD
- Why The Avengers: Infinity War Name Change Isn't A Huge Deal
- Could Doctor Strange Solve The Winter Soldier Problem After Captain America: Civil War?
They Didn't Want To Use Death As A Cop Out
It was thought that killing someone off for shock value would be a cheap and easy way out of the conflict. In the comics there are a couple of major deaths: Goliath, who is killed by the cyborg-Thor-clone Ragnarok during Civil War, and Captain America who is shot and killed by Crossbones and a brainwashed Sharon Carter shortly after the conflict ends.
In the comics, the civil war in question is much bigger and based in much deeper rooted tensions than it is in the movie. In the context of the MCU, and in contrast to the comics, major deaths would've likely derailed the whole issue. If Captain America or Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) had been killed as a result of the conflict, it's hard to imagine that the others would keep fighting their friends after such an event occurring.
This is the same feeling the screenwriters had for not wanting a major death to "wrap up" the conflict, keeping the tensions there even after the end-credits roll on Civil War.
Markus: "[Killing someone] would wrap up this conflict that we wanted to stay messy and keep it going so that everyone is still a little sick to their stomach about this conflict that they have not concluded."
They Needed To Keep The Focus On The Accords
A major death, other than Peggy Carter's, would have changed the entire MCU, pulling focus toward that character death and away from the larger tragedy of the piece. The screenwriters considered this larger tragedy to be the falling out between Iron Man and Captain America, which tears the team in two down ideological lines.
As YouTuber Mr Sunday Movies points out, the Civil War screenwriters "wanted to create a divide, but without using death," and it works very well here. As McFeely points out:
McFeely: "I see this all the time, like, 'In order to shake it up they've gotta kill somebody!' Well, the challenge is, I think we shook it up plenty and there are ways to take big swings and move the ball down the field without just murdering half the cast. That's not the only way you can change the universe."
Markus: "Plus, comic book movies in general — but Marvel in particular — is accused of none of the deaths last. So, even if you put a death in, people are gonna go, '[grumbling sounds].' So, it's like, why bother to do it? You can have more impact not killing somebody than you can killing people at this point."
But this doesn't mean we should expect a soft touch to the issue, as the screenwriters — who are currently working on Avengers: Infinity War — say they won't shy away from getting their hands bloody if they feel it benefits the story moving forward.
Markus: "We'll kill them if they need to die."
McFeely: "We're not afraid!"
Because The Avengers Need To Get To Infinity War, Together
In the post-Civil War and The Death of Captain America comics, both sides of the Superhuman Registration Act divide are rocked by Steve Roger's death. The team fractures into the official Avengers, led by Iron Man, and the underground New/Secret Avengers, led by Luke Cage and Hawkeye.
It isn't until after the events of Secret Invasion and Siege — where Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers topple Tony Stark's regime and start hunting down all superheroes as part of the Fifty-State Initiative — that the group eventually comes back together. But there are a good few years and hundreds of issues published during a time when the Avengers are still split and at odds with each other, the majority of the time anyway.
The MCU doesn't have the time or space to work through this. We've only got a few stops left along the road to Avengers: Infinity War, and the majority of those stops are solo vehicles — Doctor Strange, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok and Ant-Man and the Wasp.
The next time the family is all together again will be during Infinity War, and when Thanos comes knocking they're going to have to put aside what happened between them in the past to band together if they're to have any hope of succeeding. That being said, don't expect everyone to make it out of that one alive. You can only avoid Death for so long, as Thanos well knows.
Do you think everyone will make it out of Avengers: Infinity War alive? Have your say in the comments, and go behind the scenes of Captain America: Civil War below!