Quick, name something truly shocking that happened in a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. The two most common answers would probably be the “apparent” death of Agent Phil Coulson in the first Avengers movie. Or, I don’t know, maybe the death of Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Honestly, the most “shocking” moments in a given Marvel movie are usually tucked away in the post-credits scenes and often are used to introduce a new character. So the surprise comes from Nick Fury walking on screen or seeing Thanos smile, knowing that someday Thanos would be the villain in a Marvel movie. Well, six years after that post credit smile, Thanos is here for Avengers: Infinity War.
So here’s a little bit of inside baseball: Avengers: Infinity War comes out on April 23. With any other Marvel movie, a good number of media members would have seen it by now. Usually the first screenings start happening around three or four weeks before release, leading to a flurry of social media reactions, followed by full reviews the week after that. But at this point, basically nobody has seen Avengers: Infinity War.
And, yes, sometimes movies are hidden when they might not be good. But that’s not what’s going on here. (Since no one has seen it, there’s no guarantee that it is good, but Marvel’s point of view here isn’t “it’s bad so let’s hide it.”) What’s almost assuredly happening is that, unlike all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies before it, some truly shocking things will happen. In other words: characters we’ve grown to know are probably going to die.
(What complicates this a little bit is the still-untitled Avengers film that’s scheduled for 2019. Pretty much everyone is said to be slated to appear in that one, too. But of course, people have to say that because it would be giving something away if all of a sudden an actor says, “Oh, I’m not in that one.” So let’s assume “being confirmed for Avengers 4” means nothing.)
So, before Avengers: Infinity War starts screening next week, let’s break down the odds of which Marvel heroes might die during the course of this movie. (Also, for the record, I will not be honoring these odds because I am not a bookie.)
Black Panther Or Any Major Character From Wakanda
Well, Black Panther dying would certainly be surprising! I’d sure give them that. But if anyone can safely fight Thanos without worrying about meeting his or her doom, it’s Black Panther. In two months, Black Panther has grossed $1.3 billion. As the direction of Marvel movies changes with Phase Four, Black Panther is the character Marvel will put front and center for the next decade.
Odds: 1,000,000/1 (Or, “LOL”)
So, yes, Marvel finally negotiated the rights back to use Spider-Man in their movie and then they kill him off in his third appearance. Now, of course, down the line, Peter could meet his doom and be replaced by Miles Morales, who was mentioned by Donald Glover’s character in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but that’s not going to happen in this movie.
It would be odd to set up Doctor Strange’s whole weird story, then just kill him off. It does seem like, as the Marvel movies become more cosmic, Doctor Strange will kind of be our tour guide through the whole thing, just like Tony Stark played that role with more Earth-bound technology over the last ten years. (Every Marvel movie from this point on will probably have a scene of someone saying, “This doesn’t make sense. I guess we need to visit Doctor Strange.” And they already kind of did this in Thor: Ragnarok.)
Ant-Man or Wasp
Are they even in this movie? The answer is “probably.” They aren’t on the poster, but their role will not be to show up in a cameo so that they can die three months before their new movie comes out.
Yes, we haven’t even seen this character yet, but keep in mind that her solo movie is set in the 1990s. So it’s possible she will make her grand debut, save the universe in some tragic way, then we find out where she came from in her own movie. This is extremely unlikely, but I decided to float it anyway because, if it happens, I can brag.
Let’s put it this way: If Falcon dies for no good reason, I might be done with this entire franchise.
It sort of feels like Marvel hasn’t quite figured out how to use Scarlet Witch yet in these movies, but it also feels like they find her extremely interesting. So it’s hard to imagine the filmmakers getting rid of a character that they like but haven’t fully explored yet – especially considering how many characters have been explored five times over.
Hulk has kind of become the Chewbacca of the MCU. He’s a character people like and he can just kind of be in any movie that Marvel wants him to be in, other than a solo movie of his own. (Universal still has the rights to Hulk solo movies, which is still just the weirdest thing.) So let’s say Mark Ruffalo doesn’t want to play Hulk anymore. First of all, it’s not like Marvel hasn’t recast this part before (it’s doubtful that would happen now), but Marvel could just say, “Fine, we don’t need Bruce anymore, Hulk is just Hulk now,” and keep putting him in movies for the next 20 years. It’s doubtful Marvel will give up this luxury.
Strangely, we haven’t seen Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury since 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and there’s no guarantee that he’s in Infinity War either. Though, it would be weird to have an Avengers movie without any Nick Fury. Jackson is slated to appear in Captain Marvel but, again, that’s set in the 1990s. My personal advice to Nick Fury would be to stay far away from this movie because, if he shows up, things probably won’t go well for him. And Jackson has said he’s not in either of the Avengers movies so if we take him at his word, Fury is probably safe.
Any Member of Guardians of the Galaxy
All right, here’s where things start getting interesting. With a new film already scheduled, it’s highly unlikely any of the core team dies. But keep in mind that Gamora and Nebula are the daughters of Thanos and a big plot point of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was the relationship between the two sisters. It’s within reason to think Nebula could make some sort of grand sacrifice to save her sister. But then again, they kind of just did this plot with Yondu and Peter, so it remains plausible, but probably unlikely.
We don’t hear much about this maybe being Black Widow’s last film and we hear a lot about all the other original characters. Who knows how long Scarlett Johansson even wants to keep playing this character? This would be a sleeper pick, but someone to keep an eye on. The lack of talk around Black Widow kind of makes me nervous.
Rhodey already suffered a terrible injury in Captain America: Civil War, so it’s unlikely he’s to return, only to have the movie kill him off. Plus, as in the comics, Rhodey could easily step into the Iron Man armor if Tony Stark is no longer around – which is going to happen at some point.
Again, like, Ant-Man and Wasp, Hawkeye might not even be in this movie. But if he does show up to save the day, something tells me it won’t go well for him. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the movie wanted us to think that this was going to be it for Hawkeye, only for Quicksilver to jump in at the last second and save Hawkeye and die instead. So it would be interesting if Hawkeye isn’t even supposed to be in this movie, yet somehow does die.
There’s little chance both Bucky and Steve Rogers make it out of this movie alive. So that’s why Bucky’s odds are a little lower than maybe they should be. The conventional wisdom is that Bucky will pick up the mantle of Captain America once Steve Rogers dies, or walks away, or whatever. So if Steve Rogers doesn’t make it through Infinity War, Bucky is safe. If Rogers does make it… look out, Bucky.
Look, there’s a scene in the trailer that makes it look like Vision has a rough go of it in Infinity War. But would Marvel have kept this in there if Vision actually dies? They wouldn’t want to tip their hat, right? But, on the other hand, they know that we know they wouldn’t tip their hat. So maybe Marvel knows they can tip their hat all they want and it won’t matter because we won’t believe it’s a real hat tip. Also, if Vision does die, I hope a tipped hat kills him.
Okay, we are down to the nitty gritty: characters played by actors with expiring contracts. Look, I don’t read too much into expiring contracts. Robert Downey Jr.’s contract expired after Iron Man 3 and Infinity War will be his fourth movie since. But the thing is, Downey can just stay in good shape and play Tony Stark because Tony Stark is just some dude. Both Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans have to endure months of training to become these chiseled warriors and, yeah, I can imagine that after a few years it might be time to move on from that. But as Marvel becomes more cosmic, Thor seems like he could be an important character.
Since 2010, Robert Downey Jr. has only starred in three movies that weren’t Marvel movies: Due Date, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, and The Judge. Downey, now 53, has to be itching to do something else. And next year’s The Voyage of Doctor Doolittle kind of does look like Downey trying to kick off a new franchise. I do think he legitimately enjoys playing Tony Stark (and the money that comes with it) and does feel a sense of loyalty to Marvel for casting him when not a lot of other studios would. But, as George Harrison said, all things must pass.
This is almost too obvious, which makes me nervous. Between Chris Evans saying cryptic things and all the wink-winking going on, I almost get the feeling Marvel really wants us to think this is it for Captain America. So that feels like a trick. It certainly would be a pretty emotional scene because people love this character. And Evans has really evolved into the role over the years. Remember when he kind of used to complain? He doesn’t do that anymore and seems to have, at least publicly, embraced the character and what the character stands for and has kind of used that persona on his social media platforms. But, deep down, we all kind of know Chris Evans wants to move on.
Odds: Even Money
Is there any chance Loki makes it out of this movie alive? There’s really none, right? How many more times can Thor get betrayed by Loki? I’m guessing one last time and then Loki is gone. And we know Thanos kind of hates Loki, so Thanos has at least some motivation to make this Loki’s last movie. Loki had a good run, but I’ll be shocked if he lives to see another movie.
You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.