You can’t just rush death into a universe you’re building, especially with heroes. It may be more acceptable to kill off villains quickly but you want your audience to grow, connect with and adore your heroes. Only then can you really make the audience truly care, and have their death make an impact. The MCU knows this all too well and it’s been coy when it comes to taking superheroes off the board. Their vibe hasn’t been as cutthroat as the DCEU’s, but death has been littered here and there by the architects over at Marvel Studios.
The MCU has also shown us that even when we think death’s knocking on a door, there are ways to ignore it. Some call it cowardly, others say it’s about building the studio’s brand or storytelling style. Either way, with Avengers: Infinity War looming, Thanos will be coming with the veil of death over him sure to be lifted. When that happens, everyone and anyone will be on the table, because the child’s play that the MCU has put us through will be coming to an end. The gloves are off and if anyone thinks death should be kept out of the MCU, well, CBR decided to detail 15 reasons it should NOT and why it is actually necessary!
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for all MCU movies and some Marvel Comics storylines
15. USHERS IN THE NEXT WAVE
As seen with Marvel’s upcoming “Generations”, legacy is something that matters to fans, old and new. Death to the old guard would allow us to embrace the new one, which we’ve been connecting with a lot over the last few years in the comics. If Steve Rogers dies, his Captain America shield could easily pass down to Bucky Barnes or Sam Wilson (Falcon), and the Thor mantle could shift to someone like Sif or Valkyrie (as the female Thor angle doesn’t seem likely for Jane Foster in the MCU), or even Volstagg.
Iron Man’s mantle could even pass down to a fresh face like Riri Williams (a.k.a. Ironheart). The point is that Marvel Comics have been showing us that change is inevitable and as with life, we should accept it. These characters aren’t set in stone and death could be a nice shake of the dice.
14. CREATES RESONATING STORIES
Death makes a story emotional and resonating, especially after investing in the characters for nearly a decade. Life’s filled with twists, turns and, of course, it isn’t permanent, so to see our heroes meet such a fate would leave a lasting impression. Even if it’s villains that perish, things feel real and this matters a lot to us as we’ll leave the cinema clinging to the emotional weight of death.
The DCEU did this with Zod in Man of Steel as you really felt the gravity of the situation. As for the MCU, the few times death has come, it hit pretty hard as well. When the likes of Frigga (Thor’s mother), Tony Stark’s parents, Quicksilver and Yondu (in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) expired, fans were left with that jarring feeling that the stakes were indeed high and there was a lot to lose.
13. ATTRACTS NEW COMIC READERS
The new breed of Marvel heroes definitely seemed geared towards a younger audience that may not be on the same page with older heroes such as Iron Man, Thor and Cap. Even with the Marvel cartoons, there’s a slant towards the new and young. We’ve seen this with younger depictions of characters like Spider-Man, and also, with how Sam Alexander has been under Nova’s helmet instead of Richard Rider.
It would make sense to transfer this over to the films as well to capture this audience who would already be familiar with these heroes. Apart from Sam, young comic readers would surely gravitate more to the likes of Kamala Khan, Squirrel Girl, and even Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. We would also bet that the likes of the Young Avengers would have audiences captivated.
12. COLLABORATION WITH OTHER STUDIOS
The MCU felt that to evolve their Avengers story, they needed Spider-Man and so they worked out a deal with Sony. This helped push Spider-Man: Homecoming and hinted that other partnerships could be explored. If the MCU loses some of its talismans, room could be created for other studio collaborations.
The powers-that-be could entertain the idea of linking with the Fantastic Four from Fox for some fresh character team-ups. Reed Richards is a big part of the Avengers’ stories so that would make sense, and who knows, maybe the X-Men could also be shared to build a universe similar to the current comics climate to give us films closer to the books we love. In terms of Sony, their Spider-verse and upcoming Venom film could also bleed over.
11. PREVENTS MONOTONY
Monotony setting in could kill a franchise or a universe. This has happened to a few properties in the world of comics and film isn’t necessarily an exception. For example, we’ve seen Tony Stark saving the world as Iron Man since 2008. That’s almost a decade of the same jokes, one-liners and overall style. There’s only so much more to explore with him, as he was already painted as a pseudo-villain in Captain America: Civil War.
We’ve also gotten our fill of Steve Rogers and Thor doing the same thing over and over — struggling with love, acceptance on Earth and their undying duty to keep the flags of justice high. Things in the MCU are starting to get stale to be honest, as seen with Loki’s schtick. Risk and freshness have to be explored, because they breed creative evolution.
10. A YOUNG, FRESH PERSPECTIVE
The MCU has its veterans by now (especially in the Avengers ranks), who grew, learned and matured. Whether or not they’re still in the Avengers’ official ranks, it doesn’t matter because their cycle is coming to an end and it’s time we got a young and fresher new group of heroes. These kids could help give a different outlook on the world with the Sokovia Accords wanting heroes to register.
The MCU, bar Spidey, is a bunch of seasoned and grizzled warriors, so let’s get some more youth and vibrancy in it. They may end up mucking it up along the way but it’s about the journey, not just the destination. Champions is a great comic book template of what we’re talking about. Coming-of-age stories have a flair to them that would distinguish the MCU vastly from what came prior.
9. REMOVES THE CAMPY STIGMA
The MCU has often been seen as campy, with Iron Man’s jokes, and of course, the Ant-Man franchise helping build this case. Even when things are serious, there’s a lot of humor injected. The last couple Captain America movies set a graver tone, but it’s clear Marvel Studios want to stick with this formula, as evidenced by James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy films.
Death could be a big way of shaking off this stigma. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, we got a taste of this with Quicksilver’s death, and then in Civil War, we came close with War Machine, which both worked well to offset the lighter tones of the MCU. Things can go wrong and get very dark, and fans should see more of this because with Thanos, it ain’t all unicorns and rainbows anymore.
8. OPENS DOORS TO DIVERSITY
The main Marvel characters were established at a time where diversity wasn’t really an issue. As the years progressed, we got more diverse characters but now, as the world is much more multicultural and mixed, comics have gotten more progressive. This has led to a bigger push for diversity, not just for comics, but art in general. At a time where whitewashing is still a thing, the MCU has an opportunity to create new avenues for minority characters to step up if older heroes perish.
Using Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One could easily be forgotten if we get a Captain Marvel in Kamala Khan, an Amadeus Cho Hulk, or an appearance by America Chavez. Raz Malhotra (the new Giant-Man) and Miles Morales are other options. The Black Panther film is the perfect place to start when it hits theaters in February.
7. PREVENTS ACTOR FATIGUE
Honestly, how long can we go on seeing these same actors and actresses, year in and year out? Robert Downey Jr. already feels so saturated in Spider-Man: Homecoming and the last thing we, or them, want is overkill. Killing them off prevents fans from getting tired of the on-screen stars and also, given that they’re getting older, it makes sense to write them off in a pivotal manner, making them an ideal or a symbol.
Contracts are also coming to an end and renewals could cost the studio a lot of money. The MCU stars are quite established, so to re-sign them for more movies would be highly expensive. Thusly, Marvel Studios has the ability to show that killing these characters is a bold move, but it’s one that counts. The greater the risk, the greater the reward, and this kind of fatigue should be avoided at all costs.
6. OPENS THE MCU FLOODGATES
The MCU doesn’t have to look externally for big names as they have a few waiting inside their own lockers. It doesn’t have to be about the X-Men or Fantastic Four. Blade, Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze), She-Hulk and Namor are some names in the wings. In terms of villains, it’s not only about Doom or Magneto, but Mephisto and Kang, to name a few.
In addition to Young Avengers and Champions, there’s also the Avengers Academy to explore and further develop the new stable of superheroes. Another gem waiting to be harnessed, or some as view it — promotion to the A-leagues — would be the Netflix corner of the MCU. Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Punisher and Kingpin are some of the names who could be willing to help bring the likes of the Defenders and Thunderbolts to the big screen, and shift things away from an Avengers-centric world.
5. NEW ALPHAS CAN EMERGE
Death wouldn’t just be making space for more solo stories, but if it involves the MCU Trinity of Cap, Iron Man and Thor, then we get room for new alphas. A leader off the bat, who can be the same alpha she’s been in the comics is Captain Marvel (whose movie will be out in 2019). This creates room for women like Maria Hill and Sharon Carter as well to move up a notch or two on the ladder.
Other familiar faces can who can step up and lead are Black Panther and Nick Fury, who went into hiding after HYDRA dismantled SHIELD in Captain America: The Winter Soldier but has since returned in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The reins of leadership need to be passed to keep the enegry fresh in the MCU.
4. BUILDS A TRUE SENSE OF WAR
Marvel Studios chief, Kevin Feige has warned that death will be coming in Infinity War, and rightfully so because what kind of war doesn’t include casualties? The DCEU is often criticized for its gritty and violent tone, but its wars are filled with collateral damage and come off like how we would expect alien invasions to. Joss Whedon’s The Avengers didn’t feel like the stakes were high so it’s about time this got fixed.
Thanos and his rumored Black Order won’t be as easy or as forgiving, so expect more blood to be spilled than what the Chitauri offered. The MCU has to up the ante and make us feel like the entire world is coming to an end, instead of it being a lone city under siege. Thanos’ arrival has been touted as a grand one, so let’s hope that it lives up to potential.
3. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PERMANENT
Come on guys, it’s a movie based on superheroes and comic books so if Marvel Studios decides that death isn’t permanent in the MCU, then it won’t be. We’ve seen this revolving door in the books with so many characters dying and returning, this there’s a big chance this can be done on film with some cop-out strategies left in place.
If the MCU’s favorite superheroes die, the filmmakers can bring them back in flashbacks as we’ve seen with Howard Stark time and time again. With the Infinity Gauntlet in play, the Infinity Stones can also offer time travel, alternate universes and pocket worlds to revisit heroes or store them in (a la the Onslaught saga). In Iron Man’s case, he could be revived via holographic personality like we’ve seen recently in Secret Empire. The possibilities are endless.
2. MAKES THANOS LOOK GOOD
Thanos hasn’t really had any direct impact on the MCU. He’s been setting pieces up on the chessboard and getting his lackeys to do the grunt work of collecting the Infinity Stones. When Infinity War graces Earth, he’s sure to be looking for a taste of death, as we’ve seen him do in the comics. Recently, in Civil War II, he killed War Machine, so expect that kind of damage again.
He’s the Mad Titan and if he comes to Earth without taking a life, then it would be another weak villain entering the MCU. Our heroes have never faced anyone like him before, and he should remind them of this with a couple casualties, such as The Vision who has the Mind Stone on his head, making him a prime target for death. Making Thanos a murderer would make him look scary, intimidating but oh, so good.
1. THE AFTERMATH
Death is only the beginning. The true test is how we cope, fare and recover after it. This could lead to some amazing stories in the wake of death, as we’ve seen time and time again when icons like Captain America, Superman and Batman die. The aftermath of death touches many people, and sadly the MCU missed the chance to properly address this when Quicksilver died.
They also copped out on Agent Coulson and War Machine but when next it happens, we would love to see how the tech-world handles Stark’s death, how America feels now that their patriotic symbol is gone in Cap, or how Asgard would be if the Odinson falls. These are all mouth-watering prospects because death means the MCU falls, but that doesn’t mean it has to stay down. The eulogy stories would be worth big bucks!
Let us know in the comments why you think the MCU needs death and who deserves to be on the chopping block!
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