Dread it. Run from it. Destiny still arrives...in Spring 2019, in fact. That's when Avengers: Endgame hits the screen and brings to a close this era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, Avengers: Infinity War packed a mighty, Infinity Gauntlet-wrapped punch for Marvel fans, turning half the known universe into dust. And sure, "Mr. Stark, I don't feel so good" has become the bleakest meme since Ben Affleck had a thousand yard stare during a press junket. But at the end of the day, the toll was too high to be "real." Spider-Man and Black Panther already had sequels they were confirmed to return for. Fans couldn't truly believe Dr. Strange or Star Lord were gone for good.
With the forthcoming Avengers: Endgame, most of the dusted heroes are likely to return, but we certainly suspect at least one familiar face will reach a more permanent end. The snap left us with mostly those original heroes we've come to love over the last 10 years, leaving any of their untimely ends to have a more isolated and striking impact in Endgame. Like Dr. Strange, we too took a look at every scenario, and while we won't say every person on this list will meet their maker in Avengers: Endgame, you best prepare yourself for all possible outcomes.
One of the hands-down breakout stars of Black Panther, Winston Duke's interpretation of the once-named Man-Ape took a the role from a C-list side character to a cultural icon. While the Russo brothers might not have anticipated the fierce but dignified leader of the Jabari tribe becoming the fodder for "thicc daddy" memes, they clearly understand the impact of M'Baku's ever fluctuating fealty toward T'Challa when the former stepped forward to help defend Wakanda from Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War.
It stands to reason that, though not a day one player like the OG Avengers, the death of M'Baku would hit audiences hard if it came to pass in Avengers: Endgame. To see him fall to save a kingdom that all but rejected him would be a powerful blow to audiences.
Having thus far only appeared in Avengers: Infinity War, there's no guarantee that Eitri, King of the Dwarves (played memorably by Peter Dinklage) will even appear in Avengers: Endgame. But if he does, there's a strong likelihood that his appearance would be predicated on his eventual disappearance, for the benefit of the universe.
What we mean is that, in the end, Eitri himself may be one of the universe's most dangerous weapons. Thanos thought he could cease any further Infinity Gauntlets being forged by taking Eitri's hand, but the existence of Stormbringer disproves that. If Eitri returns at all in the MCU, it would likely be to, in one way or another, tie up the "loose end" of whether or not another Infinity Gauntlet could be made.
After such a memorable first appearance in Thor: Ragnarok, many fans were distressed that Valkyrie didn't appear in Avengers: Infinity War. In fact, there was no acknowledgement of the character at all, with the internet full of speculation as to whether Valkyrie even survived the snap.
We expect, much like a certain absent archer, that Valkyrie may well swoop in to save the day in Avengers: Endgame, but that that could well be her last hurrah, and our "evidence" for the speculation is mostly logistical. With no Thor sequels still on the docket, and Tessa Thompson's star on the rise with hits like Sorry to Bother You and the forthcoming MIB: International (wherein she reunites with Hemsworth), scheduling may prove too difficult to keep Valkyrie in the MCU, making it easier to send her off in this next installment.
12 HAPPY HOGAN
Happy Hogan has had a place in almost every significant MCU moment, from the first post-Avengers installment (Iron Man 3) to the first Sony co-production (Spider-Man: Homecoming), and of course the first ever MCU movie, which actor Jon Favreau also directed. And yet we don't even know the fate of Tony Stark's most trusted confidant in the wake of the snap.
We doubt they would do him the indignity of off-ing him off screen, but we do think Happy Hogan could meet his end in Endgame. Not only would that loss hit our iron-clad hero hard, but what better symbol of the end of the original MCU could there be then taking out the man who helped start it all?
The reasons why Thor might die in Avengers: Endgame are fairly obvious. He’s an original Avenger, he’s an iconic character, his bravado and heroism would make for a fabulous final sacrifice. He’s admittedly more likely to die than not.
As to why we're not ready to declare him most likely to die: unlike some of his co-stars, Hemsworth hasn't expressed much fatigue for the character, especially after Thor: Ragnarok renewed his creative energy towards the role. He's still a hot Hollywood commodity too, so Marvel might want to cling to that. Unless....that's what they want us to think, so that we're all the more surprised when Thor joins his brother in Valhalla.
10 ROCKET RACCOON
What the recently relieved of his duties director James Gunn was able to do with the obscure and absurd Guardians of the Galaxy is nothing short of a miracle. It's one thing to make a funny superhero movie, it's another to carry an audience to the point where they empathize with a crying raccoon coming to realize there's a world larger than himself, laughing all the way.
Rocket Raccoon has been, for many, the heart of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. Now that the lone Guardian has lost everything, he's got nothing to lose, which seems to suggest he might make a final valiant sacrifice for the sake of his fallen friends.
9 BLACK WIDOW
With the recent confirmation of a Black Widow movie in development (with Berlin Syndrome director Cate Shortland), many consider the potential death of Black Widow off the table. After all, if our favorite Soviet spy is set to return onscreen, even the most impactful death in Avengers: Endgame would have to be undone.
But there's a strong possibility that this forthcoming film will in fact be a prequel. Captain Marvel's marketing is already showing fans how simple it would be to de-age our favorite Marvel stars to fit a period piece. It might serve the MCU well to explore how Black Widow wound up with red in her ledger after her book finally closes.
8 IRON MAN
The man who began it all, Tony Stark. Sure, Captain America was fighting Nazis in the '40s, and we'll soon see Captain Marvel sporting Nine Inch Nails merch in the '90s, but the MCU's Age of Heroes began when Tony Stark built a suit in a cave with a box of scraps.
So it stands to reason that Stark, especially as played by an actor who has expressed a desire to leave before he's "too old," may take his final flight in Avengers: Endgame. The man whose sheer willpower pulled him back from the grasp of death so many times before may willingly walk into it to save the world.
To be honest, everything in Avengers: Infinity War seems to be setting us up for a last hurrah from the Hulk. His failure to manifest at any point during the final acts film only builds up suspense for when he eventually emerges in Avengers: Endgame.
That whatever valiant fight Hulk undertakes in Endgame should be his last would work out for Marvel, not just in a narrative sense, but also in a logistical one. Hulk, due to strange contractual obligations, cannot appear in a solo film barring some corporate partnership akin to the Sony Spider-Man arrangement. So killing Hulk in a heroic way saves them having to find new means by which to shoehorn the massive green monster into other films any further.
So, elephant in the room, we know Drax already died in the snap. Our assessment of a potential more permanent death is predicated on the idea that his dematerialization will somehow be reversed.
The case for Drax's ultimate death is two-fold: Firstly, though he has found family alongside the Guardians, his primary motive has always been avenging the death of his original family. A fitting end to the classic warrior's story is to rejoin his loved ones in the afterlife after avenging their deaths. Secondly, given Bautista's outspoken comments regarding the James Gunn firing, they might decide to just nip that potential headache in the bud before moving ahead on Guardians Vol. 3.
5 WAR MACHINE
We're starting to head into the inevitable here. War Machine has been on the metaphorical chopping block for a while now. There might have even been temptation to kill Rhodes off-screen between Iron Man 1 and 2, due to the recasting of Terrence Howard with Don Cheadle.
Instead, War Machine has been very nearly killed in almost every on-screen appearance, most notably Captain America: Civil War. There's only so many times they can dangle that potential loss over Tony Stark's head before they finally have to pull the trigger. War Machine, you served us well, but your time has likely come
Critics love to snipe about the perceived lack of character development in contemporary superhero films. The torturous and tumultuous arc of Nebula, who began as little more than a secondary antagonist in Guardians of the Galaxy, easily refutes any such claim.
After three films, Nebula's sometimes reluctant quest for redemption has become one of the most heart-wrenching sagas within the MCU; and all sagas need an end. Though the films have strayed from the comics many a time, one has to wonder if Nebula's crucial role in the original Infinity Gauntlet comics may be reflected in the final film, with a more permanent end.
For those of us who are fans of the amethyst archer, it feels like Clint Barton's gotten a bum rap over the course of the MCU. A bit part in Thor, a brainless zombie in The Avengers. And while Age Of Ultron gave Barton some well-deserved levity, by Civil War he was yet again a bow-wielding prop.
His lack of presence in Avengers: Infinity War implied that he had a larger role to play in Avengers: Endgame, and even the initial teaser trailer dropped some significant hints that Barton's Ronin persona had come to kick some serious purple posterior. That said, given Renner's perpetual back burner status in the MCU, he likely isn't chomping at the bit to return, Hawkeye's tenure in the MCU will likely conclude alongside Renner's own contractual obligation.
Before you say anything, we did say this was a list of the characters most likely to die in Endgame, but we never said they would all be heroes. When we consider how swiftly Marvel has dispatched their villains in the past, we don't expect the Mad Titan to survive his final showdown with a newly revived Avengers.
That said, we have some reservations. There's the whole idea of killing a killer doesn't change the number of killers in the world, but then again if Thanos is all about balance, that seems like a fair trade. And in the end, perhaps the cosmic forces of the universe may do what the Avengers can't and cease the Mad Titan's time on this universe, but either way, we doubt he lives to snap another day.
1 CAPTAIN AMERICA
We hate to say it, we don't want to be pessimistic, but it seems like Captain America is doomed. The epic and ever-surprising trajectory towards this end-point began in 2010, when the antics of an extravagant New York billionaire seemed to the national audience little more than a trifle.
But now, with the inevitable end hurtling towards us, we look back and see this was the only way it could have concluded. The fierce nobility Steve Rogers showed in World War II has been both his benefit and his downfall in the face of ever more ambiguous challenges, but if there's one thing we know about our Captain America, it's that the man who dove on a grenade to save his fellow soldiers will gladly give it all for the values he believes in.