It's fair to say that comic fans have become somewhat desensitized when it comes to the deaths of our favorite heroes and villains, as comic deaths rarely stick. However, there are still a few deaths in the comics that have a greater impact on the larger universe around them.
While some of the characters we're going to discuss today seem to spend more time dead than they do alive, their deaths still heavily affected the world around them and the fans reading. So here are the most impactful deaths we've seen in the Marvel universe over the last decade.
10 PROFESSOR XAVIER
A major death that had a large impact on the Marvel Universe wasn't as impactful among fans, as frankly, we had seen it a few times before. However, the death of Charles Xavier in the pages of Avengers vs. X-Men, at the hands of his greatest student Scott Summers/Cyclops is still one of Marvel's biggest deaths.
While Cyclops gets an out as he was corrupted by the cosmic power of the Phoenix Force, most of the X-Men didn't see things that way and Cyclops was forced to create his own revolutionary team of X-Men. Xavier's death was lasting in a way, as he would soon return to possess the body of Fantomex as X, which is presumably the version seen in House of X/Powers of X.
Ares was the God of War, on the same level as Thor and Hercules but from yet another pantheon of gods in the Marvel Universe. While he first faced the Avengers and other heroes as a villain, he would eventually join the Mighty Avengers as an anti-hero who craved battle.
Ares would join with Norman Osborn and his Dark Avengers during Dark Reign and be with the team during their attack on Asgard during Siege. It was there that Ares went up against an unstable Sentry, who graphically ripped Ares in half when he turned on his former teammate.
During the Death of X storyline, the repercussions of Infinity's release of the transformative Terrigen Mists were explored, as it was discovered that the Mists had reacted with the Earth's atmosphere and created a deadly disease known as M-Pox which was fatal to some mutants.
Cyclops quickly succumbed to the infection and died upon his first contact, though Emma Frost would use a psychic projection to make everyone think Black Bolt killed Cyclops. Scott would later be resurrected thanks to the intervention of his son Kid Cable, his connection to the Phoenix Force and some interesting time travel shenanigans.
7 BRUCE BANNER
One of the inciting moments of Marvel's Civil War II was the assassination of Bruce Banner/Hulk by way of a specialized arrow fired by Clint Barton/Hawkeye. The arrow was created by Banner in case he was ever going to Hulk out and he entrusted Clint with the task of taking him down.
The issue of whether or not Clint was justified in shooting Banner before he even showed signs of Hulking out arose and led to further division among the heroes. Hulk would return to star in The Immortal Hulk with a new dark control that has made the Hulk more dangerous than ever. Thanks a lot, Hawkeye.
6 FLASH THOMPSON
Flash Thompson has appeared as a supporting character in Amazing Spider-Man since the beginning, moving from high school bully to the adult best friend of Peter Parker. However, after a tour of duty cost him the use of his legs, he volunteered for the new Operation: Rebirth, the program that had originally been responsible for the creation of Captain America.
Flash was bonded with Spider-Man's old symbiote to become Agent Venom, who worked for the military and then later on his own or alongside the Secret Avengers. Flash would then later become the second Anti-Venom before heroically sacrificing his life to cure those left wounded by Norman Osborn/Red Goblin in the "Go Down Swinging" storyline.
5 JANE FOSTER
When a new Thor arrived on the scene with Mjolnir after the former Thor (now calling himself Odinson) became unworthy, the entire Marvel Universe and the readers were questioning who the woman was behind the mask of the Mighty Thor.
The hero was revealed to be Jane Foster, whose many adventures as the Goddess of Thunder hid the real battle with cancer that her human form was losing every time she transformed. Jane would later sacrifice her life (and Mjolnir) to save the Asgardians from the Hatred Who Walks, The Mangog. She was later resurrected by Thor and Odin to later become the new Valkyrie.
4 BLACK WIDOW
Black Widow's death came during the highly controversial Secret Empire event that saw Captain America side with Hydra to take over the United States. Natasha was a part of the resistance, though she sacrificed herself in order to save Miles Morales/Spider-Man. The evil Captain America took out Black Widow with a powerful blow to her neck with his shield, killing her instantly.
While a clone of Natasha appeared shortly after her death, the loss of Black Widow during Secret Empire has yet to be undone and remains one of the biggest casualties of the event. Thankfully the clone of Natasha has most of her old memories, so the Black Widow has kind of returned to the Marvel Universe.
3 OTTO OCTAVIUS
The death of Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus in the "Dying Wish" storyline hit hard for a number of reasons. For starters, when Otto's body died, it was actually Peter Parker's mind inside the body, meaning Otto survived in Peter's body. While Peter's memories would survive in his body while Otto took control, it was still a crushing loss for readers.
Surprisingly, Otto would find himself transformed by Parker's memories and his newfound role as the Superior Spider-Man. Otto's next death would come as a hero, willingly giving Peter's body back so he could save the life of Otto's love, Anna Maria Marconi. Otto would return in a powerful cloned body, though he would still be overcome with the drive to be a hero.
2 WAR MACHINE
We previously discussed one of the inciting deaths that launched Marvel's Civil War II, which was a battle between Iron Man and Captain Marvel regarding the morality of using the precognitive abilities of the new Inhuman Ulysses. The death of James "Rhodey" Rhodes/War Machine was another inciting incident that would put the Marvel Universe at odds.
Hoping to use Ulysses' new abilities pro-actively, Captain Marvel, War Machine and a team of Avengers attempted to ambush Thanos, though things went terribly wrong and War Machine was killed. This was a loss to both his best friend Iron Man and his new lover Captain Marvel, though thankfully Tony Stark was able to restore Rhodey into a new body because comics.
Charles Soule and Steve McNiven's Death of Wolverine was one of the most hyped deaths of the decade and actually managed to kill the unkillable mutant hero after they got rid of his healing factor in his ongoing series. After tracking back a bounty placed on his head, Logan faced off against the man who first experimented on him, Dr. Cornelius.
The mad doctor was attempting to replicate the process first used to create Wolverine, though Logan stopped Cornelius and saved his test subjects. Unfortunately, it cost him his life as he was encased in a shell of hardened adamantium, leaving the X-Men and his family to carry on his legacy. Thankfully he was resurrected and has returned to the X-Men for "Dawn of X."