Sometimes, superheroes and supervillains die in the most glorious ways possible. Whether going out in a blaze of glory or dying tragically to save others, these are the deaths that define heroes in both comic book movies and epic action-adventure tales. However, there are times that a major character dies in a way that is very unbefitting of the hero or villain. Instead of perishing nobly or heartbreakingly, the heroes and villains die in the lamest ways possible.
The X-Men universe has delivered some excellent superhero movie deaths, but they have also executed some downright terrible superhero deaths, as well as one of the most shocking (and slightly disappointing) as well. The MCU has a habit of killing off significant villains – and some heroes as well – in massive fights to the death, but they are also guilty of sending out characters in some truly uninspired ways, making any promise they held mean little in retrospect. Finally, DC has killed off a lot of characters in ways that destroy those characters' legacies. Here is a look at the 15 worst superhero movie deaths.
15 CYCLOPS (X-MEN: THE LAST STAND)
In the first two X-Men movies, Cyclops was the clear leader of the X-Men when it came to their fighting team on the ground while Professor X remained the leader behind the scenes. However, when it came to X-Men: The Last Stand, Professor X died while trying to save Jean Grey while Cyclops was not so lucky.
Cyclops only appears early in X-Men: The Last Stand and is mourning the death of Jean Grey. He goes to her final resting place and finds her risen as The Dark Phoenix. The two share a kiss, and something happens. After this, Wolverine and Storm head out to search for Scott and just find his glasses floating in the air while Jean lies on the ground, unconscious. Phoenix killed the leader of the X-Men offscreen. Rumor has it that Fox gave Cyclops a lame superhero death because he left to shoot Warner Bros. Superman Returns movie.
14 BANE (DARK KNIGHT RISES)
Batman movies, from the Tim Burton films all the way through the Christopher Nolan efforts, have a tendancy to kill off major villains. While this seems counterproductive to the future of the movies, rebooting the franchise twice now has made some of those deaths no longer matter. Some deaths had a significant impact; Harvey Dent’s death in The Dark Knight, for one example. Other deaths seemed lackluster, however.
One of the least satisfying superhero movie deaths came in The Dark Knight Rises. Bane remains one of Batman’s most dangerous enemies from the comics, and after a disappointing introduction in Batman & Robin, a better version appeared in the final film in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. The problem came at the end when Catwoman blew him up in a quick shot. The movie killed off a significant villain in a very anticlimactic manner as if his death didn’t even matter.
13 QUICKSILVER (AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON)
Quicksilver has one of the best powers of any superhero in the MCU: he can move and think faster than anyone else and that means he can avoid death on most occasions. Look at the Quicksilver that Fox put into the X-Men movies or his DC equivalent, Flash, in Justice League, to see how this character type fights to see how Quicksilver could be such a great character. However, Joss Whedon was at a disadvantage in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Marvel and Fox battled for the right to use Quicksilver, and both movies ended up with the ability to use the speedster. However, Whedon believed that Marvel could lose the rights and didn’t want the company placed in that position. As a result, Quicksilver died, shot down and killed in a hail of bullets – something Quicksilver easily could have avoided while still saving everyone.
12 JONATHAN KENT (MAN OF STEEL)
In the Superman comics, Kal-El’s spaceship crashes on Earth, and he develops abilities that make him the most overpowered superhero on the planet. However, it was his upbringing from Jonathan and Martha Kent that molds him into a man who always uses his powers for good, making him the noblest hero in the history of comic books. Man of Steel changed the parenting of Clark Kent, especially when it comes to Jonathan.
In Man of Steel, Clark saves children from dying when their school bus crashes into the lake, and his father tells him it might be better to let kids die in order to hide his powers. Later, a storm is coming and Jonathan Kent races to save the family dog. Right before the tornado hits, he signals for Clark to let him die. This action causes Clark to blame himself and become the mournful Superman of the DCEU, but was, narratively-speaking, almost completely unnecessary.
11 RA'S AL GHUL (BATMAN BEGINS)
When Batman fans complain about the DCEU, one of the most prominent comments is that Batman does not kill. For many fans, the rule is set in stone, as Batman does not use guns and never kills an enemy – preferring to take them to justice. The LEGO Batman Movie made this a joke when Barbara Gordon points out that all of Batman’s enemies remain active. However, the movies have never followed this line of thinking, even before the DCEU.
Batman movies saw the death of Joker, Penguin, Two-Face (twice), Bane and more. The problem was magnified in Batman Begins when Batman battled Ra’s Al Ghul onboard the train and then chose to let the villain die as the train crashed rather than save him. It was an anticlimactic death, something that Nolan’s Batman movies remain guilty of, outside of Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight.
10 THE X-MEN (LOGAN)
There is almost nothing to complain about when it comes to Fox’s Logan from early in 2017. This movie ended up as a touching and fitting finale to the Hugh Jackman Wolverine-run. While some of the movie deaths came suddenly, the ones shown on screen were shocking and had enormous effects on Logan as he raced to his fate. However, there were other deaths that the production team of Logan planned to shoot but ultimately chose not to, and that remains disappointing.
According to rumors, Logan was supposed to open with Professor X accidentally killing the X-Men, an event that was vaguely referenced throughout the film. The production chose not to even shoot the scenes for fear of alienating the fans at the start of the movie. Instead, smartly, they only hinted at what happened with Charles and his students. However, for characters as popular as the X-Men, dying offscreen is not worthy of their legacy.
9 JIMMY OLSEN (BATMAN V SUPERMAN)
There are a lot of problems with Jimmy Olsen in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. With the controversy of changes to Olsen in Man of Steel and the Supergirl TV show, at least the latter lines up closer with the comic book character. For comic book fans, Jimmy Olsen is a photographer for the Daily Planet and Superman’s best pal. However, the film chose just to use his name on an unrecognizable character.
In Batman V Superman, Jimmy Olsen is a CIA plant who is impersonating a news photographer. When the movie has him accompany Lois Lane to an African nation to interview a warlord, his identity is outed, and they murder him. The DCEU movie introduced a character, claimed he was Jimmy Olsen, and then killed him immediately. It was a disappointing move for fans of the character in the comics, shows and previous movies.
8 ARNIM ZOLA (CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER)
The MCU introduced quite a few Captain America villains in Captain America: The First Avenger. Because it took place in World War II, it was impossible for most characters to show up again in future Captain America movies. However, there were ways around that – especially for a character like Arnim Zola. In that first Captain America movie, Toby Jones portrayed a human Arnim Zola.
However, as fans of the comics know, Arnim Zola transferred his mind into a giant robotic body. There wasn’t much chance for a character like that to work in the MCU, but they did find a way by transferring his mind into computer networks in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Even with the change, there was still hope for the villain until missiles destroyed the base where his “brain” resided, the only positive in the fact he killed himself trying to kill Captain America.
7 ICEMAN (X-MEN: APOCALYPSE)
In the comic book world, Iceman was one of the founding members of The X-Men, and while he received better treatment than fellow founding member Angel in film, Iceman was always a minor movie character. Since the movies didn’t take Bobby Drake seriously, his death was not much of a surprise.
It came in the alternate world of Days of Future Past, and his death made little sense. Iceman is not a Mutant who creates ice. Iceman is an Omega-level mutant who can turn into ice, water and vapor; therefore, turning into ice and dying when energy blasts blow through his abdomen seems wrong. He does save his teammates, but the method of his death made little sense.
6 SLIPKNOT (SUICIDE SQUAD)
One of the most frustrating tropes in action movies involves the introduction of characters with the sole purpose of becoming cannon fodder. A great example of this is the Red Shirts in the Star Trek universe: crew members in (funnily enough) red shirts, who almost always die on away missions with bigger characters. They never appeared before, and no one missed them after their deaths.
In Suicide Squad, Amanda Waller put the team together, and it included a character named Slipknot (Adam Beach). The only reason Slipknot existed in the film at all was to show the other members what happens if they try to make a run for it. Captain Boomerang convinces Slipknot to escape with him, but Rick Flag executes thim immediately. It happened in the comics too but made Slipknot just a Red Shirt in the DCEU.
5 EMMA FORST (X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST)
Emma Frost is one of the most dangerous mutants in the entire Marvel Universe. Other than her ability to transform into a diamond state (see: X-Men Origins: Wolverine), she is also one of the world’s most potent telepaths (see: X-Men: First Class). However, when it comes to the Fox X-Men movies, Emma Frost remains underdeveloped, under-utilized and a colossal disappointment. Frost is a character that became a leader in the comics but was a sidekick in the films.
Her death wasn’t even significant enough to show. In X-Men: First Class, the film used her as a righthand woman to Sebastian Shaw, someone easily subdued by Professor X and Magneto. In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Emma Frost died offscreen alongside minor mutants like Azazel and Angel Salvadore. For one of the most powerful mutants in Marvel, Frost remains an afterthought in the movies, even in death.
4 BARON VON STRUCKER (AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON)
Baron von Strucker was a character that most assumed would never become a significant villain in the MCU because he was a huge part of the Captain America story during World War II. However, when Marvel announced that Baron von Strucker was showing up in Avengers: Age of Ultron, fans of Captain America comics had a reason to get excited. The movies updated the character and made him a German Baron and leader within the modern-day hierarchy of HYDRA.
The Avengers opened Age of Ultron by storming a HYDRA base, and Baron von Strucker surrendered to fight another day. However, that would never happen. While sitting in prison, Ultron visited Baron von Strucker and asked where to find Vibranium. Even though von Strucker told him, Ultron smashed his head against the prison wall and killed him. It was far too simple a demise of a major Marvel villain.
3 JAZZ (TRANSFORMERS)
The Transformers originated back in the early ‘80s, and over the years there have been a considerable amount of cartoons and toys created based on the franchise, most of which have come to be beloved by its legion of fans. When Michael Bay started his movie adaptations back in 2007, the director chose to kill one of the fan favorites, possibly to make a point that anyone could die.
Jazz is the Transformers character who always seemed good-natured and happy; which of course was one of the reasons fans loved him. In that first Transformers movie, Jazz was on the frontlines battling the revived Megatron. When he faced off with the evil Decepticon, Megatron just grabbed Jazz and ripped him in half, killing him instantly. It shows how devastating the war and Megatron were, but Jazz went out with barely any effort; a total waste of a great character.
2 VENOM (SPIDER-MAN 3)
Sony wanted Venom in Spider-man 3, but Sam Raimi wanted nothing to do with the famous Marvel antihero. While Raimi loved to look at the personal stories of Peter Parker, he felt pressured to add Venom just to satisfy the studio. It was evident by the way that Raimi handled Venom that he put little thought into the creation and execution of the character in the film – including his sudden and lackluster death at the end.
Venom was used to pull off one very emotional moment when Harry Osborne died saving Spider-Man. That death was warranted and heartbreaking. After this, Spider-Man used the sonic vibrations that always weakened Venom in the comics, but the movie then made it decisive. Spider-Man threw a pumpkin bomb at the symbiote, with Eddie Brock leaping into it at the same time. They both blew up. It was a final death for someone who had a future in films, even if he was a divisive character.
1 THE WARRIORS THREE (THOR: RAGNAROK)
Possibly the most unexpected deaths in the MCU came in Thor: Ragnarok. While the movie was the best Thor movie for Marvel based on critical ratings, there seemed to be a lack of care concerning many significant characters in the Thor universe. The deaths occurred when Hela showed up on Asgard. For two movies, Thor had strong allies in the Warriors Three, and they proved to be honorable and mighty brothers in arms.
When Hela stepped through the gate into Asgard, she effortlessly killed both Volstagg and Fandral without even one offensive move from either Asgardian. At least Hogun got a chance to go to battle with the Goddess of Death, but he fared no better and died at her hands. The deaths of significant warriors like Vostagg and Fandral without even a care were completely unwarranted and as such, fell totally flat.
Can you think of any other superhero movie deaths that happened not with a bang, but with a whimper? Let us know in the comments!