Marvel superheroes that won't survive Avengers: Infinity War

Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War is scheduled for May 4, 2018, and promises to be a massive, epic, worthy "finale" for the Marvel Cinematic Universe's first three chapters. By now, the MCU has grown to encompass dozens of heroes—meaning there are plenty of candidates to bite the dust in the epic battle with Thanos. And people will die: The film is loosely based on the Infinity Gauntlet comic book, which was one of the biggest events ever and killed off pretty much every one of Earth's Mightiest Heroes at different points along the way. Who will Marvel Studios choose to eat it? Here's our take on the candidates most likely to not survive Marvel's blockbuster war:

Iron Man

Robert Downey, Jr. is the cornerstone of the MCU, but he's also costing Marvel Studios dump trucks upon dump trucks of money for every one of his appearances. He was the first star hired for Marvel's up-start connected universe, and he's shown up in the most movies by far. His initial contract with the studio is also expired, meaning he now gets to be choosy about which projects he'll do—and how much money he'll command.

For the sake of perspective: Downey, Jr. earned a mind-boggling $50 million for The Avengers, and $75 million for Iron Man 3. Civil War scored him $40 million (plus back-end participation that could lead to tons more cash, since the film was a monster hit). In the immediate future, he's already set to have a supporting role in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and he'll obviously be a linchpin of Avengers: Infinity War.

Beyond that, though, are other issues. He's already in his early 50's, and though he's obviously in great shape, you have to wonder how long he can conceivably pull off the roguish-playboy-genius-superhero bit. You also have to wonder how long Marvel will want to keep paying him, especially if he continues to command more and more cash. So if Downey is ready to hang up his armor (or Marvel is ready to hang it up for him), an epic death in Infinity War could give the MCU's first superhero a fitting send off, and also open up the potential for someone else to take up his mantle. Hey, Rhodey had a lengthy stint as Iron Man in the comic canon, and Marvel Comics is currently introducing Riri Williams as the star of a new Iron Man run. So there are no shortage of potential heroes to fill that particular void.

Captain America

For a while, fans considered it a foregone conclusion that Captain America would probably die in Civil War. It's a key storyline in the comic version, and early on, it seemed like Bucky Barnes would be an obvious successor to the shield (like in the comics).

But that obviously isn't how it played out. Cap is still around, running his own rogue team of Avengers outside the confines of the Sokovia Accords. Looking ahead to Infinity War, Cap fights a major battle with Thanos in the comic miniseries, and his death could qualify as a "big one" if Marvel wants to shock fans. Assuming the shield survives Thanos, everyone from Bucky to Sam Wilson (the current Captain America in Marvel Comics continuity) is waiting in the wings to take over. Yes, Sam "Falcon" Wilson waiting in the wings was a bird pun. Laugh.

There's also the fact that Chris Evans is well into his contract at this point, and we've already had three main films and a few Avengers flicks with Steve Rogers. The actor has previously expressed an interest in pursuing a career behind the camera in the future, so Infinity War could be an opportune time to make his exit.

Vision

Vision is a fairly recent addition to the Avengers roster, and judging by Civil War, it's obvious the writers are having some trouble figuring out exactly what to do with him. He's extremely powerful, and he gets a lot of that power from (what seems to be) an Infinity Stone. Thanos is looking to get a hold of all those magic rocks, and ripping one out of Vision's head isn't too far outside the realm of possibility.

The films have also been flirting with Vision's comic relationship with Scarlet Witch (and he's been flirting with her, period), but there's no real indication they'll head in that direction. Taking out Vision would be a great way to connect the team to Thanos' quest for the Infinity Stones, while also depriving Earth's Mightiest Heroes of one of their most powerful members. That ought to drive up the dramatic stakes, right?

Hawkeye

Hawkeye is an interesting option here. Jeremy Renner was openly critical of how his character was handled in The Avengers, though he seemed fairly happy with his meaty family arc in Age of Ultron, so it's not currently known if he still wants out of the MCU. But looking back at Ultron, Joss Whedon's final Avengers film really leaned into the family story surrounding Clint Barton, and it worked. That film established Hawkeye as the literal heart of the team (as he says himself, he's just a dude with a bow and arrow running around with a literal god). Killing that figure in Infinity War? Yeah, that'd make for some major stakes, and serve as a true blow to the team.

Just look at the death of Coulson in The Avengers (ignoring how he was resurrected on TV). Killing the everyman is a perfect motivator to galvanize heroes together. It'd also be a manageable loss, since it doesn't look like we'll be getting a Hawkeye solo film anytime soon.

Peter Quill/Star-Lord

Though Thanos has wreaked his fair share of havoc on The Avengers, his origin goes back to the cosmic side of Marvel Comics—and Peter Quill has faced off with him on a few occasions. Some of those encounters didn't end well. Unlike Iron Man and the gang, the big-screen version of Guardians of the Galaxy are well aware of Thanos' existence, so it stands to reason the Guardians will play a major role in the next two Avengers films, once Thanos comes to town.

Star-Lord (with the help of Nova) actually managed to trap Thanos during the Cancerverse story, and pretty much sacrificed themselves in the process (though it was later revealed they survived, because comic books). But there's definitely some comic canon to support Star-Lord getting the axe in this one. Plus, Star-Lord's earthly vessel, Chris Pratt, has previously said his contract is for 3-5 total films, so do the math: Two Guardians of the Galaxy movies and two Avengers sequels would hit right in the middle of that estimate. Of course, you also have to consider Pratt is one of the hottest stars out there today, so Marvel is likely keen to keep him around for as long as he's willing to rock that sweet duster.

Thor

Though we haven't really seen him cross over with Thanos, Thor is aware of the Infinity Stones, and is arguably the most informed member of the Avengers when it comes to intergalactic matters. So he'll probably be a key player in Infinity War, and as one of the strongest heroes on the roster, you'd have to think he'll get a chance to go toe-to-toe with Thanos. Thing is, as we've seen from the comics, that typically doesn't end well.

On the logistical side of things, Chris Hemsworth is currently shooting his third Thor film, he's appeared in two Avengers films, and he's lined up for the next two Avengers sequels. That's a lot of movies and, at this point, he must be close to a good renegotiating point in his contract. As Marvel introduces new heroes like Black Panther and Captain Marvel, could they perhaps shuffle Thor off that immortal coil to make a little more room in Phases 4-5?

Drax the Destroyer

Anyone who's seen Guardians of the Galaxy (or read a Guardians comic, for that matter) can tell you Drax has some serious bloodlust for Thanos. He knows Thanos is pulling all the evil strings in the universe, and he blames him for the death of his family. Heck, he even mentions at the end of Guardians that they really need to go after Thanos. They have to pay that off in some way, right? So, once the Mad Titan finally steps down off his fancy space throne, you'd have to think Drax will be first in line for a throwdown. That eagerness could cost him his life in Infinity War, because even without the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos is an insanely powerful being.

Scarlet Witch

After introducing Scarlet Witch in Age of Ultron, they've had a bit of trouble figuring out what to do with her. In Civil War, she served as a partial catalyst for the Sokovia Accords, after accidentally killing a Wakandan delegation while trying to contain a bomb. Then she moped around and was bailed out of Avengers HQ by Hawkeye. Aside from hints of a potential relationship with Vision, they're really not doing a whole lot with Scarlet Witch at this point. So, if they wanted to kill off a card-carrying member of The Avengers with minimal long-term consequence, she presents an obvious choice.

The case against? In the comic storyline House of M, Scarlet Witch's powers are literally used to rewrite the state of reality. If Marvel is looking for a way to semi-reboot the universe in a few years, that ability could certainly come in handy. Hey, you've got to remember, reality warping the status quo is a staple of comic books these days, because while storylines may end, having to pay the bills lasts forever.

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange is one of the most powerful Marvel superheroes thus far, and owns an Infinity Gem. It would make sense that Thanos would want to get rid of him as soon as possible. Another thing that points to Strange kicking it? He's the one who will most likely bring the Avengers together in Infinity Wars, so it'd make a lot of sense for him to die after doing it. Heroic sacrifices, doncha know.

Now, we're not saying Strange'll die and be gone forever. Strange — as we've seen — has the ability to travel in different dimensions, through time, and in the astral realm. (He even went to Hell and back — literally — in the comics.) Killing him off and bringing him back later — or even having his body die and his soul survive, so he can't fight Thanos — isn't the weirdest idea. We're sure eventually he'll come back via — wait for it — magic.

Groot

You don't want Groot to die. We don't want Groot to die. But that's exactly why Groot should die. See, Marvel is only going to last if it keeps shaking things up, and killing one of its most beloved (and adorable) characters would do that easily. Also, then the Guardians of the Galaxy would be able to shake up their roster a lot and, as we've already seen, Marvel is interested in changing the team dynamics.

In addition to that, Vin Diesel — the voice of Groot — has already mentioned that he would really like to play a character in the Inhumans films. It'd make sense, then, for him to get rid of his other Marvel role, even if it's just a voice role.

Now, of course, Groot's whole thing is growing back, so we imagine there'll be a small cut scene where we see a small twig growing out of concrete, stretching its vines up towards the sky, almost like it's yawning. Baby Groot lives! And the crowd went awww.

War Machine

There's plenty of reasons we expect War Machine to die in the next Avengers movie. For one, he doesn't have his own solo films — for another, he's already been damaged, so having him try to fight while not being able to would tragically make sense for his character. Also, it would subject Tony Stark to further emotional pain, and that's always fun.

But perhaps most importantly, no one knows exactly how much longer Don Cheadle (War Machine's actor) has on his contract. Well, presumably he knows, but none of us do. Is that because he's about to buy it in the next film? Well … yeah, probably. Besides, Marvel's comics often foreshadow movie events, and the last big thing War Machine did in the comics was die .. at the hands of Thanos! We're not saying it's a definite thing, we're just saying it's almost a definite thing.

Hulk

Who could possibly compete with a giant mudering meanie like Thanos? Well, obviously, the Hulk. Hulk and Thanos have fought so many times, there's even a comic dedicated entirely to their fight. Hulk's the biggest and strongest, and can take down almost anyone. He's so big, the Civil War writers couldn't figure out what to do with him, so they left him out of the movie entirely. Those same writers, by the way, are writing Infinity War. You can't excuse Hulk's absence twice, so it would make sense for Thanos to take him out as quickly as possible.

We're not saying that he'll never come back — heck, we're not even saying Bruce Banner will die, just the Hulk — but we think that Thanos will probably off him as soon as possible. Oh, another thing that supports this: in the same comic that Thanos killed off War Machine, guess who else bit the bullet? Hint: he's green, you wouldn't like him when he's angry, and you are gonna cry so much when he shuffles off to that big Anger Room in the sky.

Nebula

Nebula, played by Doctor Who alum Karen Gillan in Guardians of the Galaxy, actually plays a major role in the Infinity Gauntlet comics storyline. She's Thanos' adopted daughter (like Gamora), and at one point, Thanos maims her to the point that she's basically just a walking zombie corpse. But! She also manages to help Marvel's cosmic heroes defeat Thanos by stealing the gauntlet from him (and healing herself with it), before the heroes have to take her on and stop her from going power-crazy, too.

Looking back to the film side, the early word from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 seems to imply Nebula will be working with the heroes (at least to a degree), so she could potentially roll into the Infinity War conflict as an honorary Guardian. Could that conflict of interest get her killed?

Nick Fury

It's tough to admit, but the MCU has pretty much outgrown the guy who put it together. Nick Fury was the architect of getting the Avengers together over Phase 1, but after the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Winter Soldier, it became a lot harder to keep him relevant. Yes, he popped up for a nice cameo in Age of Ultron—but he was MIA for the superhero battle royale that was Civil War. Without S.H.I.E.L.D. as a relevant factor in the MCU, it's only going to get harder to fit Fury in (and yes, we realize S.H.I.E.L.D. is still around on TV in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but Marvel has given no indication of tying that into the film universe).

If they did opt to kill off Fury, they could give him an awesome send-off, one totally fitting for Samuel L. Jackson — having him battle one of the biggest threats in the universe and ultimately falling to him. Hey, there are worse ways to go.

Thanos

Thanos is the villain of Infinity Wars and, so far, Marvel has been pretty ruthless when it comes to killing off its supervillains. In all of the films thus far, the only bad guys to live have been Loki, Baron Zemo, and Crossbones … and the last one died about ten minutes into the next movie. So killing off Thanos wouldn't be super surprising, especially because he's Thanos — his entire thing is a desire for death, after all.

But there's one more thing that drives this up from idea to real-life possibility. See, originally, Infinity Wars was a two-parter, but then the directors said the two parts were different enough to work as two films. Wouldn't it make sense if, in both films, the villain was someone with the Infinity Glove, but be completely different people? Our bet is that, after Thanos claims the glove, he's killed and someone even more evil gets it. Probably Howard the Duck.

Everyone

Yes, we're serious. Thanos is a massive threat—and there's a chance he could pretty much kill everyone in Infinity War. Going back to the comic canon, he took out a litany of Earth's Mightiest Heroes (though they pretty much all came back, again because comic books), and if Marvel wants to really go big, they could translate that to the big screen. They'd almost certainly need to introduce some type of McGuffin to put them back on the board down the line (because like hell Marvel will stop making movies after 2019), but the deaths of literally everyone would make for an amazing cliffhanger.