In case the headline didn’t tip you off, this article contains Avengers: Endgame spoilers. We have a completely spoiler free review right here.
Well, Avengers: Endgame may not have the ridiculous “half the life in the universe” body count of Avengers: Infinity War, but it does manage to send a few of our favorite Marvel heroes and villains to that great box office ticket window in the sky. But how dead are they, really? You don’t just kill off the driving forces behind billion dollar franchises, do you? DO YOU?!?
While we all knew that everyone dusted in Infinity War would make their way back for the feel good ass whupping of the year in the climax of Endgame, a few characters met their actual, physical end, with a body to bury and everything. So, adios to Black Widow, Iron Man, and others! That, along with the whole time travel element, makes things tricky.
It may be cheating, but we’re actually going to have to count the characters who died in both Avengers: Endgame AND Infinity War. Several of the characters who died in Infinity War could have their fates slightly altered by the events of Endgame, even though their original physical bodies may remain dead (for now).
Basically, what we’re saying is that even though Vision and Loki and Gamora died in Infinity War, events in Endgame have ramifications for the status of their actual deaths. For the most part, anyone who died “on camera” in either Infinity War or Endgame rather than getting “dusted” by “the snapture” is fair game. Except Heimdall. Idris Elba always deserved better and there’s no way he’s coming back.
How dead? Reasonably dead. Dead enough. Is that a thing?
This one is a little tricky. On the one hand, there’s an actual Black Widow movie coming in May 2020, one that Scarlett Johannsson is going to star in. On the other hand, said movie is certainly going to be a prequel, perhaps the one where we finally learn what the hell happened in Budapest.
But the circumstances of Natasha’s actual death are just murky enough to leave some doubt. The location on Vormir where the Soul Stone is guarded (by the Red Skull’s creepy Nazi-ass wraith) feels like it exists on the boundary of actual reality, as everything takes on a dreamlike quality. It would be a pretty simple handwave for Marvel to decide that anyone who dies in such close proximity to the Soul Stone has their own soul captured or something similarly comic book-y.
From there, it’s just a question of what kind of mechanism it would take to “release” Natasha’s essence. In this case, is it at all possible that Steve Rogers returning the stone frees both Natasha and Gamora? Does that only free her soul? There is some precedent in recent Marvel Comics for the Red Room to have created Natasha clones, so maybe it’s just a matter of getting that “soul” into another body.
Probably not, though. As with all the non-dust deaths in these movies, you don’t want to undermine the sacrifice of the heroes, and Endgame certainly gives Natasha an incredible moment to go out on.
Speaking of which…
Status: Dead and alive. Like Schrodinger’s Cat but not at all like that, actually.
How dead? Well, a “past” version of her is now alive in the present thanks to Endgame. So maybe not so dead after all?
Yeah, Gamora died in Infinity War. But a version of Gamora returns in Endgame. This Gamora of 2014 hasn’t quite made the jump to full on opposition of her father, although she certainly sympathizes with present day “good” Nebula. She also delivers a swift and thorough kick in the junk to Peter Quill because she doesn’t have any of “our” Gamora’s memories of their time together.
The same logic applies to Gamora as to Black Widow. If, in theory, replacing the Soul Stone frees those who were traded for it, could this be how the “real” Gamora returns in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3? Even if that’s the case, figure that this one squeaks by on a technicality. Gamora absolutely died for real in Infinity War, and even if her pre-Infinity War mind could be reunited with her “past” (now “present”) body, like an even weirder version of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, it wouldn’t undermine the power and tragedy in her initial death scene. It still counts.
Wait, then why is she on this list? Well, you see, her present self killed her past self and…
Y’know what? Just forget it.
Are you sure? Ummmm…not exactly.
Infinity War showed everyone it meant business when it had Thanos do what you just know at least three Avengers thought about on more than one occasion and just strangle the absolute fuck out of Loki in the first five minutes, leaving the most alluringly handsome God of Mischief in mythological history to a decidedly undignified death. But Loki is a trickster, so surely that wasn’t really Loki who died like that, right? WRONG. Loki, or at least THAT Loki is dead.
When Steve, Tony, Bruce, and Scott go back to New York City 2012 to steal the Tesseract, they blow it, allowing the Loki of 2012 to not only escape, but escape with the Tesseract. In theory that should be fixed when Steve returns the Space Stone to 2012, right? But what if it doesn’t? Loki has a Space Stone of his own, so there’s no reason to think that he can somehow be immune to that “branch” of the timeline getting “clipped” when Steve puts things right. It’s also a handy setup for Loki’s Disney+ TV series.
Nevertheless, the Loki of 2018 who croaked on the spaceship at Thanos’ literal hand in Infinity War is still quite dead. That body ain’t rising, and his story ended there. But the Loki of 2012 is out there. Maybe. Probably.
Status: Dead. Dusty. Decapitated.
How dead? The death so nice they killed him twice.
Sure, there’s technically no body, and when there’s no body in a superhero story that means there’s always “a chance.” But really, there’s no chance. There is nothing that could be accomplished by bringing Thanos back that wouldn’t just cheapen everything that Endgame worked so hard to create.
Thanos is as dead as they come. He is no more. He has ceased to be. “All he is is dust in the wind.” (sorry, very sorry)
For real? I dead you 3,000.
But what about the clanging sound over the end credits? Yes, that’s a reference to Tony Stark.
So, you’re saying there’s a chance? No, he’s still dead.
Perhaps the most powerful, impactful death in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tony Stark’s sacrifice sure seems pretty final, doesn’t it? From a dramatic standpoint, you can’t really top the guy who built one of the most successful film franchises of all time sacrificing his life to literally save the entire universe. From a practical standpoint, Robert Downey Jr. has appeared as Tony Stark a whopping 10 times, has certainly fulfilled his contractual obligations (and then some) and would probably like to get on with his life.
From a superhero logic standpoint, the death of Iron Man also checks perhaps the most important box: we see the body. If there’s a corpse to bury at the funeral, it’s a lot harder for folks to bring ‘em back after the fact. BUT…let’s never say never. Considering that Tony was wielding a gauntlet that literally gives him control over nearly all of reality, there’s perhaps a back door where he sent his consciousness off somewhere it can be retrieved, in a body that can…actually, no, the hell with this. He’s dead.
“You can rest now.”