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Superheroes that will die in Avengers 4

If Avengers: Infinity War proved nothing else, it demonstrated that directors Joe and Anthony Russo aren't afraid to orchestrate the deaths of superheroes. Not even counting the heartbreaking purge at the end of the film that saw many of the Avengers and almost all of the Guardians of the Galaxy erased from the canvas of reality, Thanos killed four regular mainstays of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Heimdall, Loki, Gamora, and Vision. It's a sure bet that the good guys are going to defeat Thanos in Avengers 4, but it's almost just as sure — regardless of whether the deaths caused by Thanos' infamous snap are reversed — that more heroes will fall before this is all over. Elizabeth Olsen's blunt warning to fans in October 2018 that "it's only going to get worse" would seem to confirm the carnage has only begun. 

There's no way to definitively predict who will or won't make it out of Avengers 4. As soon as soon as the first trailer for Infinity War was released, everyone started writing Tony Stark's obituary, and he ended up being one of only two characters on "Team Iron Man" to survive. And no one guessed we'd see two MCU characters (Loki and Heimdall) die in the first 15 minutes of the thing. So far, the Russos have proven adept at working against expectations, and we're likely to see more surprises to come. 

But based on what we know about the contractual commitments of most of the original Avengers cast, what we know about confirmed Marvel Studios movies in 2019 and beyond, and what we've seen in the comics, there are some pretty good guesses to be made. Here are our predictions for the most likely superheroes to die in 2019's Avengers 4

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The First Avenger

One of the most memorable moments of the comic Infinity Gauntlet – from which Avengers: Infinity War takes some of its inspiration — happens in the fourth issue, when Captain America marches towards the Mad Titan. In spite of being possibly the least powerful of the heroes facing Thanos, Cap doesn't betray an ounce of fear. In part, this is a ploy. Cap's distracting Thanos so Silver Surfer can snatch the Infinity Gauntlet away from him. But even after that fails, Cap doesn't hesitate. Just as futile as it is courageous, Cap gives Thanos a crack across the jaw before falling easily to the Mad Titan's might. 

We already saw something of a tribute to this moment at the end of Infinity War, but it's likely we're going to see another one in Avengers 4. Even if this moment in Infinity Gauntlet weren't waiting to be reproduced on the screen, Cap's survival isn't likely. We know Avengers 4 will see the end of Chris Evans' contract, and Evans is ready to give up the role. So if you assume Avengers 4 will be his last MCU movie, the options for what happens to Cap are limited. Having Cap decide to quietly retire doesn't make sense. His arc in Avengers: Age of Ultron ended with Cap finding acceptance with his separation from the era in which he was born, and realizing he would rather be a hero than settle down. Even without that movie, the idea that Cap would be willing to do nothing while others battled threats to the Earth would seem wildly out of character. If Captain America isn't going to be an Avenger anymore, a heroic death seems like the only course.

The news that a Falcon/Winter Soldier miniseries is in development for Disney's streaming service is another hint that Steve Rogers won't survive the final battle with Thanos. It isn't proof, necessarily, but Sam and Bucky aren't exactly best friends. They didn't get along even when they fought side by side in Captain America: Civil War. Why would they be in a series together without their shared mentor, unless that mentor was in the ground?

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The lost daughter

Nebula is one of the most tragically flawed characters not only the Guardians of the Galaxy films, but the MCU in general. A villain in the first Guardians film and a reluctant hero in the second, Nebula has a lot in common with Loki. Unlike the god of mischief, there are a lot more arguments for Nebula's rage towards her adoptive family being justified. At least Loki was loved by his family (whether he chose to accept that love or not), whereas with the exception of Gamora, from what we've seen, Nebula has been given nothing but cruelty by hers. 

Nebula is blinded by her need for vengeance against Thanos and that drive is behind all of her decisions — and besides her temporary alliance with the Guardians in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, just about all of her decisions are bad ones. One could argue it was her refusal to stay with the Guardians, and her subsequent capture and torture by Thanos, that led to Thanos acquiring the Soul Stone and killing Gamora. Gamora proved she would rather die than let Thanos have his prize, and would likely never have given up the location of the Soul Stone if not faced with her sister's torture. 

Nebula, like Peter Quill in Avengers: Infinity War, will likely be given the opportunity to strike out at Thanos in Avengers 4 whether it makes sense or not, and she won't be able to help herself. It's her biggest flaw, and it will likely prove fatal. 

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The challenger to the throne

Comics fans were likely surprised by the courage and nobility displayed by M'Baku in Black Panther. Acting primarily as the villain Man-Ape in the comics, M'Baku challenging T'Challa for the throne was to be expected. His last minute support? Not so much. 

But the M'Baku of both the panels and the screen cares for his people, the Jabari, before all else. With T'Challa one of the victims of Thanos' purge, M'Baku finds himself in a curious position. With Wakanda defeated, he may abandon the other tribes for the Jabari refuge in the mountains. Or, perhaps more likely, he may use T'Challa's absence as chance to seize the throne. If he chooses the latter, his days are numbered. Either T'Challa will take him out upon his inevitable return, or Okoye or Shuri will do the job for him.

If, on the other hand, M'Baku chooses to join the other heroes, his number will likely come up anyway; the chances of a M'Baku solo film franchise are pretty thin, and besides T'Challa — whose death is certain to be undone — the named cast of Black Panther involved in Infinity War has yet to lose one of its number.

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The Last Guardian

Of all the survivors of Avengers: Infinity War, Rocket will likely enter Avengers 4 the most distraught. Not only did he witness Groot's tear-jerking final moments, but if/when the survivors from Titan get in touch with the Avengers on Earth, he'll learn every friend he had left in the universe is dead.

Even surrounded by a ship full of compatriots, Rocket is impulsive, depressed, quick to anger, and bloodthirsty once he gets a gun in his hands. Now he has nothing to lose and it's more likely than ever that he'll do something stupid. In Guardians of the Galaxy, right after Ronan's ship crashes on Xandar, Rocket hopelessly charges Ronan because of how distraught he is over the original Groot's death. This time around, if he gets Thanos in his crosshairs, he's not going to care about the consequences. He's going to make Quill's assault on Thanos when he learns of Gamora's death look like a nonviolent student sit-in by comparison, and he won't survive the consequences.

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Rhodey

War Machine stands a fair chance of kicking the bucket in Avengers 4, if for no other reason than the fact that his comic book counterpart survived a memorable death at Thanos' hands, helping to kick off the Marvel Comics line-wide event Civil War II. Unsurprisingly, he's back now and appearing regularly in Tony Stark: Iron Man, but it doesn't change the fact that his death was an important and powerful moment in Marvel Comics.

On its own, War Machine's comic book death doesn't necessarily mean anything. After all, if we based who lived and who died in the films on who lived and who died in the comics, just about all the characters killed in Infinity War — erased by Thanos' snap or otherwise — would have survived. 

Unfortunately he's got more going against his survivability. First, there's the fact that he's not exactly a Marvel A-lister. Second, there's a question of what to do with Rhodey if he does survive. If for no other reason than the controversial nature of his superhero codename, a War Machine franchise seems pretty unlikely. In the comics he replaced Stark as Iron Man before taking up the role of War Machine, but for now, Robert Downey Jr has left such a mark on the role that the idea of a non-Downey Iron Man is all but impossible.

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The Destroyer

There are things Drax the Destroyer excels at. He's great at running and punching and stabbing and slicing. He not only has a knack for surviving spaceship crashes but tends to really enjoy them, and he belts out the best belly laugh in the galaxy.

But impulse control? Not his strong suit.

If Drax's death isn't reversed, then it doesn't matter anyway. But even if it is, that's no guarantee of survival in his case. Drax has sworn to kill Thanos for the murder of his wife and daughter. We saw in Guardians of the Galaxy the utterly stupid lengths he was willing to go to for revenge. He summoned Ronan and his army to Knowhere only to find he was no match for the Kree. Later, with Ronan beefed up by the Power Stone, Drax still showed no hesitation in charging him even though he had even less of a chance to make a dent than in his first encounter with the villain. And we saw that same careless impulsiveness when Drax charged into the Collector's home to kill Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. If Drax gets another shot at Thanos in Avengers 4, he'll take it no matter the cost, and he'll pay for it.

Ignoring Drax's character, there are also the real-life conflicts between Dave Bautista and Marvel to consider. Bautista made himself the most outspoken ally of Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn when Gunn was fired for 10-year-old tweets. Bautista made no secret that he disagrees with the firing. He threatened to bail on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 if Marvel didn't use Gunn's script. When the news broke that Gunn was recruited to write and potentially direct Suicide Squad 2, Bautista immediately let Gunn and the rest of the world know he wanted in.

Would Marvel kill off Drax out of spite? Maybe, maybe not. But it's a safe bet Bautista isn't a top name on their holiday card list.

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The god of thunder

The fact that Chris Hemsworth's contract is up with Avengers 4 may make you question whether or not Thor could survive the film, and the events of Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War could make you ask whether the character would want to survive.

Even more than Rocket, the Thor of Avengers 4 will be utterly alone. Thor: Ragnarok ended with the precious few Asgardians who survived Hela's ascension on a refugee ship bound for Earth, causing many fans to speculate that Thor would create the floating city of Asgardia just as we saw in the comics. But after the opening scene of Infinity War, we know most of those refugees have perished. Heimdall and the Warriors Three are dead. Every member of Thor's family — blood-related or otherwise — is dead. Asgard is destroyed. Lady Sif and Valkyrie are apparently still kicking, but no one knows where.

Thor is a failed king of a nearly dead people. It's difficult to imagine anything beyond a glorious death would satisfy his warrior's spirit.

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The Monster

The question to ask is, how else could Bruce Banner's story possibly end?

We know Mark Ruffalo's contract is up with Avengers 4. We know Joe and Anthony Russo talked to Ruffalo about where he saw the Hulk going with his remaining films, and we know together they worked out a Hulk "trilogy" that began with Thor: Ragnarok and will end with Avengers 4. We know Hulk barely poked his head out in Avengers: Infinity War, and that it's likely Banner and the Other Guy will work their issues out with a vengeance in Avengers 4.

We also know that Bruce Banner occasionally — and not always by his own choice — changes into an anti-social super-powerful green dude who is still wanted for destroying a lot of stuff and killing a lot of people in Johannesburg in Avengers: Age of Ultron. And his oldest and most persistent enemy, Thunderbolt Ross, is the United States Secretary of State.

He won't be signing any Sokovia Accords, he wouldn't be allowed to sign them even if he was willing, his allies in the Avengers wouldn't stand for him being thrown in prison, nor could they buy him a bus ticket and wish him good luck. Knowing all that, how else could the story of the MCU Hulk end other than with his (hopefully heroic) death?

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The genius/playboy/philanthropist

When it comes to defying audience expectations, one of the most brilliant choices of Avengers: Infinity War was to bring Iron Man to the brink of death only to pull him back. A lot of fans weren't expecting Tony Stark to survive the film. Shots of a bloody, beaten Stark in Infinity War trailers and TV spots fueled fears that Thanos would kill him before the credits. And of course, he almost did. It was only the timely intervention of Doctor Strange and his bargain with Thanos that allowed Tony to recover from his wound and left him one of only two heroes on Titan to survive Thanos' purging.

But Iron Man's death seems like a much safer bet this time around, if for no other reason than the otherwise seemingly unanswerable question of what — assuming he were to survive Avengers 4 — Stark would do while the rest of Marvel's surviving heroes move forward. We know Downey won't be returning to the role, and considering how thoroughly he married himself to the part, the idea of Marvel casting someone else as Stark is unthinkable. Considering how many other times Tony has "retired" from his heroic life only to return a few movies later, no one's going to buy him putting up his feet and living the good life while the action goes on outside his window. No, the only way Tony Stark is leaving the Marvel Universe is in a box — possibly a box run by nano-tech.

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Luke Cage & Iron Fist

While none of the MCU's TV heroes showed up in Avengers: Infinity War, the MCU's architects didn't dismiss the possibility out of hand. In March 2018, Joe Russo told Premiere (via Flickering Myth) that adding some of the television characters was considered, but one of the obstacles was communication. Russo said he was constantly coordinating with all of the other MCU film directors, and it would have been too heavy a burden "to add all the showrunners and the TV crews to this."

But with the news that Luke Cage and Iron Fist were canceled with their second seasons, for the first time, the MCU has an opportunity to feature its TV heroes in a film without Russo or anyone else needing to coordinate with their showrunners. There aren't any showrunners anymore. There aren't any shows.

Without their title series, Danny Rand and Luke Cage are going to need some way to resolve their stories. Considering the unexpected fashion in which both series ended (with Rand de-powered, Colleen Wing taking on the power of the Iron Fist, and Luke Cage acting as Harlem's new crime boss), it might seem strange to just toss them into the meat grinder of Avengers 4. But with Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, the Russo brothers managed to stuff more into action films than anyone thought possible while still making them work. Bringing Luke Cage and Danny Rand into the movies and granting them both heroes' deaths seems a relatively light order in comparison.