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Which Avenger Is Most Likely To Make The Ultimate Sacrifice In Endgame?

Avengers: Endgame arrives in theaters under a veil of secrecy that's impressive even by Marvel Cinematic Universe standards. We know that the film will feature the surviving heroes of Avengers: Infinity War banding together to stage one last desperate attempt to reclaim what Thanos (Josh Brolin) took from theme, and we know that we will likely see a very different MCU rising up out of that fight. Beyond that, though there are many theories (many of them involving time travel), we still don't know exactly what to expect, or who will make it out alive.

Before Infinity War, real and permanent death among heroes was rare in the MCU, but now as we stare down Endgame it seems to be more of a fixture than ever before, and many of our favorite characters might not escape it this time, so it's time to talk odds. For the sake of simplicity, we're focusing on the biggest characters left alive in the wake of Thanos' Decimation (keeping in mind that there are numerous other supporting players), and we're ranking them from what we think are the least likely to most likely to die. Keeping in mind that these are predictions made with very limited information, when considering overall character arcs and possible futures, here's who we think might make the ultimate sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame.

Carol Danvers - Captain Marvel

If you really wanted to get deep into every possible outcome of Avengers: Endgame, like Doctor Strange meditating over the Time Stone, you could come up with an argument that Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) absolutely can and should die in just her second film as a Marvel Cinematic Universe character. You could argue that, as the character who's been positioned as the best candidate to go toe to toe with Thanos, she'll be the one getting her hands dirty while the other surviving Avengers are working on their secret plan to topple him and undo his damage, and that placement right in the center of the line of fire places her in clear mortal danger. You could argue that it would be poetic that Carol, who only just arrived back in the world of humans, has come as a Messianic figure whose role in the story is to sacrifice herself like the space god she is for the good of her home planet. You could even argue that, since there are more than two decades separating Endgame and Captain Marvel, that Carol wouldn't even really be "dead," and Marvel could keep churning out movies set in those intervening years featuring her cosmic adventures.

You could argue all of that, but you'd be wrong. Carol is the vanguard leading the charge into a new age of the MCU. She'll stick around.

Chance of survival: Very High


Everyone's favorite talking raccoon is in a hell of a bad spot when Endgame begins, even among all the other characters who are in a bad spot. He's on a planet he's unfamiliar with, and where everyone who isn't the other Avengers might have a tendency to treat him like... well, an animal. As far as he knows he's the only surviving member of the Guardians of the Galaxy (he and Nebula, who was left on Titan, are the only survivors, and she was barely part of the team), and most importantly, he watched his best friend — and, in some ways, surrogate son — crumble to dust right before his eyes. Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Thor had a conversation in Infinity War about how hard you fight when it seems you've got nothing left to lose. For Rocket, that time seems to have arrived.

That said, is he really going to die? Rocket and Groot are far from the only popular members of the Guardians, but they are easily the most popular, and they've become sort of unofficial mascots for the cosmic side of the MCU. With a third Guardians movie on the way, it's hard to imagine a world in which they don't both pull through this in some way or another, even if Rocket does end up with one of those prosthetics he finds so hilarious as a permanent part of his own body.

Chance of survival: Moderately High

Bruce Banner - The Hulk

Going into Endgame, the marketing materials have been very clear about what the surviving heroes' goal is: "Take it all back, whatever it takes." It's right there in the trailers, and while we don't know what twists and turns the film will take to put everyone in that position, that's a pretty clear mission statement. That gives every major character a redemptive arc, as they each quest for their personal reclamation and vengeance, but even among the other Avengers, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) is going in with a particularly specific arc.

Endgame will have to address Banner's sudden inability to reckon with the Hulk, who has retreated into his host body and refused to come out and fight on behalf of Banner and his friends. This left our heroes at an apparent disadvantage during the Battle of Wakanda, and while Banner overcame it, he and the Big Guy still have to have a conversation that will resolve in Endgame, one way or another.

Sure, that resolution could ultimately end with the Hulk somehow choked out by Thanos' tremendous power, but that seems unlikely. Plus, possible remaining romantic tension with Black Widow just gives him too much to do in the MCU besides simply dying. Here's hoping Banner makes it.

Chance of survival: Moderate

Natasha Romanoff - Black Widow

You could argue that Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) can't possibly die in Avengers: Endgame simply because we already know that she has a movie in development, and while you might be right about that, it's also true that the film could be a prequel about her years as a spy before joining the Avengers, which would make her current status a moot point. In some ways, there's a strong case for killing Natasha Romanoff, and it all goes back to her comments about having "red in [her] ledger" in the very first Avengers film. She's a character who's always had this tension bubbling beneath her cool exterior which suggests she will never be sated unless she is able to pay the ultimate price for her past sins, dying in the service of the greater good to finally wipe away all that red.

That said, there are other characters whose deaths would be more compelling to the overall story, and it's very easy to see Natasha's usefulness in the MCU as it moves into a new era. There's a world in which she could become the new generation's version of Nick Fury, an advisor and spymaster who's seen it all, done it all, and is a cool head under pressure.

Chance of survival: Moderate

Scott Lang - Ant-Man

Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) clearly has a big role to play in Endgame, and it's set up to be his most consequential in the MCU thus far. This will mark just his fourth film since joining the universe with Ant-Man, and in his previous films — two solo adventures plus a supporting role in Captain America: Civil War — he's always played a primarily comedic role. He sat out Infinity War, but his journey to the Quantum Realm at the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp suggests he might have some scientific answers for how the team can alter what came before and defeat Thanos. That puts him front and center this time around, and that means a greater risk of death.

Will he really die, though? There's an argument to be made the Wasp could very easily be resurrected and take his place in a future Avengers lineup, as well as an argument that his daughter Cassie (a superhero in her own right in Marvel Comics) could take over in the event of his death. All that said, Scott Lang still seems to have more heroic potential left in him, so let's hope the film chooses to spare his life and let him keep having adventures a little while longer.

Chance of survival: Moderate

Tony Stark - Iron Man

In the lead-up to Avengers: Infinity War, and now the subsequent lead-up to Avengers: Endgame, two major character deaths have been discussed more than any other. One of them is Captain America, which we'll get to a little later. The other is Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). Tony Stark is the godfather of the MCU, the original hero who launched it all and the de facto leader of the entire franchise. Sometimes he's saved the world, sometimes he's caused the problems it needed saving from, but he's always been there, and in many ways his journey has all been building to this confrontation with Thanos. What better way for it to end than for Tony and his nemesis to both go down at the same time?

It would be a poetic ending, to be sure, but is it really what's in store for Tony Stark? If any of the MCU's major characters could have a life beyond superheroics, funding and supporting and cheering on future Avengers as a benefactor, it's him. It's a natural fit for Robert Downey Jr. in future films, and a better fit than just killing the character off.

Chance of survival: Questionable


If any one character in Avengers: Infinity War has a clear, distinguishable and dominant arc, it's Thanos. If any non-villain character does, it's Thor (Chris Hemsworth). His journey as a fallen hero with nothing left to lose pushing for one last shot at vengeance and victory makes up the backbone of the film, so much so that it runs from the very first scene all the way to the seconds before the Snap, when he embeds Stormbreaker in Thanos' chest. Heading into Endgame, all the Avengers bear a burden of loss and defeat, but Thor bears it more than the others, because he was literally inches from stopping all of it.

With all of that in mind, plus the clear establishment of Thanos as a godkiller in Infinity War, it's easy to see how Thor could be marching to his own death in Endgame, and how his final act of redemption could be one of self-sacrifice on the way to making a better world for his remaining friends and allies. Chris Hemsworth has been in the MCU longer than almost anyone, even Chris Evans, so his retirement could be imminent. That said, simply sending Thor off to try and rebuild Asgard, having restored himself as a hero, could be just as satisfying.

Chance of survival: Questionable

Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes - War Machine

Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes (Don Cheadle), a.k.a. War Machine, is one of the MCU's original superheroes. He was introduced in its very first film, gained a superhero identity in its third (Iron Man 2, which also featured Black Widow's first appearance), and has been a player in almost every major story ever since... though he did sit out the Battle of New York in The Avengers. Despite that near-constant presence, the running joke has always sort of been that Rhodey isn't quite as relevant and powerful as Iron Man, something heavily played up in Avengers: Age of Ultron. His primary role in Captain America: Civil War was as a casualty, and in Infinity War he never rose above supporting character status. He's great, but he's never quite risen to the level of popularity fellow sidekicks like Falcon and Bucky seem to enjoy.

That means War Machine seems primed for an Endgame appearance that could elevate him by ending his story with a blaze of glory. Watching Rhodey go down fighting could be a satisfying way to bid farewell to a character who's been around for more than a decade, and it could give Tony Stark some kind of drive to keep fighting and funding the Avengers in his honor. Plus, with all due respect to Don Cheadle, War Machine just seems like the most — for lack of a better word — disposable character in this lineup.

Chance of survival: Moderately low

Clint Barton - Hawkeye

Hawkeye was conspicuously absent from Infinity War, but it's pretty clear that his emotional journey is going to be a major part of Endgame, particularly when it comes to the fallout of the Decimation. Avengers: Age of Ultron told us that when he's not out saving the world, Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) has a family and home life that he loves dearly, and the second Endgame trailer revealed a mentor relationship he had with a young girl who could be a future Hawkeye, setting up even more of a framework for a new generation of heroes.

The trailers also make it clear that, by Endgame, Clint has lost all that. He's a vigilante, a ronin, taking on what's left of the world through violence and pain before his old friend Natasha comes to retrieve him and bring him back to the fold. That sets up two major potential outcomes for the character. Either he does his part as a member of a successful mission and reunites with his resurrected family by the end of the film, or he dies trying to give them their lives back, and leaves the world a better place than he found it. Both are very possible, but watching a broken Clint Barton become a hero again only to then make the final sacrifice on behalf of his children seems like an emotional power play this film might not be able to resist.

Chance of survival: Moderately low


In The Infinity Gauntlet, the comic upon which the Infinity War/Endgame saga is very loosely based, Nebula plays an extremely important role, to the point that she actually ends up wielding the Infinity Gauntlet herself in a villainous capacity. We're not predicting anything like that for the film version of Nebula (Karen Gillan), but she could have an equally important role in Endgame.

Nebula comes into the film as the one remaining character who knows Thanos intimately, and she's also well aware of what he did to her sister Gamora (Zoe Saldana) in Infinity War. Ever since Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Nebula has been riding the wave of a redemptive arc that led to her fighting alongside the Avengers and the Guardians in an effort to defeat Thanos. Now, with a possible way to defeat him at last in sight, she's not likely to slow down, particularly since her sister died as part of his quest. Endgame presents a very clear opportunity for Gamora to sacrifice herself, either to take Gamora's place as the daughter of Thanos who had to die or to simply throw herself on her villainous father to finally complete her quest of ending him, saving the universe in the process. Either way, it's hard to see her walking away alive.

Chance of survival: Low

Steve Rogers - Captain America

Well, here we are, with Steve Rogers knocked down yet again by a bully, only to stand up with his fists raised and declare "I could do this all day." Captain America (Chris Evans) turned out to have a very limited role in Avengers: Infinity War, but the Snap has left him as the de facto leader of the remaining Avengers on Earth, and the trailers are placing him in a key position as the man who will lead the fight to take back the universe from Thanos' destructive power. This, plus repeated hints that Evans is done with the role after eight years of carrying the shield, suggests to many fans one clear conclusion: Captain America is going to die.

Will he? We can't know for sure, even if it is true that Evans is walking away from the role after Endgame. For all we know Captain America could simply quietly retire to a cabin somewhere, content to live out of his life splitting logs and reading books. Or he could step away from active Avengers duty, becoming more of a leader and advisory figure while someone else fights injustice as Cap. Or he could simply go down fighting, leaving a grateful universe to mourn him while Tony Stark continues to protect the Earth in his stead. It's impossible to know for sure, but the death of the First Avenger certainly seems to be approaching.

Chance of survival: Very Low

A note on other characters, and death itself...

Avengers: Endgame is an interesting film to discuss in terms of predictions of its casualties, because we're actually talking about a film in which more major characters could end up resurrected than permanently dead. We know the MCU's future depends heavily on at least two major players who were killed in Thanos' Decimation, Black Panther and Spider-Man, so we shouldn't expect them to stay dead. Nor should we expect characters like Shuri, the Wasp, Bucky, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, and Vision to stay down, since they all seem to have promising futures as well.

This of course raises another key question about the film: In a world in which the Avengers do win, and do manage to restore many of their friends, what does death really mean? How do we know if a character is really gone for good? Do characters who died prior to the snap, like Loki and Gamora, end up staying dead? Do characters who die in the fight, like the ones we just discussed? It's a comic book world, so deaths are almost never permanent in any case (Though some are; sorry, Quicksilver.), but one thing that seems very clear about Endgame is its role as a film that will rewrite the rules of the MCU. After this movie, permanent death in the Marvel Cinematic Universe will carry a different meaning, for better or for worse.