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Movie characters who aren't as dead as you think

Dead isn't as dead as dead used to be — at least, not in the movies. As long as you're a character in a movie, your body can suffer any injury and you'll still be back in the sequel for more. A super-strong, mutated Dark Elf can impale you on a spear, and by the end of the movie you'll not only be alive, you'll be the freaking King of Asgard. If we all lived like characters in movies, it might not solve all our problems, but health care would definitely be less of an issue. 

There are quite a few upcoming movies featuring the returns of characters we all thought were dead, and it can be difficult to decide whether or not resurrecting characters so often is okay. If a movie ends with a proud warrior heroically sacrificing himself, his dying act inspiring the survivors who carry him off in honor, how can that moment not be ruined once you know that death will be scrubbed away in time for Movie Two? Death is dramatic precisely because it's final, so what is it worth once you rob it of that finality?

We can't tell you whether or not you'd enjoy watching these presumed-dead characters get exhumed, but if you're curious, we can tell you about some who aren't as dead as you think. 

The Avengers and the Guardians

Avengers: Infinity War's instantly infamous downer of an ending featured the deaths of most of the Guardians of the Galaxy and a huge chunk of the Avengers. The cosmic villain Thanos gathered all six Infinity Stones, snapped his fingers, and wiped out half of all life in the universe in an instant. Included in that purge were the Marvel heroes Spider-Man, Drax, Mantis, Star-Lord, Groot, Falcon, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, Bucky, Doctor Strange, and Nick Fury. They were all erased from the canvas of reality, with their bodies appearing to dissolve in clouds of ash. 

We don't know how the survivors will manage to bring back their allies in Avengers: Endgame, but we know they're coming back. Most victims of the purge are confirmed for sequels. As much as Peter Parker's death broke fans' hearts, we know Spider-Man: Far from Home will be released in July 2019. We know Ryan Coogler is reported to be working on Black Panther 2Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson is poised to return for a follow-up. Despite dusty deaths and the embattled tenure of James Gunn, Marvel Studios keeps assuring us there will be a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. All of that would be difficult if the title characters are piles of ash. 

Not counting the characters who were killed outside of the purge, we know the dead heroes of Avengers: Infinity War will be back. It's just a question of how

A veteran named Steve

When 2017's Wonder Woman ended with Steve Trevor heroically sacrificing himself to save the day, a lot of fans thought that was it for Chris Pine's contributions to the franchise. But after rumors were already swirling, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins confirmed with a tweet in June 2018 that Pine would return for the 2020 sequel Wonder Woman 1984. She even included a picture of the character in eighties attire in case anyone started theorizing he would just be there for a flashback. Not only were fans left to wonder how Trevor survived the first movie, but why — despite the fact that Wonder Woman takes place during World War I and its sequel is set in the heyday of Van Halen and Duran Duran — Trevor appears to be roughly the same age.

In January 2019, We Got This Covered reported that unnamed sources had revealed Trevor's resurrection would be the work of the DC villain Maxwell Lord. According to the story, Lord will be played by Pedro Pascal and the character will use a magical artifact to raise Trevor from the dead in return for Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) protecting Lord from the Cheetah (Kristen Wiig). 

Regardless of how he comes back, we shouldn't be surprised. A guy named Chris playing a World War veteran and heartthrob named Steve who sacrifices himself in a plane, but suddenly appears decades later, looking like he never aged? That sounds familiar somehow.

Still not dead

Well, one of Jimmy Kimmel's Mean Tweeters is going to be disappointed. 

If you didn't see 2009's Zombieland, then you might not know it included a cameo so good it would make the late Stan Lee jealous. Bill Murray appeared as himself, having survived the zombie apocalypse by flexing his acting muscles. When everything went to Zombie Hell, rather than mope about it like those emos in Walking Dead, Murray saw it as an opportunity to star in a dream role: a non-zombie pretending to be a zombie. 

And it actually worked. It worked a little too well. When the heroes of Zombieland broke into what they thought was Murray's former home for rest and supplies, they enjoyed the bonus treat of meeting the celebrity and talking to him about his craft. As a joke, two of the heroes convince Murray to sneak up on Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) — who doesn't know about Murray's survival — and to moan and act like a zombie. Columbus is successfully fooled, and before anyone can educate him, he shoots and kills Murray. For realsies.

Or maybe not? In December 2018, Geeks Worldwide reported they had learned Murray would be returning for Zombieland 2, this time with Dan Akroyd along for the ride. As to how Murray might have survived, whether he might be a real zombie this time, or if Akroyd will also be playing himself, we'll have to wait to find out. 

The man who would be king

The death of Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) at the end of 2018's Black Panther was something of a bittersweet moment for many fans. While the character was a ruthless murderer who'd proven he didn't care who got hurt in the wake of his crusade, he was also a sympathetic villain masterfully portrayed by Jordan. So it may not come as a surprise that it looks like Wakanda isn't quite done with its forgotten son. 

In January 2019, while on the red carpet for the 2019 Screen Actor's Guild Awards, Courtney B. Vance — husband of Angela Bassett, who played Ramonda in Black Panther — let loose a spoiler that, if true, should make Killmonger fans happy. When Entertainment Tonight asked Bassett if everyone would be returning for Black Panther 2, she answered, "I would assume so." Apparently not a fan of leaving things unsaid, Vance jumped in and added, "Yes, just go ahead and say it, yes! Everyone will be there, including Michael B."

Unless Vance was talking about some crew member we don't know about who's also named Michael B., it looks like T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) didn't honor Killmonger's wishes to dump his body into the ocean at the end of Black Panther. As to how Killmonger survived, we'll have to wait and see. Of course, considering the technology Black Panther has at his command, it isn't tough to imagine the Wakandan monarch could find a way to keep his adversary alive. 

Ripley is a survivor, even when she's not Ripley

The Aliens franchise gave Sigourney Weaver a lot of experience playing a sci-fi character who survives in the face of impossible odds (including jumping into a vat of lava at the end of one film and returning as a human/alien hybrid clone in the next). Apparently, she's not done defying death. Despite her character Dr. Grace Augustine dying toward the end of 2009's Avatar, as early as 2014 it was confirmed she would be returning for the next three chapters in the Avatar saga. 

While her return to Pandora wasn't confirmed until 2014, Weaver was talking on-the-record about coming back much earlier. At first, she made it sound as if, naturally, she would play the same character. In September 2011 she told ComingSoon.net, "Don't worry. I'll be back. [James Cameron] says no one ever dies in science fiction." 

Apparently, some die, because while Weaver will return, Dr. Grace Augustine won't. In a statement, Cameron said Weaver would be playing "a different and in many ways more challenging character in the upcoming films." Vulture spoke to Weaver, who shed a little bit more light on the development, saying, "I can't talk about it, but my part is a little different in each [Avatar sequel]. I'll transform somewhat." 

We'll have to wait until late 2020 to see the other side of all these cryptic clues.

Apparently, she wanted to live

No one attached to the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate has been coy about the fact that Linda Hamilton will reprise her role as Sarah Connor, the mother of humanity's savior. Looking like an absolute bad-ass in Dark Fate promotional art, Hamilton will clearly be an integral part of the film... even though in 2003's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, she was said to have died of Leukemia in 1997. 

There's little mystery behind the method of Sarah Connor's resurrection. In September 2017, James Cameron told The Hollywood Reporter that the filmmakers were choosing to treat Terminator 3 and the subsequent films the same way many of us would like to treat our bills: they're going to ignore them.

"[Terminator: Dark Fate] is a continuation of the story from Terminator 1 and Terminator 2," Cameron told THR. "And we're pretending the other films were a bad dream. Or another timeline, which is permissible in our multi-verse."

We have to wonder if, when contacting Hamilton, Dark Fate director Tim Miller requested, "Come with me if you want to live." And if he didn't, then why the hell not? It's perfect. Her character's dead, they're bringing her back... how many opportunities do you get like that?

Maybe one more resurrection?

While Joe and Anthony Russo have firmly turned their thumbs down to the theory that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) somehow survived his encounter with Thanos (Josh Brolin) in Avengers: Infinity War by jumping into Bruce Banner's (Mark Ruffalo) body, it seems all but confirmed that — regardless of how it happens — Loki will be returning to the land of the living one more time by the end of Avengers: Endgame

First, Loki came back from the dead in two other movies — both Thor and Thor: The Dark World — sowhy not a third? Second, it's confirmed that Tom Hiddleston will return as Loki in a mini-series for the upcoming Disney+ service. Third and finally, while Hiddleston's Disney+ mini-series could be a prequel, that seems unlikely considering that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has said the story will be important to "the the entire post-Endgame MCU." It seems even less likely when you learn Feige has said that the various Disney+ MCU series will be "intertwined with each other." So unless the Vision/Scarlet Witch and Bucky/Falcon series will also be prequels, how could Loki's show be?

No. All signs point toward Thanos' declaration of "no resurrections this time" being a tad premature.

Maximum Maximus

While the news may leave you a little confused, acclaimed director Ridley Scott is planning a sequel to 2000's epic Gladiator. Even though his character died at the end of the first film, Scott plans for Russel Crowe to appear in the sequel as the general-turned-gladiator Maximus. And no, it won't be for any flashbacks. 

In early November 2018, Deadline reported that Scott was "moving forward" with the sequel. While he wants Crowe in the film as Maximus, apparently he won't be the main character. Instead, Gladiator 2 would revolve around Lucius — son of Lucilla (Connie Nielsen) and nephew to the villainous Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) — who was played by the young Spencer Treat Clark in the first film. 

As to how Scott plans to resurrect Maximus, he's keeping that to himself for now. All we know is that he's had a plan for at least a couple of years. In March 2017 he told EW simply, "I know how to bring [Maximus] back."

We'd feel neglectful if we didn't mention singer/songwriter Nick Cave's insane attempt — at Crowe's behest — to resurrect Maximus in a sequel that would have been given a title seemingly designed to attract theater protests: Christ Killer. The film would have, among other things, had Maximus resurrected from the dead by the Greco-Roman gods and found him cursed with immortality, doomed to fight in every conflict from the Crusades to the Vietnam War. 

Thor is tough to kill

Apparently the Norse god of thunder isn't the only character Chris Hemsworth plays who's blessed with near-immortality. Hemsworth appeared as George Kirk — father to the more well-known James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) — in 2009's franchise reboot Star Trek. The older Kirk died early in the film, but it's been confirmed that Hemsworth will appear in Star Trek 4, causing speculation as to exactly how that's possible. 

It's probably more accurate to say Hemsworth was confirmed to appear as George Kirk in Star Trek 4, but now there's some question about whether or not there will even beStar Trek 4. The Trek film franchise screeched to a halt when negotiations broke down between Pine, Hemsworth, Paramount Pictures, and Skydance Media. 

For now, it's reasonable to assume it's going to be a while before we know how the filmmakers plan to bring George Kirk back from the dead, if we ever find out at all. At this point, step one to bringing him back to life may very well be a pay raise.

No one's ever really gone

If you saw The Last Jedi then you know that, like Yoda (Frank Oz) in Empire Strikes Back and Obi-Wan (Alec Guinness) in A New Hope, Luke's (Mark Hamill) story supposedly ended with his physical form disappearing and leaving behind only a small pile of dirty laundry. Regardless, we now know that Hamill will reprise the role of Luke Skywalker in Episode 9

Of course, the fact that he will appear does not necessarily mean he'll be breathing. Yoda, Obi-Wan, and even that jerk Anakin (Hayden Christiansen) all appeared as force ghosts long after their respective deaths. It could be that Hamill will show up as a Jedi Casper to give Rey (Daisy Ridley) guidance. He could be another in a long line of awkward-looking ghosts giving Rey silent nods during an Ewok victory celebration like at the end of Return of the Jedi. Hamill's statements that his role won't be a huge one in Episode 9 seem to support that. 

But, then again, maybe we're being fed a line. It may be instructive to remember that, once the crotchety old Jedi finally agreed to get involved, Luke's actions in The Last Jedi were defined by misdirection and trickery. His battle with Kylo and even his sweet farewell to his sister were all illusions. It could be that Skywalker has a few more tricks up his sleeves, and that Hamill is taking a page from his character's book.

The Colonel

Okay, so we've got Linda Hamilton revived for Terminator: Dark Fate, Sigourney Weaver resurrected for the upcoming Avatar sequels, and yes, one more — Stephen Lang is returning for all three Avatar sequels as the first film's villain, Colonel Quaritch. James Cameron likes bringing people back from the dead so much, it's enough to make you wonder if he's looking to be named an honorary doctor. And you know what? If he is, then there are a whole lot of fans who might be looking to have a conversation with him about a floating door and a dude named Jack. 

Just as with Weaver's return to the franchise, we don't know exactly how Quaritch's resurrection will be achieved narratively. We know that Lang claimed to be aware of Cameron's plan to bring him back to the story as early as 2010. Unlike Weaver's case, though, there's been no talk of Lang playing a different character. Everything Lang has said indicates he will be returning as Quaritch. In 2016, he told CinemaBlend about his conversations with the director. "'It was within a very, very short time that the man said to me, 'You're coming back,' and I said, 'How?' He said, I told you that already!' And you know, he'd mentioned it once, a long time ago, when we'd been shooting, but it was speculative! You don't dare believe anything!"

The Vision

We already talked about how the "purged" superheroes will almost definitely be returning by the end of Avengers: Endgame, but the android Vision (Paul Bettany) didn't blow away in the wind like his teammates. His murder was much more brutal. Thanos tore the Mind Stone from Vision's head, caving in his skull (or the android equivalent). Vision's entire body went gray and the Mad Titan discarded his corpse like it was garbage. 

Still, all signs point toward Vision returning from the... deactivated? First, the Russos weren't subtle about adding an escape route for Vision. The brilliant Shuri (Letitia Wright) can be seen hurriedly doing something with Vision seconds before she turns to fight off Corvus Glaive (Michael James Shaw). Second, and more importantly, we know Disney+ is developing a Vision/Scarlet Witch mini-series for its streaming service, with Captain Marvel co-writer Jac Schaffer attached as showrunner and writer. The possibility that the series could take place before the events of Infinity War seems even more remote than in the case of Loki's series, considering not only Kevin Feige's promise that all the Disney+ mini-series will be important to the post-Endgame MCU, but that we know the earliest Vision and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) could have become an item would be around the time of Captain America: Civil War. A prequel limited to the time between Civil War and Infinity War would be possible, but it wouldn't have a lot of elbow room.