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Avengers: Infinity War deaths explained. Don’t read this if you haven’t seen the film yet

What happened at the end of Infinity War? We look at the two kinds of death that can happen to a superhero, who was killed in the film and their chances of being seen again in a future Marvel production

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 May, 2018, 3:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 May, 2018, 3:00pm

SPOILER ALERT! The following contains details about the ending of Avengers: Infinity War . Stop reading now if you don’t want to know.

Seriously, if you haven’t seen it yet, this is your last chance to bail. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Hey, kids, let’s have a talk about death.

Chances are, if you’ve seen Avengers: Infinity War , which had the biggest box-office opening ever, you might be flipping out over all the casualties. The 18 previous Marvel films introduced a bevy of superheroes who’ve left an indelible mark, and with one snap of the fingers and the combined might of the mystical Infinity Stones, many of the good guys just disappeared.

Poof. Dust in the wind. The end.

Really? Well, probably not.

Infinity War embraces a number of tropes from superhero comic books, including utilising two different kinds of death. There’s real death, usually of a figure whose loss means something – like when Uncle Ben died, reminding Spider-Man that “with great power comes great responsibility.”

But more often there’s comic-book death, where a beloved hero dies for plot or publicity reasons, and returns sooner rather than later. (Captain America, Wolverine and Spider-Man have all been among those high-profile personalities who were “resurrected” on the comic page.)

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Which brings us to Infinity War – and its jaw-dropping finale. Fans bet on perhaps one or more of the elder statesmen – Iron Man (Robert Downey Jnr), Captain America (Chris Evans) or Thor (Chris Hemsworth) – to be victims of Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet.

But instead, Marvel went all in with the most unexpected folks. Audiences who’ve made Black Panther a box-office powerhouse might be a little saddened by the sudden departure of Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa.

We’ve been privy to the ups and downs of Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Captain America’s best friend and one-time brainwashed sleeper assassin, so it hurts a little to see him go. And while Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) are high-profile members of the body count, who wasn’t hurt worse by Spider-Man (Tom Holland) tearfully telling father figure Iron Man that he doesn’t want to die just before he does?

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Before you cue up the Bee Gees’ Tragedy, let’s be logical for a second: There’s no way Marvel is killing off Black Panther. (“Wakanda forever,” come on!) And there’s already a Spider-Man sequel slated to kick off phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so Holland’s not going anywhere.

Groot toy sales alone necessitate more of that alien tree, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has also been announced. (This is one of those times where the knowledge of future films, while fun for nerd speculation, hurts storytelling instead of helping.)

The fourth Avengers film will bring together the remaining heroes, those who weren’t in Infinity War – Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp – plus Brie Larson’s soon-to-debut Captain Marvel. Maybe they are seeking out a way to create new Infinity Stones.

Maybe Thanos is hiding something. Maybe there’s some crazy, alternate-reality mumbo jumbo or time-travel shenanigans that seems odd now, but a year from now in retrospect we’ll be thinking “Oh, yeah, should have seen that coming.”

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What’s brilliant about Infinity War’s finale is that it shocks at a time when it doesn’t seem like we can be surprised any more. This is on the level of “You just put Han Solo in carbonite?!” Superman fell in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice , but we knew he’d be back in Justice League . The sheer chutzpah and body count of Infinity War knocks us for a loop, and this malaise will last until the good guys come through in Avengers 4. Hope is only lost until it’s found again.

A little more complicated, however, are those “real” deaths that didn’t involve disintegration. Loki was strangled, and Tom Hiddleston might have actually gone adios after a memorable Marvel career. (Sorry, internet.) Paul Bettany’s Vision is an android who started out as an artificial intelligence, so just give him an iPad to inhabit.

Gamora was sent to her apparent doom by her adoptive dad Thanos so he could have the Soul stone, yet at the end of the film, he has a conversation with her as a young girl in what looks like a higher plane of existence, making it seem like she might not be gone for good. (Her death scene is so good that bringing her back seems like a cheat, but Zoe Saldana is superb as that character and I’d let it slide.)

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The mourning period for her and others might be brief. That’s both what’s good and bad about death and superheroes: even the most heartfelt losses are more minor inconvenience than permanent holiday.