Ranking the Best Deaths in Avengers: Infinity War

Infinity War just came out, but it’s not a spoiler to say characters die. If you like the Marvel movies, you know some deaths are coming. If you saw a preview, you probably inferred it. And if you didn’t, well, you should have. People die in wars, finite or otherwise.

But it is a spoiler to say who died and how, so if you don’t want to know, stop reading.

Okay, here we go.

First, a few things about the rankings.

  • This isn’t exactly a science. I factored in how the death plays in Infinity War, the character’s role in the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, the actors, and whether they’re likely to stay dead. But still, it’s basically just my opinion.

12 — Scarlet Witch

Her red glowy weird hand movement powers were never clearly defined, and her character didn’t have much depth, especially after her first movie, Age of Ultron.

But killing Vision to destroy the mind stone, only to see Thanos reverse time and bring it back? That must’ve hurt.

11— Heimdall

I guess the apocalypse wasn’t cancelled after all.

10 — Vision

Boring like his girlfriend, but he ranks above her because he’s definitely dead, and because Paul Bettany’s a better actor than Elizabeth Olsen.

Vision was a child of Jarvis, Ultron, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, and the mind stone — brought to life by Thor — but without any of the things that make those characters interesting.

9— Falcon

Meh. After his introduction in Winter Soldier, Falcon hasn’t had much to do besides show up when Captain America does. He flies and sometimes shoots things, which makes him like Iron Man and War Machine, but weaker.

Speaking of which, why’d War Machine survive? Who was clamoring for more War Machine? He was already the sacrificial lamb in Civil War, getting injured to show the stakes were real (but not real enough to kill someone or hurt an important character). Now trillions die, but he lives?

If Marvel made a War Machine solo movie, someone would call it a shallow cash grab, but they’d be wrong, because it wouldn’t make any money.

Nobody bought this

7 — Peter Quill

I like both Guardians movies, but didn’t love Star Lord in this one. He’s a lighthearted character, out of place in a weighty story.

Quill’s serious moments with Gamora didn’t connect as much as the movie wanted them to. Their chemistry comes through in lighter interactions, like the “pelvic sorcery” dance scene in Guardians 1. And it was frustrating to see him taunt Thanos, despite many warnings, throwing away the heroes’ one real chance.

Peter’s incredulous “did we lose?” was a high point, highlighting how Infinity War is different. But he’s probably coming back.

6— Black Panther

I didn’t expect T’Challa to die, but after he faded from existence I thought it was brilliant.

Black Panther was a huge hit, and in my opinion the best Marvel movie. The villain was a big part of that, and not making a sequel means they’d go out on top, like if Christopher Nolan stopped with The Dark Knight.

If the death sticks, it would be a gutsy move by Marvel, and give the ending of Infinity War more impact in future rewatches.

But the economic incentives for a sequel are overwhelming, and there are more Black Panther stories to tell.

5— Loki

It happens early and sets the tone for the movie. It’s physical and we see it happen, meaning it’s probably final. And it was a fitting end for one of the MCU’s best characters.

Loki died doing what he did best, trying to pull a fast one on someone more powerful and failing.

4— Dr. Strange

This one’s going to be underrated, because Benedict Cumberbatch’s American accent ain’t great, and his character is basically Magic Tony Stark. (Infinity War, to its credit, has some fun with the personality similarities).

But Strange’s last words, “it was the only way,” were poignant. At first you think he means it was the only way to save Tony — fitting the theme of fighting for friends, no matter the odds, rather than sacrificing them — but it’s much more than that.

Dr. Strange saw millions of possible futures, with the Avengers winning in only one. He never said what winning looked like.

He could have tried to hide the time gem from Thanos, but he handed it over. Voluntarily.

Strange’s last words reveal that helping Thanos acquire all the gems — which led to Strange’s death, along with so many others — was the best possible outcome. The Avengers would’ve held out longer, but Thanos was winning no matter what. The only question was how many would die along the way.

Stephen Strange shortened the Infinity War, accepting trillions of deaths to prevent more.

3 — Hulk’s Confidence

I’m cheating here, but I wanted to note that having Hulk refuse to come out after he got his ass kicked for the first time in his life was clever.

And it meant we got more time with Bruce Banner. In a franchise with similar characters — Stark, Strange, Star Lord — Banner’s different, and being unable to Hulk out gave him different things to do.

Besides, who doesn’t like more Ruffalo? Ruff-a-lo! Ruff-a-lo!

2— Spider-Man

The most unexpected death — He only had one movie! It was good! There’s so much source material! — and one with extra feels thanks to his student-mentor relationship with Tony Stark, as well as Tom Holland’s likable performance.

I went in thinking Iron Man or Captain America would die — maybe both. But Tony watching Peter Parker fear for his life, youthful gee-wiz arrogance gone, and then fade away is harsher punishment than death.

As with Black Panther, Spider-Man dying in Thanos’ culling raises suspicion it’ll be reversed (probably in Avengers 4 next year). But we’ve never seen Spider-Man die on screen before. It was sad.

1 — Gamora

She’s definitely dead, and hers is the only definite death that resonated. (Maybe Loki’s too, but he died early and without the same emotional oomph).

The scene where Thanos meets young Gamora was pretty messed up, adding details to her backstory that help explain her character’s motivations. Infinity War built upon Gamora’s relationship with Nebula as established in Guardians 1 and 2, making her pain at seeing her sister tortured more salient. And now she’s going to haunt the involuntarily adopted father she despises.

Infinity War is Thanos’ story, made better by his victory in the end. His motivation makes him more interesting than Ronan the Accuser, Justice League’s Steppenwolf, or any other supervillain who wants to destroy the world for the purpose of destroying the world. Josh Brolin’s performance brought some pathos to the character.

(Side note: how many of you expected a warped allegory about climate change and overpopulation?)

Gamora making Quill promise to kill her — because life with Thanos would be worse than death — suggests she could have seen Thanos’ decision to kill her as an opportunity for escape. But she resisted.

Thanos paid the soul gem’s terrible price to complete what he saw as a solemn duty, and Gamora’s three-movie character arc got a powerful end.

Senior Editor at Arc Digital. Poli Sci prof (IR) at U. Illinois. Author of “Drones and Terrorism.” Politics, national security, and occasional nerdery.

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