Yes, the Avengers: Infinity War Deaths Were Permanent & Real (and they also weren’t what you think)
The end of Avengers: Infinity War (and the subsequent post-credits scene for Ant-Man & The Wasp) provided the single biggest shock of any comic book movie – yes, even bigger than that weird dream-type ending that we got in The Dark Knight Rises. I’d like to discuss my theory for Avengers: Endgame, and how I would write this if Marvel gave me the pen. While I doubt that events will unfold this way (a more likely scenario will be a solution involving some kind of BS time travel thing), I would create what would probably be a very different movie.
When Thanos snapped his fingers while wearing the Infinity Gauntlet, several beloved characters, along with billions of innocents, turned to ash and faded before our eyes. My son screamed when Spider-Man disappeared, and I couldn’t believe when Winter Soldier faded away (he is a survivor after all, but more on this later). In the end, Marvel provided an epic that stunned fans around the world, while leaving us with the original cast of Avengers… or so it seemed.
Shortly after Infinity War, the Russo brothers went on the record to confirm that the deaths as a result of the Decimation were real, and permanent. But, who really died?
What we saw on the screen seemed to be Spider-Man fading in the arms of Tony Stark, but what if it was the other way around, almost like a reverse rapture? Rather then Spider-Man et al turning to dust, what if the Avengers were finally fading out of existence, paving the way for Phase 4 of the MCU? While we saw characters fade away, maybe this was simply from the point of view of the dead. After all, how would your brain process things if you just started vanishing?
Ok, so maybe I am way off base, but here are a few points to consider:
- Winter Soldier
If you’ve read any of my blog posts or follow me on social media, you’ll know that I always draw on the comics, because I have been reading comics for over 30 years. Yes the MCU is a different universe, but at the same time it clearly takes inspiration from the source material, and if there is one thing that Winter Soldier is, it’s a survivor. Drop a bomb on him? Cosmic level events? Frozen for 50 years? Turned into a killing machine by the Russian government (and countless other things)? Honestly, a little finger snap isn’t enough to do in old Bucky Barnes.
1A. The Falcon
I really like Sam Wilson. He is a great character, and we know that he has a TV show coming with Winter Soldier. Kind of hard to do if he is dead, right? I really do hope that somehow Sam is still around. I absolutely loved how he faded away, with War Machine looking for him, showing concern for the man that basically crippled him. I thought it was touching, but it just didn’t feel right to kill off the Falcon. Also, I do seem to recall Anthony Mackie saying in an interview that he was signed up for “like 50 movies”. Maybe he will be Captain America 2.0?
“Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good…”. This iconic line, which spawned memes and had people in tears, is probably one of my biggest pieces of evidence in favour of my theory. After all, should vanishing really hurt? Shouldn’t it be some slow, blissful end to existence, into a world that could be a lot like life? And besides, killing off a teenager in his prime, only because he wanted to play superhero? That’s a very dark, very DC move – no way Marvel lets this version of Peter Parker die.
3. Doctor Strange
Dr. Strange is kind of a jerk. I really don’t like him, and the MCU didn’t do anything to change my opinion of him. He’s arrogant, conceited, and really isn’t compassionate towards people like other heroes (although he does care about them deeply in his own way). In short, I can’t see him triggering an event that results in his death – maybe he just views himself as too important, and it is tough to argue, since where are you going to dig up another Sorceror Supreme (aside from Wong). Now, don’t take this as me hating the MCU portrayal (it felt very accurate to me) I just don’t see him as the noble sacrifice type.
I absolutely love Ant-Man; he is one of my favourite MCU characters. Unfortunately, this would also mean that he is dead. Sure, it might be cool to think that he survived the end of the world because he was teeny tiny, but really? I doubt the Infinity Stones or Thanos are that sloppy. Half of EVERYTHING had to die – this includes microscopic stuff too. Plus, the end of Ant-Man & Wasp would mean that we have Wasp, Ghost, and Ant-Man v1. This still allows the identity of Ant-Man to continue.
Here is what we know of Thanos at the end of Infinity War: he survived, and he is on some type of paradise planet. He seems to have given up his conquering ways, and is content to simply rest. Why? Because, he’s dead. He accomplished his holy mission, and now is in paradise. Sure, he is probably going to show up and fight, but really, it is all over. He’s won.
6. TV MCU
This isn’t so much of a proof point, but rather a discussion one. Regardless of what goes down, how the hell do you reconcile this with the TV MCU? Do you just ignore half of the universe vanishing/dying/coming back from the dead? Maybe Mike Jones wasn’t kidding, and we will get to see Luke Cage fading away on the big screen. Imagine the Netflix heroes fading away, some running or panicking, others like Iron Fist(s) sitting down and meditating while they fade away. Still, the TV MCU is going to have a whole hell of a lot of explaining to do unless if as part of the whole undoing everyone forgets that half the world died.
7. Captain Marvel
Since it hasn’t been released theatrically in Canada yet, I can only speculate about Captain Marvel, but someone has to lead the Avengers in this new reality where the originals are gone. It sounds like Marvel is doubling down on its female heroes, and leading the Avengers would be the perfect role for our newest heroine. Personally, I think the power set and levels she has – after all she has been confirmed as the most powerful MCU character – would allow her to replace Hulk, Iron Man, and maybe a few others. Maybe we’ll get really lucky and she’ll bring Alpha Flight along with her 🙂
8. Not So Old Man Hawkeye
My biggest issue with Infinity War, was the fact that Hawkeye barely got a mention. Why didn’t we get to see Clint while everyone else was in action? Maybe it’s because there are larger plans for my favourite Avenger. Now bear with me, because this last point does require some Marvel comic book knowledge which I will try to summarize here.
After the classic Civil War event, Hawkeye assumed a much darker identity – Ronin. This anti hero traded a bow and arrows for swords, and didn’t have any reservations about killing back guys. It really did represent a huge shift in the character. We also saw something similar in The Ultimates, where Hawkeye became much darker after his family was murdered in front of him. So, how does this tie into my theory?
This is how my Endgame movie would begin: no logo, no splash, no branding at all. Hawkeye is at home with his family, eating a meal, and on the TV there is footage of Thanos invading. He looks as if he wants to leave, but his wife shuts it off, telling him its not his concern anymore, and that one more adventure could cost him his family. He sits down, and his family goes about some more mundane things. Later, he is outside with his kids doing something, and his family begins to fade away. Enraged, Clint tries to find info, but nothing – radio, TV, all dead. He sets out for answers, and is wandering in a rapture-like apocalypse, influenced very much by the Old Man Logan universe. If you’ve never read Old Man Logan, I would highly recommend it, as it was a large influence for Logan – perhaps the best Marvel movie ever.
This is where things get tricky – do you give the most underutilized Avenger his dues by not only making him the focus, but also the one who is ultimately responsible for deciding who lives and who dies? Maybe Clint is in the surviving half and wants to bring back his family at the expense of everyone else (including himself). Or better yet, Hawkeye might realize that the original Avengers are in fact the dead, and he has to stop them from gathering the stones and undoing the finger snap, because as long as his family is alive, then maybe it is better to just let things be. Tony Stark could try to convince him that he has a way to save everyone, but Clint insists that it isn’t up to them to play God. We can’t say for certain what will happen to Hawkeye, but I think he is certainly deserving of an expanded role, and to me he is the perfect character to do this with.
So, what is everyone fighting for? Nothing. That’s right. Imagine a movie that might be more arthouse than blockbuster, where the Avengers are basically in some form of purgatory or simulated reality, believing that they can still save the universe, and then realizing that it was all over before it even began. Ouch. But let’s say you want to throw the Avengers a bone here, but still maintain the point that the Infinity War deaths are real and permanent. That leads us to my final point…
9. Split Reality
Ok, let’s say that Thanos really isn’t that evil, rather then kill half of the world off, why not create a new reality where that half would live? No one really dies, they just fade into a new plane of existence. This allows the original Avengers to ride off into the sunset, and 20 years from now, you could always do a Dark Knight Returns style adventure in a distant, bleak future. This would be a great way to leverage unused villains; I would love to see Mandarin, Doctor Doom, Kang, and others terrorizing a set of Avengers in their 60s, who have to go to war one last time.
So, that’s how I would tackle this thing. There is a (non-existent) chance that this is how Endgame will play out, but either way, I can’t wait to see how Marvel wraps up Phase 3, and hopefully sets the stage for another decade with Phase 4.