Why Steve Rogers Should Die in Avengers: Infinity War
Infinity War is the biggest thing Marvel has ever attempted. It will be the culmination of seventeen Marvel movies by the time it is released in May of 2018 with a reported cast of up to 67 established and new characters. This film will be breaking new ground not only for Marvel but for superhero films and film in general. For the movie to be effective there will need to be a masterful level of control by the writers and directors to ensure the film’s plot flows cleanly and logically while also being engaging and giving suitable time to all the members of its incredibly large cast. Most importantly, the film needs to be a departure from the Marvel mold. While it dwarfs all of its predecessors in size and budget, the plot needs turn the MCU on its head in a way that has not been seen before. An intergalactic war needs a big villain, it needs big stakes, and it needs big consequences.
Captain America: Civil War broke up the family and semi-established the Secret Avengers but didn’t really have the large scale consequences most people expected, especially in comparison to the much more bloody Civil War comic. Rhodey aka War Machine was the only one to suffer physical consequences which by the end of the movie were already being alleviated in some ways by Tony’s technology that was assisting him to walk again. This immediate resolution to the problem makes it feel as though this universe has no real stakes which removes all sense of urgency from the viewer. Not to mention a large part of the audience lacked any strong feelings for Rhodey in the first place making his injury less impactful. As the Walking Dead and Game of Thrones can attest, the death of characters people are invested in are what shake up a story. So to resolve this lack of stakes and reorient the Marvel universe, someone important needs to die in Infinity War. Following a major death, the sequel will not only have the expected “defeat Thanos, save the world(s)” message but one of avenging their fallen.
But why Steve? Well let’s look at the other options, considering the plot and what we know of the relationships between the actors and the studio.
The Original Avengers
Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow): For the last year we’ve been getting half-assurances and semi-confirmations of a Black Widow movie from Kevin Feige. The Marvel Universe suffers from a Iack of diversity in both race and gender. Black Widow is not only one of the only women, she’s a fan favorite. There would most certainly be a reaction to her death but it would be almost entirely negative. It would also mean Marvel is throwing away their opportunity for more money the fans have been clear they are willing to give.
Clint Barton (Hawkeye): Clint seems like a reasonable possible casualty as one of the few non-powered individuals in a battle against a cosmic power. However while his death would be reasonable it would also lack the emotional punch the movie requires. For multiple movies Clint lacked any real personality and the Age of Ultron established him as a family man who doesn’t truly want to be in the fight anyway. Since his introduction, people have expected him to die at any given moment as a mere human. Fulfilling expectations would be a boring move in a movie that ultimately seeks to surprise us.
Thor: While killing Thor would be an interesting and allow for the possible introduction of female Thor, Jane Foster, it’s highly unlikely. Thor is one of the strongest members of the Avengers team and his knowledge of the cosmos would be instrumental in defeating Thanos. Plus it’s extremely unlikely that Natalie Portman will return to the franchise as she is not slated to appear in Thor: Ragnarok.
Bruce Banner (Hulk): Hulk can’t be killed. That’s a large part of his entire storyline.
Tony Stark (Iron Man): I’m sure that someone will later say “all your arguments about Steve apply to Tony too”. Yeah, probably, but they would never do Tony the indignity of death. Robert Downey Junior has Marvel Studios wrapped around both pinky fingers and his toes. Plus we already know he’ll be showing up as the advisor to Tom Holland’s Spiderman. Aside from his large and well-reported paycheck, history has shown that Robert gets what he wants. This was exemplified by his aggressive negotiation with Marvel studios to get a much larger role in Civil War than was originally planned. And if Riri Williams gets as popular as I hope she does, it’s even more likely he’ll have the same advisory role to her possible cinematic counterpart before ultimately leaving the franchise of his own volition.
The New Avengers
James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes (War Machine): They already shot him down in Civil War, killing him now would be overkill and frankly offensive targeting of one of the few black characters we have in the MCU. Additionally, Rhodes and Carol Danvers have comic book history so he makes a solid connection to the Captain Marvel storyline and her upcoming solo movie.
Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch): Wanda has a ton of potential that was merely hinted at in Civil War. Most significantly, her demonstrated ability to manipulate Vision through her connection to the mind stone in his head has huge implications for the fight with Thanos. If he does acquire all the infinity stones, her powers may be able to at least counteract those of the mind stone. Killing her would make no sense.
Vision: Now in the expected first battle where the bad guy wins, there’s a good chance Vision goes down. For Thanos to assemble his complete infinity gauntlet, he’ll need to rip the Mind stone right out of Vision’s purple head. Unless a last minute replacement power source is found, it’s likely Vision will die. The problem is that over the course of two movies he hasn’t made much of an impression either with critics or fans. He’s a super powerful character who is hampered by the writers so as not to make the others feel redundant. Most would be pretty ambivalent to his death.
Sam Wilson (Falcon): Due to poor time management most people don’t really see him as anything other than Steve’s friend (or worse, sidekick) since he hasn’t really been presented as a full member of the Avengers. (Though there’s a nod to it with the opening fight scene of Civil War) Because of this, they probably wouldn’t get the fan heartbreak and emotional outpouring they want from IW. However the love from both critics, interviewers, and fans for the very brief scenes between Sam and Bucky in Civil War as well as Sam Wilson’s current comic book role as Captain America tells us there’s a well of potential for his character that Marvel could and has yet to take advantage of.
Other Non Affiliated Super-Persons
James “Bucky” Barnes (Winter Soldier): Bucky is another comic contender for the Captain America position and beloved by many fans (especially in the young and female demographic), so from a “break all the fans’ hearts” standpoint, he is an excellent choice. Plot-wise though, a rather boring (though suitably tragic) end to the Winter Soldier. However, Sebastian Stan has a comically large 9 picture movie contract with Marvel and with about 6 movies left to go, I don’t think he’s going anywhere.
T’Challa (Black Panther): The outcry Marvel would face for killing one of the most historic Black superheroes, and one of four black men in their entire roster, after only 1 and a half movie showings is too massive to contemplate. Aside from that however, T’Challa made an excellent and well-received first showing in Civil War and his solo movie being released in february of 2018 is widely anticipated. It has assembled such a star studded cast that #BlackPantherSoLit has trended on twitter for days at a time a full year before the film is slated to come out. And with the original Avengers expected to begin phasing out in the near future, Black Panther is an obvious choice for the new squad.
Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel): Captain Marvel will be making her first appearance in Infinity War with her scheduled solo movie to be released in March of 2019. It goes without saying her character will leave the war unscathed.
Peter Parker (Spider-Man): The negotiations for the rights to Spider-Man were years in the making and wars have likely been ended and peace treaties signed with less careful attention to detail. Spider-Man Homecoming comes out in July of this year and although Peter will be venturing out into space to fight Thanos it is inconceivable that he would not return to make all the money for Marvel and Sony that a Spider-Man trilogy promises.
Guardians (of the galaxy): There is a possibility that members of the Guardians could be killed but since they could feasibly get at least one more movie after their sequel in May, it’s doubtful. Plus who would you even kill? They already almost killed Groot then saved his life in the first film. Rocket is the second best part of the movie-funny, lethal, and a racoon. They won’t get rid of Pratt because he’s a huge household name now, and as Passengers made clear, studios want to capitalize on that star power. Marvel doesn’t have enough women to kill Gamora without the same massive blow back as the other previously listed women. Drax is the most likely option since he was created to kill Thanos. It’d be depressing to see him fail his most integral mission but not heartbreaking.
Scott Lang (Ant-Man): Ant-Man and the Wasp comes out July of 2018 so it’s already established that he will be leaving the film in one-piece.
Stephen Strange (Doctor Strange): Similar to Chris Pratt, Benedict Cumberbatch is a huge movie star. He brings in crowds and critical regard and they would never let go of him so lightly. Plot wise, Doctor Strange has control over the Time stone. Much like with Scarlet Witch, it stands to reason that those who can wield the Power Stones will play a huge part in defeating Thanos and his Infinity Gauntlet.
Any other characters introduced in Infinity War
If it’s their first MCU appearance they’re likely going to be ok. Any characters added to the MCU simply to die will just be Marvel Redshirts whom the audience won’t think twice about.
So we’re back to Steve Rogers. From the colder, money side of the issue, Steve Rogers has already put in his trilogy. With the example set by Iron Man, it appear we shouldn’t expect more than three movies for any one hero and Cap has paid his due.It also makes sense in terms of plot; superhuman though he is, his extraordinary running and jumping skills will probably not serve him well in space.Even other non-powered individuals like Hawkeye benefit from having long-distance based abilities. Steve’s close quarter fighting style is hardly going to be a deterrent against Thanos.
Additionally, he has a possible successor in Bucky and Sam. In the comics they both go on to wield the Shield and it’d be fascinating to see how other MCU characters responded to that transition. He’s a fan favorite so viewer heartbreak is guaranteed. It’s 12000% percent believable that everyone in the world (within the cinematic universe and outside of it) would want to destroy Thanos on a much more personal level if he was responsible for the death of Captain America. And simply put, it would kick Marvel into a new direction that way no other movie has before. One of the original Avengers dying? That’s how you move on to a new phase.
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Opie, David. “Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow Will Finally Star in Her Own Movie After ‘Avengers:Infinity War’.” Movie Pilot. N.p., 28 Feb. 2017. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.
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Shaw-Williams, Hannah. “‘Captain America 2’ Actor Sebastian Stan Has 9-Picture Marvel Deal.” Screen Rant. N.p., 03 Apr. 2014. Web. 02 Mar. 2017.
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