The Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the most complex media franchises, so much so that it has to be divided into several phases. The newly released Disney+ series She-Hulk: Attorney At Law, which stars Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany, is the last TV series released under the MCU’s Phase 4.
Then, the much-awaited Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever will officially conclude this phase and clear the path for Phase 5, which is set to kick off next year with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and Phase 6 was just announced at Comic-Con 2022.
Since the franchise began in 2008 with the release of Iron Man, we have been introduced to dozens, if not hundreds, of MCU characters, both good and bad. Sad to say, even the strongest superheroes don’t always survive.
While these MCU character deaths are usually integral to the overarching storyline in some way, it still stings when beloved MCU characters bite the dust. Theoretically, they could be alive and kicking somewhere in the multiverse, but it looks like plenty are staying dead in our timeline.
7 MCU Character Deaths That Still Haunt Us
Yondu Udonta was introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 as an opportunistic space pirate. As a former member of the Ravagers, he embodied the every-man-for-himself mentality. He literally kidnapped Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, from earth for the right fee.
As much as he lacked a moral compass, Yondu clearly cared for Star-Lord as his own flesh and blood. In Vol. 2, we find out that he chose to keep Star-Lord and train him as a Ravager instead of delivering him to Ego. The supervillain is Quill’s real father, who murdered all his other offspring.
Yondu dies in a final act of sacrifice for Star-Lord. Although he was only a supporting MCU character, his death was one of the first gut-wrenching scenes fans witnessed. Even Michael Rooker, the actor who portrayed Yondu, cried when he finally saw the scene in the cinema.
Some MCU characters have really unfortunate parentages. Star-Lord, for one, is a son of a megalomaniac celestial. Meanwhile, his partner Gamora is the daughter of Thanos.
By now, we all know that Thanos was the big baddie of all the MCU characters. No one could have stood in the way of his goal to save the universe by committing mass genocide on half of its lifeforms.
Believe me when I tell you that the audience collectively gasped when Gamora became Thanos’ sacrificial lamb to obtain the Soul Stone. She was Star-Lord’s equal in the Guardians and didn’t deserve to die at the hands of her own father.
Although a past version of Gamora returns in Endgame, fans are still unsure if she’s actually still alive or returns to her timeline.
Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
As a member of the Avengers, the fandom is very attached to the Russian spy-turned-superhero, Black Widow. Natasha Romanoff proved that she wasn’t just a hyper-sexualized MCU character — she was a badass with a big heart.
After the snap, Black Widow became the leader of the remainder of the Avengers. She was also keeping tabs on Hawkeye, who turned to the dark side after his family disappears. Her former partner’s murderous streak added to the already heavy weight on her shoulders.
Fans knew that a soul was necessary to procure the soul stone, as we have seen in the murder of Gamora. Whichever superheroes were sent for it would either have to return empty-handed as a pair, or return without their partner.
Quite frankly, when Nat and Clint ventured into Vormir to retrieve it, fans didn’t expect that Hawkeye would return. The MCU character was absent for much of the film and it seemed likely that he would sacrifice himself as a form of repentance for his crimes.
The two did grapple over whose life gets snuffed in exchange for the Soul Stone but Black Widow ends up successful in sacrificing herself for the greater good. It was totally in keeping with her selflessness and, fans suspect, her love for Hawkeye.
In case they were able to reverse Thanos’ snap, it was Black Widow’s final act of sacrifice to ensure that Hawkeye would be reunited with his family.
Endgame’s creators filmed alternate versions of the scene for Black Widow, but it seems her death was imminent. The theatrical version kept the moment private between the two MCU characters, which ultimately made Black Widow’s death more tragic and impactful.
Tony Stark/Iron Man
The death of Iron Man is arguably the most devastating considering he’s the MCU character that launched an entire media franchise. Tony Stark, at first, seemed like a genius billionaire with too much time on his hands and an inflated ego.
He was still all of those things at the conclusion of his story. But his motivations changed from wanting to be recognized for his Iron Man creation to wanting to be a selfless superhero.
His many flaws created a stark (pun intended) contrast to Captain America, the MCU character that symbolizes lawful good. That made his death the ultimate self-sacrifice and marked the completion of his character development. At least that’s what the Russo Brothers planned.
As soon as he wielded his iron arm with the Infinity Stones, we knew it would be Iron Man’s final moment on screen. Knowing that Tony Stark had a family to leave behind made it easily one of the saddest scenes of all MCU films.
Thanos’ relentless pursuit of the Infinity Stones cemented Vision’s death in Infinity War. He was only alive because of the Mind Stone. Thanos sacrificed his own daughter, and Vision was just as disposable to the titan.
In a way, we were prepared for his departure in Wakanda but it was his death in WandaVision that we’re still mourning. The show gave fans a more intimate look into the android’s relationship with Wanda Maximoff and the normal life the two MCU characters could have had together.
Fun fact: Vision has died a total of five times in the MCU. That might give some a sliver of hope that he could be resurrected in some form. But it makes more sense for Scarlet Witch’s storyline for her imaginary children’s father to remain a goner.
The multiverse version of Spiderman originally had us mourning Uncle Ben’s untimely death. In this version of the universe, Aunt May is Peter Parker’s guardian that ultimately bites the dust.
It comes as a surprise in Spider-man: No Way Home and happens at the hands of the Green Goblin. Peter Parker had already lost his mentor Iron Man. There’s no way they would kill off his only living parental figure…right?
As we now know, it was a crucial emotional trigger for this version of our friendly neighborhood superhero. If you haven’t seen it yet, Aunt May’s death is a setup for the arrival of some pretty important MCU characters.
A death that hasn’t happened yet but we know is coming. The passing of actor Chadwick Boseman to colon cancer made the demise of his MCU character inevitable.
Producers considered recasting Black Panther but ultimately decided against it. “We just couldn’t do it,” Nate Moore said, and explained that the role was “tied to Chadwick’s performance” so it was impossible to replace the actor.
The trailer to the sequel of Black Panther was surely an emotional one. We can only guess who ends up wearing the suit. Some fans think it’s Shuri, T’Challa’s sister, while others suggest that it could be Jabari Tribe leader M’Baku.
One thing is clear, though: Wakanda is clearly in mourning over their leader’s death — as we are in mourning of the actor who brought the MCU character to life.
You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. That seems to be the MCU’s mindset when it comes to their characters. Over the last decade of Marvel movies and shows, we’ve been forced to say goodbye to many beloved superheroes and side characters. We can agree, though, that most of these MCU character deaths are justified sendoffs and ultimately enrich the whole MCU.
There are still dozens of titles to be released, and we can expect that beloved MCU characters will continue to come and go. My only advice to fans is to prepare for waterworks. See if you can make it through the trailer to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever without feeling emotional.