If you haven’t seen Avengers: Infinity War yet, stop reading this post fast because spoilers are coming. Still here?”Woo! Let’s go!” If Infinity War proved nothing else, it’s that directors Joe and Anthony Russo aren’t afraid to orchestrate some devastating consequences for our favorite superheroes. Even Thanos’ before the heartbreaking purge, several major mainstays of the Marvel Cinematic Universe met their makers, including Heimdall, Loki, Gamora, and Vision. It may seem inevitable that the good guys will ultimately win in Avengers 4, and maybe even revive many of those lost in Infinity War.
But it’s also just as likely that even more heroes will fall to the Mad Titan before it’s all said and done. We can’t definitively predict who will or won’t make it out alive next time, of course. But thanks to contract commitments of the cast, the characters’ comic origins, and other details, we do have some educated guesses about which characters might find themselves on the chopping block in Avengers 4.
Captain America: The First Avenger
One of the most memorable moments of the comic Infinity Gauntlet — which inspired much of the Infinity War — happens when Captain America marches on Thanos. In spite of being one of the less powerful heroes facing him, Cap doesn’t betray an ounce of fear. In part, his attack is a ploy: Cap’s distracting Thanos so that Silver Surfer can try to snatch the Infinity Gauntlet away from him. But even after that effort fails, Cap doesn’t back down, giving Thanos a crack across the jaw before falling to the Mad Titan’s might. We already saw something of a tribute to this moment at the end of Infinity War, but there’s no way we’ve seen the last of Cap’s hopeless heroics.
After all, Avengers 4 marks the end of Chris Evans’ contract with the studio, and the actor has indicated he’s ready to give up the role. “I don’t know what’s next but yeah, at this point, by 2019 that’s it.” If this does end up being his last MCU movie, the filmmakers aren’t likely to give Captain America a quiet retirement ceremony. He already decided he’d rather be a hero than settle down in Avengers: Age of Ultron, so having him sit this one out while others take the brunt of Thanos’ punishment just isn’t his style. If Captain America isn’t going to be an Avenger anymore, a heroic downfall seems like the only way to end it.
Nebula: The lost daughter
Nebula is one of the most tragically flawed characters of the MCU. She was a villain in the first Guardians of the Galaxy film and a reluctant hero in the second. The cruelty she experiences at the hands of her father Thanos has left her blinded by her thirst for vengeance against him. Thanks to her unbridled bloodlust, she tends to make a lot of bad decisions. Her refusal to stay with her sister and the Guardians at the end of Volume 2, for example, ultimately led to her capture by Thanos and the torture session that inspired Gamora to give up the goods on the Soul Stone’s whereabouts in Infinity War. Without her sister around to anchor her, she’s bound to make even more mistakes, and this time, it may cost her her life. Even if her character’s arc follows the comics and sees her seize control of the Gauntlet, that’s not exactly good news for Nebula either. Expect her to finally fall at the hands of her adopted father.
M’Baku: The challenger to the throne
Comics fans may have been a bit surprised by the courage and nobility displayed by M’Baku in Black Panther and Infinity War. He’s primarily known as the villain Man-Ape in the comics, so M’Baku’s on-screen challenge to T’Challa’s throne was to be expected. His last minute support of the King, however, was a much less obvious route. “One more word, and I will feed you to my children … I’m kidding we are vegetarians.” But the M’Baku of both the page and the screen cares for his people, the Jabari, before all else.
With T’Challa being one of the victims of Thanos’ purge, M’Baku finds himself in an unusual position. Wakanda is defeated, so he could use T’Challa’s absence as chance to seize the throne, even though his days would probably be numbered. Either T’Challa would take him out upon his inevitable return, or Okoye or Shuri would do the job for him. M’Baku could also join the other heroes, and even then, his number would likely come up anyway; the chances of a M’Baku solo film franchise are pretty thin. The named cast of Black Panther involved in Infinity War is due to lose some of its numbers.
Rocket: The Last Guardian
Of all the survivors of Infinity War, Rocket Raccoon will likely enter Avengers 4 as the most distraught. Not only did he witness Groot’s tear-jerking final moments, but if and when the survivors from Titan get in touch with the Avengers on Earth, he’ll learn every friend he had left in the universe is gone. Even surrounded by a ship full of compatriots, Rocket is impulsive, depressed, quick to anger, and bloodthirsty once he gets a gun in his hands.
In Guardians of the Galaxy, right after Ronan’s ship crashes on Xandar, Rocket hopelessly charges the villain because of how worked up he is over the original Groot’s death. Now that he has nothing to lose, it’s more likely than ever that he’ll do something stupid. If he gets Thanos in his crosshairs, he’s not going to care about the consequences. Even if it’s fruitless from the start, we can probably count on the little guy to run headlong into harm’s way to get revenge for Groot 2.0.
War Machine: Rhodey
War Machine stands a fair chance of kicking the bucket in Avengers 4 as well, for one good reason: of all the heroes to survive Infinity War, he’s the one that’s already deceased in the comics — and at the hand of Thanos, no less. He’s also not exactly a Marvel A-lister, so there’s a question of what to do with Rhodey if he were to survive the story. In the comics, he replaced Stark as Iron Man before taking up the role of War Machine, but for now, Robert Downey Jr. has left such a mark on the role that the idea of a non-Downey Iron Man is all but impossible.
“I hope they remember you.” The god of thunder Not only is Chris Hemsworth’s contract coming to an end with Avengers 4, but the events of Thor: Ragnarok and Infinity War might make you wonder whether the character would even want to survive. While Thor: Ragnarok ended on a hopeful note, with a few dozen Asgardian survivors bound for Earth to start life anew, Infinity War opened with the slaughter of most of the people Thor worked so hard to save. Most of those refugees have perished, Heimdall and the Warriors Three are gone, and every bit of Thor’s family — blood-related or otherwise — is history as well. And since Asgard is destroyed, Thor is now a failed king. Even his fancy new weapon proved to be unable to serve its purpose of taking out Thanos. With so much wreckage behind him already, it’s difficult to imagine anything beyond a glorious demise would satisfy his warrior’s spirit at this point.
Shuri: The princess
Considering how popular Shuri has become since the release of Black Panther, it’s likely comic book fans worried for her throughout Infinity War. Marvel readers know that T’Challa’s sister held the mantle of Black Panther in the comics for some time, and eventually sacrificed her life fighting Thanos’ Cabal so that her brother could escape. Popular though she is, if Shuri were to die in Avengers 4, it could lead to an interesting opportunity for Black Panther 2. When Ta-Nehisi Coates helped re-launch the Black Panther comic series in 2016, he endedthe first issue by revealing that T’Challa was struggling with how to bring Shuri back from the beyond.
Eventually, Shuri did return — and with powers connected to the ancestral origins of Wakanda. If Shuri were to fall in Avengers 4 and return in a fashion similar to her comic book resurrection, it would give director Ryan Coogler a chance to explore the more mystic side of Wakanda’s roots.
How else could Bruce Banner’s story possibly end but to see the big green giant disappear forever? It’s not just that Mark Ruffalo’s contract is up with Avengers 4, or that the film is expected to round-out his supposed trilogy of Hulk stories that started with Thor: Ragnarok. There also just aren’t many imaginable futures left for the character. As we saw in Infinity War, Hulk was hesitant to come out and do the Avengers’ bidding against Thanos. Perhaps it’s because Thanos gave him a brutal beating like no other, but perhaps it also has something to do with the fact that Banner feels like he disappears altogether whenever he’s transformed into the Other Guy.
In either case, the Hulk is not well-liked on Earth, thanks to his violently reckless behavior in Age of Ultron. The only chance that he might change anyone’s mind about him is if he goes out a hero and saves more lives than he’s cost the world in the past.