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The Dan Cave

Marvel Should Make INFINITY WAR’s Deaths Permanent

Avengers: Infinity War’s deaths won’t be permanent. But they should be. On today’s episode of The Dan Cave, allow me to explain why Marvel should ignore Captain America’s advice and start trading lives. In order to properly explain myself, I’m going to have to dive headfirst into spoiler territory, so if you aren’t cursed with knowledge of what happens in Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp, you may want to watch this later. (But if you haven’t seen them by now, please get your life together.)

With a single snap of his horrible purple sausage fingers, Thanos eradicated half of all life in the universe, including pets. (Thanks again for that one, Kevin Feige, you absolute monster.) In a moment, we watched the likes of Black Panther, Bucky Barnes, Scarlet Witch, most of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and most tragically of all, Peter Parker, turn to dust before our very eyes. The Snapture, The Snappening, The “Oh Snap” Moment—give it whatever punny nickname you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is an incredible, shocking sequence. However, it is immediately undermined by the cold, hard facts that multiple characters whom we just watched perish have movies coming out in the next two years. And most of them will take place after Infinity War.

Obviously this was meant to be the Empire Strikes Back for the MCU, putting our heroes in the darkest situation they’ve found themselves in to date. But once the credits finished rolling, was your jaw still agape? Or did you know in your heart of hearts that while Peter Parker isn’t feeling so good, Mr. Stark, that he’ll be back in Spider-Man: Far from Home just three months after Avengers 4?

No one ever really stays dead in comics. Except for Uncle Ben. Or when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tony Stark’s parents, too. But anyone who has stopped to think about Avengers 4 for half a second knows that most of the casualties from Infinity War will be undone in the sequel. It’ll be a satisfying victory for our heroes, overcoming impossible odds. And what did it cost Marvel from a storytelling perspective? To quote Thanos, “everything.” Because when there is no consequence for death, no finality to it, you hamstring its effectiveness as a narrative tool.

Fans knowing what is coming down the pipeline has been a problem for Marvel for years now. Allow me to use the Time Stone for a moment to tell you a story. Back in October 2014, Marvel invited me along with a metric ton of other members of the press to an event at Hollywood’s El Capitan Theater for something billed only as the #MarvelEvent. Taking the stage, Kevin Feige proceeded to blow our minds like Thanos ripping a gem from Vision’s forehead by revealing every movie coming out from May 2016 all the way through November 2018: Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Infinity War, Captain Marvel, Infinity War Part 2, and Inhumans. And before you say it, no I don’t count Inhumans as a permanent death. It was never given a chance at life.

As someone who has never been to Marvel’s infamous Hall H panels at San Diego Comic-Con, it was like Christmas had come early. My fingers were typing faster than I could think as I tried to feverishly live-blog the cavalcade of information being unleashed upon us. But then, I just felt sad. Obviously we all knew that the Avengers have been building towards a massive slugfest with Thanos since he first showed his ugly purple mug in the post-credits sequence of 2012’s The Avengers, but knowing all about the next nine movies that Marvel had in production took the mystery out of it. We could no longer speculate over what storyline or characters we might encounter along the way when they were laid out in front of us like an all-you-can-eat buffet. You can say that it’s about the journey, not the destination, but I’d kindly ask you to take that bumper sticker platitude elsewhere.

So what’s the solution here? Obviously, I’m not a monster. I want Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and anyone whose arch-nemesis isn’t a giant broom to figure out how to undo the intergalactic genocide that Thanos committed. And perhaps all of those lives that were extinguished are chilling with the wee baby Gamora in the orange-soda-filled Soul World inside of the Soul Stone. But much like how Thanos pushed his daughter to her untimely demise, Avengers 4 needs sacrifice in order to make the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s bold experiment truly satisfying. Not every O.G. Avenger needs to die. I would love to see Tony Stark finally have his fairytale wedding with Pepper Potts (with Wong in attendance just like he promised at the beginning of Infinity War). I would love to see Black Widow finally be able to kick back, relax, and lead a quiet life of not murdering people for money.

However, when it comes to characters like Heimdall, Loki, and Gamora, none of whom were killed by the Snapture, some of them need to stay dead. I’m totally on board with Tony Stark and the surviving Avengers finding a way to resurrect their friends, but I’m also hoping that some of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will perish in the process. Perhaps Captain America lays down his life for his comrades, making Bucky Barnes’ return to the land of the living that much more bittersweet. Who better to wield the shield than a fallen hero’s best friend trying to erase his past mistakes? Maybe Nebula can sacrifice her soul—or whatever central processing unit she has in there—in order to bring back Gamora. Maybe Hawkeye can really buy the farm this time around.

All jokes aside, I don’t want to see our heroes get away from this scot-free. Marvel has done a terrific job with tracing the effects of PTSD on Tony Stark over the course of the last 10 years. To be afraid to get messy and let heroes fall in order to make way for new ones would be a truly disappointing period at the end of this decade-long sentence. And besides, Marvel can always resurrect them a few years later and blame it on an alternate reality. It’s worked for them for nearly 80 years, so why stop now?

But what do you think? Should Marvel make some of their deaths from Infinity War permanent? Who do you think should bite the bullet in Avengers 4? Let me know in the comments below.

Images: Marvel Studios/Disney

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