The makers of Avengers: Infinity War are promising that this latest installment in Marvel’s megahit franchise will be the deadliest yet, and with a cast that numbers a few dozen, there is definitely room to cull the superpowered ranks. Which of your faves will likely fall at the gauntlet-clad hand of big baddie Thanos (Josh Brolin), and which are almost certain to survive this intergalactic last stand? Below, we’ve sorted the superheroes and their sidekicks from what we’d consider the safest to the ones who are most in danger of kicking the bucket. Keep in mind that this particular story line will continue over the next year into the untitled fourth Avengers film, so even the comic-book heroes who survive this summer shouldn’t rest on their laurels just yet.
ALMOST CERTAINLY SAFE
Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman)
Avengers: Infinity War make take the action back to Wakanda, but there’s no way that Marvel would kill off T’Challa just months after his phenomenally successful solo movie. If he does perish, it would certainly be a shocker, but it could also be a sign of directors Joe and Anthony Russo tipping their hand: In the comic books that Infinity War is based off of, scores of top-tier superheroes died until Nebula (Karen Gillan’s Guardians of the Galaxy character) managed to steal the stone-powered Infinity Gauntlet from her father Thanos and bring them all back to life. The question, then, isn’t just who will die in the war against Thanos, but whether they’ll stay dead.
Shuri (Letitia Wright) and Okoye (Danai Gurira)
Given the scale of the final battle in Wakanda, we don’t expect every single character introduced in Black Panther to make it out alive. That said, Shuri and Okoye have to be the safest, since they feel so instrumental to the success of that solo franchise.
Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch)
It’s a little weird that Marvel still hasn’t announced a sequel to the first Doctor Strange, which did decent enough business two years ago to merit a second installment. Does that mean that the Sorcerer Supreme could be killed in his first big Marvel team-up? More likely, it implies that Strange is a big enough presence in Infinity War and Avengers 4 that the studio simply couldn’t find time to schedule a Doctor Strange 2 just yet. It’s also worth noting that in the recent Infinity War trailer, we see Strange fighting a battle on Thanos’s home planet of Titan, but he isn’t among the characters glimpsed in the third-act Wakandan war. Perhaps he doesn’t make it back to Earth for a while.
Wong (Benedict Wong)
This ally of Doctor Strange isn’t a constant presence in the Infinity War trailers we’ve seen, and only seems to factor into the film during an early skirmish in New York. While that’s the sort of curtailed arc might could spell doom, we think it’s doubtful that Marvel would kill off Strange’s confidante when he’s an integral part of the solo franchise.
Star Lord (Chris Pratt)
We know that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is on its way, and there’s no way Marvel would make that film without its lead character. If the man knows as Peter Quill does fall in the line of duty, that’s as clear a sign as any that some sort of reality-changing gambit will then be introduced.
Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel)
Rocket is the key supporting character of the Guardians franchise, so there’s no way he dies. We suppose Groot could be a casualty, since it’s happened before, but his evolution from cheery sapling to surly teen Groot feels like something that Guardians director James Gunn would want to play with more in Guardians 3.
Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson)
Of the OG Avengers lineup, Black Widow is simultaneously the most vulnerable — owing to her comparative lack of superpowers or body armor — and the safest, since Marvel is said to be moving ahead with a long-overdue solo film for Johansson’s heroine. Yes, it could be a prequel, but Johansson has seemed to imply otherwise in interviews, saying that she hopes to see a Black Widow who is unencumbered by past attachments to S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers, and her deadly Russian past.
BETTER BE CAREFUL
Gamora (Zoe Saldana)
She is the leading lady of the Guardians franchise, and her relationship with Star Lord remains unconsummated after a heavily telegraphed romantic arc, so she would still seem to have unfinished business in her own series. That said, Gamora is still in danger because she’s the daughter of Thanos, so she will almost certainly go head to head with the most powerful Marvel villain yet. Would he be willing to spare her, even though she is a traitor to his cause?
Mantis (Pom Klementieff)
She’s the most recent addition to the Guardians of the Galaxy (and, somehow, its highest-billed cast member on the Infinity War poster), so she might therefore be the most expendable. Still, it would be a bit of a sausage party in her movies if this empathic alien is cut from the roster.
Spider-Man (Tom Holland)
The sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming is so far the only Marvel film announced that will be following Avengers 4. That would seem to bode well for our newest, youngest Spidey, but audiences at Comic-Con and D23 were treated to a different Infinity War trailer where Iron Man cradles Holland’s bloodied, struggling Peter Parker during the battle against Thanos on the planet Titan. If he does survive Infinity War, he’ll be put through the wringer first.
Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie)
With Chris Evans coming to the end of his Marvel tenure, might one of his sidekicks take up Captain America’s shield, as has happened in the comics? Both Stan and Mackie have some MCU movies left on their contract — Mackie once told Vulture that he signed up for as many installments as he possibly could — and their presence in different franchises would be an appealing link to older Marvel movies as we move into the company’s Phase Four. Count on them to stay.
War Machine (Don Cheadle), Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow)
Is there a future for Iron Man’s trusted friends if they’re not making solo Iron Man movies anymore? While all of these characters have popped up elsewhere since Iron Man 3, their limited engagement makes them expendable in Infinity War. Of the three, War Machine feels safest simply because Captain America: Civil War just recently wounded him to help propel Iron Man’s story line, and it would be a repetitive beat to sacrifice him yet again. Then again, War Machine be fighting on the front lines of the war in Wakanda as opposed to Pepper and Happy, whose lack of a presence in the trailers probably indicates a cameo-level engagement.
Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)
Since his addition to the Marvel lineup in the first Avengers movie, Ruffalo has been an affable team player, and he even turned up in someone else’s franchise last year with Thor: Ragnarok. Marvel may want to continue using him as garnish in the future, but then again, taking out a massive threat like the Hulk would be a real power move for Thanos and a shocker for the audience.
Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders)
It’s easy to lose track of this former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, given how sprawling the MCU has become, but Smulders has implied she’ll be back for Infinity War. Will she be used mainly as cannon fodder?
M’Baku (Winston Duke) and Ayo (Florence Kasumba)
I don’t want to lose these two Black Panther warriors, but can everyone from Wakanda survive the battle against Thanos, given how many troops T’Challa is committing to the cause? Since there’s no way they’d kill off T’Challa, Shuri, or Okoye … and Jabari tribe leader M’Baku and Dora Milaje standout Ayo are both confirmed to be in Infinity War … I’m worried! Be careful out there, everybody!
Thor (Chris Hemsworth)
After Infinity War, Hemsworth will have fulfilled the demands of his original six-film Marvel contract. The question is whether Marvel would want to leave the door open for him to return after the surprisingly successful Thor: Ragnarok, or whether Hemsworth has had enough after nearly a decade of crazy dieting and working out. The Russos have said that Thor has the most screen time of any hero in Infinity War … does that mean he’s getting a big send-off?
Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen)
Infinity War is amping up the romance between Scarlet Witch and Vision, and given that Thanos will be after the latter to steal the Mind Stone affixed to his face, that puts Scarlet Witch square in the crossfire. The Avengers lineup would be a bit dude-heavy without her, but we can see our gal mounting a sacrifice play for her beloved, and the news that Olsen isn’t interested in a solo character movie may imply that she knows a finite end is looming.
Drax (Dave Bautista)
Drax was the stealth MVP of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and I can’t imagine a Vol. 3 without Bautista’s marvelous comic timing, but let’s not forget that Drax has a personal grudge against Thanos for facilitating the death of his family. At the end of the first Guardians movie, Drax vowed to kill Thanos himself, so expect him to be on the dangerous front line of this battle.
Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner)
Will the forgotten Avenger actually appear in Infinity War? He’s not in any of the marketing or the poster’s billing block, which either means that his presence conveys a spoiler or that he won’t enter the action until the fourth Avengers film (as Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man is presumed to do). Either way, given that the character has never really caught on, Hawkeye is definitely one of the most expendable characters in the fight against Thanos.
Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.)
Downey Jr. has been mulling a potential Marvel departure over the last few years … then again, he’s barely bothered to find non-MCU projects since 2014’s The Judge, and he loves that Marvel money. I could see this one going either way: While Iron Man would be a major Infinity War casualty, Marvel may want to craft a more open-ended out for Downey Jr. in case he decides to make an Iron Man 4 ten years from now.
Nebula (Karen Gillan)
When last we saw Gamora’s blue-skinned sister, she was striking out on her own at the end of Guardians 2, hoping to find and defeat her foster father Thanos. In the comic books, she is an instrumental part of his eventual undoing, so we can assume she’ll get some up-close-and-personal time with the mad titan in Infinity War. The question is whether she will survive it.
Heimdall (Idris Elba)
Elba doesn’t want to be making these movies, and at the end of Thor: Ragnarok, a giant ship commanded by Thanos appeared, ready to attack the spacecraft holding Thor, Heimdall, and the other Asgardians refugees. I’ll be shocked if Elba’s supporting character isn’t an act-one casualty. (Let’s just hope that if Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie shows up briefly during this sequence, she makes it out alive.)
Loki (Tom Hiddleston)
The bell may finally toll for Loki, whose failed plan in the first Avengers movie was essentially financed by Thanos. In the trailer for Infinity War, we see a fearful Loki handing the prized Cosmic Cube to Thanos, and after that, what better use could he be to the ultimate villain than to be made a bloody example of?
The Collector (Benicio del Toro)
This outlandish antiques dealer tried to make a deal for the Power Stone in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and he still holds the Reality Stone, which was given to him in a Thor: The Dark World credit tag. (I can’t believe I know all this, yet struggle to remember my neighbors’ names.) Thanos will certainly have to confront the Collector to get that stone, and it’s unlikely the latter will survive the meeting.
Vision (Paul Bettany)
Our ascot-rocking super-aesthete is in deep trouble this time around, since the Mind Stone in his head is the number-one thing Thanos needs to complete his Infinity Gauntlet. Can the rock be taken from Vision without killing him? Rip out half of your forehead and let us know how that goes.
Captain America (Chris Evans)
Evans sounds ready to move on from his six-film Marvel contract, and the striking last shot of the Infinity War trailer has him struggling valiantly to repel Thanos and his enormous gloved fist. Our boy Cap may be strong, but who’s that strong? Say a prayer for Steve Rogers, because his days are surely numbered.
Thanos (Josh Brolin)
I mean, duh, right? It’s just a matter of whether it will happen in Infinity War or Avengers 4. You don’t kill off scores of beloved superheroes and then get to spend your sentence in a luxe Malibu rehab facility. Dude’s gonna bite it, and the only question is exactly how. Good luck against him, Avengers! And please protect M’Baku.