Which AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON Character Will Joss Whedon Kill Off? Place Your Bets!
Murderer! Murderer! Murderer! If you're a fan of Joss Whedon's television series and films than you're familiar with his proclivity toward killing beloved characters in a heartbreaking and horrifying way. So, who might bite the dust in Avengers: Age of Ultron?
Who Will Joss Whedon Kill Off In AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON?
Joss Whedon has certainly earned the moniker, TV's Grim Reaper. Let's take a quick moment to look back at some of his more notable deaths. From Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Buffy Summers, Jenny Calendar, Angel, Joyce Summers, Tara Maclay, Anya, and Spike. From Angel: Doyle, Darla, Cordelia Chase, Winifred “Fred” Burkle and Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. Then there is Penny from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along, Dollhouse's Paul Ballard and Bennett Halverson, and Shepherd Book and Hoban “Wash” Washburne from the Firefly film, Serenity. Heck, even during Joss's Astonishing X-Men run he trapped his favorite character, Kitty Pryde, in a large alien bullet that was hurtling toward Earth. Heroically, Kitty was able to phase the bullet through the planet, but with no way of maneuvering the object she was left to float off into the dark abyss of space. That's cold. As for Agent Phil Coulson, you can't put his death squarely on Whedon. That decision was made by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. Yes, Whedon did execute the order, admirably I might add, but that plan wasn't hatched by him.
And now, Joss has put Marvel's finest up against Ultron (James Spader). A supervillain robot, powered by the mind of an advanced and evil artificial intelligence. It's motive is usually as simplistic as wanting to eradicate humanity. Ultron has the ability to rebuild itself and is constantly upgrading it's system. Ultron's body is made from the unbreakable material, Adamantium, which makes Ultron impervious to heat, cold, radiation and corrosives.
We don't know much about the plot. What we do know is that Hank Pym (Ant-Man) will NOT be the father of Ultron, like he was in the comics. This leads many to assume Tony Stark will be responsible for Ultron's creation. It also would make quite a bit of sense if Tony Stark's A.I. computer, J.A.R.V.I.S., went rogue and created Ultron. Something akin to the evil J.A.R.V.I.S. that we saw in The Avengers animatic that I posted not too long ago.
As Avengers: Age of Ultron slowly approaches I'm hounded by the thought: whom might be the next character to meet their demise at the hands of Joss Whedon. Could it be one of the superhero girlfriends, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) or Jane Foster (Natalie Portman)? We don't even know if they're in the film. Same goes for a lot of secondary characters, like the Warriors Three, Happy Hogan, Darcy, Dr. Selvig, Rhodey/War Machine, Sam Wilson/The Falcon and Agent 13 (Sharon Carter). Even newcomers, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, can't be added to the list below. Yes, they're in the film, but we really don't know how involved they will be in the story.
So, why even bother? Cause people are curious. If they weren't, Joss wouldn't have been asked about it:
“But I’d have to have a really good reason, a really great sequence for [Marvel execs] to go, ‘We’ll cut off a potential franchise, that’s fine!’ They know as any good studio does, that without some stakes, some real danger, how involved can we get? We don’t just rule it out across the board, but neither is the mission statement ‘Who can we kill?’ We try to build the story organically and go, ‘How hard can we make it on these people?’ You go to the movies to see people you love suffer-that’s why you go to the movies.” - Entertainment Weekly
That's what I like about Joss, he isn't killing a character just to kill a character, there is a purpose behind his murderous sprees. He wants to advance the story and that means having deaths that truly impact the surviving characters. Just look at how much of the essence of Willow was changed when her girlfriend Tara was gunned down. Tara's death allowed for a logical progression for Willow to become dangerously evil. And I'm expecting a death of that type of magnitude in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Let's look at the candidates.
#8: Iron Man
Why Tony Stark dies: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! You want to surprise an audience and send fangirls crying all the way home, then you kill off Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Sure, Marvel would only have to pay Robert Downey Jr. to sit on the sidelines for the third film, but for the sake of art it's totally worth it. By the way, I'm being sarcastic.
Why Tony Stark lives: In June, Robert Downey Jr. signed a two-picture agreement with Marvel that included Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers 3. The rumor, is that the deal is worth nearly $100 million. That's some serious moola. No way is Marvel gonna kill off their most bankable star. Also, Tony was brought to the brink of death in the first Avengers. Repeating that type of scenario in the next one would be beneath Whedon.
#7: Captain America
Why Steve Rogers dies: Out of everyone on this list, there is only one character that I believe would gladly make the ultimate sacrifice without thinking twice about it, and that is Steve Rogers. That scrawny 90-pound weakling, who is brave enough to jump on a live grenade (or so he thought), still lives inside Steve. If he gives his life to save the rest of the group, I would guarantee waterworks, on-screen and in the theater. Also, out of all the actors, Chris Evans, doesn't seem to enjoy the grueling diet and exercise regime that is expected of a superhero role. And since the next Captain America film will incorporate Ed Brubaker's popular Winter Soldier (played by Sebastian Stan) arc, there is a chance that Whedon could draw from Brubaker's other popular story arc, The Death of Captain America. In that arc, Steve is assassinated, and Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes takes up the Captain America mantle.
Why Steve Rogers lives: Because Steve Rogers is a breathe of fresh air. The comic book movie landscape is littered with emotionally-tormented and cynical heroes. It's nice having an old fashioned boy scout save the day instead of the run of the mill anti-hero. Also, with Iron Man 4 looking less likely, Marvel won't be in a rush to lose another solo franchise. Passing the Captain America baton onto Sebastian Stan is quite a gamble as well. Stan hasn't accomplished much since the first film, and some even doubted that he'd be asked back with his star being so dim.
#6: Maria Hill
Why Maria Hill dies: She dies because she is incredibly replaceable. Whedon could build her up, have us grow to like her by the third act and snuff her out in a blink of an eye without losing any important characters along the way. A win-win for most fans. You get the signature Whedon send off while keeping the core of the group intact. Also, some people assume that eventually she will takeover for Fury - her death would put an end to that predictable outcome.
Why Maria Hill lives: Come on! You can't kill Robin Sparkles! Okay, let's be serious for a moment. Maria Hill actually serves a purpose. She and Nick Fury don't always see eye-to-eye. That creates conflict, and for two characters that spend most of their time standing, it keeps them from being boring. Also, her death would have minimal impact on the group. Lastly, Maria Hill is making a cameo in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and with Cobie Smulders longtime series, How I Met Your Mother, coming to a close this season, Marvel might want to bring her in as a series regular when her schedule opens up.
#5: Nick Fury
Why Nick Fury dies: First off, we don't even know if he'll live to see Avengers: Age of Ultron, as Captain America: The Winter Soldier set photos show that his life is in peril. But, let's go with the assumption that he survives Cap 2. So why kill him? Ever heard of the saying; cut off the head of the snake and the body will die? Killing off Nick Fury, the man responsible for assembling The Avengers, would leave the super-group and S.H.I.E.L.D. without their leader. This is a character that has been there since the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His death would certainly impact most of the members of the team, and would help pave the way for Maria Hill to take over as the new leader of S.H.I.E.L.D..
Why Nick Fury lives: Samuel L. Jackson, is one hell of an actor, and is a draw to mainstream audiences that don't eat, drink, sleep comic books/cbms like we do. Another reason he doesn't die: diversity. Other than Nick Fury and War Machine (Don Cheadle), Marvel hasn't done a great job of developing minority characters. A loss of Nick Fury would probably create a sizable backlash. Fans could end up feeling alienated by Marvel, having nobody in the main cast representing them. I doubt Marvel would want to lose a large and more importantly, lucrative demographic.
Why Hulk dies: Can the Hulk be killed? It is a question that comic book enthusiasts have been debating for decades and if anyone is up for the challenge it would be TV's Grim Reaper, Joss Whedon. How he would go about doing it? I don't know, that's for him to figure out. That's why Marvel pays him the big bucks. But, if you want to really raise the stakes in the film, you kill the unkillable. You want Ultron (played by James Spader) to come across as a real threat, then killing Hulk would make fanboys sweat in their seats just wondering who might be next. At the very least, Ultron could kill/suppress the Hulk, and leave Bruce Banner without the ability to transform into the green goliath. Not as sexy as killing the Hulk, but it would have a huge impact on the team's dynamic.
Why Hulk doesn't die: Hulk's popularity soared after The Avengers. Joss Whedon did what other filmmakers couldn't: made the Hulk work in a live-action format. With that success came rumors of Planet Hulk and World War Hulk films being developed. Would Marvel really kill a cash cow like that? Probably not.
The other issue with Hulk dying, is that it might send the wrong message. Banner has that great line in first film: "I didn't see an end, so I put a bullet in my mouth... and the other guy spit it out!" That is a desperate man looking to end his curse by any means possible.
Why Thor dies: Logically, if you want to up the stakes you kill one of, if not thee, most powerful Marvel character. It's been debated, but for me, Thor is the most powerful. He's Marvel's Superman. Just look at this insanely long list (click here) of powers, feats and abilities. While newbies probably assume the God of Thunder is immortal, he is not. Thor has died on several occasions: poison, The Destroyer, at the end of the Ragnarök story arc and recently by The Serpent in the Fear Itself crossover storyline. Of course with numerous deaths comes numerous resurrections. Anyone that has watched Whedon's Buffy The Vampire Slayer knows that Joss doesn't mind killing off a character and bringing them back from the grave. Hell, he did it twice with, Buffy Summers. Twice! In Whedon's defense, Buffy's last death and resurrection wasn't meaningless. Every character was impacted by her death and when Buffy was brought back to life they were shocked that she wasn't happy to be alive. After soaking in the divine sweetness of Heaven Buffy wasn't looking forward to the harshness of life on Earth. So, even though death wasn't permanent it still had an impact. Thus, in Whedon's hands it's not an awful thing.
Why Thor lives: It's all about the dolla dolla bills y'all. With Iron Man 4 looking like it will never happen, Thor is one of the few Marvel solo film franchises that still has room to grow. Also, Thor already almost died in his first solo film, it would seem awfully repetitive to put him through the wringer again.
Why Clint Barton dies: Anytime an actor voices their displeasure with their role, like Jeremy Renner did, their head is on the chopping block. Yes, it is well known by now that Renner wasn't too pleased with the direction of his character in The Avengers. And that's fine, I can accept that, as he was Loki's mindless lackey for a large portion of the film. But then again, Renner should've been happy that he was given anything to do. Sorry, but I've never found Hawkeye all that interesting, and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe he is even more pointless. He has no superpowers, and call me crazy but I go to see comic book movies to see superpowers in action, with only a few exceptions (Batman). Let's face it the battle of New York wasn't going to be decided based on a bowman with tremendous sharpshooting skills. Hawkeye is disposable.
Why Hawkeye lives: Once again, we know Joss Whedon loves a challenge, and he seems to take great pleasure in making the non-superpowered characters relevant. He also has a penchant for taking characters that audiences haven't embraced, and building them up to become fan-favorites, like he did with Topher in Dollhouse. A few tweaks here and there and Hawkeye goes from the weakest link to the character fans can't get enough of.
Also, would his death raise the stakes? Eh, maybe a little because an original member of The Avengers would be killed, but the bigger question is: who cares? Hawkeye has gotten the least amount of screentime, is woefully underdeveloped and has formed no relationships with the other members of the team outside of Black Widow. And we only know of that through a hinted backstory. I just don't see how the audience will be captivated by his death as much as they were when Agent Coulson died.
#1: Black Widow
Why Natasha Romanoff dies: Besides having a penchant for killing off popular characters, Whedon has a talent for writing strong, competent female characters. Not too long ago, he told MTV News that Black Widow was his favorite character and that he plans on giving her a meatier role in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
"Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) is a huge part of the sequel because you do want to concentrate on the people who don't have their own franchises."
As we saw in set photos, her and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) will be swapping spit in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. With a strong possibility of her popping the cherry on that 90-year-old virgin. When you fondue with someone, there is bound to be an emotional bond created. Add in the fact that she has had meaningful scenes with Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Nick Fury, and a hinted backstory involving Hawkeye, she is the only character whose death would cause a ripple effect amongst the entire group. If there is gonna be a true watershed moment in the film it seems right up Joss's alley to bestow that honor upon a female character with no superpowers to speak of. Not to mention, that it would open up a roster spot for another female character to join the group, and recent rumors are pointing to Ms./Captain Marvel getting her own solo film soon.
Why she lives: She's the only female member on the team. She is also Joss' favorite character. Although, that didn't work out so well for Kitty Pryde, now did it? Maybe we can infer something from Joss gushing about her, "These guys are heroes, you are a spy. It's a different thing—it's a different skill set—and you don't have their moral high ground or any of that good stuff.' And that just makes her so interesting to me. So yeah, the stuff I've got going on with her in the second one is killer."
"Avengers: Age of Ultron" will bring the Marvel Universe’s biggest heroes together again to face one of their biggest villains, with "Marvel’s The Avengers" director Joss Whedon returning to write and direct the sequel. "Marvel’s The Avengers" was released in 2012 and went on to earn $1.5 billion worldwide, making it the third-largest grossing movie of all time.
Avengers: Age of Ultron - The film is set to be scripted and directed by Joss Whedon and to feature an ensemble cast including Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson and James Spader. The Avengers: Age of Ultron is scheduled for release on May 1, 2015.
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