‘Avengers: Endgame’: Why Fans Will Feel ‘Real Grief’ Over Who Dies

It’s the final countdown to the opening of Avengers: Endgame on April 26 and with the joy surrounding the highly anticipated film likely comes a bit of sorrow for fans, too. While spoilers have been in short supply from the cast, who have been sworn to secrecy and don’t really know how it ends (except for Robert Downey Jr.), it’s likely that some characters will either die or retire.

Marvel Studios' "Avengers: Endgame" Global Junket Press Conference
Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame Press Conference | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

Who dies in Avengers: Endgame?

There’s been a lot of chatter and fan theories that there will be characters who die in Avengers: Endgame, but it’s anybody’s guess who will suffer this fate. The stars of Avengers: Endgame have been pretty much in the dark about how the movie ends and it’s unclear if, like Infinity War, where Mark Ruffalo filmed an alternate ending where the Hulk dies, Endgame employed the same type of approach.

One of the directors, Anthony Russo, explained to Rotten Tomatoes why they have kept the actors out of the loop, sharing:

“Part of our motivation to do that is it just takes a lot of pressure off of people because it is hard to constantly censor yourself about what you’re saying, how you talk. These movies are your whole life. It’s everything you’re doing all day long. The inclination is to talk about it. So, we take a lot of pressure off of people by just saying: ‘OK, the less you know, the less you have to mind yourself.’”

Avengers: Endgame leaked footage landed online

As spoiler-free as the press tour has been for Avengers: Endgame, leaked footage from the film landed online, prompting the Russo Brothers to beg fans to not give anything away.

In an open letter, the directors wrote, in part: “For all of you who have been on this journey with us since the very beginning, sharing every high and low with your family, your friends, your classmates, your co-workers. Investing so deeply in every character and storyline. Laughing. Cheering. Shedding tears. Giving so freely of your thoughts and emotions in spirited dialogue, theories, fan art, and fan fiction. Please know that the two of us, along with everyone involved in Endgame, have worked tirelessly for the last three years with the sole intention of delivering a surprising and emotionally powerful conclusion to Infinity Saga.”

They asked for the fans “help,” pleading: “When you see Endgame in the coming weeks, please don’t spoil it for others, the same way you wouldn’t want it spoiled for you. Remember, Thanos still demands your silence.”

Why are fans emotional about fictional characters?

The psychology behind why fans are likely to be devastated by any Avengers: Endgame deaths is definitely interesting to explore.

Molly Olis Krost, a fan and grad student from the Bay Area, told The Hollywood Reporter: “It is like seeing their lives unfold alongside yours, You feel like it is actively existing along with your own life, which it makes feel inherently more real.”

It’s definitely been a journey for Marvel fans and the finality of this film is likely to have a big impact on those who are emotionally invested in this story.

Yalda Uhls, a professor in UCLA’s psychology department and former film executive at a number of studios, told The Hollywood Reporter why fans form these emotional connections, sharing: “Researchers have long studied a phenomenon called parasocial relationships, whereby people create intense ‘relationships’ with people they don’t know, often celebrities or characters.”

Uhls added: “Experiments on parasocial relationships have shown that affection for a TV character predicts their perception of how real a character is. In other words, if I like character A more than character B, I’ll feel like character A is more real.”

“Absolutely that can feel like real grief. These relationships are meaningful,” Uhls shared.