The ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Death That Hit Fans the Hardest

Going into Avengers: Endgame, fans were warned that the stakes were very high. Many took this to mean that there would be at least one (if not more) permanent deaths in the film. (Stop reading now if you’re trying to avoid spoilers for Endgame.) Sadly, this did turn out to be the case. But which of the movie’s character deaths was hardest for audiences? Let’s take a look.

Avengers: Endgame still
Avengers: Endgame still | Film Frame © Marvel Studios 2019

Avengers: Infinity War set the stage

As anyone who follows the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and probably many who don’t) knows, 2018’s Infinity War ended with Thanos collecting all of the Infinity Stones in the Infinity Gauntlet and snapping his fingers, eliminating half of all living creatures in the universe. It was a somber end to action flick, but there was a silver lining: It wasn’t permanent.

Nothing was ever confirmed prior to Endgame’s release, but audiences knew that, to some degree, the plot of the movie would revolve around working to reverse the Decimation. Because of this, the deaths of the film didn’t hit quite as hard as they would have had Endgame not been in the works.

Endgame was touted as an conclusion for the franchise to date

The reason that there was a lot of speculation around who would survive Endgame is how the studio marketed the film. For years leading up to it, even before the title of the movie was announced, Marvel told fans that this movie would make the end of the MCU Phase 3 (well, sort of), and, therefore, meant that some characters would complete their arcs.

This news, coupled with insider knowledge about actor contracts as well as a wave of nostalgic social media posts from some of the stars, led audiences to believe that at least one of the Original 6 Avengers would die in Endgame. As it turns out, we were right.

The first major character death came mid-way through the movie

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Now that Endgame has been out for one record-breaking weekend, we can finally discuss the outcome. In the movie, two of Original 6 Avengers died: Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow and Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark / Iron Man.

The first of those was the most surprising to fans. Natasha and her best friend, Clint Barton (Hawkeye / Ronin) went to Vormir to get the Soul Stone in the year 2014 before Thanos could. Like we saw in Infinity War, a human sacrifice had to be made. Natasha and Clint fought to save the other, but ultimately, she fell off the cliff to her death. Clint then reluctantly made his way back to 2023 to inform the others.

The second came out the end of the film

Tony Stark’s death came where you would expect: At the end of the movie, during the final battle. As the Avengers work to keep Thanos from using the Infinity Gauntlet, Tony, already fairly beat up from the fight thus far, makes eye contact with Doctor Strange, who lets him know that it’s up to him to save the day. So Tony tricks Thanos, gets the stones from him, and snaps his fingers, dusting the Mad Titan and his cronies.

As we’ve seen twice before this, wielding the Stones has devastating effects on the user. Thanos and Hulk just barely survived, and so it wasn’t terribly surprising to see Tony succumb to his injuries. His life was celebrated with a beautiful lakeside funeral with all of his cohorts in attendance.

Here’s why Black Widow’s death hit fans the hardest

Obviously, everyone has a different opinion as to which death was worse for them. But considering the stark (hehe) differences between them, it makes sense that Natasha’s death was the more painful of the two. Here’s why: it was sudden and unexpected. It came down to the very last second, and it was nearly just as likely that Clint would sacrifice himself. The Avengers then went on to mourn her for less than five minutes of screentime, before assuring themselves that she’d want them to continue fighting.

Conversely, Tony’s death was drawn out — he got to say goodbye to his wife and some of his closest friends. He had a video prerecorded with his last wishes, and, as previously described, was honored appropriately. Meanwhile, Clint and Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch) had a quick scene where they took comfort in thinking that Vision (Wanda’s love interest who died in Infinity War) and Natasha knew they had beat Thanos.

Yes, Natasha’s death was necessary for the events of Endgame to play out as they did. And no, they didn’t have time to mourn her in the same way at the moment. But it’s pretty darn sad that she didn’t get any kind of memorial at all, especially considering she considered the Avengers to be her family. Hopefully, her upcoming origin story will bring fans a bit of closure.

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