Editor’s Word: This text accommodates spoilers for WandaVision, Loki, and Black Widow.
One of many bummers of comedian books as of late is that dying doesn’t actually matter. Ever since Superman “died” within the Nineties solely to be resurrected, numerous different heroes have died as extra of a brief inconvenience. It’s a technique to juice gross sales, seize some mainstream headlines, after which determine a technique to carry them again for a relaunch that may in flip present a jumping-on level for brand new readers. Nevertheless, dying ought to matter in tales. In the true world, dying is ultimate, and it leaves an enormous affect round everybody touched by an irreparable loss. And from a fundamental storytelling perspective, if you’d like a narrative to matter, you then want dying to rely as a result of in any other case the stakes of the story are diminished.
Avengers: Infinity Struggle and Avengers: Endgame had been the end result of the “Infinity Saga”, the primary three phases of the MCU, and that end result meant that some characters needed to die and die for good. The issue was that these characters had been additionally extremely common, so how would you make these deaths matter, and nonetheless carry these characters again for brand new tales in order that Marvel might maintain banking on goodwill, particularly when a few of these characters by no means actually had the room to get their very own narrative once they had been a part of the massive MCU ensemble?
Because the MCU strikes into Part 4, we’ve seen that Marvel’s answer to dying has been to work round the issue moderately than merely resurrect those that have been misplaced. We noticed that proper off the bat with WandaVision, which managed to carry again Imaginative and prescient (Paul Bettany). All of us noticed Imaginative and prescient die in Infinity Struggle, and but right here he was dwelling out suburban sitcom bliss with Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen). Because the story unfolded, we noticed that Imaginative and prescient actually was lifeless, and that this new Imaginative and prescient was one who had been conjured by Wanda’s reality-altering magic, and in addition one who might solely stay inside the confines of the Westview Anomaly. He hadn’t been resurrected, however was a brand new factor totally, and in addition separate from the White Imaginative and prescient that S.W.O.R.D. had created. Even Imaginative and prescient explored the curious nature of his new existence with the “Ship of Theseus” parable, asking if one thing that’s been altered over time nonetheless retains the essence of its authentic design. For Marvel, the query of whether or not Imaginative and prescient was now alive was a convincing, “Sure, however…”
Then there was the matter of Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who was killed by Thanos (Josh Brolin) originally of Infinity Struggle. “No extra resurrections this time, I believe,” Thanos mentioned after killing the God of Mischief, a reference to how Loki had seemingly died in each Thor and Thor: The Darkish World solely to return. And Thanos was right in a way. The way in which to inform a brand new Loki story concerned going again to New York in 2012 and having Loki escape with the Area Stone solely to be captured by the Time Variance Authority. Whereas we at the moment don’t know the way this season of Loki will finish, we do know that Marvel has solved the issue of a lifeless Loki by making their star a “variant”, somebody who has solely skilled the character’s arc up till the occasions of The Avengers after which goes a unique path. So the Loki of Thor: The Darkish World, Thor: Ragnarok, and Avengers: Infinity Struggle continues to be lifeless and that dying issues to characters like Thor (Chris Hemsworth), however there’s nonetheless a brand new technique to inform a Loki story.
And now with the arrival of Black Widow, Marvel has discovered the best method round a personality’s dying: prequel. Even our heroes in Endgame appeared perplexed that they couldn’t merely use the Infinity Stones to resurrect Natasha (Scarlett Johansson), however these had been apparently the foundations of the commerce—a soul for a soul—and there was no bringing again their fallen comrade. However the Avenger nonetheless deserved her personal story, and the way in which to handle that was to easily return to the occasions following Captain America: Civil Struggle and inform us what she was as much as between that movie and her reappearance alongside Captain America (Chris Evans) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) in Infinity Struggle. After we attain the credit scene, we see Yelena (Florence Pugh) at Natasha’s gravesite, as soon as once more confirming that Natasha died in Endgame regardless that we simply spent a complete film along with her.
For some, these new avenues could appear to be “cheats”, a method round deaths that aren’t narratively handy for the MCU. However I see them extra as intelligent workarounds that don’t negate the deaths that had an affect earlier within the story. You possibly can’t have a narrative about Wanda’s grief if Imaginative and prescient doesn’t die. Loki can’t go on a brand new path if he isn’t shocked by his personal demise. Yelena can’t avenge Natasha’s dying if Natasha continues to be alive. These deaths matter, and I don’t begrudge Marvel for locating a technique to make them stick even when they’re additionally persevering with to inform tales about deceased characters.
KEEP READING: How the MCU Was Made: ‘Avengers: Infinity Struggle’ and Crafting the Starting of the Endgame