It was Kevin Feige’s original plan for the end of Avengers: Endgame to see the six original Avengers die in the fight against Thanos, but that decision would have caused more harm than good to the MCU. A Toy Story 3-like ending was originally Feige’s pitch for Iron Man 3, according to the new book The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, written by co-director Joe Russo.
As depicted in Joss Whedon’s groundbreaking The Avengers, The Avengers are presumed to have met their demise in this book, even though it isn’t stated how. While Tony Stark and Natasha Romanoff were killed using the Infinity Gauntlet, the rest of the characters survived Endgame unscathed. Because the original pitch was so different, it’s impossible to know for sure if Marvel made the correct creative decision, but they did for several reasons.
To put it another way, they knew there was no way to “celebrate” every character in a meaningful way for long-time fans of the Marvel universe if they were all killed off. The exit of Steve Rogers was unexpectedly cathartic, but it would have been impossible to write off the Hulk, Hawkeye, and Thor in the film’s already lengthy three-hour runtime.
While it is inevitable that a new generation of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will take their place at the top of the MCU after Endgame, cramming all of the six original Avengers into one film also runs a risk numbing the viewers to future surprises.
Even though the Red Wedding was one of the most shocking moments of modern television, very few of the show’s many deaths had as much effect on viewers after the show ended. If Marvel had attempted to do something similar, the already complex challenge of following Endgame would have become even more difficult.
To end the Infinity Saga in such a dismal and heart-wrenching manner goes against the very heart of what Disney and Marvel Studios have accomplished. It’s not uncommon for comic book storylines to take a dark turn, but good triumphs over evil in general. There were many threads woven together by the MCU around the arrival of Thanos.
Half of the universe “snapped away” by the Mad Titan in Avengers: Infinity War was an unthinkable act that demanded just punishment. To end the arc with the deaths of so many beloved characters risks giving three waves of films an emotionally unsatisfactory conclusion.
By killing off Iron Man and Black Widow, Marvel also gave Captain America a proper ending. Fans argue that Natasha’s death in the film didn’t resonate emotionally because the film had to keep moving forward towards its final battle immediately after her passing.
Overcrowding the plot, risking burnout, and going against the spirit of what makes most long-term comic book arcs so rewarding are all risks that come with adding three more major deaths to the equation. The Russo brothers’ ability to control the final moments of Avengers: End Game is a good thing for several reasons.