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Catching up with 18 characters from “Avengers: Infinity War?

Joe Gross
jgross@statesman.com

“Avengers: Infinity War,” which opens April 27, is the culmination of 10 years and 18 (!) insanely popular movies from Disney/Marvel.

Over that time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come to comprise dozens of characters, each with their own arcs and stories, many of which are going to make some sort of appearance in “Infinity War.” 

Here is where we last saw 18u of them and whether we think the character is going to die or retire at the end of this film or its sequel, “Avengers 4” which is allegedly part two of “Infinity War.”

1. Captain America (Chris Evans)

Last seen: About to break some pals out of the clink in “Captain America: Civil War” and doing it with the insouciant half-smile we have come to expect from sorry what was I talking about? 

The end of “Civil War” shows Cap writing Tony Stark (Iron Man) a nice note about how the Avengers was always more Tony’s thing than Cap’s and hey, here’s a disposable cell phone if you need to call and chat. We see Cap at the floating prison known as the Raft, presumably to break out Falcon, Ant Man and Hawkeye. He has been spotted in the “Infinity War” trailer, possibly in Wakanda, rocking an all-black costume, the really dope point arm shield things and a beard that seemed to make all of Twitter swoon at once. (There’s comic book precedent for this -- see also Steve Rogers occasional time operating under the name Nomad.)

Will he die or retire?: Nah, he’s supposed to be in Avengers 4 (the 2019 movie formerly known as “Infinity War, Part 2”) but after that, well, Evans has been making noise about wanting to direct for a good, long time now. Will the death of the Man Out of Time be the event that launches the next ten years of MCU movies? 

Should he die?: What are you, a HYDRA agent? Of course not. The man embodies the American Dream at its best ad he’s been positioned as the moral center of the franchise since “Captain America: the First Avenger.” 

2. Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman)

Last Seen: telling the world about Wakanda and opening a Wakandan cultural embassy in Oakland in “Black Panther,” making more than $600 million at the box office, generally being one of the few bright spots of 2018

According to the “Infinity” trailer, Captain America has been hanging out in Wakanda ,which may be under attack leads T’Challa to utter the trailer’s most-fist-pumping line: “Evacuate the city... engage all defenses...And Get This Man A Shield” as he points to the bearded Evans. LORD, THAT WAS DOPE. 

Will he die or retire?: Dude starring in the highest grossing movie so far of 2016. He ain’t going nowhere.

3. Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.)

Last Seen: about to propose to his girlfriend at the end of “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” wearing ugly glasses

Tony Stark is in a bit of a bind. The Avengers seemingly smashed to bits after “Civil War,” Stark sponsors Peter Parker in “Homecoming,” giving him a totally overpowered suit and mentoring Peter such that he reject’s Stark’s offer to become a full-time Avenger. So he proposed to Pepper Potts instread. He seems to be wearing next generation armor in the trailer. He also still has Captain America's shield (or someone does).

Will he die or retire?: Signs point to yes. Downey has been in MCU movies since 2008. He’s only been in a handful of non-MCU pics since then. His last truly great performance was in “Zodiac” in 2007 (which, if you have not seen it, do so tonight). And let’s be real: Even if you agreed with the man in “Civil War,” we’ve all kind of had enough of this dude. 

4. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)

Last seen: at the new Avengers facility at the end of “Age of Ultron”

Marvel screenwriters have kept Fury off the board for a bit. He seemed to walk into the sunset after the demise of S.H.I.E.L.D. at the end of “Winter Soldier,” but was seen later in “Age of Ultron’ working with the Avengers at their new digs. He didn’t show up in “Winter Soldier,” nor in “Guardians,” “Homecoming” or “Ragnarok.” He will likely appear in “Infinity War” and “Avengers 4” and then his contract is allegedly up.

Will he die or retire?: Entirely possible. Writers purposely kept him off the board in “Civil War” so he wouldn’t have to choose between his “kids” but they’ve also run out of runway a bit with the guy.

5. Spider-Man (Tom Holland)

Last Seen: settling into his role as a friendly neighbor hero in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” embodying Peter Parker better than any other actor

While he rejected Tony Stark’s “Iron Spider” armor at the end of “Homecoming,” he’s wearing it in the “Infinity War” trailer. (Which is a bit of a bummer, as it was always fun in the comics to see Spidey vs. some cosmic-level threat clothed only in his Spider-jammies.)

Will he die?: No. Given the level of critical praise heaped on Holland’s (note-perfect) performance as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in both “Civil War” and “Homecoming,” it’s easy to see Holland as a key player in Phase Three. He is young, he is good at his job -- he could be in the films for as long as he likes.

6. Thor (Chris Hemsworth)

Last Seen: short-haired captain of a ship full of Asgardian/Sakaarian refugees in “Thor: Ragnarok”

Thor had a rough go of it “Ragnarok.” His dad died, he lost Asgard to demons, he now has has only one eye, Odin-style. His hammer has been destroyed and he has all of the rest of Asgard on a ship with a bunch of aliens from the gladiator battles on Sakaar. We know from post-credit scenes and trailers he has likely run into Thanos’ ship and at some point encounters the Guardians of the Galaxy (and Star-Lord’s moustache).

Will he die or be retired?: Probably not in this movie. Bets are off after “Avengers 4.” He has been doing this since 2011’s “Thor.” 

7. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)

Last Seen: avoid prosecution at the end of “Captain America: Civil War,” not being ginger

She managed to dodge prison at the end of “Civil War” but is more on Cap’s side than Tony’s. She is now sporting blonde hair, probably because she is on the run from General Ross and probably because Scarlett Johansson’ s contract is, well, she’s been around since “Iron Man 2” (and was a great part of “The Winter Soldier.”)

Will she die or retire?: Not this movie, maybe next. The rumors of a Black Widow solo flick are endless but such a movie could be set in the past. 

8. The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)

Last Seen: hanging around Thor’s ship in “Thor: Ragnarok,” being way smarter and more articulate than we’re previously seen him

In “Ragnarok,” we learn that after “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Hulk ended up as as a Champion gladiator on Sakaar, from whence he is liberated over the course of the film. He is with Thor on Thor’s ship, but in the trailers for “Infinity War,” we see him as Banner, fallen to earth through Doctor Strange’s Greenwich Village pad (aka the Sanctum Sanctorum). 

Will he die or retire?: No, Ruffalo has only four films into a six-movie deal. 

9. Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch)

Last Seen: pouring Thor an bottomless beer in “Ragnarok,” then ushering him on his way.

He can be seen in the “Infinity” trailer getting ready to fight...something. We also see him getting tortured, possibly for the Time Stone, which he possesses.

Will he die or retire?: No, the MCU character is still way too new but let’s see a show of hands of folks who care deeply about the screen version of this dude. Now everyone who isn’t a Cumberbatch stan put their hands DOWN. Yeah, that’s what I thought. #teamwong 

10. Falcon (Anthony Mackie)

Last Seen: about to be broken out of the Raft in “Captain America: Civil War,” being generally awesome

Over the course of several movies, Mackie's Falcon proved one of the most welcome screen presences in the entire franchise (see also his note-perfect line-readings during the entire first scene of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”)

Will he die or retire?: No, his contract isn’t close to up. And hey, he rocked the identity of Captain America for a while there in the comics. Which isn’t to say Marvel would do something similar in the movies but… that would be pretty cool.

11. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner)

Last Seen: getting rescued from the Raft by Captain America in “Civil War,” being boring

Well, everyone did their best, but not even giving this guy a secret family in “Age of Ultron” could make this guy interesting on screen. (Which is ironic, given that Matt Fraction and David Aja’s comic “Hawkeye” (2016-), is smart, pulpy and graphically ambitious.)

Will he die or retire?: He’s as good a candidate as any. There long been talk of a “Hawkeye” solo movie, but let’s be real -- nobody cares. His best possible fate? Stick him in a flashback-style “Black Widow” solo movie that explain their professional-not-romantic relationship and the origin of the line: “You and I remember Budapest very differently.” 

12. James “Bucky” Barnes/the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan)

Last seen: hanging out in Wakanda, talking to Shuri, being called the “White Wolf”

Barnes has been as much a plot driver as a character in the three Captain America movies. He was frozen and stuck in Wakanda at the end of “Civil War” and the 

Will he die or retire?: He seems like the sort of dude who will make himself a heroic sacrifice BUT Stan is on the hook for nine movies and (seeing as how he has done so in the comics) is a VERY likely candidate for picking up the mantle of Captain America if Steve Rogers is killed. 

13. Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt)

Last Seen: taking off for parts unknown in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”

This is an interesting one. Because of some screwy pacing stuff, “Vol. 2” took place around 2014. Take a look at the “Infinity” trailer again -- Quill looks older, more in charge and rocking a sweet, sweet moustache. 

Will he die or retire?: No, Pratt will be around for at least Avengers 4 and Guardians Vol. 3. And knocking off funny characters in a melodrama never works well-- just look at the opprobrium “Avengers” helmer Joss Whedon faced when he knocked off Wash in “Serenity.” #leafonthewind #sob

14. War Machine (Don Cheadle)

Last Seen: getting shot out of the sky and then struggling to recover at the end of “Captain America: Civil War”

Well, it looked like the man was toast after “Civil War,” but word has it he is back in the War Machine suit

Will he die or retire?: Not in this flick but in the comics, Rhodes spent a good amount of time in the Iron Man suit -- he would be a natural choice to take over the part if Downey bows out.

15. Ant-Man (Paul Rudd)

Last Seen: getting broken out of prison in “Captain America: Civil War”

Rudd seemed an odd fit in “Ant-Man” which was initially planned as a wittier movie than it turned out to be, but he was a welcome bit of comic relief in “Civil War” and the “Giant-Man” reveal was one of that film’s highlights. 

Will he die or retire?: No. He has “Ant-Man and the Wasp” out next year.

16. The Vision (Paul Bettany)

Last Seen: As a members of #teamtony at end of “Captain America: Civil War,” playing chess by himself

The Vision is in an interesting place. On the one hand, he was on Stark’s side in “Civil War.” On the other, he and Scarlet Witch ended up on opposite sides of that fight. He also has an Infinity Stone that Thanos wants in the middle of his head.

Will he die or retire?: Man, this one is totally up for grabs. Since the stone has been presented as The Thing That Makes Him The Vision and Thanos is all about yanking it off his head, it’s not looking good.

17. The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen)

Last seen: A prisoner on the Raft, busted out by Cap at the end of “Civil War”

Based on the trailers, it looks like the romantic relationship between Vision and Scarlet Witch will be a nice hunk of “Infinity.”

Will she die or retire?: Probably not. She’s only been in three movies (and one of those was a cameo). In fact, giving her and Bettany more actual acting would be welcome. 

18. Loki (Tom Hiddleston)

Last Seen: on the ship with at the end of “Thor: Ragnarok,” not betraying anyone this minute

Loki is the Norse manifestation of one of the most vibrant ideas in human mythology: the trickster god. See also Anansi the spiderman of Ghana, Hermes of Greece, etc. Over 50+ years of Marvel Comics, Loki could be genuinely evil or just a pest. He is an exceptionally flexible creation. Given Hiddleston’s charm in “Ragnarok,” it’s easy to forget he was totally evil in “Avengers” and was working WITH Thanos in an attempt to conquer Earth. No way he didn’t know Thor was going to run into an enormous ship that might very well have Thanos on it.

Will he die or retire?: Since there are broad hints he is fighting with Thanos in “Infinity War,” it seems entirely possible he will bite it here or in “Avengers 4” (perhaps even heroically -- Loki is mercurial!)