The Marvel Cinematic Universe has expanded in a lot of very unexpected ways in recent years, with Disney+ adding heaps of new characters to the franchise. Of course, with literally thousands of great characters at its disposal, there’s never going to be room to tell all their stories, and Marvel Studios has subsequently killed off some heroes and villains way too soon.

Whether it’s a character with the potential to be one of the greatest Avengers ever or a villain who could have become an effective recurring threat, the characters listed here should have never met their maker when they did.

Below, we’re taking a look back at 10 huge deaths in the MCU that came too soon and robbed Marvel Studios of the opportunity to tell some incredible stories. Imagine Ultron factoring into Avengers: Endgame or Crossbones taking aim at his old foe, and new Captain America, Sam Wilson. And why the heck did Kang the Conqueror die during his first appearance?!

To take a look through this feature, all you need to do is click the “Next” button below. 

10. T’Challa/Black Panther

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was an emotional, fitting send-off for Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther. However, we can’t help but think T’Challa should have lived on, a decision which would have done nothing to tarnish the late actor’s legacy. 

That’s not to say Shuri doesn’t have potential, but the fact remains that the King of Wakanda’s story was far from over. 

It wouldn’t have been easy for anyone to pick up where Boseman left off. Given how inspirational Black Panther was (the sequel didn’t resonate in quite the same way), we also can’t help but think the MCU’s original T’Challa actor would have supported the idea of someone else picking up the baton in his absence. 

At this stage, it is what it is, but a recast is a must if and when this franchise is rebooted.  

9. Ikaris

It’s possible we’re jumping the jump, but Eternals ending with the apparent death of Ikaris was one of Marvel Studios’ biggest blunders in the divisive 2021 movie. 

After first turning on his fellow immortals and then helping them stop the Emergence of a new Celestial, the conflicted hero flew into the sun in a moment that was far too on the nose for our liking. There were still so many places to take the character, and a redemption arc would have been incredibly satisfying to watch play out.

He could have even remained a villain, and one less two-dimensional than most of the MCU’s offerings.

There’s always a chance Ikaris could return, and we remain optimistic that’s in the works given what an immense talent Richard Madden is. 

8. Jane Foster

We’re guessing Natalie Portman only wanted to make a one-off MCU return, though it’s a shame it had to happen in a movie as underwhelming as Thor: Love and Thunder.

The actress looked awesome as the Mighty Thor and had some standout moments throughout the course of a blockbuster which largely dropped the ball on this character’s story. Ultimately, her sacrifice was effective, but it came far too soon. 

There’s a chance she could return in a future project (especially after that post-credits scene) but Taika Waititi dropped the ball here and it’s far from a safe bet. 

Fingers crossed Portman at least gets a second chance as part of the Multiversal Thor Corps, anyway.  

7. Arnim Zola

Arnim Zola only played a small part in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, but The Winter Soldier delivered a real fan-pleasing moment a few years later when he returned in robotic form.

He didn’t get up and start walking around, though that idea was considered by Marvel Studios (that Zola nearly had a cameo role in Ant-Man). Instead, he was blown to smithereens in an attempt to kill Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff, and it appears that’s the end of the HYDRA devotee.

It’s possible he could return, but this felt like a definitive end for the villain. 

Perhaps Marvel felt that a walking, talking robot was just too goofy, but Zola is one of Captain America’s best villains and someone who deserved better than this. On the plus side, What If…? did at least give us a glimpse at what his final form could have looked like! 

6. The Warriors Three

Thor: Love and Thunder underwhelmed, but Taika Waititi delivered one of Marvel’s best films with Thor: Ragnarok. However, his decision to kill The Warriors Three still stings. 

Hela had already done enough to establish herself as a threat to Thor and Asgard, and making such short work of Volstagg and Fandral (Ray Stevenson and Zachary Levi) did no favours to anyone. It just wasted a couple of talented actors and two characters who had been overlooked from the start. 

Hogun (Tadanobu Asano) got a slightly better ending, but this was a confusing move by Marvel Studios, and likely a rushed way to take them off the table ahead of Avengers: Infinity War

Like Sif, they should have been M.I.A. from Asgard, setting up a future return. Then again, that also disappointed, so perhaps not.  

5. Kang The Conqueror

The controversies surrounding Jonathan Majors aside, he’s done a fantastic job as He Who Remains, Victor Timely, and Kang the Conqueror. However, Marvel Studios massively dropped the ball by killing the latter in Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania

We do think there’s something to be said for the theories that this Kang Variant will return as The Beyonder after being imbued with the powers of his Multiversal Engine Core, but if not, the MCU really has just wasted the Kang…in an Ant-Man movie. 

An earlier cut of the threequel saw him escape, so perhaps Marvel Studios simply wanted to subvert expectations.

It didn’t really work, anyway, and we think this character death played a big role in why so many fans seem disillusioned in the Multiverse Saga.  

4. Quicksilver

Quicksilver was introduced in Avengers: Age of Ultron less than a year after a different version of the mutant showed up in X-Men: Days of Future Past

Fox’s version, played by Evan Peters, managed to overshadow Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s, but the latter never really got the chance to shine after being killed off so soon. His sacrifice was in equal parts heroic and memorable, but we’d have loved to see Pietro become a full-fledged Avenger.

His sister Wanda has received her fair share of the spotlight since, but Quicksilver could have been a key player in the MCU.

WandaVision did bring the speedster back, of course, but not in a way that satisfied fans. Peters got to play Pietro, but we’d later learn he was only an actor in Westview called Ralph Bohner who Agatha Harkness had taken control of in order to toy with Wanda Maximoff. 

3. Crossbones

With his origin story playing out in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it made sense for Brock Rumlow to return as Crossbones in Civil War

Set photos teased an impressive costume design, but little did we know his screentime would be limited to a brief fight with Cap before being blown up by the Scarlet Witch. With that, his story ended, and one of the hero’s best baddies was placed back on the shelf. 

It’s a real shame too, especially when you stop and imagine how cool it would have been for Crossbones to come after the new Captain America, Sam Wilson. 

Sin could have even joined him, but Marvel Studios missed a trick here, and this stands as one of the few missteps made by the Russo Brothers in the MCU. 

2. Baron Strucker

Baron Strucker is a recurring villain in the Marvel Comics Universe, and he once even managed to brainwash Wolverine and use him as a HYDRA agent. 

The MCU’s version was responsible for creating Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, but after easily being defeated by Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in Avengers: Age of Ultron, he was killed in his prison cell by Ultron. It was a fitting enough arc for the villain, but one that also underwhelmed.

We’re not saying he was going to be a big bad in the MCU, but it was strange he didn’t even have a role to play in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

It’s hard not to think about what might have been with this one. 

1. Ultron

Ultron is one of the greatest comic book villains ever created, and among the most formidable foes the Avengers have ever faced. 

Making him a one-and-done bad guy in Joss Whedon’s sequel was an unusual decision, even if his final scene delivered a far more poignant end than we’re used to seeing in superhero films. The Vision, the son, destroying Ultron, the father, was both fitting and tragic in equal measures.

Five years on, it’s still surprising there hasn’t been a single hint about Ultron’s survival, but that could and should change as we head into Phase 4 and beyond. 

The hope had been that WandaVision might do something to set the stage for the villainous android’s return, but unless he’s buried somewhere in the White Vision’s programming, we’re not banking on it (especially now he’s been revisited in What If…? with “Infinity Ultron”). 

 Marvel Studios has had a great run since Iron Man launched in 2008, but it would be wrong to say they haven’t made some mistakes. Among them was the decision to kill these heroes and villains far too soon.  Read More