Spoilers! Heavy spoilers! Be forewarned: This story is entirely spoilers.
Some people don’t have the time or patience to see the artful twists and turns of “Avengers: Endgame,” or to weigh its layers of social commentary. They just want to know one thing: Who dies?
Since last year’s “Infinity War,” predicting who returns and who survives has made for an engaging guessing game. This piece, on the other hand, is for those of you who have just enough pop-culture curiosity to be conversant on “Endgame” — yet don’t want to sit in a theater for three hours to relish the spectacle.
Here are the four biggest reveals about who lives and who dies:
Status: He survives, but then is shown, after time travel, to be an old man close to the end of his life.
Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) was at the top of the list of Avengers who might not make it out of “Endgame.” The comic-book DNA was there for analysis. Captain America has “died” in the pages of Marvel Comics before, and Marvel Studios always goes the extra mile to pay homage to its source material.
The comics also have replaced Rogers as Captain America with his sidekicks twice: once with Bucky/the Winter Soldier and another time with Sam Wilson/the Falcon, both of whom play important roles in the MCU.
But instead of saying the most permanent of goodbyes, Captain America lives his best life better than any Avenger at the end of “Endgame,” taking advantage of his final time-travel mission — and the loopiness of the rules of time travel — to get back the life he lost when he was frozen for decades.
When Captain America returns from that mission seconds later, he’s the old man he never got to be. With a look of satisfaction that says he lived a full life with the love of his life (Agent Carter), Cap hangs up his shield, having been the best superhero and man he could be — and getting equal time to do both.
He doesn’t die. He lives better than he ever thought he could.
Status: He’s a goner, but his arc — both within the film and the franchise — is complete.
He’s the character who started it all 11 years ago, when “Iron Man” launched what would become the $19 billion Marvel Cinematic Universe. The studio has often leaned on the charisma of Robert Downey Jr., and the narrative gears have frequently depended on weapons manufacturer Tony Stark, both in and out of the power suit.
So it’s especially poignant when at the climax of “Endgame,” it’s Stark who — having had bonding moments with his daughter, his father and Pepper Potts throughout the film — chooses to sacrifice his life to save the universe. (Throughout it all, Downey gets to flex a range of acting muscles in an Oscar-caliber performance.)
Thanos may say he “is inevitable.” But only Stark “is Iron Man.”
Status: In perhaps the most shocking death scene, she surrenders herself for the greatest good.
Ever since 2010’s “Iron Man 2,” Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha/Black Widow has been everything the Marvel universe has needed her to be: an assassin, a friend, a confidante, an inspirational adviser and the social glue of the Avengers.
Black Widow deserves her own franchise, which is said to be in preproduction. But before then, Marvel decided she had to be sacrificed for the crucial Soul Stone gem in “Endgame.”
And so, in a battle with her dear friend Hawkeye to see who can give up their mortality first, Black Widow loses by winning — leaving the Avengers stunned and bereaved.
Black Widow knew her mission: “Whatever it takes.” And in “Endgame,” it sadly takes her life.
Status: He was killed! Twice.
Few love, admire and seek death like the Mad Titan. So it was fitting that Thanos dies not once, but twice in “Endgame.”
The first time is at the beginning of the film at the hands of a frustrated Thor, who, along with the Avengers hunting down Thanos, realize (at the time) that they can’t undo the destruction Thanos has done, because he’s eliminated the Infinity Stones that are needed to undo his madness.
When the Avengers, led by Iron Man, figure out time travel to try to collect the Infinity Stones, they come up against Thanos once again, who falls defeated — disintegrated — in their rematch.