ON MONDAY night’s episode of Disney-owned “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” the late-night host asked his five guests promoting “Avengers: Infinity War” who might die in the new film, which officially opens Friday. After all, Kimmel noted, someone has to perish in a war.
The cast members stayed mum, but their nervous laughter seemed only to confirm the speculation that has swirled around the Disney/Marvel movie for months. Surely, one of the major superhero players won’t live to see the final credits, will they?
Here is Comic Riffs’ breakdown on who, among the major players, is most likely to die in “Infinity War”:
10. The Hulk/Bruce Banner: The Hulk makes for an awfully big target, narratively speaking, and as “Thor: Ragnarok” showed, he can be beaten in the ring. Plus, there are obstacles to Hulk starring in his own film again (the past two have not been memorable). Yet Hulk has become a great second (green) banana, and besides, Mark Ruffalo is still working on a multiyear contract. Verdict: Hulk lives!
9. Thor: If Taika Waititi’s “Ragnarok” hadn’t rejuvenated the solo franchise, perhaps Chris Hemsworth’s Thor would be at greater risk. But Thor is too vital now and is a crucial comedic member, too. So our prediction: Thor lives on.
8. Spider-Man: Here’s the question: Would Marvel ever ice Spidey (Tom Holland) in its own universe while Peter Parker continues his solo franchise for Sony? Our verdict: It’s too soon to close off that route, as young Holland’s puppy-dog friskiness enlivens all scenes opposite the relatively aging Avengers and Guardians.
7. The Winter Soldier: Once upon a time, Bucky (Sebastian Stan) seemed vulnerable. Now, having been last spotted healing in Wakanda, he is poised to take a lead role going forward — especially if Captain America goes down.
6. Hawkeye: Jeremy Renner’s archer is so vulnerable. Because, really, who other than Black Widow would deeply miss him?
5. Gamora: Being Thanos’s daughter (Zoe Saldana) could ultimately prove to be a narrative safeguard, but then again: Big baddie Thanos (Josh Brolin) may have no love lost in his mission to crush and conquer, family be damned.
4. Iron Man: Robert Downey Jr. has gotten awfully expensive to keep around as ringleader and spiritual godfather after a decade. But this feels like one film too soon to say farewell to Tony Stark — short of Iron Man becoming the franchise’s Obi-Wan from beyond in “Avengers 4.” Which leaves …
3. Captain America: Marvel loves to ice Cap (Chris Evans) in the comic books, so the end is likely near for Steve Rogers on screen, too. But given how much noise Evans has recently made about departing the franchise after “Avengers 4,” our money is on one more film from Captain America before, say, Bucky or the Falcon inherits the shield.
2. Loki: Can an indebted trickster holding the Space Stone ever be too safe? Super-baddie Thanos may make short work of Thor’s sib (Tom Hiddleston) if he has no more need for him. But it might not be worth losing the franchise’s comedic lightning bolt when another major stone-holder might be more vulnerable. Which brings us precisely to …
1. Vision: When “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2” stars promoted their movie last year on “Jimmy Kimmel,” Team Disney/Marvel made sure to include a star (Michael Rooker) whose character was meeting his maker in that very film. In that context, does it loom ominous that Paul Bettany was at the end of Kimmel’s couches Monday night? Consider, too, that the trailers showed Vision having an Infinity Stone pulled from his cranium. For Vision’s sake, we hope that scene was a million-dollar feint.