Warning: this list contains spoilers.
Marvel Comics shocked its readers in 2016 with the reveal of their universe’s new major antagonist - HYDRA Captain America. Marvel’s Secret Empire event grew out of that initial plot twist, as the Cosmic Cube was used to re-write Captain America’s history, and eventually the history of the entire Marvel Universe. In a storyline that lasted more than a year in the real world, writer Nick Spencer crafted a tale that included HYDRA Cap cutting a bloody swath through the world he once fought to protect.
It’s standard for superheroes and their supporting characters to die in major events and crossovers, as history has shown that such things will inevitably increase sales - just look at all the times mutants were wiped out in X-Men comics. However, Secret Empire and the comics that led up to it went above and beyond the usual amount of casualties as the stakes were continually raised higher and higher.
Notably, the ending of Secret Empire made it clear that these unfortunate losses were not about to be waved away or written out of continuity. The aftereffects of HYDRA Cap and his Secret Empire will be felt in the Marvel Universe for years to come. Check out the characters that Marvel really killed during the Secret Empire arc and vote up the most surprising deaths.
Cause of Death: Neck broken by Captain America’s shield.
Cause of Death: Shot to death by Deadpool under orders from Captain America.
Cause of Death: Executed by HYDRA firing squad.
Cause of Death: Thrown from a high window by Steve Rogers.
#16 on The Best Comic Book Villains