The Marvel Cinematic Universe has perfected the art of emotional manipulation. Although these films supposedly focus on superheroes fighting bad guys, the MCU has expanded beyond a simple action hero story. Instead, this franchise has learned how to get fans deeply invested in each individual character, only to rip that beloved personality away in the most horrific way. Each new MCU installment comes with its own set of tear-inducing moments, each one a little more difficult to watch than the last.
While the heartbreaking end of certain characters is simply the norm in Marvel movies, some passings are especially difficult to deal with. The complexity of these characters and their relationships with other members of the Marvel universe means that each new passing has a ripple effect that runs throughout the MCU. But it's not just the other characters who suffer during a loss. Devoted fans who feel they know these personalities also feel a hole in their hearts when certain characters disappear from their screens forever.
Well, it's time to relive the torment. Take a look below at some of the saddest deaths in the MCU and vote up the ones that hit you right where it hurts.
Although dedicated MCU fans expected Iron Man's end in Avengers: Endgame, it didn't make the actual moment any easier to watch. The action-packed final fight against a past version of Thanos was full of emotion, but the most terrifying moment occurred when Thanos prepared to complete the Snap again, undoing all the Avengers’ hard work. Knowing that using the gauntlet would finish him, Iron Man transferred the Infinity Stones to his own hand using nanotech technology. Before wiping out Thanos’ army with a Snap of his own, Tony Stark uttered his final words: “I am Iron Man.”
As the first member of the Avengers and the leader of the team, Iron Man's passing marked the end of an era. Without him, the Avengers will never be the same again. Not only that, but his sarcastic and arrogant personality will always be a missing piece in future MCU movies.
What made this loss particularly difficult, however, was the people he left behind. Peter Parker was the first to find him and immediately burst into tears when he realized the condition of his beloved mentor and father figure. Peter was followed by Pepper Potts, who assured Tony that everyone would be okay. Lastly, Tony left behind his young daughter, whom he adored and cared about more than anyone in the world. Even with all those many sacrifices, Tony still decided to be a hero and to protect the world. It was an end fitting of a superhero of Iron Man's caliber, but one that tugged at the heartstrings and drew more than a few tears.
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- Played By: Robert Downey Jr.
As the adoptive father to Peter Quill, Yondu Undonta was nothing to write home about. In the first film, Yondu was essentially a villain. He hated Quill for taking the Orb and only agreed to help him defeat Ronan the Accuser because he thought he would receive the Infinity Stone in the end. He showed, however, that he truly cared about Quill when Peter escaped with the Infinity Stone and Yondu decided not to get revenge on his adoptive son.
Yondu's position as a caring if harsh dad expanded in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 when he revealed to Quill that he saved him from Ego as a child by refusing to return him to his self-important father. Instead, Yondu took Quill in and tried to give him some sort of life, however messed up it may have been. Yondu shows that he truly cares about Quill, but it's not long after that Quill's adoptive father makes the ultimate sacrifice.
While fighting Ego, the planet explodes before Quill can escape and Yondu swoops in to save his son. They fly off into space and Yondu tells Quill how lucky he is to be his father and apologizes that he wasn't the best dad in the world. As the two enter space and lose oxygen, Yondu gives Quill his spacesuit and ensures that he survives. Soon after mending his relationship with his father, Quill has to watch Yondu perish.
While the moment redeems Yondu as a character, it also brought many tears to the eyes of dedicated Marvel fans. All Quill wanted was a father, and as soon as he finds out that he had one all long, he loses both his adopted dad and his biological dad forever.
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- Played By: Michael Rooker
Black Widow's end came as a true surprise in Avengers: Endgame. While fans expected popular characters like Iron Man and Captain America to make a sacrifice for the greater good, no one considered that Natasha Romanoff might end her time as a member of the Avengers. However, when she and Clint Barton were forced to make a sacrifice on Vormir to obtain the Soul Stone and undo the effects of the Snap, Black Widow refused to let her best friend fall to his doom. Although Clint tried to sacrifice himself in her place, Natasha saved him before he could fall and forced him to let go of her hand, willingly throwing herself off the cliff in his place.
Black Widow was the original example of a strong female character in the MCU. Over the course every subsequent MCU installment after her initial appearance, the Avengers became more than just a job to her. She was willing to sacrifice herself to bring millions of people back to life, knowing that without the Soul Stone, the Avengers would fail. Not only that, she also made sure that Clint could return to his family. Their close relationship was a bright spot in the dark world of the MCU, and the fact that Clint was the one who had to watch her fall made her passing all the more heartbreaking.
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- Played By: Scarlett Johansson
While many deaths in Avengers: Infinity War were reversed, Gamora's was absolutely permanent. Although she spent a large chunk of her life resisting her adoptive father, Thanos, he found her in the end and dragged her along on his mission to find the Infinity Stones.
Her passing, however, was so much more than just a sacrifice by an evil villain. After learning that the Soul Stone required the life of someone Thanos loved, Gamora thought she had won. She taunted her father, telling him that there was no one he loved. Unfortunately, he was wrong. Despite his hatred and evil intentions, Thanos truly loved Gamora. However, she only found out about his true affections for her when he threw her off a cliff to complete his ultimate mission.
The combination of emotion and brutality in that moment made our stomachs turn. Not only did a father take the life of his own daughter, a beloved character in the MCU, the decision also pushed Thanos closer to his overall goal while fans could only sit and watch in horror.
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- Played By: Zoe Saldana