No matter what they say, there are no permanent deaths in Marvel Comics. Oh sure, some villains might get out of hand and put their nemesis in the ground from time to time, but no one really expects someone like Captain America or Iron Man to stay buried for long.
Even lower-tier popular superheroes find a way to attain semi-immortality, even if they have a nasty habit of perishing every few years. There's no rule about offing a hero, or even the parent of a hero in order to make an impact with the readers, but it's hard to imagine making most comic book ends stick in a universe full of time travelers, pocket universes, and literal Norse gods.
None of the following superhero "deaths" were going to be forever, but a few of them must have seemed like it at the time.
- Photo: The Death of Captain America / Marvel
How'd He Go: In the fallout from Civil War, an event series that pitted Marvel heroes against one another over the idea of superhero registration, Captain America and members of the Secret Avengers were apprehended by S.H.I.E.L.D. and taken into custody. While in his cell, Cap took a bullet on the orders of Red Skull. With Cap out of the way, Red Skull planned to put his consciousness into the unborn child of Sharon Carter and Steve Rogers. This particular plan flamed out in a major way with Skull stuck in a robot body, but Steve Rogers was still gone. While this was a big deal, it mostly served as a way to jumpstart a new, very comic book-y story following the super intense Civil War series.
How Long Was He Gone: Steve Rogers stayed gone for a little over a year in both real time and comic book time. Captain America: Reborn picked up with America trying to figure out how to honor the anniversary of his demise and Sharon Carter still grasping with the fact that she did away with the man she loves.
How'd He Come Back: It turns out the Cap didn't actually perish. The device that Sharon used was created by Doctor Doom, and it froze the hero in space and time. Captain America wound up jumping through different points in his life until he ended up in an alternate reality where Red Skull is the leader of the "free" world. In reality, Skull took over Steve Rogers's body and used it to fight Sharon, Hank Pym, and some of the Avengers. Eventually, Steve kicked Red Skull out of his body and regained full consciousness. The Avengers then enlarged Red Skull into a giant and Vision used the weapons aboard an Advanced Idea Mechanics transport ship to blow the villain to kingdom come.270An obviously temporary end?
- Photo: The Death of Wolverine / Marvel
How'd He Go: After losing his healing factor to a Microverse virus, Wolverine confronted Doctor Cornelius, the founder of the Weapon-X program, to stop the creepy scientist from replicating the experiments that created Wolverine in the first place. While fighting to stop Cornelius's experiments, Wolverine slashed at vats of liquid adamantium and ended up encased in the unbreakable liquid metal, asphyxiating in front of the laboratory.
How Long Was He Gone: Wolverine was gone for five long years. As one of the most popular characters in the world of comics - not just Marvel - this was a huge deal. While it was necessary to get Wolverine out of the picture for a while to allow other characters to get some page time, he was a constant source of conversation.
How'd He Come Back: Wolverine was one of many formerly deceased mutants, assassins, and artists brought back to life by the mutant Persphone as her mind-controlled puppets. What she didn't count on was how bringing back Wolverine would kickstart his healing factor and completely restore his body and mind.222An obviously temporary end?
- Photo: Civil War 2 / Marvel
How'd He Go: Civil War II found Tony Stark at odds with members of the intelligence community after they discovered an Inhuman named Ulysses with the ability to accurately predict the future. Carol Danvers considered Ulysses an asset to help protecting the world by arresting evil-doers before they did anything wrong. Tony Stark didn't think it was right to go all Minority Report on people, and eventually he and Danvers faced off in a bloody contest. Danvers dealt out punishing blow after blow to Stark and straight-up beat the life out of him over their moral disagreement.
How Long Was He Gone: Stark spent months in stasis, but while that was happening, there was an A.I. of Stark around to offer guidance to Riri Williams when she took on the role of Ironheart.
How'd He Come Back: After coming out of stasis and nursing himself back to health with the help of his Iron Man armor, it was revealed that the now-living Tony Stark was actually a "lifelike copy" that was created in a tube.200An obviously temporary end?
- 4Photo: Civil War 2 / Marvel
How'd He Go: Civil War II upended the Earth-616 universe more than fans were ready for, and while the demise of Iron Man at the hands of Carol Danvers was shocking, the loss of Hulk was even more sudden. After learning from Ulysses (the future-seeing Inhuman) that Hulk was going to come back and wreck shop on Earth, a contingent of Avengers led by Captain Marvel and Iron Man paid Bruce Banner a visit to place him under arrest. When Hawkeye saw a glint of green in Banner's eye, he fired an arrow straight through his friend's head to follow through on a private request Banner had made in case the "other guy" ever got out of hand.
How Long Was He Gone: The gamma-irradiated vibranium arrow kept Hulk in the grave for about two years of time in Marvel Comics.
How'd He Come Back: When the Earth was stolen in Avengers: No Surrender, Hulk returned under the cover of night in a return to his classic, horror-inspired form. Writer Al Ewing explained that because Hulk had been resuscitated multiple times over the course of his life, he can't really perish. So now, even if Banner kicks the bucket, Hulk is up and at 'em when the sun goes down.204An obviously temporary end?