The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
*This article contains spoilers*
Whether you’re a comic book fangirl who’s been nerd-trapped into seeing every superhero movie or your situationship coerced you into partaking in a movie and makeup sesh, you’ve probably seen at least one Marvel movie. Although you’re probably still preoccupied watching Black Panther for the
tenth fifth time in theaters, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is gearing up for the opening weekend of Avengers: Infinity War. This flick might seem like just another comic book turned movie, but Infinity War could be more than just a comic book movie—it could be a pivotal moment that showcases more strong female superheroes.
Black Panther’s gargantuan profit margin wasn’t the movie’s only measure of success. Beyond its rising $1 billion global earnings, Black Panther created necessary representation, and heroes, for people of color. The success of this iconic film proves that superhero movies can be about so much more than comic book heroes. However, sometimes you need to destroy the exclusive system to ensure that a superhero movie is more than an action-filled adventure. In the case of Infinity War, some storyline deviations from the Infinity War mini-comic could propagate a women-led MCU.
— Marvel Universe (@YVNGPatrickB) March 19, 2018
The MCU has already teased us with inspirationally powerful and smart women characters like Princess Shuri and the Doja Milaje warriors in Black Panther. As Valkyrie herself (i.e. Tessa Thompson) is spearheading a women-led superhero movie, Marvel could use Infinity War to introduce more women of Marvel.
The Infinity War comic books are a notorious slaughter of beloved Marvel heroes. While the Infinity War movie will likely deviate from the comics, a few on-screen heroes will still be slain in the process.
Marvel Studios President, Kevin Feige diabolically told Entertainment Weekly that “people need to be careful what they wish for” when discussing indefinite character deaths in Infinity War. Even Robert Downey Jr. revealed to PEOPLE that Marvel’s empty threats to execute everyone’s favorite heroes might not be so empty this time, implying that Marvel has plans to kill off certain main characters permanently.
Because at least one of the MCU’s characters will die in Infinity War, Marvel’s ambiguous future movie slots are open to developing the on-screen presence of some comic book characters. Since Feige alluded to multiple deaths in the upcoming film, Reddit threads have been overflowing with Infinity War inspired fan theories.
While the newest Infinity War trailer left us with a cliffhanger on the fate of Iron Man, Thor, The Vision and Captain America, we can all assume that Thor is pretty safe. Seeing as the intergalactic baddie known as Thanos gives Loki an ultimatum—give the Tesseract in exchange for Thor’s safety life—Loki will probably save Thor (at least temporarily). Although Loki has brooding daddy and brother issues that vary on any given moment, we all know that MCU’s Loki is a softy at heart and will (probs) hand over the Tesseract (and his own life) to keep his brother safe.
We can also assume that Vision will likely die in order to escalate the climax of the movie. However, the future of The Vision, Captain America and Iron Man are still inconclusive.
While POPSUGAR theorizes that Captain America might die (or at least become critically injured) in Infinity War, leaving his shield vacant for someone else, ~Bucky~, to wield, Cap might not be the only Avenger to meet his demise. Thanos could also cross off Iron Man’s name on his kill list.
As Nerdist explains, Iron Man’s updated armor could foreshadow some sticky situations for Tony Stark’s future in the MCU. Although Nerdist hypothesizes that Stark’s new suit could help Stark protect Parker, Stark’s enhanced suit also puts him closer to Thanos—thus making him more susceptible to danger.
In the OG Avengers movie, Iron Man’s suit had an almost-fatal flaw: it couldn’t physically withstand space. Seeing as the new Bleeding Edge armor allows Iron Man to fly in space, as seen in Marvel’s latest trailer for Infinity War (where he’s featured talking to Thanos, presumably on Titan), Stark could use his suit to make the ultimate sacrifice. Though Stark might seem like a selfish, sarcastic playboy, he’s also a courageous hero who has been known to risk his safety to save others—including other members of the Avengers (and future Avengers).
In Iron Man 2, Stark saved a young child from Hammer drone. That youngster later grew up to become Spider-Man, as Tom Holland reveals. It’s arguable that Stark acknowledges that he saved Parker as a child; however, it’s undeniable that Stark acts as a father figure to Parker in Spider-Man and affiliate movies, which makes his sacrifice almost inevitable.
But who will fill-in for the fallen Avenger?
Although strong women leads like Shuri, the Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, and Valkyrie could take over a few of the uncertain movie spots, Iron Man’s death would leave the MCU pretty iron deficient, and several fans have already backed a solution that could help prevent the MCU’s anemia.
The end of Infinity War could reveal Riri Williams as the iron-clad replacement that the MCU needs. Williams is a known supporting character in the Iron Man and Avengers comics and even acts as her a stand-alone superhero known as Ironheart. If you don’t know who Williams is, she’s basically a teen genius who studies at MIT and learns how to hone her technological gifts thanks to Stark.
While a Reddit thread theorizes that Shuri could act as Ironheart in place of Williams, there is an alternative that could provide space for both super geniuses without erasing an important character. After all, there isn’t a limit on courageous women in the MCU, and omitting one influential character for another is problematic.
If Stark doesn’t make it out of Infinity War, Williams could still get a chance to create her own super suit and subsequent superhero identity. One Twitter user suggests:
what if while Shuri is working at the tech outreach place in Oakwood (was that where it was, idk) one of her students is RiRi Williams… like chances are tony won’t make it through infinity war, so Shuri could mentor her instead
— Erika Price (@erikapriceart) February 26, 2018
Not only does this theory open a scenario that allows two techie women to hone their abilities, it also fosters an empowering mentor-mentee relationship between two strong women. Though hypothetical, the potential relationship between Shuri and Williams could also help inspire young women to pursue careers in engineering and technology.
Nevertheless, Marvel is more likely to leave Iron Man’s death as a cliffhanger, like they did with whether or not Loki stole the Tesseract at the end of Thor: Ragnarok (though we all pretty much assumed the God of Mischief couldn’t resist nabbing something so shiny and lethal). Therefore, we might not know Iron Man’s fate until the next Avengers film or the Iron Man 4 movie that might not even happen.
Despite Iron Man’s fate, MCU’s transition from the current third phase to the vague fourth phase while leaving several titular roles open for some fresh faces. Marvel Studios will likely use these empty movie slots to create solo films about the inspiring women of Marvel, especially since the studio now has to compete with DC Studios’ enormously successful Wonder Woman.
In the wake of Stark’s pseudo-death, the MCU would have time to build up the storyline for another iron-clad super genius like Riri Williams, while also developing another character like Shuri. See, Stark doesn’t actually need to die (seeing as Iron Man has never died in the comics, or at least he hasn’t yet) to build another part of the MCU. In the comics, Williams only filled in for Iron Man’s superhero duties while he was in a coma, so Stark could easily return to a reigning women genius MCU without contradicting any of the potential storylines. Plus, fans support Williams’ addition to the MCU, seeing as MIT vloggers created a fan-fueled trailer for Ironheart.
Regardless of how many heroes meet their temporary or permanent demise, it appears as though Marvel Studios could be building a more inclusive Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially since representation is vital. Beyond the fact that Shuri and Willams are BA techie women, their character development will show young women how important education and healthy mentors truly are.
Avengers: Infinity War slams into theaters on April 27!