Marvel Comics Won't Kill Off Characters For Shock Value (Anymore), Chief Says

Wolverine dead tombstone Marvel Comics

In the Marvel movies, death has not always been permanent. Before he really died in Avengers: Infinity War, Loki had faked his death twice by that point, and now, thanks to time travel shenanigans, he might not even be dead anymore. However, the fickle life and death of superheroes isn't just a movie thing. It originates from the comics, which often kill superheroes for publicity and bring them back down the road. Marvel Comics Editor in Chief C.B. Cebulski hopes to change all of that.

I don't want death to be used to boost sales or to use as a shock value so people go 'Oh my God, Johnny Storm is dead!' or 'Wolverine is dead!' knowing that they're going to be coming back. If we choose to do it now, we're going to add a little more weight and permanence to the situation.

In an appearance at a Swedish conference (via ComicBook), C.B. Cebulski said that Marvel was moving on from the shock value approach to character death. If someone dies in the comics now, it will have more weight and will likely be permanent. Whether this means no more major characters will die is unclear.

Both Marvel and DC are known for killing off major characters, only to resurrect them some time later. It's just the standard of the trade, but it's likely long past the point where it has any real effect on the readers. After all, why get sad Wolverine died when you know he's going to come back in a year or two? Marvel clearly understands this, and is looking to change the trend.

You know, death is a part of comic book universes, particularly a part of the Marvel Universe. Every character has been killed off and come back at some time or the other. We always say there are two characters that will never come back and that's Gwen Stacy and Uncle Ben. We even said back in the day that Bucky would never come back and now we have the Winter Soldier.

However, just because death was less than permanent before doesn't mean that Marvel didn't treat the decision seriously. Cebulski also went into detail on how Marvel comes to the decision to kill a character.

But the process of killing off a character is not an easy one, and a lot of people think death is something that we don't take seriously in the Marvel Universe but it really is. There's a lot of debates that happen because if a writer suggests that we should kill a character, it always has to be story driven first. It can't just be for shock value and normally it's a discussion that we have between first the writer and the editor and then the writer and the editorial team, so the process of killing off a character really is a group decision, and it's made always with the best story in mind.

Comic book characters having been coming back to life ever since the infamous "Death and Return of Superman," so I'm curious why Marvel is only now trying to alter its approach to death. The movies heavily influence the comics, so I wonder if the reaction to the most likely permanent deaths of Iron Man and Black Widow in Avengers: Endgame had any sway in the decision.

We'll find out soon enough if Marvel Comics will keep to its word here. In the meantime, keep track of all the big movies coming to theaters with our 2019 movie release guide.

Matt Wood

Matt has lived in New Jersey his entire life, but commutes every day to New York City. He graduated from Rowan University and loves Marvel, Nintendo, and going on long hikes and then greatly wishing he was back indoors. Matt has been covering the entertainment industry for over two years and will fight to his dying breath that Hulk and Black Widow make a good couple.