The final two films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Infinity Saga, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, extracted a heavy toll as multiple heroes gave their lives to defeat Thanos and bring everyone back. Tony Stark, Vision, Loki and Black Widow all perished in the fight; but just because they’re dead, doesn’t mean they’re gone. We know that we will be seeing some of these characters again and speaking about this, Marvel Studios’ EVP of Production Victoria Alsonso said:
In our world, dying is just a state of mind.
Victoria Alonso’s comments came during a keynote conversation at the CG conference SIGGRAPH (via THR) where she was talking about how Tom Hiddleston’s Loki died in Avengers: Infinity War, but he will be returning for the Disney+ limited series. This was made possible in part because of the events of Avengers: Endgame, where Loki in 2012 makes off with the Tesseract, thus creating a new timeline. So even though ‘a’ Loki is dead, Loki will live on.
And considering how much Marvel has emphasized the synergy between the Disney+ shows and the films, that makes Loki’s return one that could see him eventually back on the big screen.
As Victoria Alonso said, dying is just a state of mind within the Marvel world. The type of science fiction/fantasy storytelling innate to superhero stories enables death to be a temporary state of affairs. Marvel Studios didn’t originate this, as it has been done on the pages of Marvel and DC comics for decades. Superman was dead until he wasn’t, as was Jean Grey and Hal Jordan and Wolverine.
In the world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this also holds true and we are seeing it play out in Phase 4. Tom Hiddleston’s magnetic villain/anti-hero will be returning for the Loki series, and Victoria Alonso said that this will allow audiences to experience more stories and learn more about the character over multiple episodes. That’s the advantage of death’s impermanence in the MCU and Loki won’t be the only one rising from his grave in a fashion.
Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow will also be returning to the MCU on the big screen following her death in Endgame for the Black Widow solo film. Although it is a prequel, taking place between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, we will still be seeing and learning more about the character after her death. One would think Black Widow will be the last we see of Natasha Romanoff, but in the world of superheroes, you can never say never.
Another hero proving death is just a state of mind is the hero who once bore the Mind Stone, Vision. Paul Bettany’s android was killed in Infinity War and remained dead after Endgame but he will be showing up opposite Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch in WandaVision. I tend to think he will be a manifestation of hers and not repaired and brought back to life, but either way, his death did not mark the end the character’s MCU journey.
With death being a state of mind at Marvel, we can never be sure that we won’t see a character again. Actors return when you least expect it and we are getting new stories for deceased characters. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see Tony Stark alive again and some deaths you want to stick for emotional resonance, but part of the fun is the universe’s flexible mortality, adding to the infinite number of stories that can be told.
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