Everyone knows that comic book characters die all the time. Over the years, death in comic books has lost its meaning. There are multiple plot devices available to writers who want to revive certain characters. Some of these plot devices are used creatively, while others can be reused as often as the writers chooses, such as the life-restoring reality-warping powers of the Scarlet Witch.
Some characters in the Marvel Universe, like Gwen Stacy and Uncle Ben, are well-known for being the few who have actually died and stayed dead. Others, however, have died a number of times and always find a way to return to the land of the living. For some of these characters, coming back to life is easy, simply because of their powers, while with others it’s a bit more miraculous. Death in the Marvel Universe is often a way to begin a story—or end one—depending on the circumstances. It can have a huge impact on another character’s growth, or it can emotionally shatter them. With that said, let’s have a look at 15 Marvel Superheroes Who Die All The Time.
The Merc with a Mouth has experienced a number of painful, gruesome deaths since his first appearance in New Mutants #98 in 1991. He’s been blasted to pieces by Cable, smashed to death by the Hulk, impaled by an elephant tusk, shot in the head multiple times by different people, and the list goes on from there. But thanks to his healing factor, Deadpool can come back from anything, even if the only thing he can egenerate from is his right hand.
After being cursed with “life” by Thanos, Deadpool discovered he was immortal. Every time he died, he would awaken somewhere else, as if nothing ever happened. When Thanos was ready to be rid of Deadpool, he lifted the curse and killed him. Thanos later resurrected Deadpool in order to obtain his help.
Deadpool died again during the Secret Wars event when his Earth collided with another. Deadpool’s only solace in death was that everyone else would die with him. When Secret Wars was over and Earth was restored, Deadpool was restored as well.
One of the most memorable deaths in Marvel Comics is the death of Jean Grey, the host of the Phoenix Force, in the unforgettable Uncanny X-Men #137. Completely consumed by the power of the Phoenix Force that amplified her abilities to an extreme level, Jean was unable to resist its hold on her. As “Dark Phoenix,” Jean became an unstoppable force of destruction. She was finally able to regain her senses, but only long enough to commit suicide so that Dark Phoenix wouldn’t cause anymore harm.
This was not the last of Jean Grey. After she was resurrected by the Phoenix Force, she was killed a second time by Thanos in Infinity Gauntlet and a third time by Sentinels. Neither of these deaths lasted for longer than a few issues. However, her death at the hands of Xorn-Magneto in 2004 has so far been her last. Jean Grey has remained dead, though fans were treated to a return of sorts with the debut of All-New X-Men which saw the original, teenage X-Men time-travel from the past to join the modern-era of superheroes.
The recent reveal of Marvel: Generations has teased the return of the “real” Jean Grey, who is set for a team-up with her younger self sometime this summer.
Of all the characters who’ve been killed and resurrected over and over again, there are only a few who can make the claim that their story actually began with their death. One of those is Drax the Destroyer. Before becoming a hulking green monster, Drax was a typical human businessman named Arthur Douglas who was killed by Thanos. An alien being transferred Arthur’s consciousness into the body of an alien monster and telepathically implanted it with a desire to kill Thanos.
After Thanos’ death, Drax needed a new purpose and eventually found one when he discovered that his daughter Moondragon was using her mind powers to mentally enslave the population of an entire planet. When Drax enlisted the Avengers in stopping her, Moondragon killed him.
Drax’s body was reanimated by his creator in response to Mistress Death’s decision to resurrect Thanos. Impressively, Drax managed to survive Infinity Gauntlet when most heroes involved in the battle were killed by Thanos. Unfortunately, Drax was unable to escape Thanos’ wrath several years later in The Thanos Imperative. Drax is back again, and hopefully as long as he can stay away from Thanos, he can remain that way.
One of the most impressive facts about the purple-clad archer known as Hawkeye is that despite having no super powers at all, this Avenger has died at least four times in his service to the team, and is still going strong.
Captain America was just arriving back at Avengers’ Mansion when he saw two of his teammates, Hawkeye and Sersi. As he stepped forward to greet them, they vanished right out of existence. This was the moment when Thanos obtained absolute power with the Infinity Gauntlet and wiped out half of the universe with a snap of his fingers. Hawkeye was just one of millions killed in that one, fatal second.
In other Marvel events, Hawkeye was among the dead when the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy launched an attack on the cosmic being, Korvac. Hawkeye was also slain by Doctor Doom in Secret Wars.
Hawkeye’s most notable death came in Avengers Disassembled when his teammate and former love interest Scarlet Witch unknowingly used her reality-warping abilities to cause a Skrull invasion. Hawkeye heroically sacrificed himself to save the team. It was the power of the Scarlet Witch that eventually restored him to life.
Painkiller Jane is a character owned by Marvel imprint Icon Comics, founded for the purpose of allowing Marvel writers to publish creator-owned material. Painkiller Jane was featured in a TV series and a Sci-Fi Original Movie. The character has also starred in a crossover with one of Marvel’s flagship characters, the Punisher.
Jane Vasco was an undercover cop who was killed in an explosion and somehow brought back to life with healing abilities. Becoming the vigilante “Painkiller Jane,” she began using her new powers to wage a war on organized crime. Her ability is similar to the healing factors of X-Men characters Deadpool and Wolverine, making it possible for her to survive any kind of fatal injury, including gunshots to the face. Though any wound she sustains will always heal, that doesn’t stop her from being overcome with agony.
Like a lot of Marvel heroes, Cyclops was killed by Doctor Doom in Secret Wars and fell in battle against Thanos in Infinity Gauntlet when Thanos shut off oxygen to his brain. However, neither of these deaths had a lasting effect, unlike the event that occurred in Age of Apocalypse when Cyclops sacrificed himself to save Nate Grey, an alternate universe version of his son. Cyclops willingly merged with Apocalypse. It took a year for Jean Grey and Cable to separate him from the immortal mutant.
Cyclops suffered another brief death on the planet Breakworld in the pages of Astonishing X-Men but was resurrected soon after.
After spiraling downward into borderline villainy as the antagonist in Avengers vs. X-Men and as the murderer of Professor Xavier, Cyclops mysterious died in the aftermath of the recent Secret Wars event. Black Bolt was framed for his murder, causing Cyclops’ death to launch a war between the Inhumans and the X-Men. It was eventually revealed that he was a victim of M-Pox, a condition that results from a mutant’s exposure to the Terrigen Mist.
Created by scientists to be the perfect human, Adam Warlock was born in a cocoon. While still trying to learn about the world, he found himself caught up in battles with the Fantastic Four and the God of Thunder, Thor.
The High Evolutionary helped give Adam Warlock a new purpose, which is eventually what led to Warlock’s bitter rivalry with his classic foe, Thanos. After a dramatic battle between the two enemies, Thanos murdered Warlock. However, Warlock’s soul was safe when it was placed in the Soul Gem. Years later, Adam Warlock’s soul was freed by the Silver Surfer. Warlock created a new body for himself and returned to his role as Thanos’ greatest enemy.
After forming the Infinity Watch with the intention of safeguarding the Infinity Gems, Warlock was killed by Rune, a vampire seeking to steal the gems. Warlock was put back in his cocoon until his resurrection. In time, Warlock was transformed into the cosmic menace, the Magus, an evil being he was always fated to become. As the Magus, he was killed by a corrupt, alternate universe version of Captain Mar-Vell.
Warlock is currently alive again, thanks to Thanos, who asked the Living Tribunal to restore him to life.
Wolverine’s healing factor has got him through countless disasters that surely would have been the end of him, had he been without it. But even with the healing factor, Wolverine is far from invincible. He wasn’t invincible when Doctor Doom blasted him with a cosmic bolt, or when Thanos turned his adamantium bones into spongy rubber. His healing factor also did nothing for him when Horde ripped his beating heart of his chest.
In 2014, Marvel published the story, The Death of Wolverine. It took place after a virus removed Wolverine’s healing factors, finally giving his enemies a chance to kill him for good. The founder of the Weapon X program, Dr. Cornelius, put a bounty on Wolverine’s head. In retaliation, Wolverine went looking for the doctor. In the resulting confrontation, Wolverine struck a container of adamantium, causing the adamantium to completely cover his body, suffocating him as it hardened.
With the events of Secret Wars that saw the merging of several Earths, the “Old Man Logan” version of the character became the main universe’s new Wolverine, though it was X-23 who took officially took his name and costume.
The Death of Captain Marvel was a historic moment for Marvel, as this was the first meaningful death of a major Marvel hero. This was a very “human” moment where Marvel’s heroes had to stand by and watch while one of their own died of cancer.
Captain Mar-Vell’s name is often mentioned alongside the likes of Gwen Stacy and Uncle Ben when referring to characters in the Marvel Universe who have managed to stay dead, but the situation with Mar-Vell isn’t that simple. Though Marvel consistently teases us with Mar-Vell’s return, with stories like The Return of Captain Marvel (which shows the protagonist discover that he’s actually a skrull), Marvel has been known to revive him before. It happened in Dead Avengers, and it happened again in Avengers Vs. X-Men. Unfortunately, he died in both stories and never made a full return.
Marvel is reportedly reviving him again in Marvel: Generations to team up with his successor, Carol Danvers. Will Mar-Vell survive past a single storyline this time?
In West Coast Avengers #42, Scarlet Witch woke up in the morning to find her android husband, Vision, missing. The Avengers scoured the compound in search of him and came to the realization that one of their own, Mockingbird, betrayed the team and turned Vision over to the government, leading to the Vision’s dismantlement. Hank Pym and Iron Man managed to rebuild the Avenger but he wasn’t the same. He had a colorless appearance and was devoid of any capacity for emotion.
Years later, Vision was restored to his normal form. Tragically, he was killed again in Avengers Disassembled when Scarlet Witch’s reality-warping powers sent She-Hulk into a rampage. Vision was resurrected briefly alongside Captain Mar-Vell in Dead Avengers but died trying to save the others.
Vision was finally resurrected for good at the conclusion of Fear Itself and has returned to his role as a core member of the Avengers.
In Marvel Comics history, there were four major events taking place between the 1970s and the 1990s which involved mass superhero casualties. The first was “The Korvac Saga,” the second was Secret Wars, the third was a game played between both Avengers teams and the Grandmaster, and the fourth was Infinity Gauntlet. Wasp is the only hero to die in all four events.
Wasp appeared to have died again in Secret Invasion after the Skrull impersonating her ex-husband, Hank Pym, gave her “new” Pym particles that were secretly intended to turn her into a “bio-bomb.” She eventually exploded, but succeeded in wiping out a great number of Skrull invaders.
This “death” remained in effect for several years, and even resulted in Pym taking on her mantle and becoming the new Wasp. Several years later, it was revealed that she was simply shrunk down into the Microverse.
Wasp appears to be have died off-screen in the MCU as well, though this has yet to be confirmed. It’s possible that Wasp survived in the same way that she survived Secret Invasion, by shrinking down into the Quantum Realm rather than the Microverse.
Hawkeye was shocked when he heard on the news that a bunch of amateur vigilantes in Milwaukee were calling themselves the Great Lakes Avengers. Disturbed at the idea of just anyone using the “Avengers” name, Hawkeye and Mockingbird went to check it out and were confronted by the costumed hero, Mr. Immortal. After a brief fight, Mr. Immortal appeared to commit suicide by leaping from a high rooftop, much to the horror of Hawkeye and Mockingbird. Mr. Immortal died on impact, but according to team leader Flatman, it was no big deal. A few minutes later, Mr. Immortal was back on his feet again.
His only power is that he can never fully die. He can flatline of course, but will always revive to full health only a moment or so later. The only consequence of this power of immortality is that each resurrection is followed by a fit of rage.
Mr. Immortal is noted for his unique catchphrase: “Dying is what I do best!”
In 2012, one of the biggest headlines in the comic book world was the death of the beloved comic book icon, Spider-Man, at the hands of Doctor Octopus. The story of Doctor Octopus killing Spider-Man and transferring his own conscienceless over to Spider-Man’s body is well-known, and though this is certainly Spider-Man’s most highly-publicized death to date, it isn’t his first. There have been other, less significant—but no less painful–deaths for the wall-crawler.
Spider-Man’s first encounter with death happened in Secret Wars when he and the others were on Battleworld discussing what they were going to do about Doctor Doom. Doom retaliated by destroying them all with one blast. This death was overshadowed due to how brief it was, as well as the fact that so many other heroes died with him.
Spider-Man died of cancer in the 1990s before being revived by Doctor Octopus, who didn’t want to lose his archenemy. Spider-Man has had a handful of similar experiences but none were able to last.
Captain America has “died” several times in the comics but most of these so-called deaths were revealed to be tricks. Some, however, were real. In Secret Wars, Cap was killed by Doctor Doom along with all the other heroes, but unlike the others, Cap has the distinction of dying multiple times in the same comic. Each time Doom killed Cap, he was instantly revived by the wish-fulfilling powers of the Cosmic Cube.
Many of Cap’s deaths have happened in major Marvel events and were quickly reversed, but some were more significant, such as the controversial headline-making story, Civil War, where Captain America was shot to death by Crossbones and a hypnotized Sharon Carter. This death lasted for a few years until it was revealed that Red Skull trapped his body in the timestream so that the Skull could take control of his body at the time of his choosing.
If a vision of the future featured in Civil War II can be believed, Captain America will soon be killed by Miles Morales.
George R.R. Martin, the author of the critically-acclaimed book series Game of Thrones, who is well-known for killing off several of his beloved characters, once wrote a letter that was featured in the back of an old Avengers comic in the 1960s. In his letter, he praised the writers for their decision to off Wonder Man in the classic issue, Avengers #9, the same issue in which the character debuted. Martin later claimed that this death provided inspiration for his writing.
Wonder Man’s death was undone when the superhero was revived in the late 1970s. Since then, he’s been a key member of the Avengers, and a love interest for many of Marvel’s female heroes, including Ms. Marvel and Scarlet Witch. Unfortunately, Wonder Man’s adventures with the team are often cut short due to his untimely deaths. Since his body is formed out of ionic energy, it’s quite easy for writers to find a way to bring him back, making Wonder Man the perfect sacrificial lamb when it’s to time to kill off a major character.