As Captain America: Civil War draws ever closer, one begins to wonder “will we see the death of Steve Rogers?” If so, what will be the impact on the Marvel cinematic universe? With that in mind, I have put together a list of the five deaths that I believe had the greatest impact on the Marvel Comics Universe. Here they are, in descending order:
5. Bringing up the bottom of the list at number five is a name that I imagine would not be a likely choice for others. That name is Otto Octavius, or as he is better known, Doctor Octopus. Now, I know what you are thinking. Why is a villain on this list? Well, let me first tell you how he died. After becoming terminally ill, Doc Oc finds the means to mind swap with Peter, and Peter must struggle to find a way back into his body. He fails, leaving Otto Octavius standing over his body, watching his nemesis die at his feet. This has an unexpected effect: Otto decides to embrace being a hero and vows to become The Superior Spiderman. It doesn’t take long for Doctor Octopus’ old and violent ways to resurface, and many of Peter’s friends and family begin to suspect something sinister is taking place.
Eventually, Otto realizes that he has failed as The Superior Spiderman and decides to allow his consciousness to die. Peter can return to his body. The reason this death makes the list boils down to one simple fact–the death of Otto Octavius allows for the return of the real Spider Man, and subsequently, the return of peace and normalcy to New York. With balance restored to his city, the newly returned web slinging, wise cracking, friendly neighborhood Spider Man begins setting things right and repairing the damage done by Doctor Octopus. The balance between good and evil is restored.
4. Coming in at number four is Doctor Bill Foster, aka Black Goliath, aka Giant Man, aka Goliath. The death of Bill Foster comes both tragically and unexpectedly during the Marvel Comics main arc “Civil War”. Goliath sides with Steve Rogers, standing against the Superhuman Registration Act–an act that will sadly cost him his life. Bill Foster dies at the hands of a Thor clone created by Reed Richards and Tony Stark to shift the power balance in their favor.
Tragically Bill’s body is permanently stuck in Giant mode, and he is buried at full size. Goliath’s death makes this list because it shifts the entire balance of power to the anti-registration side for a short period of time. However, what I consider the most impactful part of his death is the effect it has on Steve Rogers–leading to his decision to surrender–a decision that will see Steve dead as well. The greatest impact that the tragic and unnecessary death of Doctor Bill Foster is this: it is the first ripple of destruction and death felt across the Marvel Comic Universe–even now.
3. Number three on the list is a very important death. It is however different than one would imagine. The death of Mar-Vell (better known as Captain Marvel) was a tragedy unlike others on the list. He does not die in battle against the forces of evil. He dies lying in a hospital bed surrounded by his friends. Captain Marvel, one of the most powerful heroes in the universe, and he dies in a hospital, laid low by disease, unceremoniously and anti-climactic. In case you were wondering what powerful disease could bring down Mar-Vell, simply put, it was cancer. After exposure to nerve gas during one of his many fights to save the universe, Captain Marvel develops cancer, and due to his unique physiology and lack of access to advanced medical treatments, it is untreatable. Mar-Vell accepts his fate and dies among the company of his closest friends. The impact this has on the Marvel Universe is profound. It not only forces the reader to confront the idea that the heroes we so admire, that we raise up as indestructible Gods, are in fact mortal and are not exempt from death. The heroes themselves must face their own mortality.
2. Sitting at number two is the death of James Howlett, or as he is more commonly known, the Wolverine. Wolverine’s death would come as an unexpected blow to the Marvel Universe. It began with the loss of his healing power, which left him vulnerable and most importantly, mortal. It would not take long for a bounty to be set on his head, so Logan begins hunting down his foe, Doctor Abraham Cornelius, founder of the Weapon X program. In the ensuing fight, Wolverine manages to destroy the experiments he finds Dr. Cornelius working on but is covered from head to toe in liquid Adamantium. It quickly begins to cool and harden, leaving Wolverine trapped and suffocating–dying in a shell of Adamantium. The death of Wolverine makes it to number two because it leaves a gaping hole in the Marvel Comics Universe. Despite his rough and grizzly attitude, Wolverine is one of the most respected heroes in the Universe. This is especially true after the death of Charles Xavier, which leaves Wolverine broken and unsure how to move forward. He steps up in a way that I imagine some never thought him capable of: he founds the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning and joins the Avengers Unity Squad (an attempt to help alleviate some of the tension between the mutant and non-mutant communities). No one is left unaffected by his death, not even his enemies. The X-men are left to mourn the death of yet another of their leaders and the Jean Grey School is left without its founder and dean. Steve Rogers and the non-mutants lose their closest connection to the Mutant world. Wolverine’s death is still being felt throughout the Marvel Comics Universe.
1. At the top of my list is a death that will rock the Marvel Comics Universe to its core. Number one is the death of Steve Rogers, Captain America. The great American Hero, a man who led the fight against the Nazi’s and paid the ultimate price during World War II only to return from death to lead the world’s super heroes against even greater foes than the Third Reich–and he died. Steve Rogers, who after watching a good friend die by the hands of men he loved and respected, seeing his friends rounded up and shipped off to prison, decided it was time for him to surrender and bring an end to the conflict.
As he is walking up the steps of the courthouse–BAM!–a shot rings out as Crossbones, under orders from the Red Skull, fires a sniper round and wounds Steve. While panic ensues, Agent Sharon Carter, brainwashed by Dr. Faustus, walks up to Steve and shoots him fatally at point blank range. His death tops this list because no other heroes death has a greater impact on the entire planet than the death of Captain America. Not only did Steve Rogers die, not only did Captain America die, but everything the Captain America’s indestructible image stood for died. No longer was America protected by her favorite son, she was vulnerable. Her protectors were vulnerable. Heroes around the world were crushed by the death of a man many of them called brother. They were forced to see the indestructible destroyed. Tony Stark would turn back to alcohol, blaming himself for the death of his friend. His death brought about the beginning of a new era for Marvel Comic–with a very different face than the old one.
One thing all of these deaths have in common is that they would shape the way Marvel Comics moved forward after their end. Each one changing the balance of forces in the Marvel Universe in a unique and powerful way. With that I ask each of you, what are your top five most impactful deaths in the Marvel Universe? Tell us why.