The 9 Most Tragic Avengers Deaths in Marvel History
Not even Earth's Mightiest Heroes can escape death.
Everyone who puts on a costume and fights to defend justice knows that they're putting their lives on the line. The chances of dying in the line of duty seem to increase when you join a team like the Avengers, who have made enemies of just about every villain on the planet and off.
While the Avengers boast an impressive success rate when it comes to saving the world -- and all of reality -- they don't always return home with the same number of members they left with. We look back at some of the team's most tragic losses over its multi-decade history!
Though never fully committed to the team -- and not always a hero -- Swordsman decided to show his true grit after Kang kidnapped everyone else on the team and left him behind in AVENGERS (1963) #129. Intent on proving himself, Swordsman found his teammates and teamed up with Rama-Tut and his old protégé Hawkeye to free them. The story concluded in GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS (1974) #2, as did Swordsman's life when he pushed his love, Mantis, away and took a rogue blast from Kang's gun, which killed him.
After working through a variety of problems with her husband Hawkeye, Mockingbird and her West Coast Avengers team wound up pawns in a battle between demons Mephisto and Satannish in WEST COAST AVENGERS (1985) #100. Husband and wife jumped through a portal to bring their teammate Scarlet Witch back to reality. Succeeding, Mockingbird shielded Hawkeye from Mephisto's blasts, losing her life in the process. Though this was eventually revealed to be a Skrull, the moment still resonated with fans for the next two decades!
Simon Williams has actually died twice in the presence of the World's Greatest Super Hero team. When he debuted in AVENGERS (1963) #9, he had been manipulated into working for Baron Zemo, but decided to save the Avengers instead of hurting them, a decision that lead to his apparent death. Many years later, after returning to life, he co-founded the West Coast Avengers and then Force Works. In FORCE WORKS (1994) #1, though, he was atomized while trying to save the Earth from an exploding Kree spaceship. He returned later on down the line thanks to Scarlet Witch.
The Whole Team
Back in the mid-‘90s, Charles Xavier's bad side gained sentience as Onslaught and began devastating the planet. Of course the X-Men fought him, but the Avengers, Fantastic Four and even Doctor Doom helped out as well as you can see in 1996’s ONSLAUGHT: MARVEL UNIVERSE. After realizing that attacks from mutants made the villain more powerful, the other heroes attacked with all their might! This lead to the apparent deaths of Thor, Iron Man, Hank Pym, Wasp, Hulk, Captain America, Falcon, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Black Panther and the Fantastic Four! This devastating event resulted in the longest span of time where Earth was not defended by an Avengers team since it debuted. Luckily, the incredibly powerful mutant Franklin Richards created an entire pocket universe for the heroes to live in until they could make their way back.
Having survived the Onslaught attack, Hawkeye went on to join the Thunderbolts before returning to the Avengers later on down the line. He served with the team when it came under attack from all sides starting with AVENGERS (1998) #500. All in one day, a resurrected Jack of Hearts blew up Scott "Ant-Man" Lang, She-Hulk ripped a seemingly evil Vision in half and an entire armada of Kree soldiers attacked. Hawkeye valiantly fought them off with his trick arrows, but when he took a laser shot to the back, he knew his quiver would explode, so he grabbed a nearby soldier, flew up to the main ship and used the explosion to take it out! This death hurt all the more because it was all in vain. By the next issue, we all learned that an insane Scarlet Witch conjured up all of these threats. Eventually she made up for it, though, by inadvertently bringing Hawkeye back to life.
As a founding member of the Avengers, Janet Van Dyne has risked her life more than a few times. In the process she's been injured, mutated, devastated, and even killed a few times. Most recently, she appeared to die during the Skrull invasion seen in 2008’s SECRET INVASION. During the climactic battle in issues #7-8, we discovered that the shape-shifting aliens had given her compromised Pym Particles that turned her into a gigantic bomb which seemed to affect everyone around her. To stop the threat, Thor used Mjolnir to turn her into energy and disperse her. Enraged at the death of a founding Avenger, the assembled heroes finally ended the Skrull invasion with some unexpected sharp shooting from Norman Osborn. Down the road, it was revealed that, instead of dying, the Wasp had actually been transported to the Microverse.
When Steve Rogers revealed that he had been secretly working with Hydra the entire time and took over the United States, Black Widow decided that he needed to die. She even formed a plan to do exactly that with some younger heroes. In SECRET EMPIRE (2017) #7, she had Rogers in her sites, but abandoned her rifle when Miles Morales decided to face off against Captain America. After fighting through an army of Hydra soldiers, Natasha Romanoff made it to the two costumed individuals just as Captain America lashed out with his shield at the young Spider-Man. She jumped between them, taking the signature weapon right to the neck, dying before she hit the ground. She came back thanks to some Red Room cloning, but her death helped unify the remaining heroes to finally bring the villain down.
Captain Mar-Vell (Honorary Avenger)
Not every hero goes out in a blaze of glory on the battlefield, defending his teammates or saving lives. Some succumb to far more common afflictions like cancer. That's what happened to the first person on Earth to go by the moniker Captain Marvel in the pages of 1982’s THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN MARVEL. Even with all of the Super Hero community at his side, no one could find a way to cure the lethal radiation he was exposed to while fighting Nitro.
The heroes of the Marvel Universe had already gone through so much during CIVIL WAR. Iron Man led the pro-Registration side while Captain America foresaw that they needed some kind of privacy to keep them safe from their enemies. Yet, in the last issue of the limited series, he saw how regular citizens reacted to the in-fighting and surrendered. Though some of his fellow anti-Registration heroes ran off to fight another day, he allowed himself to be taken into custody and tried. However, he never made it inside the courthouse. An intricate and devious attack orchestrated by the Red Skull left him bleeding to death on the courthouse steps as seen in CAPTAIN AMERICA (2004) #25. With the one hero all the others looked up to seemingly dead, the others mourned his loss, though some had to do so in hiding because of their illegal status. After much consideration, Bucky Barnes took up the mantle and shield as Captain America until CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN, wherein he and the others discovered that Steve Rogers had actually been bouncing around time, instead of the afterlife.
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