Joss Whedon takes a moment to discuss character deaths in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The concept of death is a very fluid one when it comes to comics and now comic book movies. Director Joss Whedon recently sat down with Mental Floss to discuss several things that he is working on, or will be, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It has been a sour subject with fans that characters have seemingly died in the Marvel Cinematic Universe only to come back later. The sting of the loss of a character eventually starts to diminish when they return so quickly, or in most cases at all. The biggest "return" was Agent Coulson who died during the events of The Avengers and then returned in the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
Joss Whedon was asked about this and his response was rather interesting.
"People don’t really stay dead in Marvel movies. I think we’ve had to deal with Loki dying four, five, 12 times. Coulson coming back. Fury comes back mid-film in Captain America: The Winter Soldier ... How many more times do you think a character’s death can have an impact if it doesn’t have a permanent effect?
A lot of people come back in The Winter Soldier. It’s a grand Marvel tradition. Bucky was supposed to die. And the Coulson thing was, I think, a little anomalous just because that really came from the television division, which is sort of considered to be its own subsection of the Marvel universe. As far as the fiction of the movies, Coulson is dead.
But I have to say, watching the first one with my kids—I had not watched the first one since it came out—and then watching it with my kids and watching Coulson die but [thinking], “Yeah, but I know that he kind of isn’t,” it did take some of the punch out of it for me. Of course, I spent a lot of time making sure he didn’t. And at the time it seemed inoffensive, as long as it wasn’t referenced in the second movie, which it isn’t.
There’s a thing where you can do that so many times and there’s nothing at stake. But it’s difficult because you’re living in franchise world—not just Marvel, but in most big films—where you can’t kill anyone, or anybody significant. And now I find myself with a huge crew of people and, although I’m not as bloodthirsty as some people like to pretend, I think it’s disingenuous to say we’re going to fight this great battle, but there’s not going to be any loss. So my feeling in these situations with Marvel is that if somebody has to be placed on the altar and sacrificed, I’ll let you guys decide if they stay there."
It is very interesting to see that as far as Whedon and the MCU is concerned, Coulson is still dead. This makes it seem like we won't be seeing him in upcoming film as at and Whedon even makes a comment saying that Coulson isn't even references in Avengers: Age of Ultron. I agree that characters should have a sense of consequence when charging into battle and like that Whedon then leaves it up to Marvel to say whether or not the character stays dead but then you have to question Marvel and why they continually bring characters back.
How do you feel about character deaths in superhero films? Do you think all characters should make it through unscathed? Should characters die and be brought back or left to become a fallen hero?