MCU Phase 4 has received much criticism from devoted fans of the franchise, but the most justified complaint concerns the deaths of Iron Man and Black Widow in Avengers: Endgame. Following the events of Avengers: Infinity War, it became clear that some sacrifices would have to be made for the Avengers to defeat Thanos. This led to the heroic deaths of Tony Stark and Natasha Romanoff in the 2019 epic sequel, as well as the remaining Avengers and their allies triumphing over Thanos, turning to dust.
While the self-sacrifices of Iron Man and Black Widow have saved the universe and their friends, MCU Phase 4 has repeatedly proven that their deaths were unnecessary. In fact, the franchise has contradicted many key moments in the Infinity Saga, reducing sequels to petty jokes. This comes across as lazy writing, as it’s clearly a weak attempt to build a bigger threat within the MCU. But it also takes away the emotional weight of the sacrifices made to pave the way for the future of the MCU. In addition, the issue not only affects Iron Man and Black Widow’s sacrifices, but also undermines what a significant threat Thanos once was.
How Phase 4 Made Iron Man’s Death Worse
Iron Man’s death was the most shocking thing to happen in the MCU. His first film shaped the MCU into what it is today, with Tony Stark being the face of the franchise for nearly a decade. The closing episode of MCU Phase 3, Spider-Man: Far From Homespends much of his story exploring what the world looks like now afterAvengers: Endgame. Peter Parker still mourns Iron Man’s death, as does the rest of the world, with streets lined with murals and shrines dedicated to the fallen hero.
MCU Phase 4 has taken a lot of the emotional weight off Iron Man’s death. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness revealed that there were other ways Thanos could have been defeated that would have left Iron Man alive. Upon arriving on Earth-838, Doctor Strange learns that he could have died instead of Iron Man, but this would have forced him to corrupt himself with Dark Magic. Meanwhile, Doctor Strange’s decision not to kill America Chavez contradicts his ideology everywhere Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, because he was adamant that a sacrifice had to be made to defeat Thanos. in the end, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness renders Iron Man’s death meaningless and holds the title character responsible for the death of his fellow Avenger.
The animated series What if….? made a joke of Iron Man’s death by killing him six times in season 1. Rather than clinging to Iron Man’s emotional final moments in Avengers: Endgame, What if…? intentionally turns Iron Man’s death into a running gag by killing him in new, ridiculous ways. While the show tries to redeem Iron Man’s demise by giving his final death at the hands of Ultron a darker ending, this still deviates from the character’s heartbreaking nature. Avengers: Endgame sacrifice.
How Phase 4 Made Black Widow’s Death Worse
While Iron Man’s sacrifice was shown to have an impact on the world, Black Widow’s death is barely mentioned in MCU Phase 4. The only characters to mourn Natasha on screen are Hawkeye and her sister, Yelena. Black Widow’s death has been so mistreated in the MCU that it almost seems like it never happened, which makes it all the more pointless. This is an extremely annoying decision from Marvel, given that Black Widow was an important part of the Avengers for many years, even coordinating several operations across the galaxy during the time jump between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
One of MCU Phase 4’s gut feelings regarding Black Widow’s death came to the fore in She-Hulk: Lawyer episode 5, by introducing Mr. immortal. The show involves Mr. Immortal has been around within the MCU for many years, and as his name suggests, he cannot die. A superhuman like Mr. Immortal could have played a crucial role in Avengers: Endgame Marvel had chosen to use it earlier. Instead of letting Hawkeye and Black Widow go to Vormir, where Black Widow sacrificed himself to get the Soul Stone, Mr. Immortal can be sent instead. His “sacrifice” would not have resulted in his permanent death, meaning Mr. Immortal further undermines Black Widow’s death in the MCU.
Marvel hasn’t done enough to cash in on Black Widow’s controversial death in the MCU. Not only was Black Widow underused and underdeveloped during her time in the Avengers, but the lack of recognition of her sacrifice in MCU Phase 4 further highlights her wasted potential. As a result, the death of Black Widows remains one of the most controversial aspects of the franchise.
How Phase 4 Made Thanos’ Death Worse
The Death of Thanos in Avengers: Endgame was one of the MCU’s most anticipated and vital deaths. Without it, MCU Phase 4 would not exist. However, where Thanos was once a terrifying villain who seemed unbeatable, Phase 4 has portrayed him as a joke in several MCU projects. This may, of course, be to increase the threat future villains like Kang the Conqueror will have, but there’s no need to downplay the heroes’ commitment to Thanos. In fact, MCU Phase 4 openly mocking Thanos makes the Infinity Saga look completely pointless.
Several episodes of What if…? stupid the plan of Thanos Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. In Episode 2, “What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?”, T’Challa is able to talk Thanos out of his plan to commit mass genocide across the galaxy. This is a huge contradiction to Thanos’s character, as seen in the Infinity Saga, as sadistically confident, considering his plan as the only thing that would work. It is doubtful whether a conversation about the plan is immoral in Avengers: Infinity War would have held him back from what he was going to do. In Episode 8, “What If… Ultron Won?”, Thanos is defeated by an Ultron-inhabited Vision, who kills the Mad Titan in seconds to obtain the Infinity Stones. This makes no sense, as Thanos easily defeated Vision in Avengers: Infinity Warand it looks like he was easier to beat than the Infinity Saga led the audience to believe.
While Thanos should appear as a lesser threat if bigger villains like Kang the Conqueror are to exist in the MCU, it’s a huge waste to devalue him to do so. Until now, Thanos has been the greatest villain the Avengers and the entire galaxy have faced, and his legacy must be recognized in MCU Phase 4 and further. Currently, it seems unlikely that Thanos will reappear in the MCU after that Avengers: Endgamebecause it’s clear Marvel is trying to mitigate its overall threat in favor of their grand plan for the franchise.
Next: In Every Way The MCU Has Changed Iron Man’s Story Since His Death