The MCU is a master manipulator of audience emotions. Despite the fact that these films are ostensibly about superheroes battling villains, the MCU has branched out into other types of stories as well.
Instead, the show has mastered the art of making its audience care deeply about its characters, only to cruelly erase their identities. It gets a little more painful to watch each new MCU movie because it has its own unique set of emotional moments that will make you shed a tear.
That being said, here are the saddest and most tragic deaths in the Marvel Universe.
1. The tragic death of Gwen Stacy
The disappearance of Gwen Stacey is arguably the most pivotal moment in the history of the Marvel Universe. For a long time, Peter Parker bore the brunt of Gwen’s death by Green Goblin. The death of his lover both propelled him forward and chained him in other ways. Gwen was Parker’s first and true love, and her passing definitely marked a critical moment in his life. It all came down to one cruel decision.
Spider-Man arrives on the bridge, where the Goblin challenges him to choose between his own fate and that of the person he loves. Spider-Man battles the Goblin, seemingly defeating him, as he refuses to participate in any of the Goblin’s shananigans. He rushes over to see how Gwen is doing, but the goblin walks past and throws her over the bridge. She is about to fall when Spider-Man shoots a web to catch her, but the sudden jolt kills her. Spider-Man is furious at Gwen’s murder and swears revenge on the goblin.
2. Youndu’s death really broke my heart
Yondu was a fascinating figure in Guardians of the Galaxy, but he got a lot more screen time in the sequel. After being revealed as Star-Lord’s infamous alien prisoner, the blue-colored captain finally redeemed his bad history by giving up his search for the Guardians. After Taserface took control of his team, he tormented and ridiculed him as punishment.
Fans were truly connected to his embarrassing situation and the depth of his emotions, which had never been seen before. Youndo saved Quill, the man he considered his son, in the climactic fight against Ego.
3. Black Widow’s death in Endgame
Black Widow’s death in Avengers: Endgame was shocking. Fans were ready for iconic heroes like Tony and Captain Rogers to lay down their lives for the greater good, but no one thought Natasha Romanoff would leave the Avengers.
Black Widow refused to watch her closest companion die on Vormir as they were both forced to undertake a sacrifice to retrieve the Soul Stone and reverse the effects of the Snap. As Clint tried to make the ultimate move by jumping in front of Natasha, she saved him from falling by pulling her hand away.
4. Phil Coulson’s death in the original Avengers
Although Phil Coulson is usually Nick Fury’s charming sidekick, his death was certainly one of the biggest in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. As Fury tried to rally the Super Squad to stop Loki, Coulson was killed in the attack on the Helicarrier which freed Loki from prison.
The moment was particularly heartbreaking because Fury was yelling at his friend to hang on and not give up. Coulson’s loss, however, galvanized the superheroes into action. Before that, the heroes didn’t have a consensus on how to deal with Loki. When the Avengers’ many personalities began clashing, it seemed like they were doomed from the start.
5. Heimdall’s Death
Despite Heimdall’s uneventful death, he left a mark on Marvel audiences. Loki, claiming to be Odin, exiled Heimdall because he was too strong and loyal to be fooled.
However, Heimdall did not disappear but remained nearby. When Hela came to Asgard, Heimdall risked his life to lead the people of Asgard to a safer place. Her help was essential as the people of Asgard took shelter from Hela before heading to Thor’s spaceship and safe haven. Despite his deep influence on Asgard, Heimdall dies at the start of Endgame.
6. Quicksilver’s Death
Although they started the film on opposite sides, the two were ultimately driven by their moral compass to join the Avengers in their fight against Ultron and his robotic minions. It seemed like they were both lifelong members of the Avengers team, and their witty and showy personalities matched the team’s perfectly. It was only temporary, however, as Pietro ultimately gave his life to save Clint Barton and a child.
Wanda’s response amplified the tragedy of Pietro’s demise, which was already tragic in that it’s always painful to lose a lively, bright personality to some selfless act of selflessness.
7. Death of the all-father
After assuming the persona of Odin to rule Asgard, Loki exiled his father to New York. Thor’s first priority upon his arrival was to search for his absent father. The long-lived Odin sat on a rock in Scandinavia when Loki and Thor finally tracked him down. It was clear that their father’s condition had worsened since the last time each son had seen him. He said his late wife, Frigga, was begging him to come see her. He bade farewell to his boys and told them to face Hela on their own.
No matter how things went, Thor and Loki could always rely on their father. Whatever missteps they made, Odin constantly made sure his offspring were safe and cared for. It’s tragic that his death made them so afraid to face a new opponent without him.
8. Loki’s Death
The beginning of Infinity War was explosive. Thanos’ vicious personality and overwhelming strength were on full display in the film’s opening sequence, when he single-handedly beat Banner and pierced Heimdall as Thor watched helplessly, helpless to do anything. However, the Crazy Titan had more in store.
Eventually calling himself “Odinson”, Loki attempts to mislead Thanos into getting close to attacking, setting up the heartbreaking final act that proves why the Mad Titan is the most evil in the universe. Thanos, however, is able to see his appearance and snaps his neck with a slow, painful heave. The Death of the Villain Everyone Loved Reduced Thor to a sobbing wreck as he clings to his brother’s corpse.