Stakes. It’s an aspect of the MCU that gets criticized by fans and critics. ‘The ramifications are so superficial! Everybody ends up being friends in the end! No one ever really dies!’ In Avengers: Infinity War, the Russos stayed true to their promising of giving us the gut-punch by taking all the characters we love away from us. ‘But they’ll all be back eventually!’ While that’s very true, in Avengers: Endgame‘s case, there’s a belief among fans that the return of the snapped will come at a very steep price. And there are no greater stakes than the potential deaths of two of the MCU’s most important players: Captain America and Iron Man. The team at MCUExchange have convened together to share are thoughts on who should pay the ultimate price.

When looking at the full arc of both characters across the MCU, I think it would be the most impactful if Captain America were to die in Avengers: Endgame. Since his introduction, Steve’s entire existence in the MCU has been one of selfless service to what he believes is right. It would be incredibly poetic for him to make the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good. And for Tony, he already sacrificed himself at the end of the first Avengers film. And even though he didn’t die, it could be viewed as a regression for the character.

The other reason that makes me feel like Steve should be the one to sacrifice himself is that looking ahead at Phase 4 and beyond, Tony could take a back seat in the MCU, while still making guest appearances similar to his role in Spider-Man: Homecoming. It would also be much more in character for him than Steve, who’s always on the frontlines. Tony has a life that he can retire to, Steve doesn’t. Of course, I don’t want either of them to die, but if one of them has to bit the dust I think it makes the most sense for it to be our Star Spangled Man with a Plan. – Alex Lurie, Feature Writer

I think that it’s safe to say that the of the “Big Three” are going to bite the Gauntlet this April 26. (25 for us luckies) Thor’s popularity has just been revitalized, yet he isn’t quite on the level as Tony or Cap, Hulk is in a tricky boat, and Black Widow and Hawkeye have their own titles coming out relatively soon. So, it seems to come down to Cap and Tony. Of course, they could surprise us and kill Bruce Banner or something, but if I were to bet money, I’d say Captain America will die.

They have been setting Iron Man up in two different directions for a while now. They have set up his marriage with Pepper, as well as his death. And one of these storylines needs to come to fruition. If Steve sacrifices himself to save Tony, we will get the best of both worlds: a tragic death of a leading Avenger, and a wedding scene featuring every damn character in the MCU (with Stan Lee as the priest). Perhaps it can be both a wedding and memorial as Tony unveils a statue in honor of his fallen brother. – Curtis Johnson, Feature Writer

Endgame really is the end of an era. Whilst it was Iron Man that kicked off the MCU, I believe it is Steve Rogers that must give his final farewell, in the biggest Avengers outing to date. Captain America has been the moral heart of the team since day one. He is the most respected and honorable member of the MCU and perhaps the one most likely to sacrifice themselves when the time comes. There is no character moment more prominent than a young Steve jumping onto the grenade to save his peers. That is the very nature of the character and I cannot find a more fitting conclusion to one of cinema’s most iconic heroes than laying down one last time to save those he loves. Whilst Tony Stark is a strong contender, there is something about him going into retirement, with sins of his past still with him, that is much more prominent and powerful. Whilst I can see Steve getting killed by Crossbones in an error from any time travel shenanigans, what is more, likely is that we see Captain America be the hero one last time. – George Chrysostomou, Feature Writer

I think the end of Avengers: Endgame will be a melancholic one. We will see the return of those that were a casualty of the Decimation but it will come at a price. The original six will end up losing something to get the others to return. Naturally, the two biggest contenders are Tony and Steve. I believe that we will see the death of Captain America. Steve has always been the person to sacrifice himself for others and what he believes in. From a narrative standpoint, he was always the one to lose something in each of his films. He had to give up his chance at love and a normal life in The First Avenger. Winter Soldier and Civil War saw the loss of the only homes he had in the modern world. He is a man out of time and it almost seems like he is fighting an endless war.

Tony, on the other hand, has a life waiting for him once everything is said and done. He made his own sacrifices throughout the films but the futurist has a world waiting for him. I believe this sentiment will be what ultimately leads to Cap sacrificing himself. Doctor Strange knew that if anything happened to Tony, the world had no future. Tony’s story was in Avengers: Infinity War. He finally had to face his biggest fear, losing everything as he was forced to watch everything turn to dust. Endgame will be Cap’s final mission to do what he believes in and we will see Tony sit by his comrade one last time. Facing a future that was shaped by the man out of time. – Joseph Aberl, Editor

Cap is the natural choice. The Russos started their MCU journey with him, and one of their successes was extracting the best out of a complicated character. They made Steve a more interesting, layered and three-dimensional character. It makes a lot of sense that they are going to be the ones to end his arc in the MCU, and considering a person like Cap would never simply retire and watch things from afar, the only way out is a heroic death. At the same time, Tony’s arc feels like it’s been completed for a while now, and the irresponsible playboy became a caring hero a few movies ago. Like Cap, it also feels like his time as a MCU protagonist is about over, but unlike Steve, Tony could very well retire to take care of his family. He may continue making appearances to help and advise in other MCU movies as he did in Homecoming. That way, Captain America is a better candidate to meet his maker in Endgame. – Tiago Fiszbejn, News Writer

I believe that, for certain, Captain America needs to die in order for him to fulfill his character that began all the way in Captain America: The First Avenger, progressed further in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and has reached a tipping point with the end of Avengers: Infinity War. His arc is summarized quite simply by Ultron himself – that he is a man that cannot live without a war. Not that he craves it or loves to fight, but that he simply has nothing without it. His most character-defining moment was jumping on a grenade as a frail soldier and doing it again when he drove the Red Skull’s plane into the Atlantic ocean. I’m sure he’ll do it again in Avengers: Endgame, but this time that grenade will go off. He’ll fight Thanos to his last breath either to save someone else or to help save half the universe from dust. Regardless, it would be a fitting end to Steve Rogers who will go out fighting for what he believes.

I’m also going for a twofer, as I also think that this will be the end of Tony Stark, whose journey began with him on life support after one of his own weapons crippled him and risking his life to defeat Obadiah Stane. His arc continues with his self-destructive tendencies when faced with his impending and slow death by poison from the very thing keeping him alive. Joss Whedon doesn’t get enough create when it comes to writing these characters because, once again, Tony’s arc is summarized with his confrontation with Rogers. Believing that he would simply have to “cut” the wire instead of letting others crawl over him. He progresses as a character when he charges the nuke through the portal and nearly dies, seeing the infinite cosmos before him and the seemingly more infinite horde that they were facing. From that point forward, Tony is utterly consumed with protecting those closest to him and the world to the point that he almost destroys it. Tony began this universe and his death will usher in a new beginning. – Pierre Chanliau, Editor

I’m with Cap until the end of the line. I totally believe he will make the big sacrificial play to either defeat Thanos or bring back all the dead. It’s a fitting end for the skinny nobody from Brooklyn who was willing to jump on a grenade for people who wanted nothing more than to see him fail. That moment was the true testament of his selflessness and heroism, an act that I’m sure Captain America: The First Avenger writers Markus and McFeeley would love to revisit in Avengers: Endgame. I’ve always imagined what his funeral would be like. I have a hunch that we’ll get a taste of it in just a few days. When he does pass, I do hope they show him in the ‘afterlife’ or whatever pocket of existence they leave him in happy with Peggy and content with his legacy.

On the topic of Tony, I want to see his wish of settling with Pepper for good be fulfilled in the end. That said, there’s also be something incredibly poetic about the guy starting it all for the universe and us fans, ending it all to save the universe. – Charles Villanueva, Editor-in-Chief

Who do you think will be sacrificed to bring everyone back in Avengers: Endgame? Let us know in the comments below!