*Warning: Spoilers abound, especially for Avengers: Endgame*
After over a decade of build-up, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has changed forever, thanks to Avengers: Endgame. The survivors of Avengers: Infinity War may have been able to bring back all those that were snapped away by Thanos, but that doesn’t mean that everybody lives. The original Gamora has been replaced by a version of herself from an earlier time—before she became a Guardian of the Galaxy and fell for Peter Quill. Black Widow sacrificed herself to allow her team to retrieve the Soul Stone, and Tony Stark, the one that started it all, died using the Infinity Stones to undo what Thanos had originally done. Even Captain America is now gone, although he managed to bow out without such a heartbreaking death, instead choosing to go back to his own time and grow old with the woman he loves.
With so many MCU losses, it’s not surprising that fans are mourning and wondering if there may be a few comic-book-style resurrections in the offing. After all, the pages of comics are packed with characters who have died and come back to life time after time, not even including someone like Deadpool, who has never truly died, but who is virtually impossible to kill. In honor of the fallen (and the hope that perhaps they may even return), we’ve wrapped up the biggest, most oft-resurrected characters in the Marvel/DC worlds (in their primary continuities).
Yup, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man has tangled with death multiple times, and it all started when Peter Parker sacrificed himself to save a mother and daughter and, thankfully, managed to run into Death afterwards and convince her to return him to life. Later, he’s died during the Clone Wars (twice), as well as during the Infinity Gauntlet story arc and in Secret Wars. He’s also had a few sort-of-resurrections under his belt; from the time that he was presumed dead but actually disappeared into a cocoon and emerged with new powers (Spider-Butterfly-Man?), to the time that Doc Ock switched their minds and bodies, and killed his own body with Peter’s mind inside. Oh, and of course, the epic time that Kraven seemingly killed him…and while he failed, Kraven’s Last Hunt provides the amazing image of Spidey crawling out of his own grave.
Another Marvel character who may have been killed more than any other has to be Jean Grey. Her first death happened fairly early on in her career as one of the X-Men, and set in motion the events that would cause almost all of her other deaths. In Uncanny X-Men #101, she ended up flying a ship through deadly radiation, presumably killing her. However, as even the most casual fan knows, she ended up bonding with the Phoenix Force, and returned to Earth alive, and with some new and impressive gifts. From there, she has died time and time again; sacrificing herself to prevent the Dark Phoenix Force taking over, begging Wolverine to stab her to death repeatedly in order to weaken the Phoenix Force inside her so she could control it, bringing her death and resurrection tally well into the dozens.
Throwing a little DC into the mix, Superman’s most famous death is, without question, the Death of Superman (the clue is in the name). In this massively important storyline, Supes is killed in a battle with Doomsday (don’t worry, he takes Doomsday down too), and the world is left to mourn him. However, his body is actually regenerating in a Kryptonian matrix in the Fortress of Solitude. Hooray! In addition, Superman has been killed in a range of ways, from a Kryptonite Ray (resurrected thanks to a sacrificial android), being hypnotized into suicide (resurrected courtesy of Batman and a magic wand), and has even been killed and then rescued from the land of the dead by the Justice League.
Now we’re getting into the real heavy hitters, AKA those characters whose entire power is to be continually resurrected. Mr. Immortal is one of Marvel’s most-killed characters…and also one of the saddest. As a child, his mother begged a messenger of Death (Deathurge) to take care of her son, and Deathurge took things a little too literally. Now, he cannot die, a fact he discovered after a terrible childhood led to him attempting suicide multiple times, and always failing, as he resurrects immediately after death, every time. One of the worst things about this is that he has no other powers, and although he has teamed up with other heroes in order to put his immortality to good use, he is often miserable, unable to do anything but live to see his loved ones pass, as he lives on, ageless until the end of the universe.
DC has their own slightly less sad version of Mr. Immortal: Resurrection Man. This hero was gifted his immortality through an experiment involving tektites. The implantation of this nanotech gifted Mitch Shelley with an extraordinary gift: each time he dies, he remains dead for a brief moment, and then revives with an added bonus gift of a new, temporary superpower that is connected in some way with how he died. Obviously, this creates some impressive death scenes, as Resurrection Man seeks to die in order to get new, useful powers to use as he pleases. And while he can only hold on to one power at a time (and some of them are pretty useless), this still has to be one of the most epic resurrection arcs in comics.
So there you have it. And while comic book deaths are always arguable (after all, characters are continually dying and being revived, alternate universes exist, and comics are filled with technicalities), these are some of those who have come back the most…meaning that there is hope for Tony Stark yet!