Marvel's Most Surprising Deaths in 2021

WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Marvel's Dark Ages, Darkhold one-shots, The Death of Doctor Strange and Venom, as well as the MCU's What If, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Eternals, Hawkeye, Spider-Man: No Way Home and WandaVision.

The year 2021 has arguably been one of Marvel's biggest yet. From groundbreaking comic book events to the overwhelming success of Spider-Man: No Way Home, fans have been given more and more reasons to dive into the Marvel Universe.

Of course, with so many astounding releases, there have also been a slew of devastating losses, both in the comics and the MCU. They might not all be tied to the same place in the Multiverse, but these deaths were undoubtedly the most shocking, and pivotal, of the past year.

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Marvel Killed a LOT of Superheroes in Its Dark Ages Event

Dark Ages #1 by Tom Taylor and Iban Coello introduced fans to a version of the Marvel Universe shrouded in darkness. When the ancient machine known as the Unmaker awoke within the Earth's core, Doctor Strange assembled a team of heroes specifically suited to taking it down. Unfortunately, doing so cost the lives of not just the Sorcerer Supreme, but the Scarlet Witch and Thing, and countless others.

To top it all off, defeating the Unmaker came with a cosmic EMP that turned off the lights throughout the universe. Worse than the sacrifice of the heroes who saved this world was the fact that anyone whose life depended on electricity ended up making that same sacrifice along with them.

Marvel Killed a Lot More Superheroes in Its Darkhold One-Shots

The elder god Chthon has long been one of the more menacing figures in the Marvel Universe, and Darkhold: Omega by Steve Orlando and Cian Tormey saw him once again prepare to take control of it. In an effort to stave off the threat, the Scarlet Witch and Doctor Doom assembled some of the world's greatest heroes to read from the ancient Darkhold.

They had hoped that this would give the heroes the power they needed to defeat Chthon, but instead it has sent each of them spiraling into their own personal hellscapes. The realities they have found within the Darkhold might not be anything alike, but all of them have come with enough bloodshed to paint the entire world red.

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Marvel's Death of Doctor Strange Was a Hell of a Mystery

Doctor Strange has been Marvel's premier Master of the Mystic arts for nearly six decades, but 2021 saw it all come to an end with The Death of Doctor Strange by Jed MacKay and Lee Garbett. When a mysterious murders the Sorcerer Supreme in his own home, it sets off a series of inter-dimensional invasions by some of Strange's most classic enemies.

It isn't that Doctor Strange's demise has opened the door for Earth to be taken over, however. In truth, it is that Doctor Strange was the only thing standing between the Marvel Universe and total mystical annihilation, even if no one realized it until after he was gone. There isn't any doubt that Marvel's mystic heroes will be able to save our world, but what it looks like when the dust has settled still remains to be seen.

How Marvel Killed Venom's Eddie Brock

Ever since he ascended to the throne of King in Black, Eddie Brock has been more powerful than ever. Surprisingly, his brand new near omnipotence couldn't save him from an attack by the Life Foundation in Venom #1 by Al Ewing, Ram V, and Bryan Hitch. With that, Eddie's physical body was obliterated, although he isn't necessarily deceased quite yet. Rather, Eddie has found himself inhabiting some other place in space and time.

Of course, the rest of the world doesn't know that, and certainly not his enemies. Eddie not being around on Earth is one thing, but him disappearing just before a symbiote civil war begins only paves the way for utter disaster.

RELATED: Marvel Revealed Doctor Strange’s Murderer - and They’re More Powerful Than Ever

All the Deaths of Marvel's What If Avengers Were Wild

The Marvel Universe has lost just as many if not more lives than the comics this past year, though few were as impactful as the Avengers killed on the small screen. The third episode of What If...? came after two relatively bright adventures only to throw audiences a thriller shaped curveball. "What If... The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?" saw Nick Fury's early attempts to assemble the Avengers thwarted at very step by an unseen assassin. After taking Fury's best prospects off the table, the killer would reveal themselves as Hank Pym aka Yellowjacket.

Pym was driven to murder by the death of his daughter Hope during her time working for S.H.I.E.L.D. As tragic as Pym's story was, his actions would lead to the immediate takeover of Earth during Loki's initial invasion as the planet was left without any heroes to defend it. Thankfully, this reality was only one vision of the Marvel Universe, though it did help set the bar for how far the series was willing to go.

Did the Kingpin Die in Disney+'s Hawkeye?

As soon as he was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin was an easy fan-favorite. Unfortunately, the end of Marvel's micro-universe within Netflix left the fate of those characters in question, including Wilson Fisk. Thankfully, the Kingpin returned in the final episodes of Hawkeye, giving fans the comeback they had been clamoring for.

It wasn't made to last, however, as the Kingpin was unceremoniously killed off screen by a gunshot to the head courtesy of Alaqua Cox's Maya Lopez. With the death of Wilson Fisk, everyone who had been under his thumb is now free. Unfortunately, his death is also going to lead to an inevitable power struggle between NYC's biggest underworld names, and there is no telling who will step in to fill his shoes. There is always the chance that Maya took pity on the Kingpin, even if the odds are slim.

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Marvel's Most Shocking Movie Death in 2021 Was Eternals' Ikaris

Eternals' arrival in the MCU ushered in a new era of adventure and exploration, bringing with them some of the biggest names and concepts from the comics to the silver screen. As awe striking as the spectacle was, none of it could overshadow the unexpected death of Richard Madden's Ikaris. While the film saw the rest of his fellow Eternals develop an affinity for human kind that surpassed their sense of duty to the Celestials, Ikaris could never do so on his own.

Throughout the Eternals' quest to save the world, Ikaris made multiple attempts to sabotage their efforts without letting anyone catch on to his betrayal. In the end, Ikaris allowed for the world to be saved by the others. This was ultimately the right call to make, but the grief it filled him with for having failed his mission sent him flying straight into the sun. Ikaris' death was a divisive moment for fans of the character. Still, it cemented the MCU versions of its cosmic cast as their own breed of Eternals rather than replicas of their comic book counterparts.

Spider-Man: No Way Home's Death of Aunt May Was 2021's Saddest MCU Loss

Aunt May has been an indelible part of Peter Parker's life from the very beginning, but the version of her portrayed by Marisa Tomei in the MCU stood on her own. Not only was this May Parker a younger iteration of the character than fans were used to, she was somehow even more involved in Peter's story than any Aunt May on the silver screen had been before. Of course, the MCU's Spider-Man has always been a far different story than what fans had grown accustomed to.

This included the total absence of Uncle Ben from Peter's story, a chapter which would be fulfilled during Spider-Man: No Way Home in the most tragic way possible. Rather than Uncle Ben, this time around it was Aunt May who died. Even worse, she spent her final moments in Peter's arms, though this did give her the opportunity to impart on him the idea that great power comes with great responsibility. The scene was heartbreaking to be sure, yet it still managed to tie together the film's various heroes in a genuine way without reducing May's death to a mere plot point.

WandaVision Killed Off the Vision... Kind of?

WandaVision gave fans of the MCU an experience like none they had ever seen from Marvel Studios. Equal parts intrigue and horror, the series brought Paul Bettany back as Vision in the worst imaginable way. Underneath WandaVision's unsettlingly wholesome veneer, the truth behind Vision's return was that he had never really done so at all. Instead of being brought back to life properly, Vision's corpse was simply being puppeteered by Wanda's grief stricken and traumatized subconscious.

This combined with her reality warping powers not only gave her the love of her life back, it transformed the town of Westview into a living nightmare for its residents. While this Vision was able to come to terms with his life, death, and resurrection before saving Wanda, none of that made up for the tragedy of his dying all over again. As gut wrenching as it all was, this Vision's existence also served to cement just how powerful the MCU's Scarlet Witch truly is beyond bringing a tear to the eyes of fans worldwide.

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Never Forget the Sad Death of Battlestar in Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Of all the deaths in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2021, there were none that had fans on the edge of their seats quite like the moment that Battlestar lost his life. Introduced alongside John Walker on The Falcon & The Winter Soldier, this Lemar Hoskins was portrayed in immaculate fashion by Cle Bennett for three episodes before being killed in action. During a battle with Karli Morgenthau aka Flag Smasher, the young villain lost control of her superhuman strength, killing Battlestar with a single punch to the chest.

Hoskins' demise was a genuine shock on its own, but it was what came after that changed the entire tone of the series going forward. In blind fury following the death of his best friend, John Walker murdered one of Morgenthau's fellow Flag Smashers in broad daylight and with a crowd of horrified onlookers recording from every angle. This brutal display of violence wrapped in Captain America's costume rocked the world of the MCU to its core, while also sending The Falcon & The Winter Soldier careening into new territory.

Marvel's Most Powerful What If Death Also Killed a Universe

The deaths of heroes and villains are always shocking, but it is the loss of those that they love which always hits the hardest. John Walker's reaction to losing his best friend was uncalled for, but the reaction of one particular Doctor Strange to the death of his closest loved one nearly devastated the entire Multiverse. "What If... Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?" introduced fans to a version of the Sorcerer Supreme who was so unwilling to accept the death of Christine Palmer that he turned into a monster to try and prevent it.

With the Eye of Agamotto in hand, this Doctor Strange went back into the past countless times, yet every attempt to save Christine was fruitless. After consuming the souls of various demons, Strange Supreme even went so far as to absorb another version of himself in the hopes that such a massive amount of power would allow him to rewrite destiny. As it turned out, this was in fact enough to resurrect Christine, but it would also cause the decay of Strange Supreme's entire reality, her included.

The episode didn't just shock fans with an evil Sorcerer Supreme, however, it set that same Doctor Strange up to play one of the most important roles of all in helping to defeat and subsequently contain the godlike Infinity Ultron. Now that fans know another evil Doctor Strange is on the way in the Multiverse of Madness, the silver screen might also be left reeling from Christine's death before very long.

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John Dodge (1277 Articles Published)

John Dodge has been an avid consumer of comic books and nerd culture for as long as he can remember. An expert on competitive gaming and obscure kids shows from the 80's and 90's, John has far too many opinions about Beetleborgs for someone in their thirties. You can find him occasionally discussing them over on Twitter at @JohnJDodge.

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