(Warning: if you haven't seen Infinity War and hate having things spoiled, you should probably go and check it out on Netflix right now).
Fans who went into Avengers: Infinity War without reading the comics really didn't know what to expect when they entered the theater. Watching all of your favorite heroes that you've become attached to over the years disintegrate before your very eyes was a huge mindf--k, there's just no other way to put it.
Since Infinity War ended, there's been a lot of talk about how Avengers: Endgame will play out. Namely, will Thanos die?
If you go back to the source material, you'd see that, while the demise of several Avengers was already foretold, how everything went down in the movie was a bit different than how it happened in the comics.
So, will Thanos die in Endgame?
There's no simple yes or no answer, but the directors of the film, the Russo Brothers, have already given us a few hints with their first movie.
For the most part, the Russos have stayed true to the overall message of the Infinity Gauntlet comic series. We've seen several of the Avengers killed; however the way they're dispatched in the comics is more gruesome than what was depicted on screen. Some of the characters were suffocated, some were pummeled to death, some disemboweled, some decapitated, and some just got pimp-smacked so hard their necks broke.
The Russo Bros. have also ensured Thanos is the central character in the narrative, as he was in the Infinity Gauntlet series. But like the deaths of the heroes, there are some differences. Thanos is a much more sympathetic character in Infinity War. He doesn't seem to take much joy in what he's doing, but rather sees it as a brutal necessity to ensure that there is balance in the galaxy.
Sure, he could use the Infinity Gauntlet to double the size of the universe instead of just halving everything, but I'm sure a guy as smart as the purple people eater himself thought about that.
So it's clear the Russo Bros. are skilled at capturing the feel and intentions of the comics while perfectly adapting them for the screen. But there's one big detail from Marvel's source material that really can't be re-interpreted...or can it?
Does Thanos die in the comic?
While Thanos does meet his end in other spin-offs and standalone comics, the Infinity Gauntlet story arc poses a difficult problem: Thanos can't really die. There's a character who also serves as a primary motivating factor for Thanos bringing so much death and destruction to the universe, and it's the character of Death.
Death in the Marvel universe is very much a real, living entity and is portrayed as being female. Thanos is utterly obsessed with her.
To win her over, Thanos becomes hell-bent on sacrificing as many lives as possible in her name. You might not remember Death from Avengers: Infinity War because the Russo Bros. didn't write her in, and instead focused on portraying Thanos in the reluctant, ends-justifies-the-means savior role.
Through a series of events, Death rejects Thanos, which literally means that he cannot die. Like, ever. So no one is killing Thanos. But that doesn't mean he can't be beaten.
Who can defeat Thanos?
You may have recalled that, in one of the post-credit scenes at the end of Infinity War, there was a slow, zoom-in crawl on a Golden sarcophagus of sorts. In that beautifully-crafted iron maiden is none other than Adam Warlock, an artificially created, "perfect" human being. In the comics, Warlock battles Thanos and initially loses.
Thanos handily defeats all of the Avengers and then graduates to beating up the elder gods, thanks to his powerful infinity gauntlet. Believing he's transcended all of the elder gods, Thanos gets rid of his physical form after becoming the "heart" of the universe. His glove then slinks off, because universes don't wear jewelry I guess. Nebula grabs the gauntlet and then starts doing all sorts of messed up stuff with it.
Warlock grabs hold of the gauntlet after battling Nebula for it. The Avengers use the infinity gauntlet to reverse the events of Thanos' snap and all is well, for the most part.
These are the comics we're talking about however, and while there are tons of theories about how Thanos will be bested, here's what we do know:
Adam Warlock is definitely going to play a part in it. Why else would he be teased at the end of the film?
Captain Marvel is going to be instrumental in the fight as well, along with the surviving members of the Avengers. It's already been revealed that Iron Man's proton cannon will play a part in taking down Thanos and his crew, but there's one bit of information that a lot of people are sleeping on, and that's the Hulk's storyline.
Avengers: Infinity War opens up with Hulk being two-pieced nicely by the Mad Titan and beaten into submission. Typically, when Hulk gets angrier he just gets stronger, so it's almost impossible to beat him in a straight-up fight. But the Russos did point out that Hulk's defeat to Thanos was mostly mental, and that he was sick and tired of bailing out Bruce Banner.
Movies tend to come full-circle, and a huge part of Hulk's arc is reconciling his relationship with Banner. Once that happens, audiences shouldn't be surprised to see a final one-on-one battle between Hulk and Thanos where the green machine is finally able to beat him down, earning some redemption and a shot for the Avengers to enact whatever plan they need to undo the actions of Thanos' snap.
In any event, we'll need to wait until April 26 to find out if any of these theories are true. As of now, however, the Russo Bros. says that no one has even come close to guessing what will happen at the end of the movie. And that's pretty darn cool.