On Monday nightís episode of Disney-owned "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," the late-night host asked his five guests promoting "Avengers: Infinity War" who might die in the new film, officially opens Thursday. After all, Kimmel noted, someone has to perish in a war.
The cast members stayed mum, but their nervous laughter only seemed to confirm the speculation that has swirled around the Disney/Marvel movie for months. Surely, one of the major superhero players wonít live to see the final credits, will they?
Here is our breakdown on who, among the major players, is most likely to die in "Infinity War":
10. The Hulk/Bruce Banner
The Hulk makes for an awfully big target, narratively speaking, and as "Thor: Ragnarok" showed, he can be beaten in the ring. Plus, there are obstacles to Hulk starring in his own film again (the past two have not been memorable). Yet Hulk has become a great second (green) banana, and besides, Mark Ruffalo is still working on a multiyear contract. Verdict: Hulk lives!
If Taika Waititiís "Ragnarok" hadnít rejuvenated the solo franchise, perhaps Chris Hemsworthís Thor would be at greater risk. But Thor is too vital now, and a crucial comedic member, too. So our prediction: Thor lives on.
Hereís the question: Would Marvel ever ice Spidey (Tom Holland) in its own universe while Peter Parker continues his solo franchise for Sony? Our verdict: Itís too soon to close off that route, as young Hollandís puppy-dog friskiness enlivens all scenes opposite the relatively aging Avengers and Guardians.
7. The Winter Soldier
Once upon a time, Bucky (Sebastian Stan) seemed vulnerable. Now, having been last spotted healing in Wakanda, he is poised to take a lead role going forward - especially if Captain America goes down.
Jeremy Rennerís archer is so vulnerable. Because, really, who other than Black Widow would deeply miss him?
Being Thanosí daughter could ultimately prove to be a narrative safeguard, but then again: Big baddie Thanos (Josh Brolin) may have no love lost in his mission to crush and conquer, family be damned.
4. Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr. has gotten awfully expensive to keep around as ringleader and spiritual godfather after a decade. But this feels like one film too soon to say farewell to Tony Stark ó short of Iron Man becoming the franchiseís Obi-Wan from beyond in "Avengers 4." Which leaves ...
3. Captain America
Marvel loves to ice Cap (Chris Evans) in the comic books, so the end is likely near for Steve Rogers on screen, too. But given how much noise Evans has recently made about departing the franchise after "Avengers 4," our money is on one more film from Captain America before, say, Bucky or the Falcon inherits the shield.
Can an indebted trickster holding the Space Stone ever be too safe? Super-baddie Thanos may make short work of Thorís sib if he has no more need for him. But it might not be worth losing the franchiseís comedic lightning bolt when another major stone-holder might be more vulnerable. Which brings us precisely to ...
When "Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2" stars promoted their movie last year on "Jimmy Kimmel," Team Disney/Marvel made sure to include a star (Michael Rooker) whose character was meeting his maker in that very film. In that context, does it loom ominous that Paul Bettany was at the end of Kimmelís couches Monday night? Consider, too, that the trailers showed Vision having an Infinity Stone pulled from his cranium. For Visionís sake, we hope that scene was a million-dollar feint.