We had a lot fewer superhero stories to enjoy in 2020. COVID-related delays in TV production, movie releases, and even comic book shipping forced superhero fans to be a lot more patient than usual. Thankfully, 2021 brought comic book champions back with a vengeance, due in large part to long-awaited original content from streaming services like Disney+ and HBO Max. With series like "WandaVision" and "Invincible," new films like "Thunder Force" and "Zack Snyder’s Justice League," the resumption of CW’s DC hero line-up along with the new series "Superman & Lois," and more comic books back on the stands, 2021 is shaping up to be one of the busiest years for the superhero world yet.
Sadly, more superhero stories means more costumed do-gooders meeting their ultimate fate, and 2021 has already wracked up an impressive butcher’s bill of heroes. Whether they’ve been wiped from existence, beaten to a pulp by a treacherous ally, or forced to sacrifice themselves on the whim of cruel and ungrateful taskmasters, a good number of superheroes are sure to be dead by the end of the year.
Updated on July 12, 2021: We’re making sure to keep a complete list of the super-dead so you don’t have to, and as a result, we’ve updated this list to pay homage to our fallen fictional heroes. Whether they met their demise on a streaming site or inside the pages of a comic book, here are all the superheroes we lost in 2021. And be warned — there are major spoilers below.
The Hex Vision
Since Paul Bettany’s Vision suffered a brutal death at Thanos’ hands in 2018’s "Avengers: Infinity War," there were — as with just about everything in "WandaVision" – plenty of theories about how Marvel’s favorite synthezoid was alive in the show. In the series’ penultimate episode, it’s finally confirmed that, shortly after viewing her lover’s disassembled body at SWORD headquarters, Wanda used abilities she didn’t even know she had to create a dream Vision, along with transforming the town of Westview and its inhabitants.
The Vision of the Hex is, in Wanda’s words, "the piece of the Mind Stone" living within her, a body she created, her sadness, and her hope. "But mostly," she says to Vision, "you’re my love." She tells him this in the series finale, moments before she brings down her mystical Hex, along with all the illusions within it … including Vision. Her lover seems hopeful that he will find some way to return to her before he fades into nonexistence, and who knows? SWORD’s reassembled White Vision is still out there somewhere, and he could be the key to such a return.
Along with Vision, the twins Billy and Tommy also presumably fade away, but this isn’t quite as certain as the dream Vision’s death. In a post-credits scene, as Scarlet Witch communes with the Darkhold, we hear the boys calling out to her for help, perhaps pointing towards the twins’ return in the upcoming "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness."
One of the impressive highlights of "Zack Snyder’s Justice League" is the opportunity to watch an expanded and beautifully epic version of Darkseid’s first effort to conquer Earth. In this flashback, we see a lot more of all the combatants, and in particular, we see a lot more of the Green Lantern who dies fighting the enemy general.
Considering who the Green Lantern is, it’s fitting he should live and die in only a single flashback scene. The alien Lantern is Yalan Gur, whose counterpart in the source material is introduced in 1991’s "Green Lantern" #19, likewise in a flashback that ends in his death. In the comics, Gur’s story is a cautionary tale about a Lantern who’s gifted with a ring with no weaknesses, and he’s killed by his own overconfidence.
You could argue the movie Yalan Gur dies from the same thing since he falls going one-on-one with Darkseid, but heading straight for the big bad is kind of a Green Lantern’s job. Gur is knocked out of the sky by parademons, and Darkseid takes the opportunity to dominate his foe. He chops off Gur’s hand and then impales him, killing him. Gur’s ring leaves his dead finger, and Darkseid reaches out to claim it, but he’s interrupted by the arrows of the Greek goddess Artemis. Presumably, the ring flies away to find a new member of the Corps to succeed Gur.
Referring to David Dastmalchian’s Abra Kadabra as a superhero may seem strange. The time traveler’s real name is Philippe, and he’s a crook from the 64th century who uses nanotechnology that looks like magic to 21st-century eyes. He’s introduced in the third season of "The Flash," stuck in the present and attempting to steal technology in order to build a time machine to get home. But he returns in Season 7’s "Central City Strong," eventually proving to be a much more sympathetic character and ultimately dying to save Barry Allen.
After realizing Abra Kadabra is constructing an anti-matter bomb to destroy Central City, Flash rushes to confront him, and he learns that Phillippe is looking for payback. See, in the future, Abra Kadabra discovered the device Cisco Ramon created that could give people back their memories from before the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover. Using the device on himself, Abra Kadabra learns he had a wife and son before "Crisis," but the restoration of the multiverse had taken them away from him.
Barry is able to convince the vengeful Philippe to disarm the bomb, but the danger isn’t over. The monstrous Fuerza — an antagonist later revealed to be the host of the Strength Force — arrives abruptly and attacks Flash. Abra Kadabra stands up to the beast, protecting Barry, but since Philippe doesn’t share Barry’s enhanced healing, a single strike from the super strong Fuerza kills him instantly. In the aftermath, Team Flash agrees that Abra Kadabra died a hero.
The original Guardians of the Globe
Amazon Prime unveiled its new original animated series, "Invincible," at the end of March, and the premiere ends in a way that lets you know that while this isn’t "The Boys," it also definitely isn’t "Superfriends."
Early in the first episode, we meet the Guardians of the Globe — the series’ version of DC’s Justice League, comprised of obvious stand-ins. Instead of Aquaman, there’s the fish-headed Aquarus. Instead of the Flash, there’s Red Rush, and there’s Darkwing instead of Batman, and so on and so on. We meet them as they’re battling the formidable Mauler Twins in Washington D.C., who they defeat only with the timely arrival of Omni-Man — the show’s answer to Superman and the father of the series’ titular protagonist.
In spite of what at first appears to be a strong friendship between Omni-Man and the Guardians, the episode ends with Omni-Man luring the other heroes into a secret meeting and brutally murdering them all, one by one. Aquarus, Red Rush, Darkwing, the Immortal, Martian Man, Green Ghost, and War Woman are all dead before the scene ends, with Omni-Man not bothering to give his victims any explanation. But in the Season 1 finale, Omni-Man admits to his son, Invincible, that he murdered the Guardians because, as it turns out, he’s not on Earth to protect it. Instead, he’s here to prepare the planet to be conquered by the interstellar Viltrumite Empire.
We also learn that at least one of the original Guardians might actually return. In Season 1’s penultimate episode, the Mauler Twins resurrect the Immortal with the intention of using him for their own plans. Instead, the Immortal finds and attacks Omni-Man, who kills the Immortal once more. However, in the Season 1 finale, we get a brief shot of the Global Defense Agency working on the Immortal’s corpse, suggesting at some point in the near future, the dead hero may get another shot at his killer.
"The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" has been decidedly ambiguous regarding the fate of Steve Rogers. We still don’t know if he’s dead, retired in secret, or on the moon like Joaquin Torres and his buddies seem to think. But we know of at least one hero who doesn’t survive the series. In Episode 4, Lemar Hoskins, aka Battlestar, sacrifices himself to save John Walker from the Flag-Smashers.
The head of the Flag-Smashers, Karli Morgenthau, decides the new Captain America needs to die in order to send the world a message. She sets up a meeting with Sam, knowing that John Walker will follow whether he’s invited or not. Walker does what’s expected of him, and in the ensuing melee, one of Karli’s men gets ahold of him while Karli charges him with a knife drawn. Lemar intercepts Karli, tackling her to the floor. Enraged, the Flag-Smasher hits Lemar with all of her enhanced strength, sending him flying backward into a pillar and killing him instantly.
Battlestar was John Walker’s best friend and his biggest cheerleader. His death pushes the already unstable Walker over the edge, and at the end of the episode, he murders one of the Flag-Smashers in a very public and brutal fashion. Episode 5 opens with Sam and Bucky clashing with Walker to take back his bloody shield, and before long, Walker has returned to the States, where the title of Captain America is stripped from him.
In spite of "Suicide Squad’s" premise being that no one is safe, certain eras have filled the line-up with far too many too-big-to-die characters. For example, the volume of "Suicide Squad" that premiered in 2011 as part of DC’s New 52 reboot regularly included characters like Harley Quinn and Deadshot, each of whom you could safely predict would survive to the next issue. But if you like your "Suicide Squad" body count to be a bit higher, the volume that premiered this year is for you. Four members of Task Force X break into Arkham Asylum in 2021’s "Suicide Squad" #1, and all but one of them are dead by the issue’s end.
The first to fall is Bolt, and ironically, he’s killed by the guy he’s there to free. The Suicide Squad’s mission is to rescue William Cobb — the Court of Owls’ most infamous Talon — but when the Squad gets into his cell, it’s clear the guy is in a psychiatric facility for good reasons. Cobb is huddled in a corner, seemingly unaware of them, and the word "who" is carved into just about every inch of his cell’s walls. When Bolt puts his hand on Cobb’s shoulder, the latter strikes, ripping Bolt’s throat open with one of his homemade shivs.
The Bolt who dies in "Suicide Squad" #1 is actually the son of the original DC villain who bore the name. The younger Bolt killed his own father at the orders of the Clock King in 2009’s "Terror Titans" #3.
Earlier in March, DC released "Infinite Frontier" #0, which included — among other things — an attack on Arkham Asylum with Joker’s deadly gas. Those events spill into "Suicide Squad" #1, shrinking Task Force X considerably.
After killing Bolt, William Cobb doesn’t prove any more cooperative with the team sent to free him, taking on the survivors Shrike, Film Freak, and Peacemaker all on his own. As the deadly Joker gas creeps towards the group, Cobb punches Film Freak, knocking him closer to the oncoming cloud. As the gas overtakes him, Film Freak quotes the famous Porky Pig line, "That’s all folks," before taking on the rictus grin that all of Joker’s gas victims display.
First appearing in 2006’s "Catwoman" #54, the pale-skinned Film Freak is a psychopath obsessed both with movies and with Catwoman. Before his death, his mind possessed no true memories but only clips from countless films. In his final appearance in "Suicide Squad" #1, he speaks exclusively in quotes from movies, TV shows, and song lyrics.
The last Squad member to fall in "Suicide Squad" #1 — but not the last Squad member to fall in this story — is Shrike. A student of the notorious League of Assassins, Shrike existed primarily as an antagonist for Batman’s first partner — Dick Grayson, better known as Nightwing and also as the first Robin of Gotham City. And as for his ultimate fate, depending on how you look at it, Shrike dies either because of his only surviving teammate’s betrayal or because he’s simply a low priority.
After Film Freak dies, Peacemaker and Shrike continue to try to subdue William Cobb, forcing him toward a nearby exit in the hopes of escaping the Joker gas. As they reach the exit, they find two guards blocking their escape, and Peacemaker tells Shrike to take care of the guards while he grabs Cobb and charges with him through the exit. In spite of Shrike calling for him to wait, Peacemaker keeps going, allowing the exit door to close behind him and leaving Shrike to die in the encroaching gas.
Before the end of "Suicide Squad" #1, we learn that Amanda Waller has Superboy as her prisoner. In the following issue, she sends a second squad led by Superboy — equipped with gas masks — to Arkham Asylum to rescue Cobb and Peacemaker and to leave a corpse in Cobb’s cell in the hopes he’ll be presumed dead. Superboy’s squad includes the vampiric Batman villain Nocturna and three characters making their first appearance in "Suicide Squad" #2 — Culebra, Exit, and Mindwarp.
With the ability to psychically manipulate others, Mindwarp uses his powers to force any surviving Arkham guards to forget about the squad. But just as the team is about to leave, Mindwarp’s mask cracks, exposing him to the Joker gas. He quickly collapses, succumbing to the fumes and dying.
While it’s only speculation, the timing of Mindwarp’s death is suspicious. Waller calls him over the comms and has him confirm that his powers worked on the guards. As soon as he confirms, his mask cracks without any visible outside influence causing the damage. Earlier, Peacemaker’s narration refers to Mindwarp as a "true psychopath," and he calls him "untrustworthy." Perhaps — uncomfortable with the supposed "psychopath" on her squad — Waller causes Mindwarp’s mask to crack remotely once she has what she needs from him.
As for his backstory, while there is a Mindwarp named Jay Young who was introduced in 2012’s "Justice League Dark" #3, Peacemaker’s narration notes this Mindwarp’s real name is Peter Howard, making him a completely different and new character.
Though he hasn’t been seen before in DC Comics and presumably won’t be seen again (at least not for a while), the most sympathetic of Task Force X’s members to fall in the first two issues of "Suicide Squad" is Jason Phillips, aka Exit. Peacemaker’s narration calls him a thief with "delusions of redemption." If Peacemaker is right and Exit’s hope for redemption is a delusion, then it’s a delusion he dies feeding.
Shortly before the squad leaves Arkham, Superboy argues with Amanda Waller when she orders him to leave without helping any of the facility’s survivors. He argues they "just need time," and likewise, Exit tries to save one of the Arkham guards by letting him use his own gas mask. Sadly, that act of kindness seals Exit’s fate. On the following page, the gas overtakes Exit. Before dying, he opens a portal so the rest of the squad can escape.
In the new volume of "Suicide Squad," the first two issues both see a team member with teleporting powers kick the bucket. "Suicide Squad" #3 continues the streak with its new member, Keymaster.
In "Suicide Squad" #3, Amanda Waller sends the team to forcibly "recruit" Bolt of Teen Titans fame into the squad. To help capture the speedster, Waller introduces two new team members (and likewise, both make their first DC Comics appearance in this issue). Branch is a chronically nervous and cowardly science experiment with a body that has vegetative properties, while the arrogant, smart-mouthed Keymaster creates portals that allow him to teleport himself and others across great distances.
Unfortunately, Keymaster doesn’t know one of the most important rules of Task Force X. Of the fastest ways there are to die in the Suicide Squad, trying to escape is near the top of the list. While the team waits to ambush Bolt, Branch suggests Keymaster might be able to create a portal that would teleport them far enough away to escape the range of the explosives implanted in their bodies. Keymaster agrees, quipping, "Good idea, Treebeard. Too bad there’s only room for one." Predictably, Waller detonates the explosives within Keymaster, killing the Squad member and warning Bolt of the ambush. And as is usually the case for the Suicide Squad, everything goes sideways after that.
On the series premiere of the HBO original "The Nevers" — set in London at the end of the 19th century — we learn a mysterious object flew over the city four years before the events of the show, scattering a glowing substance over the populace, granting some of them superhuman abilities. Those with abilities soon become known as the Touched. Feared by other Londoners, some of the Touched take shelter in St. Romaulda’s Orphanage run by Amalia True.
One of the Touched is Mary Brighton, whose ability is unique. Brighton’s singing can only be heard by other Touched, and upon hearing it, they’re soothed. In an effort to bring hope and union to the Touched, inventor Penance Adair creates an amplifier she hopes will allow Brighton’s song to reach every Touched in London. Hesitant at first, Brighton eventually agrees to Penance’s plan, but mid-song, she’s abruptly riddled with bullets by Winemar Kroos — a criminal Touched with a Gatling gun-like prosthetic arm and the ability to fire bullets from his body. Brighton dies almost instantly.
Kroos is killed by Inspector Frank Mundi moments later, but later in the series, we learn it’s the powerful Lord Gilbert Massen who arranged for Brighton’s murder.
Netflix’s "Jupiter’s Legacy" is based on the comics of the same name, written by Mark Millar. As co-creator of the "Kick-Ass" comics, Millar is known for plenty of bloodletting in his superhero stories, and the premiere episode of "Jupiter’s Legacy" serves as a prime example. Not only does "By Dawn’s Early Light" kill off three superheroes, but the first one is snuffed out before even getting to throw a punch (though considering everything, that last part is pretty much his own fault).
Toward the end of the episode, the superhero team known as the Union gathers to battle what we later learn is a clone of the supervillain Blackstar. Ruby Red descends from the sky to find Flaming Fist watching the battle from — what he believes to be — a safe distance. He tells Ruby Red his plan is to wait until the more powerful heroes to do most of the damage against Blackstar and then show up "at the end for the photo op."
Unfortunately, the battle winds up coming to him. While Flaming Fist and Ruby Red chat, the battling forms of Blackstar, the Utopian, and Lady Liberty fly straight at the pair. Ruby Red tries to warn Flaming Fist, but it’s too late. The fiery hero is struck and killed by the warring trio.
Phaseout and Tectonic
Flaming Fist isn’t the only victim of Blackstar’s clone in the premiere episode of "Jupiter’s Legacy." Two more heroes fall victim to the supervillain — Phaseout and Tectonic.
Not long after Flaming Fist’s death, Brainwave’s psychic assault briefly gives the Union the upper the upper hand against the Blackstar clone. Urged on by the Utopian’s son, Paragon, Tectonic uses his earth-controlling powers to stun the bad guy, and Phaseout moves in to finish him off. Unfortunately, her choice has tragic consequences, as the Blackstar clone quickly overpowers Phaseout and decapitates her with a single blast from his anti-matter heart. And that same anti-matter beam instantly kills Tectonic.
Of the two heroes, we only get a chance to know Tectonic before his death, and we don’t get to know him very well. He appears earlier in a nightclub, where it’s clear he’s Paragon’s close friend and confidant. His death helps push Paragon over the edge, convincing him to end the Blackstar clone’s rampage by killing him — thereby breaking his father’s code of superhero conduct and setting up one of the series’ major thematic conflicts.
The "Jupiter’s Legacy" body count doesn’t end with the death of Blackstar’s clone. Considering the growing sense within the Union that the Utopian’s non-lethal code has outlived its usefulness, the final superhero death in Season 1 is something of a cruel irony. In "Cover Her Face," one of the only heroes on the show to unambiguously support the Utopian’s code dies fighting evil.
We don’t see the fight that kills Ghost Beam, but we see the result. Lady Liberty responds to an emergency call, and when she arrives, the police tell her a villain was "tearing up half the block" and that Ghost Beam chased him inside an abandoned building. Lady Liberty follows, and after hearing distant sounds of battle, Ghost Beam appears. She’s mortally wounded, bleeding from her head and abdomen. She dies in Lady Liberty’s arms, gasping that her killer was the supervillain Baryon and that she "didn’t break the code."
Just as Tectonic’s death helps convince Paragon to kill the Blackstar clone, Ghost Beam’s sacrifice serves to make Lady Liberty question her husband’s code. She faces off with Baryon — a villain who wields powerful energy blasts — and is clearly tempted to kill him. While she beats him into submission, however, she ultimately spares his life.
An unidentified Avenger
"If Bureaucracy Be… Thy Death!" — Episode 5 of the Hulu series "Marvel’s MODOK" — has a lot of fun messing with the audience. In a flashback, we learn Monica Rappaccini murdered an Avenger right after she was recruited into AIM, and in the aftermath, MODOK took credit for the kill. It’s one of the main reasons present-day Monica despises the big-headed supervillain she once idolized.
But we never find out exactly who Monica kills. Arriving at the scene, MODOK tells Monica, "I wanted to kill an Avenger, but you took down one of the main ones!" He goes on to call the hero a "huge character" and an "incredibly essential Avenger." The only real hint is the shot of their smoking skull, which shows that — whoever they were — they wore a red mask.
Proving once again that speculation is at least half the fun of any Marvel TV series, fans quickly started guessing the ID of the snuffed hero. Some put in a bid for Daredevil, while others went with Giant Man. Giant Man fits more with the description of "one of the main ones." Daredevil’s comic book stints as an Avenger have been brief. Meanwhile, the Hank Pym version of Giant Man is one of the team’s founders in the comics, and Scott Lang is one of the most popular heroes in the movies. Then again, MODOK is prone to exaggerate his accomplishments — or, in this case, the accomplishments he’s poaching — so who knows?
Balder the Brave
Whichever Avenger dies in Episode 5 of "Marvel’s MODOK," the series’ superhero kill count isn’t quite finished. The following episode — "Tales from the Great Bar Mitzvah War!" — opens in Asgard, with Thor’s half-brother Balder the Brave rallying troops in the hopes of finding the "evil sorcerer" who created a portal above the golden city and is dropping garbage and various office supplies through the gateway. Balder is mid-sentence when a large office shredder buries itself in his skull, killing him instantly and spraying all the nearby troops with his blood. We soon learn, unsurprisingly, the "trash portal" is MODOK’s creation, which he made for the sole purpose of messing with Thor.
While Balder has yet to appear in the MCU, he’s been part of Marvel’s comics for decades. He’s introduced in 1962’s "Journey Into Mystery" #85, only two issues after Thor’s first appearance. He’s a regular ally of Thor and other Asgardian heroes, and for a time, he even rules Asgard in Odin’s place.
In Norse mythology — and, for a while, in the comics — Balder is vulnerable only to mistletoe, and his death is meant to be the first sign that Ragnarok is approaching. But unless MODOK stuffed the shredder with mistletoe beforehand, and since "Marvel’s MODOK" Season 1 ends without Ragnarok destroying everything, we’re guessing this should be filed under "it’s just stop-motion animation, stop being so pedantic."
In a post-credits scene for "The Nexus Event" — Episode 4 of "Loki" — we meet a quartet of Loki variants, including Classic Loki. Played by Richard E. Grant, this Loki’s outfit is the most comic book accurate we’ve seen so far in terms of the god’s old-school look. Sadly, the older Loki doesn’t survive to see the credits of the following episode.
When Sylvie devises a plan to enchant the cloud beast Alioth in order to reach the mystery villain behind the Time Variance Authority, Classic Loki initially seems to want no part of it. But once the plan is hatched and seems to be falling apart, Classic Loki appears. Having used his years perfecting his magic — as opposed to splitting his time with martial combat like the younger Lokis — Classic Loki is able to create the massive illusion of a fully formed Asgard.
Classic Loki’s illusion does its job and distracts Alioth long enough for Sylvie and the younger Loki to regroup and eventually enchant Alioth. But before that happens, Classic Loki falls. Alioth figures out the deception and turns on the creator of the false Asgard. Classic Loki screams "glorious purpose!" defiantly at the beast, cackles madly, and is devoured. His horned helmet crashes to the ground where he stood only moments before.