I was talking to a friend the other day, and they said they didn't like superhero movies because there aren't any stakes they can get behind. It's always the world melting down or nuclear war, or just some sort of big thing that felt manufactured. 

When there was a loss or comic violence, it never felt personal. 

It was hard for me to disagree. We have hundreds of hero properties out there in film and on television, and many of them have flaws close to the ones described here. 

But here's where I think they're wrong. The biggest comic book property ever, and the biggest movie of all time, Avengers: Endgame, actually blows up these points and creates some of the most emotional and important superhero deaths and consequences on screen. 

So today I wanted to talk about killing off superhero characters and how you can make their deaths relevant despite their powers. 

Check out this video from Nerdstalgic, and let's talk after the jump. 

Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame to follow. 

How to Kill Off a Superhero Character

When we're working within huge genres, it can get easy to disassociate yourself from the humanity at stake in every story you tell. Superheros are so powerful and feel so much more than human, but when you ground them with emotional arcs and tangible goals, it's easier for the audience to connect. 

Endgame did a great job at this by grounding the movie in Tony and Cap's stories. Tony is just a regular guy. The suit is what makes him a superhero. Captain America was a regular guy who took a serum but didn't lose who he was on the inside. 

As the video states, to make a death matter, you need to tie up loose ends first. For the audience, it was seeing Tony and Cap team up to beat Thanos. But more than that, it was seeing them repair the friendship that became fractured after Civil War. They finally had to see each other for who they were and accept their differences for the good of humanity. 

I know the greater stakes in this movie were about saving the world... but that was grounded in getting human beings back to earth. So the stakes were personal for everyone fighting. They wanted to find their lost friends. Grounding these stakes in the loose ends, or lost friendships, helped the movie live. 

'Avengers: Endgame''Avengers: Endgame'Credit: Marvel

We should also look at the way death is handled in Endgame.

We see Black Widow, someone tortured by her past, sacrificing herself so that her best friend could get over his past and return to his family. That's pretty powerful, and it happens only halfway through the film. For Tony, he died as a sacrifice as well. He died so the family he never thought he wanted would have a better life.

One of the things the video points out is that Tony did not die as a regular man, but died as Iron Man, the persona it seemed like he was always trying to live up to. 

His counterpoint is Captain America, who left being a hero and got to play out his life as an old man. Cap got to be human again, the way Tony wanted to see him. And Tony got to be a hero again, the way Cap knew he could be. 

These hero moments make arcs come full circle for the audience and make us okay with how they go. 

Okay, wipe your eyes, and let's look at the last way to make your hero deaths matter. 

One of the things I find annoying in movies is that five minutes after someone dies, everyone seems to be over it. In Endgame, we get a full-fledged mourning period. We see the world react to people being home, sure, but we also see them react to the people they've lost. There's a real sense that the death in this movie means something. When Black Widow doesn't come back from the original mission, you feel that pain. And it only gets more amplified moving forward. 

When Tony is lost, we have a funeral for him. And old man Cap gets to come back and say goodbye to his best friends. It's not really a death, but we do see him move on. In that way, the hero part of him dies, so the man can live. 

These things give resonance to what we've seen. 

At the end of the day, killing a character has to matter, no matter the genre, needs to be carefully thought out. You can definitely mess with the surprise of it and twist certain beats to your story, but making that death resonate, tying up loose ends, and giving us moments to reflect and carry that death always bring the audience closer to your message. 

Let us know what you think in the comments.