The great tragedy of any superhero is this: they can't be around forever. Eventually, they will fall and/or meet their end—whether in reputation or by the proverbial sword.
Back in 2008, when Robert Downey Jr. first wore the armor of Iron Man in the cave that he was being held captive in, that moment launched an era of filmmaking defined by Downey Jr.'s character.
Throughout his adventures and his subsequent career as a superhero, everyone continued flocking to the cinema to see what the wise-cracking billionaire would do next. But near the end of the MCU's Infinity Saga, we saw the writing on the wall for Tony Stark's eventual departure.
The same was true for Hugh Jackman's Wolverine in Logan, given that the actor repeatedly told people before the release of the film that it would truly be his final performance as the iconic superhero.
Both died fighting the good fight, cut down in battle to protect the ones whom they love. With their deaths in mind, let's look at the best superhero deaths in movies and why they stand out.
8. Deadpool (2016)
Ryan Reynolds' portrayal of the beloved R-rated mercenary is far from over. Yet, at the beginning of Deadpool 2, we find the red-suited hero laying in a huge amount of fuel as he chastises Hugh Jackman's Wolverine for dying in Logan, saying he'll die too.
Wade wasn't lying, either. He actually does perish in Deadpool 2 as the poignant music from Logan plays behind the scene for added comedic effect. With his powers removed, Wade keeps speaking to his companions before eventually passing away.
Sure, it doesn't last for very long—Cable travels back in time to save Deadpool—but the scene is both funny and sad as Wade thinks his time is up, and it's a great attempt by the film to spin the "hero death" sequence on its head in pure Reynolds madness fashion.
Nobody ever saw Spider-Man die on the big screen until Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. That particular story followed the journey of Miles Morales as the webslinger in the vacancy left by the Peter Parker of his universe, and that was massive.
The Kingpin beats Peter Parker to death after Peter is mortally wounded in battle, and for most of the audience viewers, it seemed obvious that Chris Pine's Spider-Man would rise again at some point. But he doesn't.
The death of Spider-Man, despite how little screen time he gets, is still a monumental shock for the audience given that the Spider-Man we know is an expert at getting back up when seemingly down for good.
The effect it has on New York and those around him is evident throughout the film, with Miles struggling under the weight of his legacy.
6. Charles Xavier (Professor X)
Even though Charles Xavier also died in X-Men: The Last Stand, his death in Logan is the one that hits the hardest.
As a weary and weakened Xavier steadily loses himself to his illness and the power that his seizures take upon those around him, only Wolverine is left to look after him.
However, when the X-24 walks into Xavier's room and listens to Charles talking about being able to remember that he killed the remaining X-Men, the X-24 ruthlessly stabs him through the chest.
Logan then arrives and tries to save him, but Charles is gone—not in a delicate and meaningful moment of clarity, but in a moment of violence and pain, something that Xavier always stood against.
The effect this has on the audience and on Logan is devastating. As we watch Logan bury his father figure while trying not to cry, it's utterly heart-wrenching for us on the outside.
Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy is the tale of the rise and fall of Batman. During The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce comes out of hiding to don the suit again and take down the threat posed by Bane.
The film's finale sees Batman flying a bomb away from Gotham and seemingly saving Gotham for the last time. However, in the final montage, it's revealed that Bruce actually made it out—not just from the threat of the bomb, but from the persona of Batman.
He finally puts Batman behind him and settles down with Selina Kyle. It's a great cap to the sequence of Batman flying the bomb away from Gotham that held us in our seats. Bruce lives on, but Batman meets his end.
The death of Superman is something that Warner Brothers became obsessed with during the 2000s, with the famous comic book storyline that debuted in the 90s. In Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, they achieved their goal.
After fighting Batman, Superman finally makes peace with his enemy and they team up with Wonder Woman to defeat Doomsday. But during the fight, Superman realizes that only the Kryptonite spear can kill the beast.
So, he takes it from the rubble and impales Doomsday with it—only to become impaled himself by Doomday's bone.
Watching Superman die on the big screen was a big moment for the character, which met with worldwide mourning and even catalyzed Batman to understand the value of life again.
3. Iron Man
When Tony Stark learned from Doctor Strange that there was only one way they could defeat Thanos, he tried to get Strange to tell him how it happens, but Strange couldn't tell him.
In the end, with Thanos holding the Infinity Gauntlet and ready to wipe out the universe, Tony sees Strange and knows what he must do. Using his suit to rip the stones from the Gauntlet, Tony looks at Thanos—and, having assembled the stones in his armor, snaps his fingers.
With Thanos defeated, Tony slumps to the floor, his life at its end for using the power of the stones and with Pepper in front of him, telling him that he can rest. We bid farewell as Tony finally passes on.
The scene is a devastating blow to The Avengers and the audience, who had watched an era of cinema hinged upon Robert Downey Jr.'s portrayal of Tony Stark. It was epic in scale and in emotional resonance, which is what makes Tony's death so fitting as the end for the character.
The death of Rorschach is as meaningful and poignant as any cinema death. The hardened hero is adamant that he won't lie to protect the evil that Adrian Veidt committed to save the world from nuclear war.
Knowing that he won't get far, Rorschach walks out into the cold to be confronted by Dr. Manhattan. They discuss what's happened, and Dr. Manhattan instantly kills Rorschach at Rorschach's own request.
Upon seeing his friend killed, Nite Owl screams and goes back inside to fight Adrian over the plan he's carried out.
Throughout the film and the original comics, Rorschach is an unrelenting hero who refuses to cover up anything, never compromising in the face of armageddon. It's a policy that leads to his death, much to the shock of those that hadn't read the original comics.
Logan's death in Logan wasn't something fans wanted. They went into the film convinced that he'd ride off into the sunset (much like the ending to Shane, which Logan was partly inspired by).
However, from the outset, it's clear that Logan's health is rapidly declining and won't be afforded the glory of such an ending. Instead, James Mangold and Hugh Jackman's conclusion is far more beautiful.
The ending echoes Yukio's words in The Wolverine when she sees his death: "You're on your back, there's blood everywhere, you're holding your own heart in your hand."
Logan sees Wolverine mortally impaled to the point where his healing factor isn't enough to save him. There's blood everywhere. And his hand is held by Laura as he dies.
As Logan looks into his daughter's eyes, he finally understands what it is to have such a strong connection with somebody, one that's so strong that it's unbending.
Logan died for Laura—leaving her and the audience in tears as he did—finally knowing that he was her father, giving Hugh Jackman an ending worthy of his tenure as Wolverine.