Summary

  • What If…? season 2 brings back beloved characters in imaginative scenarios, including an iconic villain who has been resurrected three times, emphasizing his power and belief in being “inevitable.”
  • Thanos makes his third return in the MCU in What If…? season 2, after his first death in Avengers: Endgame and a reformed appearance in season 1.
  • What If…? is the perfect platform to revisit dead MCU characters, as the animated series can explore exciting and high-stakes scenarios that may be impractical for live-action projects. It also allows for the exploration of alternate realities and the preservation of the characters’ legacies without age constraints.


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As an MCU project whose premise explores the infinite possibilities of the multiverse, What If…? stands out for the imaginative ways it brings characters back from the dead, and season 2 is no exception. The animated anthology series’s second season premieres today, and will release one episode a day until right before New Year’s Eve, marking the end of Marvel’s 2023 releases. In its star-studded trailer, not only does the show introduce audiences to never-before-seen characters, it also brings many beloved characters back to life, placing them in fantastical scenarios in alternate realities. One character stands out because his appearance is the third time he’s been brought back.

This iconic villain became a fan favorite five years ago, exuding incredible power and strength to the point that he seemed unkillable. Even when The Avengers finally succeed in killing him, his presence and the devastating effects of his actions loom over the entire universe, cementing his status as one of the most important characters in the franchise. It only follows suit that such an iconic character would be brought back to life by the powers of the multiverse, and what’s notable is he’s been brought back a total of three times, which further adds to his powerful persona and stresses his belief that he is “inevitable.”

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10 MCU Characters Who Returned After Their Deaths

Though the MCU has seen many characters die in one way or another, the franchise has also seen some of its deceased return in subsequent projects.


Thanos’ Appearance In What If…? Season 2 Will Be His Third Return Since Dying

Thanos (Josh Brolin) waiting for the Infinity Gauntlet in Avengers Endgame

Thanos will appear in season 2 of What If…?, marking his third return to the MCU since his first death. Thanos’ first time dying was at the beginning of Avengers: Endgame, when an enraged Thor chopped Thanos’ head off after learning that he had destroyed the Infinity Stones. While this marked the ending of Earth 616’s Thanos, an alternate version of Thanos would arrive shortly to thwart the Avengers’ plans. This Thanos, who learns of 616 Thanos’ death in 2014, time travels to 2023 to kill the Avengers and end all life in the universe. Tony Stark famously kills him and sacrifices himself in the process.

Thanos’ next appearance came during the first season of What If…? episode 2, in which T’Challa becomes Star-Lord instead of Peter Quill. This Thanos was reformed by T’Challa and joined the Ravagers, who themselves had been transformed from low-level thieves to vigilante pirates. Not much is known about Thanos’ upcoming third appearance in season 2, but the trailer shows him battling a hero who appears to be Captain America, so it’s definitely not the good-natured Thanos from season 1. No matter what role this new Thanos will play, it’s a testament to Thanos’ impact as a whole that he has returned so many times.

Why What If…? Is Perfect For Revisiting Dead MCU Characters

What If Season 2 Avengers and Peggy Carter in 1988

Though live-action MCU properties have brought back dead characters since Endgame, no project really compares to the possibilities What If…? can explore as an animated series. The series goes beyond simply asking what would happen if certain characters were brought back to life and places them in exciting, high-stakes scenarios, like a zombie apocalypse or Ultron taking over Earth. Such premises are too large to explore in live action with the ease that an animated series can and would require bringing in a bunch of actors, many of whom have already retired from the MCU. What If…? can more easily explore these imaginative possibilities.

Also, all of the characters depicted in What If…? are variants of the ones from live action’s Earth 616, so the narrative continuity of that universe will not be disrupted. The legacies of the ones who died remain intact while providing comfort and closure to fans who miss them by showing them all the alternate paths the characters could have taken. Another advantage to What If…? over live-action depictions of variants is animated characters don’t age. The MCU could theoretically keep exploring alternate realities for its characters long after their live-action counterparts have died, which gives it incredible opportunities to go in fun, new directions.

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