Apparently Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye character will have more to do in The Avengers: Age of Ultron than he did in The Avengers where he played a zombified hero for the majority of the film's duration. This news comes from Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige speaking with Empire (via Comic Book Movie) where he said, "Joss [Whedon] has a great storyline in mind for him that shows a deeper side and further fleshes out our favorite archer."
That's all well and good, however, Whedon has now teased the possibility of killing off one of the franchise's bigger heroes in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly (via ComicBook.com).
The site quotes the latest issue of EW where Joss Whedon was being interviewed regarding the upcoming ABC television spin-off "S.H.I.E.L.D." where he's asked about killing off one of the Marvel icons to which he says, "I'm always joking about that. Um...maybe?"
"But I'd have to have a really good reason, a really great sequence for [Marvel executives] to go, 'We'll cut off a potential franchise, that's fine!' They know as any good studio does, that without some stakes, some real danger, how involved can we get? We don't just rule it out across the board, but neither is the mission statement 'Who can we kill?' We try to build the story organically and go, 'How hard can we make it on these people?' You go to the movies to see people you love suffer-that's why you go to the movies."
Based on his reasoning the only character I could imagine being killed off out of the top four -- Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr., Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) -- would be Downey's Tony Stark. Iron Man already has a trilogy with Downey Jr. in the lead and it's prepped and ready for Don Cheadle to takeover as War Machine.
Other than that, I guess it depends on what is considered an "iconic" hero in the Marvel universe. Perhaps Hawkeye will be taken out or Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow or maybe a new character such as the Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen).
In all likelihood no one will die. Hell, they killed off Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson in The Avengers only to say Psych! and bring him back for the TV show. The Avengers: Age of Ultron hits theaters on May 1, 2015 and I fully expect all the lead cast members to come out unscathed.