Death has become sort of undervalued over the years in comics, and that includes Marvel Comics as well. Aside from a few exceptions (literally 2), most characters that are killed off are brought back relatively soon after, and many take that to mean that Marvel doesn't put much emphasis on death overall. As Marvel Comics Editor in Chief C.B. Cebulski discussed at a recent convention though, that is far from the case, and there's a back and forth process that happens once any character is brought up in a potential death scenario.
A fan asked how the process works when killing off a character, and while Cebulski realizes plenty have come back from death in the Marvel Universe, they don't make those decisions at the drop of a hat.
"Ya know, death is a part of comic book universes, particularly a part of the Marvel Universe," Cebulski said. "Every character has been killed off and come back at some time or the other. We always say there are two characters that will never come back and that's Gwen Stacy and Uncle Ben. We even said back in the day that Bucky would never come back and now we have the Winter Soldier."
"But the process of killing off a character is not an easy one, and a lot of people think death is something that we don't take seriously in the Marvel Universe but it really is," Cebulski said. "There's a lot of debates that happen because if a writer suggests that we should kill a character, it always has to be story driven first. It can't just be for shock value and normally it's a discussion that we have between first the writer and the editor and then the writer and the editorial team, so the process of killing off a character really is a group decision, and it's made always with the best story in mind."
Granted, many characters have returned from the dead, as even in recent memory Wolverine and Cyclops spring to mind, but that doesn't mean that at the time the decision is made they don't plan on sticking with that death. "A lot of people think that "oh, well Marvel killed someone' so they think they know that character is going to come back eventually and that's not true. Sometimes when we kill characters we really think they are dead for good," Cebulski said.
Marvel's current event The War of the Realms has caused the death of characters like Valkyrie and Loki, so it remains to be seen if they stay dead for a bit or end up making a return sooner than later.