6 Thoughts on Avengers: Infinity War
My advice for seeing Avengers: Infinity War: See it twice, and make sure you have a good seat. The first time I saw the film, on opening night, I was low and slightly to the left. And I really do think my askew view of the big screen kept me from fully meshing with the large-scale, bombastic superhero action. I came away from Avengers: Infinity War with slight hesitation.
Then I saw it a second time two days later, with a perfect seat, and the movie was even better!
Movie Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I think I’m allowing myself to get too hyped up for these new Marvel movies. I was giddy all day on Thursday, just counting down the hours until I got to take my place in the theater and watch Avengers 3. I wasn’t blown away by the film that first time…nor the second time, I’ll admit. Avengers: Infinity War is not a perfect movie. But it’s a damn good one, and hugely entertaining.
Join me after the jump for my thoughts and a full review of Avengers: Infinity War! Expect FULL SPOILERS for the movie!
6. I enjoyed it a lot, but…
Avengers: Infinity War is a hell of a fun movie in all the best ways. It’s huge, but never loses sight of itself. It’s filled with a metric ton of Marvel characters, but never collapses under the weight of them all. It keeps the story moving, never gets bogged down in plot and tells an entertaining and exciting adventure. And despite having a huge cliffhanger of an ending, Infinity War does not feel like two movies cut in half. This movie has an ending. It’s just a sad ending in which the villain wins, the heroes lose and the universe is cut in half. That sucks for everybody, but it’s still an ending, and a bold one at that.
The humor is top notch, like all Marvel movies. Plenty of fun lines and zingers from the usual cast of great characters.
The action is great. The CGI special effects are great. The scope is impressive. This really does feel like a culmination of everything that has come before. There’s plenty of emotion, rewarding scenes like the reunion of Bruce Banner and Tony Stark (though I could have used more on the Bruce/Natasha romance), and everybody is used to great effect.
Avengers: Infinity War succeeded about as well as a movie this size and scope could succeed. Though it wasn’t a perfect film.
5. It jumped around way too much
All of the storylines in Avengers: Infinity War kept stepping on each other’s toes. A scene would be going along, really building up momentum, and then just as it’s getting exciting, we’d cut away to an entirely different scene on the other side of the cosmos. The biggest offender was the arrival of Thor in Wakanda. By then, I had realized this problem, and was getting a little miffed as it kept happening during the big climatic battles. We have a big, dramatic scene where Groot is a hero and helps build Thor’s hammer, but just as he’s about to grasp it, we cut away to the fight in Wakanda. That was disappointing. Then Thor shows up in grand fashion, and it’s a big, heroic moment…and then Thor is on screen for less than a minute before we jump away to the fight against Thanos on Titan. I wanted to roll my eyes.
Just let us enjoy Thor kicking ass in battle for more than 10 seconds!
It just kept happening. Another review I saw online compared it to spinning plates. I understand the need for the various different storylines, and I enjoyed them on their own, but once they started butting into each other and taking away from letting each other grow, it really became the movie’s biggest hinderance.
4. Thanos had heart, not so much everybody else
Thanos was the heart of the movie, which is a weird thing to consider. I thought he did a wonderful job carrying the film. Josh Brolin was superb as the Mad Titan, bringing a real gravitas to the character that I don’t think anybody expected. Prior to the movie, I was disappointed that Thanos’ comic book motivations — to impress Lady Death — wasn’t going to be carried over into the film, but now I prefer his Infinity War motivations much better. The best villains are the ones who believe they are heroes and are doing the right thing. That totally worked in Infinity War. Thanos was easily worth all of the hype over the past six years.
At the same time, I don’t really think any of the heroes carried much heart — at least no one I’m particularly interested in. Vision and Scarlet Witch had some touching scenes, but I’ve never really cared about either character. And this is the first movie to actually feature a romance between them, so that made it a bit too quick to really invest. Most of the rest of the big emotional moments of the film rested on character deaths, which I’ll get to later on in this list.
I was disappointed that there were no big exciting moments, like Hulk punching the Leviathan from the first Avengers film. There were a lot of good scenes and great moments, but nothing really wowed me or took me by surprise. Likewise, I don’t think there were any deeper bits of heroism beyond the obvious. Remember in Age of Ultron, where Captain America insisted they would rescue everyone off the floating Sokovia? That always struck me as especially heroic, and especially Captain America-y. I didn’t feel anything like that in Infinity War. Everybody was kind of in auto-pilot in terms of heroics.
3. All part of Doctor Strange’s plan
Thanos winning was clearly all part of Doctor Strange’s plan. I’ve seen this discussion point come up a few times on the Internet following the end of Infinity War. And I think it’s pretty obvious that Doctor Strange knows exactly what he’s doing, and that he’s perhaps even keeping things close to the chest. He saw only one possible future in which the good guys win in the end, and he specifically didn’t tell the audience what had to happen. But his comments like, “We’re in the endgame” and “it was the only way” clearly indicate that he had to surrender the Time Stone, he had to let Thanos beat them on Titan, he had to let Star-Lord lose control, and he had to let himself and half the universe die.
All so the day can be saved next time! So yeah, Doctor Strange knew exactly what he was doing. No question about it. He just probably didn’t tell the others all the finer details.
2. Where the heck was Thor at the end?!
Where where you, Thor?! Thanos is ON EARTH! The one thing you’ve been preparing for all movie! Captain America has given the order for everybody to show up at his location (though I suppose Thor wasn’t wearing an ear piece, but that didn’t stop Groot from being there). Everybody is there facing off against Thanos. But you wait until after he’s completed the Infinity Gauntlet before you attack? When he’s at his most powerful? We didn’t even get a cutaway scene to explain that Thor was still busy taking out War Wheels. Even still, that shouldn’t keep Thor and Stormbreaker from going after Thanos right away.
During that big, dramatic scene of Thanos tearing through the Avengers, all I could think was “where the heck is Thor?! Why isn’t he doing the ONE THING he came here to do?!”
Speaking of people missing out, where was General Thunderbolt Ross and the rest of the world’s military? We saw them in the beginning of the film, but they don’t get to help out? I get that he was mad at Steve Rogers, but did nobody try to bury the hatchet once they had more information and were staging a last stand in Wakanda? Did nobody think to bring in the full might of the U.S. military to the battlefield? Wakandan tech is great and all, but Earth has more soldiers than just those few hundred Wakandans, who haven’t actually been in a war in hundreds of years. Was Ross just sitting in his office stewing about Cap while the Avengers selfishly kept the battle for the fate of humanity to themselves?
For that matter, why not even call in Everett K. Ross? He was pals with T’Challa and could make some wheels turn through the CIA to get some help to the battlefield.
If you’re going to make a movie about bringing everybody together, you can’t leave some logical choices out of the mix for narrative ease.
1. None of the deaths or losses matter (at least not to me, and that’s OK)
The moment they killed Gamora, I knew none of this would matter. Killing Black Panther and Spider-Man confirmed it. None of the characters killed off in Avengers: Infinity War are going to stay dead (with a few possible exceptions). It’s just not going to happen. Comic books have numbed me to the deaths of superheroes, Marvel Comics especially. Death no longer matters in comics. Either they come back in a year or two no worse for wear, or their deaths are trotted out to apply limp stakes to Big Event comics, as if Marvel is marking off a checklist. Deaths simply no longer matter or have any dramatic weight in comic books anymore. Cynical, I know, but Marvel Comics have done this to themselves.
And that same cynicism evaded every dramatic moment of Avengers: Infinity War. I felt nothing when each and every character died. I felt nothing in the big, downer finale — other than feeling impressed that Marvel had the chutzpah to do it. I predicted that ending. I wish I had written it down somewhere to prove I had predicted it, but my guess was that Infinity War would end with Thanos snapping his fingers and wiping out half the life in the universe, just like the trailers had promised. And that’s exactly how the movie ended.
None of those people are going to stay dead. The sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming starts filming later this year. Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is already on the calendar. That’s just how the world works.
Most of the dramatic and emotional weight of Avengers: Infinity War rested on characters dying. But for me, none of it mattered, because I am numb to superhero death, and I know how these movies work. Somehow, someway, the surviving heroes are going to use the Infinity Gauntlet to reverse Thanos’ big play. They did it in the comics when Thanos wiped out half the universe, they’ll do it here in the MCU.
As big and impressive a cliffhanger as that was, I felt nothing.
But then I remember that the theater was filled with children, and my mood softens a bit. I might not have felt anything due to that ending, being a big, cynical adult. But man, I bet those kids don’t know that Homecoming 2 is right around the corner. I bet those kids don’t know that this can easily be undone. There was one kid in the theater the second time I saw the film who kept asking his parents if Thanos really won.
It was a nice reminder that these movies aren’t just for me. For kids, that ending has to be devastating! And that’s great! Kids should be devastated from time to time by their movies and TV shows. It can’t be all happiness and roses. Ellie has to die at the start of Up. Artax has to sink into the Swamp of Sadness in The Neverending Story. Thanos has to win at the end of Infinity War.
Sometimes the bad guys win, kids. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, no matter how right you are or how good you are, you will fail.
Until the next movie, when you and your buddies gear up and win in the end!
Honorable Mention: My Captain Marvel theory
One of the questions that I keep seeing online following Infinity War is why Nick Fury never called Captain Marvel for any of the previous emergencies, like the Chitauri invasion or the Age of Ultron. I have a theory, and this is probably the best place to share it: Fury didn’t need to call Captain Marvel because he had the Avengers.
When the Captain Marvel movie comes out next year, I think we’re going to get the origin of the Avengers Initiative. We don’t know what prompted Nick Fury to even think that extraordinary people existed, or that they would be needed to battle extreme threats. We now know that a young Fury will show up in Captain Marvel, possibly introducing him to a world of superheroes and intergalactic threats.
Then the movie will end with Captain Marvel heading out into space, or whatever explains why she hasn’t been around. She leaves Fury that pager to call as a last resort, in case of emergency. Fury then sets about forming his own team of superheroes because he knows Captain Marvel isn’t available. And it’s that group of superheroes that is on hand to battle Loki and the Chitauri invasion. And it’s that same group that he knows he can rely on when Ultron goes crazy.
But then he loses SHIELD in Winter Soldier and loses the Avengers in Civil War. By the time Infinity War comes around, Fury doesn’t have any superheroes he can reliably call upon to stop a second alien invasion. And when everything gets really really bad, and people start turning into dust in front of him, he decides to go for the last resort of calling Captain Marvel.
That’s why we haven’t seen her yet, because we didn’t need to. We had the Avengers. Speaking of which, I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that the original six Avengers are still alive at the end of Infinity War. Nod and wink.