Avengers: Infinity War and all the images you see in this editorial are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
So if you read my review of Avengers: Infinity War, you’d know that I had a few problems with it and that I couldn’t really discuss them in detail due to everything I found wrong with this movie containing MASSIVE SPOILERS! Well now that it’s very likely everyone and their mom has already seen the movie (SIX HUNDRED AND FORTY MILLION IN ONE WEEKEND!?), I figured it’d be a good idea to get my thoughts written down about not just this movie but what it represents for the MCU as a whole and how they’ve run their business up to this point. For the most part they’ve been enormously successful with even their minor missteps like Thor 2, Iron Man 2, and (the not so minor misstep) Iron Fist doing little to tarnish their sterling reputation. There are places to improve in each film to be sure, and their overwhelming success has made it easy to take it all for granted, but when your last few films included Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Thor Ragnarok, and Black Panther, clearly they’re doing something right and should be celebrated for it. With Infinity War however, something has changed and I am now worried about the future of the MCU; not financially as these will make money regardless, but that they might have gotten a bit too big for their own good and are taking the wrong kind of risks that could sour public opinion over time instead of the GOOD kind like hiring visionary directors such as Ryan Coogler to create memorable cinematic experiences instead of cheap popcorn fare. So what exactly has changed? Well let’s take an in depth look at where I felt this movie started going down the wrong path.
From here on out, we are in full on spoiler territory!
Thor Ragna-what? – The Opening Scene
Any good villain needs a strong introduction in order to sell their menace and strength; especially in a franchise with so many overpowered bad asses like the MCU. That said, l feel like the decision for Thanos to kill all the remaining Asgardians (or at least most of them) was one made PRIOR to the success of Thor Ragnarok because killing them off in such a manner feels absurdly careless and cheap given how much Taika Waititi’s film brought to the table and made Thor into a top tier brand in the franchise again; something that CERTAINLY wasn’t the case when Infinity Wars was in production. Not to mention that the moral of the story in Ragnarok where Thor (and by extension the rest of Asgard) learn that they have to own up to the sins of their past and forge a new way to the future is rendered COMPLETELY meaningless when they don’t even get a chance to repent and rebuild! They might as well have died during Surtur’s rampage if all they were gonna be is cannon fodder for Thanos! Now I did feel that Loki’s death was certainly earned in this movie as the crushing impact of watching one of the MCU’s most beloved characters (for better or worse) finally get the life choked out of him is palpable and with so many movies before now to explore his character and let him grow, it at least didn’t feel like a waste when he finally bit the dust. He got his stories, he even got a modicum of redemption, and he died a somewhat noble death; trying to save his brother in a very futile gesture. Okay, MAYBE it felt a bit out of character for him to try and stab Thanos (not to mention exceedingly foolish), but it still manages to hit hard and gives us yet another reason to truly despise Thanos.
Gamora of Thrones! – The Uncomfortable Implications of Her Surprise Death
A scene that does a great job of showing just how wicked and unnervingly committed Thanos is to his genocidal campaign is when he sacrifices Gamora in order to retrieve one of the Infinity Stone. You can tell that it pains him to do it, but he always has to put himself above all else and ends up chucking her down a cliff; killing her on impact and passing the test that will allow him to obtain the Soul Stone. Hold on though, the test SPECIFICALLY says that in order to pass the test, you have to kill someone you truly love; a soul for a soul. Okay, but… why does THE UNIVERSE (or whoever it is that’s making the judgement call here) believe for a second that Thanos ACTUALLY loves Gamora, or anyone else for that matter? What Thanos felt for Gamora was not love; it was an abusive desire to control and own. He is a character completely incapable of healthy relationships which is why so many people in his employ try to kill him (even Ronan from Guardians of the Galaxy defected when given the chance), and to insinuate in any way that his toxic, abusive, and unspeakably evil behavior towards Gamora is HIS OWN WAY OF SHOWING LOVE, feels really tone oblivious and downright despicable. Considering how nuanced the familial relationships were in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 which VERY EXPLICITLY dealt with the scars that Thanos leaves on anyone caught in his web, this feels like a couple dozen steps backwards in understanding what it means to be family and why faux machismo bullshit (of which Thanos shows off constantly) can only DOOM relationships; not create and nurture them. I’m not sure exactly how best to correct the scene because it DOES have quite a bit of impact as the death of Gamora is a big blow to the audiences and the fact that Thanos went through with it does add to his brilliantly developed pathos, but as it stands in the final product, it comes off rather distasteful. Like I said in my review; in the absence of an actual character with their own distinct feelings and morals, the only one who can fill that void is the filmmakers. If whatever force it was that gave Thanos the stone was distinct enough from NATURAL ORDER (i.e. the boundaries that the filmmakers set up for their world including rules and morality), then I might not have had AS much of a problem with it, but that’s not the case and so the only real extrapolation (intended or not) is that the filmmakers genuinely believe Thanos when he says that he loves Gamora. Ugh…
It’s The End of the World As We Know It! – Why The Ending is So Underwhelming
Now those two were annoying, but at least those flaws are self-contained enough that you can probably overlook them on repeat viewings. The ending though? Oh boy, that’s another story! Okay, so the way the filmmakers decided to end this film was with Thanos getting the stones, snapping his fingers, and killing off a good chunk of the heroes along with half of the universe. Spider-Man is dead. The Guardians of the Galaxy are dead except for Rocket. Bucky Barnes, The Falcon, Black Panther, and PLENTY of others, are left to just wither away like dust in the wind… and Disney wants us to sit here for a freaking year on bated breath waiting to see how this resolves. To me, this is a SHOCKINGLY bad move for a number of reasons; first of which being that it’s really not an INTERESTING ending to go out on. If you want to end on a cliffhanger, you have to give the audience something to come back FOR. At the end of Kill Bill volume 1, we get a scene with Bill who drops a MAJOR plot point before cutting to credits. At the end of The Deathly Hollows part 1, we at least know what the next move is even though the movie ended on a rather dour note. Hell, even The Desolation of Smaug managed to end on a THRILLING note rather than one of resigned defeat! After seeing THIS film, I couldn’t tell you what to expect in the next film as Thanos had so thoroughly crushed every last bit of resistance that there’s really no chance of victory. Of course we KNOW they’re gonna come back from this as they’ve already announced a Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 and at least one more Spider-Man movie, but there’s no plan; no path to success that the sequel can build off of. No one could have beaten Thanos when he had FEWER Infinity Stones, so how are gonna win now that he has ALL of them and can causally wipe out all of existence with very little effort? Let’s say in t sequel that the remaining Avengers travel to his planet, but then he claps his giant hands and annihilates them from all existence. Can you honestly say that the movie gave us any indication that things WON’T go that way given how hard our heroes fought and little it ended up mattering when they were at FULL strength? Now you could argue that the movie gave at least two clues as to what was going to happen; Doctor Strange mentioned there was ONE way to succeed out of a couple million different scenarios (before disappearing himself, he indicated that we were on the right path), and the post credits scene teases that Captain Marvel will come in and save the day. I mean… sure if you feel that’s enough to hang this overly dour ending on, but for me sitting here RIGHT now, I just don’t have the patience to wait for a freaking year to see them reverse this. This is where I feel this might be a short term issue as being able to watch this and the sequel back to back on blu ray (or whatever the hell we’ll have by then) will at least take the sting away from having to wait so damn long for this to resolve itself, but then that’s where I feel that Marvel and Disney are finally taking a step too far in taking their audience for granted. We always knew that this was only going to be half the story (at least until they started underplaying the fact that this was originally called Infinity War PART ONE), but why end so negatively and then put so much time between this one and its sequel? What was the point in putting almost no effort into giving us a reason to come back? Because you KNEW we’d be back either way?
And I Don’t Feel So Fine! – Why the Ending Ruined the Rest of the Movie and Maybe Even the Next One
But let’s say that no one else but me is bothered by the fact that this movie ends so negatively and that we have to wait so long for that to be alleviated. Let’s just TRY to look at this just in terms of narrative. Even then, I think it’s a bit ham fisted and honestly undercuts everything else that was handled much better before that point. First, it falls flat because you don’t buy it for a second. It’s too much, at once, with too much at stake and too much coming down the pipeline for it to stick. Spider-Man isn’t gonna stay dead, so his death here is rendered meaningless once they come up with a way to bring him and everyone else back. Considering the scope of the calamity as well, it also means that the really tragic moments before that point don’t have as much impact as anything that could theoretically bring back trillions of lives in the universe could also easily bring back both Gamora and Loki, so what’s the point of them having such well-done death sequences when they’re going to be reversed so soon? Even if they aren’t coming back in part 2 (or if ANYONE supposedly STAYS dead from the events of this film), there would honestly be no good reason for that to be the case which again would render their deaths meaningless. When you let the RESURRECT THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE IN ONE GO thing out of the bottle, it’s hard to put it back in and start making exceptions here and there for whatever reasons. Look, it was clear that they HAD to have Thanos complete the glove and set off the half-pocalyse; otherwise why would you even show the gauntlet in the first place? We KNEW he was going to succeed at least in some capacity, but this just felt like the worst way to go about it. If it was me, I’d have waited until Part 2 for the gauntlet to be completed and to instead have this move end on a noble sacrifice (*cough* Tony Stark *cough*) to delay him at least for a little bit; therefore giving something bittersweet yet hopeful for the audience to leave the theater with and for Thanos to have at least one more trick up his sleeve for the second movie. Here? Well… I’m pretty sure we saw the worst he could do! What more damage could he possibly cause in the second movie, and how is Captain Marvel supposed to be the key to fixing all this? Maybe she is! Maybe once that movie comes out (only a few months before Infinity War Part 2) it will all come together and be the perfect set up for the end of Thanos! That’s STILL a long time to put faith in Marvel to NOT screw this up any worse than they have though, and for the first time since this wild experiment has started… I just don’t feel like giving them the benefit of the doubt. Even if they do pull it off, the way this one ended, the mistakes made throughout it, and the fact that this is what we’re stuck with for an entire year, it just doesn’t fill me with the same sense of joy and admiration that previous films have and I just want them to get this over with so that we can move on to better stories and better movies.
Still, Ant-Man and The Wasp looks pretty awesome, though I’m a bit concerned if it’s supposed to take place AFTER this film. Seems kind of inappropriate to have a goofy spy thriller in the middle of The Rapture…