Movie Review: Avengers: Infinity War

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THERE ARE MAJOR SPOILERS IN THIS.

I’m not sure where to start. This was ten years in the making, as they’ve been telling us over and over in marketing. It is certainly ambitious beyond belief, to have 70+ characters within the same movie, and that meant we had to be realistic about how much screen time everyone would have. Considering how many people were being juggled, I will admit I was disappointed that some of my favorites got very little, but maybe they’ll get more the next movie. And that’s a spoiler right off the bat: this was always meant to be two movies. They tried to pretend otherwise, which  I understand they wanted to do to make this ending hurt, but it was always the truth. Avengers: Infinity War is part 1 of 2, and that’s why they were bold enough to kill off more than half their characters. That is part of the problem too, at least for me. The movies really necessary to enjoy this would be: Avengers, Avengers 2, Thor Ragnarok, Black Panther, and Guardians. Either of the Guardians, but especially Guardians 2. Doctor Strange would probably be wise too. Or everything. Just go and watch everything!

Infinity War takes place directly after Thor Ragnarok, and it also starts off violent so we all understand this is not going to be your average fun Marvel romp. Half of the Asgardians are slaughtered, including Heimdall and Loki (yep), and Thor is blown off into space. Before dying Heimdall sends an injured Hulk back to Earth so he can warn everyone. Banner crashes (helpfully) into Strange’s Sanctum, and they immediately go and get Tony Stark. Tony’s skeptical at first, especially as he’d just promised Pepper they could have a quiet night, way to jinx yourself, but seeing Bruce changes his mind. They explain the Infinity Stones and what will happen if Thanos gets all of them. He has the Power Stone, which he destroyed Xandar to get, and now the Space Stone/Tesseract from Loki. The Mind Stone is in Vision and Strange has the Time Stone. They get right to the fighting as Thanos’ other children come to earth to get the stones and prepare the planet for genocide. See Thanos has a reason for what he’s doing, which he spells out in this rather world weary and almost reasonable tone. Props to Josh Brolin for playing Thanos with a lot of weight and gravitas; he’s still a genocidal bastard, but you understand why he thinks he’s the good guy.

Thanos’ planet Titan used to thrive, but it was overrun by people with limited resources and eventually turned into chaos and destruction. He recommended slaughtering half of the planet at random, which was horrifying but would keep resources continuing longer and eventually make peace. Or so he thinks/says. That is his plan for all of the universe: with the stones he can snap his fingers and half of life will be dead. He thinks this will eventually lead to people being grateful when their planet struggles dwindle. Ooookay, mad Titan, okay. He does however still love his favorite daughter Gamora. She learns from a newly saved Thor that Thanos is on his way to get the Reality Stone from the Collector. When they arrive there she thinks she’s finally killed Thanos, but JK, reality shift. She begged Peter beforehand to kill her if Thanos got her, because Gamora knows the location of the Soul Stone. Peter almost does it, but JK, reality shift, and Thanos leaves with her. Gamora ignores the fact she isn’t supposed to tell under no circumstances, because she hears Nebula getting tortured and gives him the location. Dude. Gamora. You were willing to make your boyfriend murder you to keep that information. How was it that easy for you to give in? She is the key to Thanos getting the Soul Stone. He kills her in exchange for it, as the only thing he loves. Which is not at all sweet when you remember how he abused her and murdered her mother and is generally awful. I shed no tears for you, Thanos.

There is so much going on! Jeez. I’ll stay in space. Strange was kidnapped with the Time Stone, and Tony followed him onto the spaceship, as well as Peter Parker. The three of them decide to confront Thanos, and they run into the other Guardians (Quill, Drax, Mantis) on Titan as they all wait for him. They come up with a pretty smart plan to use Mantis to calm his mind until they take the gauntlet off. Instead she reveals his grief over Gamora and Peter Quill is a freaking idiot and hits him. Instead of waiting for the gauntlet to get off and killing him for real. Why does Marvel keep assuming I’m going to forgive people from doing very stupid things when they’re grieving? Looking at you Tony Stark in Civil War. Thanos nearly kills Tony and Strange gives him the Time Stone. See, Strange told them earlier he’d used the stone to see millions of potential futures, but only one of them they won. Once Thanos leaves, he indicates that this was actually the only timeline where they won, if he got the stone. Go figure! Also Thor goes on an adventure with Rocket and Groot to make a new weapon for himself, this time an axe, with the help of a giant Peter Dinklage. That was more than a little distracting. This was kind of a dull side story but the good will over Thor from Ragnarok did pay off.

Okay back on earth, Vision and Wanda are in love now, which is a problem since they realize Vision is the key to Thanos getting all the stones. Wanda can destroy the stone, but doing it would kill Vision. Vision is like … yeah but seriously kill me. Steve says they don’t trade lives, except I’m pretty sure if Wanda said okay, he would roll with it. He did sacrifice himself once too, as Vision pointed out, so he’d probably support the VERY WISE DECISION to axe Vision. Sorry, I do love Vision, but this is the universe we’re talking about! Instead they take him to Wakanda so Shuri can be her badass self and help remove the stone from his head safely. The armies attack right then, and while the entire cast of Black Panther and our leading characters try their very best, it’s only a matter of time. Thanos arrives, Wanda has to kill Vision, an then Thanos just rewinds time and gets the stone anyway. Thor comes in with his god killing weapon, but goes for the chest, and even Thanos goes lol aim for the HEAD, genius. Head shots! Always head shots! So Thanos snaps his fingers and half the universe gets turned into dust. Yep. The bad guy wins.

Currently living characters: Steve, Tony, Natasha, Banner, Rhodey, Nebula, Rocket, Oyoke, M’Baku, Thor.
Unknown/Unaccounted for: Shuri, Wong, Pepper, Ned, Scott Lang, Clint
We see dust on screen: Bucky, T’Challa, Sam Wilson, Peter Quill, Groot, Dra

x, Mantis, Peter Parker, Strange, Nick Fury, Maria Hill, Wanda
Characters dead otherwise: Heimdall, Loki, Gamora, Vision

RIP

This wasn’t a surprise for me. It was going to be a two part movie which means they could do anything they wanted at the end of this one, and they’ll reverse it in the next. It is actually kind of safe if you think about it, since they killed characters who we know have movies in the future and longer contracts. If they killed the characters right then who are up in the air, like Thor, Steve, or Tony, it’d be a little more alarming … but they might be out in movie four. It is very likely most of these people will come back, but in movie four anyone who dies will be for good. And it’s no coincidence the ones left alive in this are the original Avengers (plus a few). Their arcs are closer to finished, and several contracts are up, so you can see the writing on the wall. Whether they’ll die or find ways to retire them, I suppose we’ll see next year. There are two movies between now and then: Ant-Man and the Wasp, which takes place before this, and Captain Marvel, which is set in the 90s. It is possible these movies can give us hints as to where Avengers 4 is headed, although I suspect Captain Marvel will give us the greatest clues, as she is the stinger at the end of Infinity War. I screamed when I saw her symbol. Caroooollll!

So here’s the deal: I didn’t really feel anything in this movie. Maybe I know comics too well, but I know the majority of those people will come back, and that means death feels a little cheap or manipulative here to me. The performances were excellent, and I appreciate the decision to go big or go home did in fact pay off. I enjoyed this movie. It was long, but I only felt it was long when the Thor scenes were happening, otherwise it felt very quick. They didn’t have time to sit down with every character, which meant some got more attention than others, such as Tony Stark (blech) and Doctor Strange (also blech). Also the Guardians, which I didn’t expect but it makes sense as Gamora’s role in this is important. There were a lot of questions I had, like where Cap’s team was this entire time, or if Bucky’s cured in the sense his triggers no longer work, or how the Avengers even function currently with most of them gone. There isn’t time given to emotional beats, and I get that, this was a huge scale. But I feel like I’d be happier with less characters if it meant more pathos. And since this is only part 1, there’s an incomplete feeling at the end. I’ve bought in to the story, don’t get me wrong, and I’m very excited to see what comes next. I believe it’s time for the original Avengers to step aside and let the new characters take over the franchise. Now it’s just a question of how it gets reversed and who will be left standing after. I am in on that.

A lot of story was given to Thanos here, and I thought that was a good idea. Marvel has always struggled with its villains, and he is interesting. One of the things they did in the trailer that was misleading was having him seem smirking and gleefully evil. That is not the morose and quiet villain we found on the screen, and that’s a good thing. He was more intimidating because of that. I suspect there will be payoff coming for him; he was warned that the Soul Stone had a price he couldn’t understand right away. He grieves for Gamora, but she could also be haunting him. The humor in this was mostly pitch perfect. They seemed more confident to let serious moments be serious and fit the humor in the right spots.  I also liked how there were some audio clues, like the theme song of characters played just before they arrived, like Guardians or Black Panther. This was beautifully shot, well acted, and kept me engaged the entire way through. I respect what Marvel accomplished here.  It could easily have been a hot mess, and it really wasn’t. Most of the time it flowed well. The team-ups were unique and felt natural. I think they respected all of the characters and their separate fandoms, so a Guardians fan could appreciate the work here, even if it wasn’t done from James Gunn.

They still haven’t announced the title for Avengers 4, I’m guessing they are waiting for everyone to get a chance to see the movie first. Reassembled, maybe? Now I eagerly await Captain Marvel and learning Carol’s place in all of this, since the end credits was Nick Fury calling her back to earth. Come save us, Carol! Maybe she’s the answer to how they use time travel to erase things? I assume it’s time travel since they shot 3 and 4 at the same time so used all the same set pieces one would imagine. But maybe they’ll surprise us with a different twist. We’ll have an entire year to obsess over possibilities.

I might have to write something else getting into more detail about people, because this was so general, but look how long it was when it was so general! Like I want to mention Thor pirate-angel, WHY IS GAMORA, the Hulk refusing to come out, the interpersonal relationships between these characters, the Civil War tie-ins, and what happened to Valkyrie really because I’m distraught, and it would be twice as long if I did all of that! And I want to talk about the original comic book arc. So TBC … kind of like Infinity War.

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