May 21, 2018 by bck1402
Before we get into this, let’s just put it out there. Avengers: Infinity War is a pretty good movie.
It’s entertaining, with lots of action set-pieces, some humorous moments to balance the heavy dramatic moments, all while delivering a cosmos sweeping epic sci-fi adventure filled with heroic individuals coming together to battle impossible odds. I gave it four out of five in my review.
So, yeah, it didn’t quite get up there for me. A few other reviews had the same rating while a majority declared it the greatest superhero movie ever, or close enough, I suppose, to rival The Dark Knight. That’s a high standard to get over, and that one got a full five from me.
I love the fact that Thanos’ motivations are clear and, in his mind, philosophically and morally right even if his actions are rather fanatical to his belief. He was steadfast in his cause and nothing was going to stop him from achieving his goal. Like with Black Panther and Captain America: Civil War before this, Marvel Studios seemed to have a handle on how to create the dramatic conflict for the audiences to appreciate and enjoy even if the heroes within the story aren’t entirely clear of their enemy’s motives or philosophy. While Zemo’s drive was more personal and perhaps small in scale, Killmonger and Thanos had an eye on the grand scale. In a way, they are the heroes in their own story even if their actions and methods would put them in conflict with everyone else.
So how did Infinity War fall just that little bit short?
Well, blame it on Marvel’s own marketing and production plans. Partially.
The other part is my own head and how it constantly dissects stories.
Before proceeding further, let’s just put up a Spoiler Warning zone for anyone who still hasn’t seen the movie by this time of writing… but if you’ve gotten this far, you’re pressing on, right?
Be warned that I am speculating on the next movie(s) as well.
I should also state it right here that despite reading comics since the the late 70s, and still am reading comics, I have, at the time of this writing, never read the Infinity Gauntlet mini-series or trade-paperback by Jim Starlin, Goerge Perez and Ron Lim, nor any of the other Infinity War mini-series or eps that followed. The most I knew about it was that Thanos was after the Infinity Gauntlet with the intent to wipe out half the galaxy as a gift to his “lover” Death. I was never into the whole cosmic adventures bit at the time with way too many heroes bouncing around. Frankly, blame Crisis on Infinite Earths. When I first read that, it was gloriously epic but the sheer volume of characters and events going on at the time really threw me so deep into the DC Universe well that half the story didn’t make sense at the time. It wasn’t like I had loads of back issues to pull as reference points when the maxi-series came out. It was easier reading DC books after that event because the slate had been wiped clean.
Not like Marvel bothered to do anything like that at the time, and no, Secret Wars didn’t count. I still got half lost in that one because of the many many characters that popped up.
The point is, I went into this movie based on everything that had come before in the movies and almost zero reference point to the original source materials. And as the movie played on, the Infinity Gauntlet itself became a bit of an annoyance.
Simply put, it is a Deus Ex Machina rather than a MacGuffin.
Let me try to clarify that a bit from my perspective. I could get invested in the first half of the movie because the stakes have been set way before Infinity War even got started. We already knew of some of the Infinity Stones from the other movies, and how powerful these stones were, the kinds of power they held and what could be done with them. The key movies were Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers for the Tesseract / Cosmic Cube, Thor: The Dark World for the Aether (reality stone), Guardians of the Galaxy for the power stone and a proper intro to Thanos, Avengers: Age of Ultron for the mind stone, and Doctor Strange for the time stone. You needed to at least know Captain America: Civil War to have the fracturing of the Avengers and the introduction of Black Panther; Thor: Ragnarok to catch up with Hulk and the Cosmic Cube, and that leads very directly tot the opening of Infinity War.
I really pity the poor individual who got dragged to Infinity War stone cold without having seen any of the other Marvel movies over the last five years or so, at best. At least if that person didn’t care too much about who’s who, it’s still a decent action adventure movie.
So, yeah… prepped and ready to go into it all and for the first half, it’s exciting and enjoyable. But as Thanos got more and more of the stones at incredible costs to the heroes we’ve gotten to know over the last few years, my mind raced to the inevitable conclusion that Thanos was going to succeed, and the stakes dropped to zero; the gauntlet was the god in the machine – deus ex machina. No matter what happens to the heroes, most would be coming back anyway. After all, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Doctor Strange and even the freakin’ Guardians of the Galaxy have movies in the pipeline, so they’ll be back for sure. Thor, Captain America and Iron Man didn’t go anywhere. The core trio of The Avengers were still around, and obviously will be back for the next part.
For most of Infinity War, this core trio were apart, doing their own thing and the writers did a remarkable job of having solid reasons of how and why they were kept apart throughout the movie. The idea of The Avengers was that they had to work together to tackle the big problems no single hero could manage alone, and they weren’t together yet.
Save the universe and bring almost everyone back? These three would have to come together, get the gauntlet and very most likely, Steve Rogers, Captan America himself, the one with the purest of hearts would be the one to wield the gauntlet to bring everything back to normal.
or maybe not.
Either way, it would still be a rollicking good time when that movie finally rolls around with a few more heroes added to the roster, like Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel. That is if she isn’t part of the half that got dusted across the universe… Not bloody likely given how they’re setting her up in the post credits scene and with a movie coming next year, not to mention the few b-t-s stills that have popped up around the web, and Josh Brolin mentioning working with her in an interview with Empire magazine. See…? That marketing machine grinding things out?
The other thing that bugged me were the two major battles at the end.
Throughout much of Marvel’s Phase Two movies, or more precisely from The Avengers movie, it had this thing that I ended up calling “Death From Above”, and it kinda kept escalating to it’s inevitable form in Infinity War.
Here’s the pattern.
Starting with The Avengers, while chasing after Loki brought most of the heroes together, he ended having this invasion force of Chitauri and more coming through a wormhole in space over New York City. In Thor: The Dark World, Malekith the dark elf managed to bring his massive spaceship down on Greenwich. In Guardians of the Galaxy, Ronan the Accuser brought his even more massive spaceship down on Nova Prime. Captain America: The Winter Soldier had three (!) massive helicarriers crashing down. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ultron managed to take an entire European village, raised it up into the air and bring it down to simulate a meteor impact! It was getting a tad tiresome so thankfully, Ant-Man and Captain America: Civil War felt like breathers until Spider-Man: Homecoming decided to crash a plane onto a boardwalk on Long Island (was it? They were all blurring together), Doctor Strange had a massive hole in the sky over Hong Kong (I think) that Dormamuu would be coming through, and then Thor: Ragnarok got a massive Surtur to lay waste to Asgard.
And what do we get with Avengers: Infinity War?
More spaceships with hordes of alien dogs come down on Wakanda while Thanos brings the freaking moon(!) down onto a desolate Titan (the planet, not the moon off Saturn) while fighting Iron Man and his little band of heroes… and my head was going, “Again? More death and destruction from above?”
Can I say that I hope we are having something different with the upcoming Ant-Man and The Wasp? I have a feeling we might get more of the same in Captain Marvel. Sure, they want to shoot for “Grand” and “Epic”, but still, it’s not like you can’t pull it off on a smaller, more personal scale like in Civil War or Black Panther. Heck, add Iron Man 3 to that; Iron Man 2 still had the hordes of Iron Drones taking to the skies to rain down death and destruction.
Despite all that, Marvel does learn from its mistakes, taking note of what works and what doesn’t, and they do change things up a bit every now and then. Their movies are mostly entertaining and enjoyable and here’s hoping that by the time next phase of movies roll around after Avengers 4, there’ll be something different and fresh.