This will be split down into non-spoiler discussion and then spoiler discussion. The split will be clearly marked in the text. Moving on:
Truth be told, it’s kind of hard to bring up a lot of things I want to say about Infinity War without just being redundant. It’s good, you’ve likely watched it already. It’s got some really well-executed fight scenes, a well-developed and actually threatening villain who amazingly matched his overlong build-up, some really great character moments, nothing in it made me feel mad or confused, and it has a really great final scene.
Yet, I also feel kind of…empty about the whole thing? Like I’ve reached my peak of Marvel Cinematic Universe hype. And this really isn’t the fault of the film. It’s been 10 years and these films just don’t have the same sheen that they once had. It’s also that this followed up Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther, movies with a lot of creative vision that felt innovative and fresh among the pack. And I don’t think the Russo Brothers are untalented, nor do they lack a creative voice. But it is just another Marvel movie, this time pumped up with an interesting villain who gets a more complete arc than the heroes, which is pretty distinctive for this series.
People are calling this an event movie, but it feels more like an “Event Comic” movie. For the uninitiated, an “Event Comic” is a massive company-wide crossover (usually annually, usually in the summer) where nearly every character in their shared universe come together for some massive conflict that affects their own books too. While crossovers with other characters and books is incredibly common, these events tend to be more editorially mandated. Because of this, a storyline a writer would have been building up to may be ignored to set up this stupid shit against their will. This also tends to mean important plot points may end up not getting developed in the main event comic book, but in a tie-in issue. This tends to make said main books hard to follow.
Event comics are not always bad. They’ve inspired movies like Captain America: Civil War, and this one. But they’re usually bloated, have way too many characters, are hard to follow, are too drawn out, and end really anticlimactically because there’s some BIG FREAKING CHANGE they’re pushing that can’t really change much because superhero fiction doesn’t have an end point. They keep their status quo relatively intact to avoid that. Oh, and they’re also known for killing off characters indiscriminately (who always come back), being rather random on who gets more focus than others, and have really big dumb hooking moments which will have fuck all consequence once the story concludes. Wonder if this movie suffers from any of that?!
And I’m not saying that makes Avengers: Infinity War ultimately bad. Hell, if anything, the story is remarkably scaled back to make all this craziness more manageable. The plot is mainly just ‘Thanos want the thing, Thanos go get the thing, heroes try to stop him from getting the thing’. I will also say, however, that damn this will be hard to follow if you don’t have the context of the other movies, and this is the first one of these I’ve really felt that. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we don’t get 50-page monologues of shit that’s only kind of important here, but the other films felt a little more open to engaging an unfamiliar audience.
I AM NOW GOING INTO SPOILER TALK! SPOILER TALK IS HERE! IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, PLEASE DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER THAN THIS. IT IS GOOD, GO SEE IT. 7/10 IF I WERE GOING TO RATE IT. NOW, LET US DISCUSS SPOILERS!!!!
Like, the villain won. Not only did the villain win, but they absolutely embellished the winning by having main characters evaporate into dust right in front of us. It’s pretty brutal and unexpected. And it’s shot like that too-the camera feels a bit more handheld and natural, there’s some shakiness, the lighting on Earth is muted by weather effects, the music just stops until the final scene of Thanos’ triumphant grin. It’s fucking great; incredibly unexpected and really satisfying. There are actually major consequences this movie leaves that will be dealt with in a year’s time, and that’s exciting. Until you think about it and it’s just like, well, yeah. They’ll be dealt with, and everything they built up here will just be reversed and forgotten.
I mean, no. I don’t want half this world to just be gone in the space of five minutes. They also removed a lot of characters with incredible potential, and Bucky, and I want to see future stories with them. This will not stick, but more importantly it should not stick. But that’s the problem, it relegates this really effective gut punch of an ending into a gimmick. Just something we’ll be obnoxiously obsessing over until it’s resolved next year, and then it’s done its job. Asses have been firmly placed into seats. And these movies continue to be self-perpetuating marketing for themselves, and while they’ve always been like that, being made more aware of it just kind of rubs me the wrong way.
And I accept that this is my issue more than the film’s. I need to stress, over and over again, that it is good. It reached my expectations. I enjoyed myself in the cinema. I went to see it twice. Josh Brolin gave his part probably more than it deserved because he’s mostly behind about a billion layers of CG. Maybe all this build-up will pay off in the next movie. But I kind of keep saying that for every MCU film.
Maybe the reality is I’m growing up? I’m not 18 anymore, and seeing Nick Fury talk to Tony Stark about the Avengers Initiative created an impression in me that just cannot be replicated by future films. I guess I’m passed this MCU high. But I’ll still be here watching, damnit! And they still make fine movies, so I’m not really that upset over this. It’s just a change in how I consume media. I realised years ago these are consistently self-perpetuating advertisements for future products that just sometimes have something special in them. They’re run by a company so scary don’t be shocked if you don’t see images of Disneyland embedded into your dreams soon. But it’s still kind of sucky being reminded that you’re being sold a dream.
Now that sober realisations/self-absorbed whining about being an adult are out of the way, here are some meaningless random observations that completely offset the realisations I’ve pointed out!:
-Thor: Ragnarok got royally fucked here. Him getting another eye and an ax dismissed nearly everything that film taught Thor. But he’s one of the few Avengers to get a subplot all his own, and it’s way more fun than what I was expecting it to be.
-Speaking of, Loki’s death managed to be fitting, anticlimactic and made me skeptical all at the same time. I love that he got killed trying to trick the guy who brought him to Earth in the first place in order to protect his brother. And fuck, the way he dies is actually really brutal!
-This movie is incredibly quotable, and listing them would make this rather long self-conscience rant of a post even longer than it’s meant to be.
-I really like what they did with Hulk. Him refusing to come out for Banner after getting his ass handed to him by Thanos is interesting, and it gave Mark Ruffalo more time to shine than he usually does. This works out okay as the Hulk was used a lot in Ragnarok. Also, Banner gets a lot of the comic relief moments for the Earth story, and he’s great!
-I still don’t care about these movies’ versions of Scarlet Witch and Vision. This really made the emotional climax of the film difficult for me to invest in until Thanos crushed that dude’s skull down.
-The Guardians aren’t as fucked over as Ragnarok, thankfully. It probably helped that James Gunn helped with their scenes, and I really loved how they’re introduced. Still, a few things felt a little off from Volume 2, mostly Quill, and I really don’t like how Gamora is used in this film. She’s a prop to make Thanos more layered, which is insulting given how much effort was put into her character last time we saw her.
-The Red Skull reveal is utterly pointless and utterly great! I hope this means we get to see more of him in the future. He’s too good of a villain to be a one-off.
-Tony’s team gets bucket of attention and development (mostly Spidey and Strange, as the Guardians mostly end up bickering with Tony and co. when they cross paths). Cap’s team…not so much. I legitimately cannot remember anything Falcon even says all movie.
-Man, everything I said about the fallout of Civil War being relevant to this movie was just completely shat on, huh?! Remember when I said I keep on expecting these movies to actually do something with their build-ups?
-I’m still not crazy about Strange, though I liked him a lot more here than I did in his own movie. It’s also possible I’m not that attached to Benedict Cumberbatch, so again, my thing (I swear to God I like these characters!).
-Peter Dinklage is not as great as he usually is here, but he also gets my favourite line delivery in the whole film (again, no quote mining. If you’ve seen the film and are thinking of something Dinklage said, it’s likely that)
-Heh, all that speculation for Hawkeye not being on the promotional material really was hiding something; he’s not in the movie! I’m honestly okay with him and Ant Man not being there. I don’t care about either of them, and the cast was overstuffed as is.
-I’m hot and cold about the teams splitting up. Narratively and, well, practically it makes complete sense. It stops scenes from being a blocking nightmare and gives the story space (hah) to breathe and not be bogged down with, like, 20+ characters interacting in one scene. But it also means the story goes back and forth a lot and, on a more superfluous level, certain characters you wanna see together aren’t. They’ll probably interact next movie. Next movie will solve all the problems. And the movie after that will solve that movie’s problems!
-Thanos’ main henchpeople were boring and not incredibly threatening. Outside of Squidward Nidge, who was given more time due to him being on the ship with Stark, Peter and Strange. I legit found those weird demon things that attacked Wakanda more interesting than them.
-Speaking of, having the climax be at Wakanda was cool, but Black Panther and his supporting cast do suffer from the script’s overstuffed-ness as they don’t get a lot of focus, having only been introduced halfway through and the movie being more interested in focusing on the space stuff. They still have their moments, though, and it makes sense as his was the most recent film. I absolutely loved Black Widow and Okoye’s team-up fight.
-How great is Tom Holland? Guy made me feel immensely sad for a character I know is getting his own movie next year! You really feel his age when he evaporates in Stark’s arms.
-The Russo Brothers seem to love Tony Stark/Robert Downey Jr. He get so much attention and development both here and in Civil War. Hell, they snuck in an Easter Egg in Winter Soldier directly connected to him that becomes a huge plot point in their next film. He’ll likely have a huge part in the next film, too.
-I seem to obsess a lot over why certain characters are left. I think we’ll have an original Avengers focus next movie (so I think Hawkeye is safe, too). They kept some of the Black Panther cast because, frankly, they’re too much fun not to have around (did they confirm onscreen if Shuri evaporated?). Nebula is here because she has unfinished business with Thanos. Rocket….do they just want to show him interact with Stark? Your guess is as good as mine, as they just axed the rest of the Guardians.