As Infinity War is poised to break the domestic opening weekend record (and suggest – to me, at least – that Marvel is now as relevant in today’s world as Star Wars, if not more so), it has been thrilling and shocking audiences since it debuted on Thursday. Everyone has thoughts, opinions, and predictions for what comes next. Also, thankfully, most people are being respectful of others and not shoving spoilers in their faces, allowing them to discover the film’s offerings the way they’re meant to be discovered: in the theater (an IMAX 3D theater, to be specific. Seeing it in any other way is cheating yourself and the film, too.). But there’s also a yearning for those who have seen it to talk with the others who have. I have that yearning, as well. So if you haven’t seen the film, come back here, after you have. Until then, my spoiler-free thoughts are here. This is your last chance to turn back!
Okay, for those of you still with me, I’m going to approach this by tackling the items I wish to discuss one by one. Starting with . . .
Look, Infinity War has the craziest action ever put to film. It’s got both large-scale and small-scale action, air battle and ground battle, personal conflict and survival conflict – whatever you want, it’s here. From the moment Loki states, “We have a Hulk,” the film rarely lets up (and Thanos had the advantage of the Power Stone in that fight. Hopefully, Hulk will get his chance at redemption.). And then there’s the scene where Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Mantis, Star-Lord, Iron Man, and Drax confront Thanos on Titan and nearly succeed in removing the Infinity Gauntlet from his hand. That scene speaks to the ability and competency of the heroes, only to be undone by Peter Quill’s emotional reaction to the news of Gamora’s death. The action is structured like a wrestling match, with the heel villain maintaining the heat and advantage throughout the battle, with the babyface heroes getting the occasional hope spot until the climax when one goes over and gets the victory. Surprisingly, in this case, thatwas the heel. But I’ll get to that later.
This isn’t about the sheer number of characters in the film. There’s little else to be said about that. This is about the characters, themselves. Amidst all of the crazy action, plenty of characters still grow, change, and develop. Hulk is embarrassed by his loss to Thanos and doesn’t want to show his face. Gamora faces her father and the secret of the Soul Stone. Nebula loses the sister with whom she just reunited. Thor realizes his full potential. And then there’s the characterization, as well. It may seem odd to have such raucous humor in a movie where the stakes are so high but, truth be told, some characters would simply behave that way. Tony Stark would still be biting and sarcastic. Peter Quill would still be insecure. Drax would still be trying to become invisible (the funniest part of the whole movie). To not have these characters behave consistently with their previous character motivations would be dishonest and horrible writing. The fact that the film allows for that, in addition to forward movement and bombastic action set pieces is really quite remarkable.
To be clear, Infinity War has an A Cinemascore, so audiences are unquestionably enjoying themselves. There’s never been a movie like this one and that’s hard to overlook. But a portion of the audience is treating the ending as some sort of affront to them and the characters instead of what it actually is: a cliffhanger. Yes, Thanos won this round. Many of the Marvel Cinematic Universe heroes now cease to exist. But, folks. Folks! Do you really think that’s the end of the story? That’s it? They’re dead, Thanos wins, and now we move on? This happens in Marvel’s Infinity Gauntlet comic series, upon which this film is based, as well; Thanos wipes half of the population out of existence after gathering all of the Infinity Gems. Yet, everything is now okay. The way some are reacting is reminding me of the overreaction when the comic version of Captain America was “revealed” to be in Hydra. People revolted like all was exactly as it seemed, this was the new status quo, and they had never encountered compelling fiction, before. To little surprise, the real Cap was never in Hydra, and all is now well.
So relax about that ending. Anyone who dissipated at the end can just as easily be brought back. I’m less sure about Loki, Gamora, Heimdall, and Vision. They weren’t killed in the unnatural way that the others were so, when the heroes eventually overcome Thanos, they face the moral dilemma of whether they should bring those specific people back. But that’s what you wanted, right? So many complained that no one died in Civil War. People sit around, watching shows like “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones”, only feeling satisfied if someone dies. Be careful what you wish for! And for those shouting, “But what do I tell my kids?” – uhh . . . all that stuff I just said?
In actuality, the ending is a slap to the face of anyone who ever referred to the MCU as predictable. And it’s a slap to the face of anyone who ever criticized their villains. Thanos won. Now the heroes have to show more heart, will, and fortitude than ever before. This story isn’t over. We get an interlude this summer with Ant-Man and the Wasp, a prequel introduction with Captain Marvel in March, and then round two in May of next year (unless Disney moves that one up to April, as well). That’s when the heroes will win. But how fun is it to get a major blockbuster film where the villain comes out as the winner? Enjoy the novelty and bide your time for the rematch.
That’s all that I had on my mind, at the moment. Infinity War far surpassed all of my expectations and I’m anxious to see it many more times and catch little details that I might have missed. To infinity and beyond!
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