Spoilers below. If you are reading about Avengers: Infinity War without having seen it, you have only yourself to blame.
DID I FALL ASLEEP? I smuggled in a hot chocolate and a prosciutto and brie sandwich from the superb Todaro Bros. across the street and I was fully aware and alert all the way.
DID I CRY? No.
DID I LIKE THE MUSIC? It was alright. I was too gobsmacked at the end to pay attention to the end credits music. I’ll have to ne more mindful when I go see it again. I did notice there were only TWO SONGS in the end credits, perhaps a record for a contemporary movie. This was not a film that needed catchy tunes.
WHAT ELSE DID I NOTICE: It takes a lot of death and destruction to make a movie titled and about Ragnarok – the end of the world – feel like an awesome summer roof top party. But Avengers; Infinity War accomplished that handily. As people started dying in the first few moments, I kept thinking back to how everyone was happy and joking in Thor: Ragnarok, and we’ll always have Sakaar.
I am so glad I did my 18-movie Marvel Rewatch prior to seeing this; having all the storylines and characters fresh in my mind was the only way to experience Infinity War, by design. Having all the quirks, relationships and plotlines clear made the story even more tragic.
So this really was an episode of a long running TV show, presented in the format of $100-300 million movies. Audacious. And no hats when Feige or the Russos are in the room: they pulled off perhaps the most ambitious and complicated feat in film history – and were rewarded with the biggest opening in film history. It was a phenomenon:
AMC reports that Avengers: Infinity War had the highest Friday and Saturday box office gross for a single title in AMC’s 98-year history. Three of the circuit’s locations around the country played the movie for 24 hours, without ever closing (AMC Lincoln Square and AMC Fresh Meadows in NYC; Navy Pier IMAX at AMC in Chicago). To date this weekend, 53 locations ran Infinity War showtimes at either 2 AM or 3 AM to accommodate demand. And 13K showtimes and 1.8M seats are still available today.
The Russos and screenwriters Markus and McFeely also pulled off two hours and 40 minutes of sheer storytelling that veered between farce (Starlord vs Thor) and tragedy, often in the same scene. We went EVERYWHERE: space, Knowhere, Wakanda, Titan, upstate New York, Scotland, and some planet that had Peter Dinklage as a moody giant dwarf. And also a secret planet where the Soul Stone had been hidden all these years with the REd Skull flitting around like a character in an Ingmar Bergman movie! We followed two dozen characters who all had moments and arcs. Honestly that screenplay is a miracle: from a Flashdance joke to “Steve…!” – payoffs galore.
It was staggering.
It also confirmed my discovery that the whole MCU storyline is really about loss and destruction. The deaths at the end of IF may have been comic book deaths – reversible at a moments notice – but killing off T’Challa, Bucky, the Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-man, among others, was a bold move that left audiences stunned…and hungry for part 2. The gory death tolls of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones paved the way; there’s a bit of the gladiator pit in giving audiences all this sudden death of beloved characters. In the noisy and mostly safe world we live in, maybe it’s the only thing that can stir jaded movie goers.
But it was effective. The Avengers lost. Thanos beat them. He won! He carried out his crazy plan and the Avengers and the Guardians and Doctor Strange couldn’t do much to stop him.
The Russos have said that Thanos was the protagonist of Infinity War, and they’re right. After 10 years of weak villains and repetitive “evil twin” showdowns, our massive cast of heroes finally got an enemy who was bigger than them, who no one could match or even understand.
The combination of CGI and Josh Brolin was also shockingly effective. Thanos was no bellowing baddie; he was often quiet and poetic, a nod to the way he was portrayed in the original comics, and far more effective than a louder, bigger bad guy.
But if Infinity War handled death and destruction beautifully, a few of the other emotions had the effect of coming out of left field. As I noted in my rewatch notes, love, romance and sex are basically on a fourth grade level in the MCU, occasionally rising to the Sam and Diane level. Starlord and Gamora never got much beyond sexual tension, so all their sudden “I love you”s – not to mention Peter blowing their one chance to conquer Thanos because of it – glossed over a few steps. Still, the story arc was clear.
But I couldn’t stand the Scarlet Witch and Vision storyline. Their entire romance consists of Vision making her a bad stew. Thin gruel, to be sure. Also, Elizabeth Olsen is just too wispy! That New Yorker guy who wrote the review that everyone hated thought Olsen was the best thing in the movie!
Also, the character of Wanda Maximoff has been written large, and Elizabeth Olsen makes something distinctive of the role: with her low-key, nearly neutral manner, she offers a virtual mumblecore off-the-street authenticity among the gloss of more polished movie stars.
I also found the Children of Thanos pretty interchangeable (since I never read the comics they came from.) All the lady heroes teaming up on the lady from the Black Order was supposed to be like in a kung fu movie when the two women go at it, but I thought it was a bit cheesy in this context.
But…quibbles. I loved Avengers: Infinity War for the reason you can read in my bio. “Noble struggle.” There is nothing more cathartic than the sacrifice of the hero, from the Silmarillion to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. No one is ever going to win the battle against death so it’s all how you rage against the dying of the Infinity Gems.
And yet…when Spider-Man and Black Panther died, with their sequel movies on the horizon, you knew it was only temporary. The final death is yet to come. The OG Avengers – Tony, Cap, Black Widow, the Hulk and Thor – are all left to truly sacrifice themselves in the final final chapter.
Comic book deaths aren’t final; but contracts are.
When the Captain Marvel logo came up on Nick Fury’s pager, I admit, it was cool even as it took me out of the story a bit. All that noble struggle was just the intro for a new movie, after all. Phase Four will be different, but it is coming. Plus, M’Baku and Okoye are still alive!
So what’s next? The most enigmatic scene in Infinity War is the one that has elicited the least amount of analysis thus far. After he snaps half the universe into dust, Thanos goes to an orange world, perhaps inside the Soul Stone, where young Gamora is waiting.
Gamora: Did you do it?
Gamora: What did it cost?
This scene reminds me of both the ending of the Matrix Trilogy and the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In the latter we’re similarly taken to a “place between worlds” where Harry observes a…mewling baby thing that is Voldemort. The scene in Infinity War is similar and tone although completely different in action. And like the two Deathly Hallows movies, Infinity War ends at the point where it looks the darkest.
Obvs. Avengers 4 is going to be a time travel story in which we somehow go back and make it didn’t happen. But will Thanos’s real love for Gamora turn out to be his own fatal flaw? In the comics, he killed everyone to impress his lady love, Death, but Death won’t be in the movies. Is this child Gamora a memory or a bloodthirsty avatar of some power we don’t know about yet?
We don’t know. I loved that Infinity War embraced the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe, the one with Eternals and Celestials and Watchers and In-Betweeners. Thor got to be a god again. (And OMG, has Chris Hemsworth grown in that role.) The universe is full of mysteries from before time and after time. As an impressionable teen, Marvel’s cosmic stories blew my mind, just as the original Infinity War comics would for kids of the 90s. I hope the Phases of Ant-Man & The Wasp’s Quantum Realm, and Doctor Strange’s turf allow our minds to be blown.
I hope Avengers 4 makes me cry.
WOULD I REWATCH: ASAP.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.