MY MCU WATCH: Avengers: Infinity War – The season finale! (SPOILERS)

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Spoilers below. If you are reading about Avengers: Infinity War without having seen it, you have only yourself to blame.

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This scene is not actually in the movie!!!! Cheat! 

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.

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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.

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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.

Thanos: Daughter?
Gamora: Did you do it?
Thanos: Yes…
Gamora: What did it cost?
Thanos: Everything.

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.

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Thanos will return.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Yay! I’ve been waiting for this. (Although I liked it a lot less than you. Which is perfectly fine for both of us, of course.) I didn’t dislike the Vision/Wanda stuff, but you are right they didn’t earn it. I accept it because I know the comics. Even though I know many of these deaths will be reversed, the actors sold it majorly. And Brolin was wonderful, wasn’t he? I’m also not convinced Gamora is really dead. Her soul is just separated from her body and imprisoned in the stone. Also, is it really a TV show or is it just comics transferred to the big screen? I’ve been thinking about that the last few days since this TV show meme has become such a big deal. Maybe no difference between the two. Thanks again for this great series.

  2. Closest movie I’ve ever seen to putting all of the greatness from comic books on the big screen: SPOLIERS obviously……The fight against Thanos on Titan, watching Dr. Strange doing all of the groovy things he can do, watching Thanos clobber the Hulk and get run over by a space ship, pulling down a moon, Thor arriving in Wakanda, Cap and his team of Avengers showing up to save Vision and Scarlet Witch. All simply amazing! Going to see if again this weekend.

    Not sure if it’s as good of a movie as the first Iron Man, Avengers, Black Panther or Cap: Winter Soldier, but damn are we blessed to be able to see all of this greatness on the big screen!

  3. The Russos did everything I could have wanted. ‘Nuff said (until I buy it on Blu Ray in three months time and watch it a whole bunch).

    Good reviews; part of the experience in the lead up to this traumatic/incredible event. Thanks for the space, as ever!

  4. The theater audience I was in were *very* quiet during the credits; don’t know if it was shock, or what. Few knew there was another Avengers film scheduled for next summer?

    I do love how the filmmakers kept the solemn, “evil won” requiem atmosphere right to the very end, where “The Avengers Will Return” credit was replaced by “Thanos Will Return”. (At that point, I broke the silence in the theater with a gut laugh. SORRY, MAJESTIC BAY THEATER AUDIENCE!!)

    And ditto for the good MCU reviews — much appreciated. It definitely enhanced the fun.

  5. Overall an enjoyable experience. It confirms my viewpoint that “comic book” movies operate differently than traditional films. I enjoyed this despite the fact that there was no discernible structure to follow (except if viewed as part 1 of 2 or part 18 of 19, etc.), the bad guy won, the fan favorites are killed off, there is no conclusion, and random characters are inserted without much introduction or development. It’s all the best parts of an event comic book except on screen. There’s always a next chapter, the bad guy always loses, the good guys always return from the dead, and the plot is always secondary to a string of lovable and shocking moments.

    My only criticisms: (1) No memorable music. It’s really appalling that we have hundreds of millions of dollars spent in CGI, but no one can buy a song. I have never seen only 2 songs in a credit scene before. This is unforgivable for such a big budget movie. (2) No names given for the Black Order? (3) I don’t like the E.D. joke played out at Hulk’s expense. (4) I literally got a headache from the protracted fight scenes. Seriously could have done with less angle changes and stupid beasts getting slaughtered. (5) Captain America didn’t look or act very much like Captain America. No shield? No bright red, white, and blue? (6) So. Many. Stabbings. I heard young kids crying. I was sickened. It was easy over the top in such a high profile film to keep showing beloved characters getting stabbed, having necks snapped, thrown into walls, and then ultimately getting turned into dust. Cap it off with an overly sentimental teenage Spider-Man crying as he struggles with imminent death. This is so bleak, it puts BvS to shame. I honestly can’t imagine bringing a kid to see this movie after just watching some more lighthearted entries such as Ragnarok and Homecoming. I’m an adult and I enjoyed it, but wow!

    Grade based on first watching: A- Great chapter, but just a little too incomplete to be considered a well-rounded film. Can’t wait until next year!

  6. Surprised this was PG-13 instead of R, considering the amount of violence, profanity, and scenes that will probably frighten kids (such as the people disintegrating). But I guess Disney has the clout to get any rating it wants.

    Overall a good movie, but I can’t believe any adults were “traumatized” by the ending. They should know the heroes (at least the ones with their own franchises) will be back in the next installment. The “fake death” is something I wish the filmmakers had left in the comic books.

    P.S.: I wouldn’t say Elizabeth Olsen was THE best thing in the movie, but she was one of the best things. Poor Scarlett Johansson had hardly anything to do in this one. And Gwenyth Paltrow had to settle for a cameo.

    And I didn’t cry either.

  7. Someone quipped that you could do a supercut of all the MCU scenes that don’t have music pounding. It would probably run 25 seconds.

  8. Just read the Richard Brody article that Heidi says “everyone hated.” It didn’t upset me. I don’t agree with all his points, but I don’t get offended when someone pans a superhero movie — unlike the Fanboy Army that piled on Brody, on his twitter feed.

    Good thing he’s not a woman, or those goose-stepping fanboys would be sending him rape threats.

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