I’ve seen Avengers: Infinity War twice now and there’s lots to say.
Film critics look at these things as movies. I do too, but I also look at them from the perspective of a decades-long comics fan.
So let’s get to it.
And yes, there are SPOILERS:
1. This is a superb movie. Marvel Studios has been building toward this for 10 years, with a particular intensity over the last six. And even though the story’s only half over, the movie paid off many times over in many different ways.
2. We now know that the studio was full of hooey when they said Avengers 3 and 4 would not be Infinity War I and II. No matter what they call next year’s installment — and we’ll know what it’ll be soon enough — this is most definitely a Part 1 and 2 scenario.
3. We also now know why so many MCU sequels haven’t been formally announced — and why some of them have: Ant-Man and the Wasp is out in July and will either A) take place before the end of this movie or B) deal with some of the fallout. I’m betting on A because Infinity War’s grim cliffhanger isn’t really suited to the tone of an Ant-Man sequel. (The cliffhanger is basically The Leftovers trillions of times over.) But I could be very wrong about that, obviously. Either way, the post-credits sequence makes it clear that the main storyline will be picked up in next year’s Captain Marvel — but only to a point. That movie, which will come out less than two months before “Avengers 4,” is to be set in the past.
4. OK, now back to Infinity War itself: A lot of the concern going in was how they could fit all those characters into a 2-hour, 40-minute movie. I never really doubted that, given Marvel’s excellent track record, but the answer was right under our noses the entire time: As I watched the movie, it occurred to me that it was precisely like reading a well-constructed, big event comic — which makes all the sense in the world. Characters are broken up into teams and thrown into far-flung situations, with many of them intersecting again at crucial times. And keep in mind, this will really end up being a roughly 5 1/2-hour affair. (The movie also owes a debt to The Empire Strikes Back, which similarly divided our heroes and ended on a downbeat note with promises of much more to come.)
5. At the same time, I’m struck by how many critics have written how the movie has a lot to take in. It does, but it’s very easy to follow, especially if you’re a comics fan conditioned to these kinds of stories and if you’re aware of what’s come in the 18 movies that led up to this. The film has a sound Basil Exposition scene at the beginning that brings even casual fans up to speed and there’s plenty of humor and character moments to keep things grounded. Still, I don’t wonder whether these movies will at some point begin to seem increasingly intimidating to people who don’t live and die by them — sort of how the Big 2 comics companies continually struggle to satisfy long-time readers while attracting new ones.
6. I am a DC guy at heart. I’ve been reading comics for more than 45 years and probably 80 percent of them have been published by DC. But Marvel is so far ahead in the movie game that DC/Warner Bros. has no prayer of ever catching up. Comparing Justice League — which I liked — to Infinity War is like comparing the 1979 Captain America TV flick to Superman: The Movie. DC/WB needs to come up with a cogent, well-communicated vision for its movie slate. Because what’s been going on over the last several years has not been working — Wonder Woman notwithstanding.
7. The movie is soaked in CGI and sometimes it’s seamless and sometimes it’s not. We’ve grown so accustomed to the technology that we take it for granted, so when we can see wonkiness in a state-of-the-art blockbuster like this, it’s off-putting. There was something a little too artificial about the battle in Wakanda. By no means do I want to knock the Russo Brothers, who’ve done an magnificent job with their Marvel films, but I couldn’t help but wonder how much better that battle might have looked if Miguel Sapochnik, who directed Game of Thrones’ Battle of the Bastards, were brought in just to stage that sequence. Then again, it wasn’t so much the battle itself than the very plasticly looking “space dogs” that looked subpar.
8. Josh Brolin was terrific. Characters who are overly CGI’d can be hard to accept and Thanos didn’t always look quite authentic enough. But Brolin’s performance gave weight to a three-dimensional villain with an extraordinarily misguided motivation. Thanos is all pathos and patient menace: Like the best villains, he believes he’s the hero of the story — and Brolin sells it through all the high-tech wizardry.
9. I was amused by the sliding scale of power engendered by the Infinity Stones. Really, none of our heroes — or teams — should have had much of a chance against Thanos whether he had two, three or all six of the Infinity Stones. Especially once he got his hands on the Eye of Agamotto. But you just have to roll with it.
10. If you’d told me in 2008 that the Hulk — or more specifically, Bruce Banner — would end up the funniest character in the entire series, I would have laughed — derisively. But Mark Ruffalo’s Banner has become the MCU’s everyman — alternately surprised, repelled and excited by himself and what’s going on around him. Best recasting ever. (If you’d told me in 2011 that Thor would end up the second funniest character in the entire series, I would have laughed too — though Chris Hemsworth showed comedic chops pretty early on.)
11. There were so many “F— yeah!” moments I lost count. One of the very best was Cap’s entrance at the rail station in Scotland. All badass in silhouette. Only Batman does it better.
12. Who lives and who dies? Boy, I wouldn’t even try to come up with a legit list. But I do expect that almost everyone will be resurrected and you can at least start with Spider-Man and most, if not all, of the Guardians. Those sequels have already been announced. But what about those who were ostensibly killed before half the universe’s population was turned to ash — like Loki and Gamora? I’m banking on both of them coming back too: Tom Hiddleston’s Loki because he’s one of the MCU’s most popular and Gamora because I don’t see a third Guardians installment without her. (By the way, Zoe Saldana was outstanding in this.)
13. So what do you think Doctor Strange has up his sleeve?
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April 28, 2018
If they all come back, then this two part film is weightless. Feige said that the characters who die will stay that way, although I wonder if they’ll commit to that.
Gamora is in the Soul Stone, as others have mentioned and if they succeed, then she’ll be coming back. However, I’m not sure on Loki, because if you’ll remember when Thanos choked him to death, he said like ” No more fake deaths.” or “No more surprises.”
It would be toothless if they don’t kill off some characters for good in their biggest event since the launch of the MCU and no one would buy into their shenanigans again.
April 28, 2018
I’m thinking that Doctor Strange has given the time Stone a delayed command while he was running through all the possibilities.
April 30, 2018
That’s a good idea!
May 4, 2018
First, love your site. It’s a regular stop for me, please keep up they great content! This is the first time I’m commenting though.
Second, let me be clear, I loved the movie too!
But to get hyper-critical, one issue I had with the movie was that Thanos’ motivation in the movie versus the comic books. In the comic book, he wanted all the gems/stones to kill half the universe to impress Death. That motivation makes sense, Death wants people to die. In the move, Thanos’ motivation is lack of resources, which leads to suffering and death. BUT, with all the Infinity Stones he’s nearly omnipotent, meaning instead of killing half the population of the universe he could just as simply, with the snap of his fingers, doubled the universe’s resources. Boom! Problem (of lack for resources) solved. It seems they could have had some type of explanation as to why Thanos’ only option was to kill half the universe instead of just making more resources. Just sayin’.
May 4, 2018
An excellent point, JG. And thanks for the compliment!
May 6, 2018
Yea the resource thing. When that came in the story line became troublesome, bothersome for me. How are we as a world to mange population or over population issues if to consider that topic at all is put out there is such a heavy handed manner. I do not have an answer.