Avengers: Infinity War – Expectations vs. Reality

I wasn’t planning on writing about Avengers: Infinity War for a while.  My post on Black Panther has only begun to form in my mind – there’s so much to explore; I wasn’t certain what I’d say.  However, there’s not as much in Avengers: Infinity War (or rather, there’s a lot of stuff in Avengers: Infinity War but not as much depth) as there is in Black Panther.  For whatever reason, an idea began to form after my first viewing.  Now, two showings in, I’m (surprisingly) ready to talk about it.  HOWEVER – AND THIS IS IMPORTANT – THIS PIECE WILL HAVE ALL SORTS OF SPOILERS SO PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT READ THIS UNTIL YOU HAVE SEEN THE FILM YOURSELF.  TRUST ME, AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR DESERVES IT.  OKAY?  OKAY.  THANK YOU.  I HATE spoilers but I didn’t want to write a vague, superficial piece.  I think the film deserves more than that too.  So, when the idea came, I decided to run with it.  With that being said, let’s begin.

Back in December, when the first full trailer dropped for Anthony and Joe Russo’s Avengers: Infinity War, I was worried it looked too crowded.  I wrote, “I just can’t imagine how ANY film could do justice to at least twenty-five characters in two to three hours.  I don’t want a movie that’s just a bunch of fight scenes with ever-increasing destruction.  I want to see these characters I love continue to grow, in rich and intimate ways.”  Despite what I wanted, my fears were realized.

Infinity War Film 2

Doctor Strange, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, and Wong prepare to face Ebony Maw and the Dark Elf in Greenwich Village. / Photo Credit – Avengers: Infinity War

As David and I walked out of the theatre from our 7:00pm show Thursday night I was overwhelmed…but not in a good way.  When people asked what I thought of the film I’ve replied, “It was good.  I think.”  It is A LOT to process.  For a nearly three hour movie there’s not a second of downtime.  The action starts and doesn’t let up until the credits roll.  I needed time to try and sort it all.  It certainly wasn’t an entry point to the MCU (not that it ever pretended it would be).  If you don’t know the characters going in, they do nothing to establish them.

This being said, writers/directors Anthony and Joe Russo deliver exactly what they promised/was advertised.  This was a MASSIVE comic book crossover event in the vein of Jim Starlin and George Pérez’s original The Infinity Gauntlet series.  And, for what it was, they did an exceptionally good job with it.  It was fun.  It was FAST.  It was overwhelmingly packed with people, planets, and battles, with scenes changing faster than I could catch my breath.  It was just like those big comic crossovers…and it had as little narrative weight as those stories normally do.

Infinity War Film 3

The development of Wanda and Vision’s relationship was an exception to the lack of narrative weight or character development…although we barely got five minutes collectively of this in the entire film.  Siiiiiigh. / Photo Credit – Avengers: Infinity War

Again, back in December, I wrote, “[we] seem to want a comic book movie just like these big massive crossover comic books however, I don’t think anyone really does.  The overwhelming majority of the characters in these stories are only filler for big splash page crowd scenes or fight scenes.  There is no development whatsoever for most of the characters in the story.  They are completely superfluous to the narrative…I’d argue a movie like this, over-crowded with characters we’ve come to love but with no potential for emotional development or a real narrative arc, would feel like a cheat.”  And I was right.  It did.  At least it did to me.

If you don’t know (and if you don’t I told you not to read on! remember? spoilers!!!), Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of ten years of interconnected storytelling in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  It brings together Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, Hulk, Loki, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Wong, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Falcon, War Machine, Star Lord, Gamora, Drax, Mantis, Rocket, (teenage) Groot, Nebula, Black Panther, Shuri, Okoye and the rest of the Dora Milaje to battle the Mad Titan Thanos and his Black Order – Proxima Midnight, Lord Voldemort Ebony Maw, Corvus, and the Black Dwarf – as they try to assemble the six Infinity Stones.  The Stones give their wielder “control over six essential parts of creation,” namely Reality, Power, Space, the Mind, the Soul, and Time.  Thanos wants to assemble them all so he can half the population of the galaxy with a snap of his fingers, allowing more resources and a more benevolent and prosperous life for those who remain.  It’s an interesting take on the Mad Titan, an “honorable” intention behind his genocidal drive, and the battles are as epic as anything the MCU has ever delivered.  However…as far as I was concerned, there was no growth, organic or forced, with any of the characters in this film save Tony and Gamora.

Infinity War Film 4

I was hoping for more development with Gamora…and I got it!  I just wish there was more done with her (as well as something done with everyone else). / Photo Credit – Avengers: Infinity War

And, of the twenty-three heroes assembled, the only ones who weren’t superfluous were Tony Stark, Gamora, Doctor Strange, Thor, and Wanda Maximoff (the Scarlet Witch).  Every other character could have been replaced by any other random superhero in their scenes with very little effect on the narrative.  This bothers me.  The hallmark of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and (to my mind) one of the biggest things setting it apart from the muddling-yet-expanding DCEU is the richness of their characters.  It’s the interplay between them – both the humorous/bantery as well as the emotionally heavy and psychologically complex – that made us all fall in love with this world.  In Avengers: Infinity War (as in all major comic book crossover events) there’s just no time for this.  There was a lot of punching, a lot of explosions, a lot of epic battle scenes but of the TWENTY-THREE characters on the screen, FIVE were important.  This doesn’t sit well with me.

It was also painfully uncomfortable to see just how white and male the MCU is.  I mean, we all know it.  But to see all their heroes together in one film?  Marvel should be embarrassed at how few women are in this film and how few women they’ve introduced in TEN YEARS!  Apparently, save Wakanda, there are only five women in the entire cosmos capable of saving the world and, save Wakanda, only three men who aren’t white who are capable of saving the world.

Infinity War Film 5 (2)

Okoye, T’Challa, and Ayo greet Steve Rogers and the Avengers in Wakanda. / Photo Credit – Avengers: Infinity War

My second viewing (Saturday at noon (I willingly skipped a Friday night show)) helped me.  The action wasn’t as overpowering the second time.  The pace of the film was still unrelenting but I was able to see and appreciate a few subtilties I missed the first time around.  I’m happy they’re there…even if the moments were few and far between.

Still, the subtilties weren’t enough to bring it up to what I’m used to seeing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  It was too much punching and not enough narrative and character development.  But I want to be clear – I don’t really fault the Russo brothers for this (although maybe I should).  I fault the format.  They just took the comic crossover template and faithfully made it into a movie.  A story framework that fits a comic book aimed at kids (where dozens and dozens of superheroes show up pretty much just to punch the mega-villain they face) doesn’t appeal to me in the movies I see as an adult.  David agreed.  We both liked the film…but we both felt a little short changed.

We wanted more.

Infinity War Film 6

Thanos on his home planet of Titan…where epic battles and plot problems will abound. / Photo Credit – Avengers: Infinity War

Where I do fault the Russos is with some glaring plot problems.  Now, I don’t know if these are things that bothered everyone.  I’m not one for reading reviews.  And I grant they may be a result of my tendency to overthink things and/or the time I’ve spent as a student and teacher of theology thinking about the transcendent.  But much of the overall thrust of the narrative didn’t work.  This is a MAJOR problem with giving your villain the power contained in the Infinity Stones.  You have to manage that power very carefully and with great intention.

The Infinity Stones, when together, give their wielder the power of God.  I’m not talking little “g” god here.  I’m saying – with ultimate mastery of Reality, Power, the Soul, the Mind, Time, and Space – you have the literal transcendental power of God.  All of creation bows and bends to your whims.  That is A LOT to handle and impossible for any band of superheroes to believably defeat.

Jim Starlin brilliantly understood and worked around this when he introduced the Infinity Gems in 1991’s The Infinity Gauntlet miniseries.  On the second page of the first issue Mephisto remarks that Thanos’ mind can’t fully comprehend the infinite power he now wields – his finite, mortal mind can’t truly understand transcendence.  So, while Thanos has the power of the Infinity Gauntlet, he can’t use the full scope of its transcendent power – at least not at first.  His mind can’t comprehend it, much less master and control it.

Infinity 2

The Infinity Gauntlet, 1991 / Photo Credit – Marvel Comics

Gerry Duggan, who’s writing this summer’s Infinity Countdown miniseries, gets this too.  He’s brought the Infinity Gems, now called Infinity Stones (of course), back into the reality of the Marvel Universe.  However it’s clear from how the Stones are described their power is lessened (for example the Mind Stone grants you telepathy and intelligence as opposed to ultimate control over all minds AND it only grants you telepathy and intelligence with your mastery of the Soul Stone).  While this new Infinity Gauntlet, once it’s inevitably assembled, will grant its wearer immense power, they won’t have transcendent control of all creation.

OKAY IF YOU’VE DISREGARDED MY WARNING AND READ ON, AFTER THIS PICTURE OF THE INFINITY STONES I GET INTO SERIOUS PLOT POINTS AS WELL AS SOME PLOT HOLES.  IF THIS IS THE SORT OF THING YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW FOR REAL YOU NEED TO STOP READING THIS RIGHT NOW.  OKAY?  OKAY.

Infinity War Film 7

Infinity Countdown, 2018 / Photo Credit – Marvel COmics

But neither of these plot points are clear in Avengers: Infinity War.  As Wong describes the Infinity Stones to Tony and Bruce, he makes it clear they give those who hold them “complete control over six essential parts of creation.”  While we can presume it takes Thanos time to master his newfound power, there is nothing in the narrative to make us believe this to be so.  It’d just be us trying to mentally retcon an oversight.  Starlin also has the wisdom to begin his tale with Thanos already having the complete Infinity Gauntlet.  The Russos start with Thanos having the Power Stone and laying waste to Thor’s ship full of Asgardian refugees to gain control of the Space Stone in the film’s opening scene.  From there the battle for mastery of the Time, Mind, Reality, and Soul Stones begins.

Here’s the problem though.  Doctor Strange has the Time Stone.  We’ve seen him use it – quite effectively – to freeze and replay time many, many times in Doctor Strange.  So, the moment the Black Order arrives in New York, all he has to do is freeze them all in place and Tony can easily use his sweet nanotech Iron Man armor to blow them all to pieces.  There’s NO WAY Ebony Maw and the Black Dwarf are too powerful to be controlled by the Time Stone.  First, we’ve seen Strange use it to kick Dormammu’s ass – a more powerful entity then Thanos’ minions.  Second, as the film itself states, the Time Stone gives Doctor Strange COMPLETE mastery over time.  The same problem exists with Vision having the Mind Stone, literally wired into his being.  We’re supposed to believe he (or Wanda for that matter) couldn’t use it take control of Proxima Midnight and Corvus when they come for his Stone in Scotland?  It gives its bearer COMPLETE control over the minds of others.  For that matter, when Proxima Midnight, Corvus, and the Black Dwarf lead Thanos’ army in the assault on Wakanda, all it takes is the Mind Stone to literally take control of every single bad guy on the field and make them stop, leave, or whatever.  Yet…no one does this??

Infinity War Film 8

Doctor Strange using the Time Stone to stop Dormammu after he self-taught himself to master it…seems like this would’ve been a good move against Thanos. / Photo Credit – Doctor Strange

This problem carries over in a big way to Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Star Lord, Drax, and Mantis’s battle with Thanos on Titan too.  Um, why didn’t they easily strip him of the Gauntlet?  Why didn’t Doctor Strange just simply freeze Thanos in time OF WHICH HE HAS COMPLETE MASTERY OVER and take the Gauntlet?  Or why didn’t he, when they all had the Mad Titan pinned and Tony and Spidey were struggling to get the Gauntlet off, use one of his sling ring portals to chop off Thanos’ hand and teleport the Gauntlet faaaaaar away, to a place they could all immediately follow it too, via another portal without Thanos?  We saw Wong easily chop off the Black Dwarf’s hand during their battle in Washington Square Park.  I think if Wong could do it in a fight accidentally, the Sorcerer Supreme could do it intentionally when the fate of all creation hangs in the balance.

AND why is there even a battle for the final three Stones?!?  Once Thanos has control of the Reality Stone and the Space Stone, he can simply bend reality and space to his whim and pluck the Stones from their holders without a bunch of huge battles.  Instead he uses his COMPLETE CONTROL OF REALITY to make everything into bubbles.

Infinity War Film 9

Yes Thanos, the Infinity Stones do make your glove look super cute.  Now imagine what you could do if you used them to their full potential! / Photo Credit – Avengers: Infinity War

So, there was A LOT that wasn’t thought through.  I get it.  It’s hard!  When I was a little ten-year-old kid playing with my superhero toys or my LEGOs I could never use the Infinity Gauntlet as a plot device – no matter how much I wanted to – because once I got into the story I couldn’t figure out a way to believable use them where the heroes stood a chance when the villain had that much power.  Apparently neither could the Russos because they don’t have anyone – hero or villain – use the full power of the Infinity Stones even though nothing in the film tells us they can’t (and we’ve already seen Doctor Strange can).

Once assembled, Thanos does use the Infinity Stones to wipe out half of creation – and with it half of the heroes we’ve come to know and love over the course of ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  I’m a crier in movies and, as I went into this film, I expected to be weeping by the end.  However, none of the deaths affected me because none of them felt real.  In the comics, Thanos wipes out half of creation with half the heroes going down in the process too.  Then, once the heroes stop him, they set right what he changed.  I’m sure this will happen in Avengers 4 next spring.  I know Kevin Feige promised us everyone wouldn’t make it out of this alive…but I don’t see the deaths in this film having any lasting relevance in the MCU.  So who dies? is entirely a question for Avengers 4.  And, in doing this, the Russos have removed much of the power of death in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Infinity War Film 10

What’s going to happen to the Vision?  I can’t say I was too worried as I watched. / Photo Credit – Avengers: Infinity War

When I watched Iron Man 3 for the first time I was legitimately scared for Pepper.  When we lost Yondu in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 it broke my heart.  I still cry every time I watch it!  But to lose so many characters knowing most (if not all) of them will come back?  Well now they’ve gone and made death nothing more than a cheap plot device just as it’s become in comic books.  Even if I hadn’t read the Infinity Gauntlet series I’d know most of these deaths were meaningless.  My existing knowledge of contracts, announced sequels, and box office revenue assures me many of these faces will be coming back.

I will say, with my second viewing (and, I guess, a little bit with my first), Peter’s death in Tony’s arms did carry a bit of a punch to the feels.  But this is entirely because of Tom Holland and Robert Downey Jr.’s acting and my preexisting knowledge of Tony’s problems with guilt and responsibility.  It has nothing to do with the fact that I think, for a second, Spider-Man is really dead in the MCU.

null

Peter, Tony, Drax, Quill, and Mantis await Thanos. / Photo Credit – Avengers: Infinity War

All this isn’t to say I hated the film.  I didn’t.  I liked what it was.  It was nowhere near as good as Avengers: Age Of Ultron (as Avengers sequels go) but I’d put my enjoyment of it around Thor: The Dark Work or The Incredible Hulk (although those films, for any flaws, still had real character development).  I stand by what I recently wrote, even the most awkward of films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe still stand head and shoulders above most other superhero cinema.  The same is true for Avengers: Infinity War.  If this film came out exactly as it is, in 2000, it would have blown my mind.  But it didn’t.  At the end of the day, Marvel Studios bit off more than any one film could chew.  The Russos did the best they could with what they had…but I’ve come to expect more from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Here’s hoping future crossovers will stay far smaller in nature, keeping the focus where it belongs – on their cast of dynamic characters and the relationships between them, as opposed to giving us three hours of punching, laser blasts, and explosions all over the cosmos with a few quippy one-liners thrown in to move us from one scene to another.

That being said, I’m still planning on viewing number three tomorrow at noon.

Infinity War Film 13

Ugh, Black Widow was criminally underused in this film!  Siiiiiigh…hopefully we’ll see more of her in Avengers 4.  C’mon Russos!  You’ve written and directed her so brilliantly before!  We need more. / Photo Credit – Marvel Studios

If you share my desire for more Black Widow, you can read my look at her unique importance in the MCU here!

Or you can look at how love is presented in the MCU!

Or you can read my analysis of Loki and villains in the MCU!

What I’m sayin’ is, if you want more MCU, I’ve got options for you.

39 thoughts on “Avengers: Infinity War – Expectations vs. Reality

  1. Man, I was busy, but I had to stop to read this. SPOILERS- I agree that the time stone could have solved this at anytime, that bugged me to. But, I loved the full out action and the Empire Strikes Back ending. Also, loved your Lord Voldemort slip in

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh my gosh, yes! I thought the ending was brilliant too! I was so impressed they made such a bold move with how they handled it. Now I’m extra excited to see where ‘Avengers 4’ goes with that as a lead in.

      I really enjoyed the action too (even if I wanted more character-driven development with it). Seeing all the heroes flying across the screen fighting together and all the mixings/team-ups felt completely like one big comic come to life!

      I’m glad you appreciated the Voldemort reference too :).

      Like

    1. Hmm…I guess that depends on how you like to watch your movies. I do have a second spoiler warning in the piece. So I warn at the top, discuss general themes and feelings, and then I have a second bolded/underlined/italicized/all caps spoiler warning further down. So, if you felt bold enough, you could read to that point and then bow out.

      Or you could read it all. Spoilers drive me nuts but I have some friends who really don’t care about them. It probably won’t be at the library for, what, six months or so? That’s your call if you think you read about some of it now or be surprised by it all later. I wouldn’t, but that’s me :). I don’t reveal EVERYTHING but I do reveal some MAJOR points. I’m intrigued to see what you choose…

      Like

      1. I’ll probably read it then. There are some things I care about spoilers for and a lot of things I don’t care. I think in cases where I really, really care…I’d make sure I saw the movie right when it was released! I had a friend who wanted to read HP 7 until the movies were out and didn’t want any spoilers because she “wanted to see if the movie was hard to understand without having read the book.” Ignoring the fact book 7 was the worst to pick for this experiment because she already had the context of the 6 previous books, it’s just not possible to avoid spoilers for something that major for months/years! So, yeah, my point is I will probably be spoiled before I finally watch the DVD anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yep, that makes perfect sense. We do live in a super spoilery culture – especially with the internet and social media! When I posted this piece online I made the point of asking people to comment on the piece itself and not the post if they wanted to, so as not to spoil it for others. Hopefully that works…

        Your friend’s Harry Potter experiment is pretty trippy too. It’s an interesting approach, but I see what you mean. It wasn’t the best circumstances to try something like that. I know I didn’t read all the books as they came out. BUT I saw the first few movies, realized this was something I wanted to experience in the novels first, and then got all caught up :). On a slightly related note, I have a friend who always watched the movies first. Going from the idea the book is almost always better, she figures she’ll save the best for last.

        Like

  2. Ok, so since I haven’t watched all the Marvel movies and don’t even know who half of these characters are, I’d probably have even bigger problems than you in terms of the lack of character development and in terms of caring whether people are dead. I also (without having seen the movie…) totally agree with your points about the Infinity Stones and some future convenient resurrections.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. One of my best friends is slowly coming into the MCU and she was debating whether or not she would come see ‘Infinity War’ with us, not having seen all the other films yet. Thankfully she settled on not coming! I do think it would be a huge problem to see this without the previous knowledge. There’s nothing to make you care about/understand the characters if you haven’t seen the other films. The filmmakers just bank on you bringing all that existing knowledge in with you.

      Like

  3. As a huge, huge fan of Scarlet Witch I must admit that the 5 minutes we get with her are more than enough to make me do imaginary summersaults. In those 5 minutes seeing her relationship with the Vision my head was capable of imagining an Avengers Disassemble, House of M, Decimation and Young Avengers films. And was able to plot a plan to get Kevin Feige’s job to make all real :P. I was beyond happy with that. I even forgot that my Hawkeye wasn’t in the film at all!!

    But what you say is painfully true. There are no character development. The Russo put all their eggs in the same basket: Thanos. We get wth this film one of the best built villains of the MCU (in my opinion, of course). They have sacrificed the heroes’ development to give us a great Mad Titan. I LOVED the character. His scenes with Gamora were totally unexpected. He deserved it. But, in order to get that, something else had to be cut down :(.

    When you were saying they have taken the comic format and put it into a movie I was nodding. It’s totally that. I didn’t want that. Or at least I think I didn’t, but after seeing it I’m kind of ok with it. I’ve made my peace. If they want to make a movie event as a comic event, I will face it as I face those comics: I will accept the individual development will be halted, enjoy the crazy ride that events are and keep getting to know the characters I love once the event is over. Once I adapted my head that way, I realize I liked the movie much more. How could The Russo give some weight to more than 20 characters? I guess a couple of days ago I would have answered: They should hace tried at least (and failed… in 3 hours is impossible). Or: just pick 2 or 3 and develop those!!. That would have been so tricky and such a land mine for the directors. Who should they pick? Long-time favourites with several movies in their backs or new blood? How could they get it right for most of us? The more I think about it, the happier I am they have done what they have done. Focusing just on Tony, Cap or Thor would have been so unfair for so many great characters, so they took a loophole and made the movie all about the villain. It’s actually a pretty clever move. Granted, it didn’t feel as satiating as other MCU movies, but I have the feeling I would have liked the movie less if they would have focused more in the superheroes’ stories. Stories that we know are going to be told in individual movies that can do them much more justice.

    Even though I have made my peace with it and right now I’m like a kid with new shoes, I’m sad they didn’t show more interactions between some characters. Tony and Cap don’t see each other, I was biting my nails for that moment :(. I guess it has to happen in Avengers 4. Scarlet Witch and Dr. Strange doesn’t meet either. Man, I want to make Wanda a sorceress so badly!!

    On the other hand, we had also had great interactions: Thor with the Guardians was awesome. Rocket showed some layers he was good at hiding. Tony were Strange were as I was expecting: ego vs ego while forging a weird bond. But with so many characters, I should be able to point out much more than those. Well, I guess we don’t have to think about these movies as isolated entities. It’s a “To be continued…” in every possible sense.

    About the plot holes… I know they are there. I have the feeling The Russo are not trying to hide them. I think they want us to just accept them and enjoy a film were the six more powerful Gemes of the Universe are used in a pretty amateurish way. Without the plot holes, the flim would have been 30 minutes long. Besides, aren’t plot holes called Wednesdays among comic readers? 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Wanda/Vision scenes were some of my favorites in the movie too! Since they first showed up in ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron,’ I’ve been wanting more and more of them. I would love, love, LOVE to see them get a solo film. Or maybe they could do a solo series about Wanda (something dancing back and forth between the Avengers-esque superheroing and the mystical world of Doctor Strange) and the Vision could show up in some of the films (like Ant-Man and the Wasp). She is such a captivating character and so worthy of more time in the spotlight. And like you said, she can be the gateway to all other sorts of stories down the line!

      I also really liked how you framed the focus of the film on Thanos. While I appreciated how they developed him, I really didn’t think of it in this light, being a Thanos-instead-of-everyone-else trade off. But you’re right and it does sort of work that way. I love the layers they gave to him, making him more sympathetic a character (at least for a genocidal monster 🙂 ) than he is in the comics. I feel like Marvel’s really been doubling down on developing their villains – Adrian Toomes then Killmonger and now Thanos. It certainly does make the film more engrossing to have a villain with real layers you can explore.

      I agree with the positives you see in the film too! While it wasn’t the film I wanted or even my particular cup of tea when it comes to comic movies, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot there to celebrate. And the Russos do deserve to be commended for managing the number of characters they did and still delivering an entertaining film.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think what I like most about your blog is that you take these accessible and (to my mind) awesome modern stories and find links in them to morality, psychology, spirituality and other deeper topics. It’s how I feel about comics too and it’s so good to find a fellow reader who feels the same. Other teachers in the staff room might talk this way about Tolstoy but they never think to apply this thinking to Sci Fi and Comics. Keep up the great work!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. This really means a lot! I hope all the layers that I see in these works come through in my writing about them. I think it’s all there too! I’ll always enjoy the “classics” (like Tolstoy!) but I think there’s a lot we can learn from comics and sci-fi too AND I think it’s a doorway that can make the lessons more accessible, just like you said. Aww, wow. This just made my day :).

        Like

  4. I’m still processing the emotional rollercoaster that was Avengers: Infinity War.

    I’m going to save the bulk of my view for after my second viewing but I do agree that it does fall short of character development which was always going to be a challenge. However, I personally felt a profound, unexpected sense of loss seeing the scale of death that we were put through.

    Whilst I appreciate it is far from final, it felt like I was losing family. These are characters I’ve come to know and love for the best part of 5 years (I class my official entrance into the MCU as my screening of Iron Man 3 back in 2013) and even now I can see them falling as if they were nothing. Peter’s was by far the worse and I was on the brink of tears.

    It’s hard to say where I fit on the spectrum of enjoyment. I definitely need some more time to mull it over but you have raised some excellent points. If I may offer a counter-argument to the Deus-Ex-Time-Stone, in Doctor Strange they do discuss the dangerous implications of using the Time stone so I kind of see why there may have been reservations for its use.

    However, I do agree that for a Wielder of the Stones, Thanos really held back. Again, something I may have to examine when I release my own reflection.

    As ever, some excellent food for thought!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! I’ll be excited to read your review once you’ve posted it! And I get why you need time to process it. Like I said above, it was A LOT to handle after the first viewing and I do feel I had a better sense of the subtleties in the film with my second viewing.

      As to the Time Stone, I’d actually thought of that! I know Doctor Strange was yelled at for using the Time Stone in his movie. BUT he still used it (and everyone seemed okay with it) to stop Dormammu from destroying their reality. I feel like stopping Thanos from doing something very similar would have been an equally acceptable use. Plus, he wouldn’t have been going backwards in time to change anything (Strange going back to prevent Thanos from getting the Stones or ever being born or grabbing the Stones at the beginning of time could all have ripple effects), just stopping him for a moment to remove the gauntlet. It seems like that would have been okay.

      Either way, we’ll see how it all plays out next year! I’m so, so happy they filmed these back to back, I would NOT want to wait for two-to-three years for any sense of resolution here!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. There were definitely some surprises in this movie, but I feel your frustration over lack of back story/narrative. I feel I saw most of the movie IN THE TRAILERS! And not that I felt that characters were interchangeable, but I felt I was being forced into saying good-bye to the actors (RDJ and Evans) who want out and “hey look what these kids can do” (Holland and Olsen) to those sticking around. Concerning what the movie was really about, Thanos; I am all about balance, but I am more a disciple of ‘Princess Bride’ and wish we’d stuck to the Infinity Gauntlet motive of “true love” for the reason of Thanos’s madness. I also get your hesitation of such unlimited power. This is why I never embraced Superman because of his god-like tendencies. I never got this feeling from Thanos, just more misguided desires; but felt Marvel used the stones to bridge the realms of science and magic. Of which, I am a little nervous that they are going to fill some other big bad (Doctor Doom) scooping up the collected stones with Red Skull. Here’s hoping the Noah Hawley film hits its mark, which I have high hopes for. But bringing people back to life? I’ve made it through all the X-men movies (not to mention the comics). It happens in pulp.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yep, I couldn’t agree more. I love how you’ve framed the film. What you said about the trailers is a particularly good point! I hadn’t thought about this before but you’re right, the basic flow of the narrative (New York City battle, Tony in space with Spidey and the Guardians, Cap and the other Avengers in Wakanda, even Tony mourning and Cap facing off against Thanos which happen AT THE VERY END) was fairly well outlined ahead of time. Maybe that was one of the reasons I didn’t feel as emotionally invested in this as I thought I would, because I’d seen much of it already?

      I hadn’t thought about Doctor Doom getting the Stones though! As excited as I am about his potential solo film (the FF were always my favorite team as a kid and I’d love to see something that really feels like them and their world (even if it begins with just a solo Doom film) on the screen), I didn’t think to tie him to the events here. They could look to setup some sort of Secret Wars as a future major crossover, with Doom having all this power would be a bridge into that. I’d also like to see Doom (and hopefully the Fantastic Four as a whole!) have a chance to develop on their own before being tossed in the middle of the MCU at large.

      Like

  6. I skimmed. I read another review and it was even more spoilery and I was like…oh I wish I hadn’t read that. I’m pretty sure all the nuances of the plot would go over my head anyway in the movie. When I don’t know the genre well enough (like this) most of the time I’m left remembering the action and characters and scratching my head over the plot.

    But I wanted to read what you said anyway just because I know you had a loooooooooot of build up. Maybe that made it worse for you! Maybe if you hadn’t built up that entire viewing schedule, you would not have been as invested and whatnot. *shrug* But I haven’t seen the movie so can’t say.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Nah, for better or worse, I’ve loved Marvel’s comics and characters since I was four years old (alllll the way back in the magical land of 1986). So there was no way I was going to keep my excitement low for this. The Mega Marvel Movie Marathon just allowed me to pay my loving (also, maybe insane) tribute to the MCU before opening night.

      And, even though I didn’t really love ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ it still gave me EIGHTEEN NIGHTS of movies I did love so it wasn’t a total waste :). What’s crazy is I’m still seriously considering doing a TWENTY-TWO night marathon next year before ‘Avengers 4’ comes out. Haha, I think I may have a problem…

      Like

      1. Omg 18 nights. Wow. I still don’t know how you did that. And the 22 might marathon…i mean, well… To each his own haha!

        Is Avengers 4 the last one? Wasn’t this one a half movie?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It was originally going to be a “Part I” and “Part II” deal but the the Russos (probably realizing people are getting a little tired of that) said this would have an actual end to the story and the next would be a full story too. And, it certainly ends…but it’s clear there’s A LOT more still to do.

        “Avengers 4′ is to be “the end” of the first era (for lack of a better word) of the MCU. What’s coming after that is supposed to be recognizably different from all that’s come before. What that will end up meaning is still anyone’s guess.

        Like

  7. Sorry to hear u were short-changed, good sir.
    Such are the confines – or the curse(?) – of the modern “blockbuster”
    Dr Strange could easily have banished Thanos into another dimension and dealt with him there; let those rampaging beasties mince themselves on that Wakandan forcefield.
    but no: th masses expect great action sequences so brawn overrules WITS once again
    You know I’m always enthusiastic about character development, but went in not expecting much in that dept. (besides, there’s a War on!)
    Sweet interlude between Vision/Wanda – actually they showed more of that subplot than I’d expected
    NITPICKERS ASSEMBLE!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You know what? You put that perfectly! It was a matter of a focus on brawn/battles as opposed to wits/strategy in the whole film. I hadn’t thought of it with those terms before but you are 100% right. Well said my friend, as always.

      And, at the end of the day, even a so-so Marvel movie is still a whole lot of fun you know? So while I didn’t love it, I still like that they tried it and appreciated the escapist fun all the same.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Michael!
        These days, I regard a movie in terms of how I would have written it.
        In this case, it would have been at least an hour longer, but offer less grand fisticuffs.
        Grim, brooding, discussing strategy and all th existential gubbins u can eat, all v intense and Seventh Seal-like, but miraculously compelling in that inimitable Bradtastic way (!)
        No worries, amigo, love comes to those who wait 😉
        Bless u

        Liked by 1 person

  8. You pretty much summed up my thoughts on the film. I was initially amused by how “white male” the world-saving cast looked as they stood together. Then I was confused by how little sense the plot made. Thanos can destroy everyone on Thor’s ship with a wave of his hand, but goes about physically slugging it out with everyone throughout the film. Dr. Strange can turn back time to do stuff like maybe reset from Star Lord’s ruining the “take down Thanos” operation–but doesn’t. Vision does nothing with his stone, either. No one thinks to just cut off Thanos’ arm to get the gauntlet, even though that would seem to be far more effective than tugging on the gauntlet futilely. It was a mess. The best part was probably Wanda and Vision’s relationship which, like most of the MCU relationships, I had never bought into before now.

    I was also disappointed by the ending. It felt cheap since obviously they’re not going to kill off Spiderman and Black Panther when both these characters were just introduced and both are popular. Plus they both have future films announced along with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which obviously needs more than Rocket Raccoon to proceed. I can’t emotionally invest in deaths that are going to be undone! I assume Cap and Thor will go in the sequel and I assume that will be more emotionally wrenching, but who knows? I felt nothing when Loki and Gamora went. Both seemed kind of sudden and Loki’s already been dead so doing it a second time doesn’t fully work, even though I’m assuming he’s dead for real this time.

    The fight scene with the four female characters was pretty cool, though. I’m glad the film gave some vague nod to its lopsided gender ratio. But it was also a shame to see Scarlet Witch “killed off” at the end. I assume she’ll be back, but I still felt frustrated the film would suggest she can be killed off when she hasn’t done anything in the films up to this point and yet she seems like she could be one of the most powerful superheroes in the MCU if the writers would let her. And, yes, Black Widow needed more screen time, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AMEN! Yes, it was a big event movie. Yes, it was fun to see all the characters we’ve come to love together. But it ended up being three hours of punching with, as you outlined perfectly, no real consequences. It was so frustrating to see so many meaningless deaths that just be undone in the next film. This is new ground for Marvel – the pointless, gimmick death – but it’s not a praiseworthy addition to their storytelling tropes.

      I didn’t even think of Thanos using the Power Stone when they fought either!!! That’s a great point. If he has “infinite power” as the Stone supposedly grants, why would he struggle in any sort of fight at all?

      I agree the fight scene with Natasha, Okoye, Wanda, and Proxima Midnight was fantastic. It was one of the best parts of the whole Wakandan battle! But it does make you wonder why the Scarlet Witch hasn’t been a heavier hitter in the MCU so far. Hopefully they let her loose in the future. I’d love to see a ‘Scarlet Witch & Vision’ movie (a la ‘Ant-Man & the Wasp) or just a solo film about Wanda.

      Also, thank you just in general for the comment. All I keep seeing is how much everyone in the world loved this movie and how everyone’s saying it’s the best Marvel movie yet. I even saw one comment online where someone said this was “Marvel’s version of ‘The Dark Knight'” in terms of philosophical weight. And I just don’t see any of it. It’s refreshing to realize David and I are not alone here!

      Like

      1. Maybe I haven’t thought hard enough about the film yet, but it’s difficult for me to see great philosophical weight involved. I did see one headline to the effect of “Does Thanos Have a Point?” but I didn’t bother clicking on it as I think most people know intuitively that, no, Thanos doesn’t have a point. Killing some people to create more resources for others is obviously morally wrong. You’d have to think far too hard about it to make it seem right. (Hence why Thanos is the villain?) This thinking is especially unconvincing because Thanos inhabits a universe with multiple inhabitable planets and advanced technology, and it thus seems bizarre that his first choice is to kill people instead of thinking about colonizing new planets, immigrating to new planets, or creating some sort of tech that could produce more resources for people. The implied argument throughout the film is that Cap’s death is different from Thanos’s plan because 1) Cap chose it voluntarily and 2) it was a choice of necessity. Thanos isn’t asking for volunteers and he hasn’t demonstrated that a sacrifice of life is necessary.

        I suppose the main philosophical question raised, then, is whether the Avengers are right to save specific people over a greater number of people. That is, should they have risked half the world to attempt to save Vision? (We’ll pretend this is a real question despite the fact that Thanos’s possession of multiple Infinity Stones pretty much made Vision’s and everyone else’s death certain no matter what the Avengers chose.) However, the film doesn’t really engage with this question. Cap pretty much sums up the film’s philosophy with “We don’t trade lives” and I think film goers are supposed to accept this since Cap is basically the moral compass of the MCU. Any philosophizing would have to be done on the flimgoers’ own time.

        But to me, this question reads almost like one of the old textbook “man on the tracks” questions. It doesn’t feel meaningful in the sense that it doesn’t have real-world application for most people. You can try to puzzle through it as an intellectual exercise, but it doesn’t feel as important as something more mundane such as, “Am I right or wrong to have stopped speaking to that coworker who said something rude?” or “Does my decision not to go to the party mean I’m a bad friend or am I just taking necessary time for my mental health?” It feels like an “Aha! We got you!” question from the film makers. “All choices lead to bad things for your favorite characters! Now feel EMOTIONS!!”

        I suspect audiences feel invested in this film because we’ve waited ten years for it. It’s difficult to see a film this huge and this eagerly anticipated and then to admit that it fell a little short. Also, I do see the attraction. It’s fun and flashy. I loved seeing all the superheroes together, even if most of them barely fit onto the screen. That fun flashiness can distract from the sense that maybe the film could have delivered more.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t think it’s that you haven’t thought hard enough about the film. Rather I think you’ve given an honest appraisal of it and you’re not trying to make excuses for it and/or build more into it than was there. I think you’re right – I think some people need it to be great because we’ve all waited so long for it. I also think, as a culture, we can fall into the “it’s the newest so it’s the best!” trap. We don’t really evaluate what we consume; it just becomes the favorite simply because it’s the newest/flavor of the month. Star Wars has been like that since Disney took over. ‘The Force Awakens’ was the best film since ‘The Empire Strikes Back’…until ‘Rogue One’…which was the best until ‘The Last Jedi.’

        Despite how some people I’ve talked to have reacted when I’ve raised my complaints, I see nothing wrong with owning the faults and flaws in ‘Avengers: Infinity War.’ Like you said, it was still fun and flashy. And they certainly did make history by having everyone together – even if those interactions lacked the depth we were hoping for. They still get credit for creating a cinematic world where it felt totally natural to see Thor talking with Rocket and Groot of Tony and Spidey standing opposite Mantis and Drax.
        .
        Hopefully, in the future, Marvel learns from their mistakes here and focus on the characters and the plot (as they’ve done in the past) as opposed to just getting as many people together as possible.

        Oh! And on the Thanos note, I’ve talked to a few people now who have wondered why, if Thanos is omnipotent with the Infinity Gauntlet, why he wouldn’t just increase the resources in the galaxy or make living beings need to consume less or create more habitable worlds. He jumps right to killing everyone without even remotely considering another way. As you said above, this works because he’s the villain but it undermines any attempt to cast him in a sympathetic light or claim there are more layers to him than just a genocidal madman. He’s certainly not a Killmonger or a Vulture, that’s for sure.

        Like

  9. Hi Michael,

    I loved it, but yes, knowing that all of those characters would be back contractually took the sting from their death. Though one point I wanted to talk about in the podcast was how each chacter faced death. They were all very telling. And the fear and humilty of Hulk and his need for the brains and courage of “puny” Banner.

    Hey, bro, almost done! Have a great few last week. Hope to talk to you about the piece and coordinating the podcast on the 9th.

    Thank you,

    Gary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, that sounds like a plan! I’m still in school on the 9th but, depending on timing, recording that evening for me shouldn’t be a problem. As long as I’m not in school at the time you’re looking to record, it should work.

      And I’m really interested to see where they’ll go with the whole Hulk/Banner thing too. The Russos have certainly laid some intriguing ground work to expand with the character in ‘Avengers 4.’

      Like

      1. Ooooh, I’m intrigued. I’ve always found the Hulk to be a fascinating character. There’s so much there to explore from the monster our anger and rage creates to how abuse will lead to more abuse to the spiral of violence even to the idea of righteous anger. I’m excited to see what you touch on with him.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s