Avengers: Infinity War was pretty okay, I guess.

There are a shit ton of spoilers below. I’ll put some nice Avengers art here as a break.

Art by George Perez
Art by George Perez

I think that’s enough space. No? More? Okay then.

Art by Jack Kirby

Okay, that should be enough.

I really liked Avengers: Infinity War but I didn’t love it and I wanted to love it.

That Ending

The ending is problematic and, to be honest, a let down. I’m stunned by the number of articles I’ve seen online where a writer walks fans off the ledge about that ending. No one really believes those characters are dead. Spider-man already has a sequel on the books. Black Panther is obviously getting a sequel. The Guardians of the Galaxy are getting a third movie. These characters will all return.

Which is why the ending is such a misstep. We know it won’t stick. We know something will reverse what happened, which means nothing that happened in the movie really matters. But, you know, that’s fine. Let’s say that the journey itself was enough. The more important point is that nothing in the NEXT movie will matter because we will all go into it with the knowledge that all of it can be undone. At the very least we didn’t know that during Infinity War (not outright, at least) so when Gamora died, that was it. As far as we knew she was done for good.

There are a number of characters in this movie who don’t have movies scheduled in the future which means they all, theoretically, could shuffle off this mortal coil. But none of them do. There’s no cost to this movie, at least none that we know won’t be reverse in the next one.

And there’s really no cost. We see very little of what happens to New York when Thanos’ minions first come looking for the Time Stone. We see no indications of what happens to the people of Wakanda when that big battle takes place. We only see the warriors fighting and I mean that in every way. Every single scene is a showdown between warriors, the only difference being whether they’re ultimately on the same side or not.

Pace

The movie goes much, much too fast. I realize there’s a lot of ground to cover (more on that in a minute) and I realize that the “all thriller no filler” approach is appealing, but this movie desperately needed more quiet time.

I don’t know why anyone that hasn’t read the comics would be remotely invested in the Vision and the Scarlet Witch as a couple.  The two minutes of quality time the two of them have isn’t nearly enough. And their relationship is a big point in the story.

Bruce and Natasha are reunited. At least, I think so. They were in the same place, at least.

Run! We have to get through this scene as fast as possible! (Note: Hulk not actually in this scene)

Bucky and Cap were about to fight space aliens, old hat to Cap, but brand new to Bucky. A moment between the two of them comparing this to World War II or the streets of Brooklyn would have been nice.

There are some wonderful, witty lines in Infinity War, but witty lines aren’t character moments. And I realize that not everyone in a cast this size was going to get a moment, but as it stands, none of them did.

Claiming that these characters were fleshed out in the other movies doesn’t fly, either. Aside from Iron Man, none of them have gotten a ton of development. Captain America’s third movie was barely his. Thor became a different character in his third movie. It was an improvement, sure, but it’s not as if we’ve spent a lot of time with him.

And those are just the characters with their own movies.

This wasn’t an Avengers movie.

There were no heroics, no saving innocents, nothing inspiring. There was barely even a plan and certainly no contingency save what Dr. Strange has up his magical sleeve, which isn’t that impressive. The Avengers were fighting to save the universe yet nothing was coordinated. I realize that his suit’s communications were shut down, but the Avengers on Earth didn’t know that, so why didn’t anyone work to try to contact Iron Man? Why didn’t Wong attempt to contact Dr. Strange through magic? Why wouldn’t Stark, while they were hanging out on Titan waiting for Thanos to show up, try to send a message to Earth? Why wouldn’t Dr. Strange? Tony knows where the Mind Gem is. He knows Earth is still in trouble.

This is part of why the break neck pace, upon review, is so bothersome: it seems like it’s there so that you don’t have time to ask these questions during the movie. It feels like the movie knows it has some glaring flaws but hopes you won’t notice if it doesn’t stand still for very long.

But maybe that’s too calculated and it’s simply a matter that there wasn’t time to cover these things. But consider just how much time is spent in space. There’s a trip to Knowhere. There’s a trip to Dwarven weapon world that can conveniently create a weapon that can kill Thanos. Then there’s a trip to Titan. And then there’s a trip to Vormir. Only one of those places had actually been introduced in the Marvel movies. So aside from everything else that had to go into this movie, they decided to add three, new, very important locations…in space. And much of that doesn’t make any sense.

Most of the Nidavellir scenes could have been dropped. The star is out and need reignited, fine. Oh, then the hatch won’t stay open. Oh, then no one can find the handle for the axe. It’s needless long. I would also like to know how they pitched that role to Peter Dinklage.

Vormir was not much better. Putting the Soul Stone on a planet we’d never heard of when all the other stones had been introduced in the previous movies seems to suggest they just forgot to add it in before they got to this movie. Why not have it be somewhere that has some kind of meaning to the series of movies? Why introduce another new location for a scene that takes up more precious time?

Well, because, like I said, this isn’t an Avengers movie. This is a Thanos movie and that’s a problem because Thanos really isn’t that interesting.

Thanos: Infinity War

I give them full marks for trying, at least, but the reality is that we’ve already seen Thanos do horrible things, or at least command people to do horrible things. So giving him some kind of deeper motive, one born of some kind of rational thought is a losing battle. It doesn’t matter.

The entire scene on Vormir is an attempt to convince us that Thanos has feelings. He really loved Gamora. He’s not just a mindless, heartless evil monster. He really loved his adopted daughter who he stole from her people after killing half of them and oh, yes, he loved her so much that he was willing to throw her off a cliff to get the Soul Stone.

What did they think we would get out of Thanos crying? That he’s conflicted? Are we supposed to feel for him?

I realize that the knock on Marvel movies is that the villains aren’t particularly complicated and I can appreciate how that might seem like a challenge. But there’s nothing wrong with having the biggest bad in the universe not be rational. It’s okay if the big scary thing is just big and scary. In the first issue of the Infinity Gauntlet comic, the Silver Surfer crashes in the Sanctum Sanctorum and tells Dr. Strange that Thanos is a “nihilist.” There’s nothing wrong with using that.

For that matter, Thanos isn’t actual rational or smart. Why would erasing half of the people in the universe fix anything? Why would he think that there are twice as many people as there are resources? What would prevent this from all happening again? Is he going to sterilize people? How many? How many more people will die in the chaos of half the universe disappearing? What about alien races that only reproduce once every thousand years or something like that? Didn’t he just set them up to potentially be wiped out? What about planets with small populations? Or resource rich planets whose economy was built on trading those resources to planets without resources?

Thanos’ motivation isn’t deep or complex; it’s stupid.

This movie could have been half an hour shorter without all the attempts to humanize Thanos. It could have used that half an hour to humanize our heroes.

Imagine actually getting to learn why the Hulk refuses to come out? My bet is that he’s afraid of Thanos, a revelation that would have packed a hell of a punch in this movie. The HULK is afraid of Thanos? We’re all doomed.

While I think the ending was a bad choice, I can appreciate why each character was chosen to be “killed.” By and large these were characters chosen to motivate the others, although I suppose the idea that the remaining Avengers would need motivation to try to fix the death of half the universe is strange. There’s more emotional resonance here, then. Tony would probably do anything to get Peter back. Cap lost both Bucky and Sam. Okoye and (I’m assuming) Shuri lost T’Challa.

And what are the chances that half the universe included some if not all of Hawkeye’s family?

We don’t know that because we don’t see the impact on anyone beyond the super powered set, which is a theme for this movie. The brief bit we see in the post-credits scene offers a small glimpse of what we should have seen.

I realize your mileage may vary on this, but I thought the tipping point of the battle was a bad decision. I know that Star Lord is supposed to be a jackass, but I’ve never gotten the impression that he’s such a jack ass that he would help Thanos get free. At that point in the movie there is just no way he doesn’t know the threat he’s facing. Tony telling him to stay calm seemed like an effort to make it real, like no one would actually believe that’s what was happening so Tony had to point it out.

For that matter, what, exactly, was Star Lord doing? What part of the plan involved him standing in front of Thanos?

But I thought you said you really liked it?

I did. I’m probably overly critical because I wanted it to be better. I could see the better movie inside and it bugs me that it was buried. Let your better movie shine, Infinity War! Don’t hide it!

The selling point for this movie isn’t the story (thankfully), it’s the character interactions. The promise here was that we were finally going to see characters from different parts of the MCU interact with one another, and we certainly got that, although I think it’s fair to say that every single person who saw the movie wanted to see at least one or two other meetings. Still, Tony Stark and Dr. Strange — gold. Stark and the Guardians — gold. Thor and Rocket — gold.

The greatest combo got the least amount of screen time, though: Bucket aka Bucky/Rocket. I could watch those few seconds over and over again.

But I think the Russo brothers missed that we all wanted more than that.

Imagine a single minute of Peter Parker recapping the last 10 years of Marvel movies to Peter Quill. That would be brilliant. How about Okoye and Natasha comparing fighting styles? Or more of Banner being schooled by Shuri? Or Banner simply being blown away by Wakanda’s technology, which he had never seen before?

I’m pretty sure we all wanted the Guardians to come to Earth at some point, too.

Avengers Assemble?

You could argue that the Russo’s went to the “about to be killed but suddenly rescued from out of nowhere” bit a few too many times, but given the size of the cast, I had no problems with it. The best was probably Cap and his team saving Wanda and Vision.

Speaking of which, why was there any kind of rift even talked about? Let’s look at Tony’s side from Civil War:

Iron Man
War Machine
Vision
Black Widow
Black Panther
Spider-man

By the end of Civil War, Black Panther had switched sides. As Infinity War opens, Black Widow has switched sides and the Vision doesn’t care that any of the others are fugitives. Spider-man was never involved to begin with. So that leave Tony and Rhodes. That’s not much of a civil war.

And given that none of the supposed superheroes cared anymore, why would the U.S. government, given that was an alien invasion going on?

I appreciate that they wanted to keep the team apart so that when they come together again it will be dramatic and inspiring. They have gone to almost painful lengths to set it up. Banner finally manages to become the Hulk again. Hawkeye returns. Steve and Tony stand side by side. And the original team is reunited in time to save the day.

But, man, making us sit through a two and a half hour movie without giving us that is a lot to ask.

The special effects are amazing. Everything about Wakanda just makes me want to watch the Black Panther again. Tom Holland is the greatest Spider-man ever and it’s not even close. Thor’s arrival with Stormbreaker nearly brought a tear to my eye. This was a fantastic ad for the Guardians movies if anyone watching hadn’t seen those. I have never liked Dr. Strange more. I love the Scarlet Witch’s totally ill defined powers. I appreciate the fact that when they saw each other again for the first time, Cap and Thor discussed their hair.

But I wanted more.

I wanted to love it.

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