I was fully prepared to sit this one out.
But, just when I thought there was no way Marvel could surprise me anymore, they released the long-awaited crossover feature “Avengers: Infinity War,” and the internet flipped its s–. Fictional people were dying. So of course, I bought a ticket, probably 80% to avoid that gross feeling when you get spoiled for a movie that you weren’t even sure you were going to see.
And boy, am I glad I went. It was an ambitious crossover, to be sure (the number of movies you need to watch before this one will make any sort of sense to you is outrageous), but I really do think they pulled it off. They grouped the characters in interesting ways and told multiple stories at once, but managed to keep the general tones of their respective franchises separate. It felt like I was watching five movies at once, but not in an overwhelming way.
The fight sequences were numerous but generally pretty memorable. Most of the characters got a little time in the spotlight (not all of them, but we’ll get into that later). It was well-paced enough to keep me invested for nearly three hours. The humor was spot-on, and came at all the right times. The character moments grounded the film, and even got me a little emotional. The soundtrack brought me all the way back to the first Avengers film; the whole thing really reminded me of all the Marvel movies that didn’t suck. I think watching a feature like this made me less jaded. Or at least more hopeful for the future of Marvel Studios. And I didn’t think that was possible.
But no Marvel review would be complete without me going off about all the things they’re doing wrong. So let’s get right into it.
My main problem with any Avengers film is usually that I’m a Hawkeye fan. I fell in love with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most neglected Avenger through the Matt Fraction/David Aja run of the comics (quick plug here for “Hawkeye Vol 1: My Life As A Weapon,” and the three excellent books that come after it), and I think his character lends a grounded, “everyman” perspective that every team of superhumans needs. I understand that the writers are keeping Clint benched for story reasons. But as one of the original Avengers, I think he’s earned the right to be present for the most anticipated series of events in the history of the MCU. He deserves to be included. And if not, at least give the guy a Netflix series.
But aside from that, another problem I had with this film was that it seemed like the entire escalation/devolution of the plot depended on Star Lord losing his cool that one time. That’s a lot of ensuing carnage to peg on one guy, and I don’t think it’s fair for him to have to hit rock bottom alone in this movie. That being said, his actions still make sense due to the previous events of the film (but I don’t have to be happy about it). Thor, on the other hand, took the opposite route and really shone in the face of personal loss and adversity. His arc gave me a lot more respect for his character.
On a related note, I felt this movie didn’t really utilize Loki. I don’t want to question it too hard, but the fact that a fan favorite was killed off for shock value in the very first scene predicts his return in the next film. It wouldn’t be the first time he’s returned from the dead, after all.
So I don’t think Loki’s dead. I don’t think anyone’s perma-dead, actually (except Vision and Gamora, of course. RIP). I don’t know if that’s a solid theory or just wishful thinking. Gamora (and to a much lesser extent, Vision) conducted some of the most meaningful subplots in the movie, which could be considered a writer’s way of giving a character one last moment in the spotlight before killing them off. T’Challa, Bucky, Peter, and many of the other dead characters were given no such comparatively impactful moments before their deaths. However, perma-dead or not, it was well executed (no pun intended). Peter’s last moments really broke my heart. Tom Holland is one hell of an actor for such a young guy.
The end credit scene foretold the new “Captain Marvel” movie, and the wait we’ll have to endure before we get any kind of resolution to the Infinity War plot (May 3, 2019 is the predicted release date for “Avengers 4”). It’s not that I didn’t believe the MCU would find a way to push on if Thanos had been defeated, but this plot had a real sense of finality to it, and I would have liked it if it had wrapped up better. I mean, this was it, the moment Marvel Studios has been waiting for since Iron Man was released back in 2008. This was the culmination of 10 years of effort, of 19 feature films. The movie was almost three hours long, but believe me, my butt would have stayed in that seat if there had been more story to be told.
That being said, this is the ending we got, and I respect that Marvel didn’t pull punches. Even if the characters aren’t lost for good (you need only look at the top-billed cast of “Avengers 4” to see that), such a cliffhanger packed an emotional punch.