I went into Avengers: Infinity War knowing that the heroes lose in this movie. I knew that from the moment we learned it was only the first half of the story. What I did not know was just how badly they lose. Marvel covered much more ground than I expected, all of it in a tumultuous, emotional rush of near-constant action, detailing all of the death, destruction, desperation, and defeat which the heroes suffer. From the first scene to the last, the Avengers and their allies are completely pulverized, along with everyone else.
Then again, this is only the first half of the story, so… it’s a little difficult to take all the deaths at face value, ya know? We can pretty well guess that the next Avengers movie, coming in about a year, will be about the survivors fighting the villain again in order to undo all the destruction he just inflicted on the universe, save everyone he just killed. Nonetheless, all of the loss still strikes a legitimate emotional cord. It has to, because that is what will drive the heroes forward in the next movie.
That goes into a very important technical aspect of Infinity War which one must keep in mind: it’s the culmination of over ten years of work on this cinematic universe. There are nearly twenty movies behind it, and this is the intersection of all the stories that have been unfolding thus far. It does a fair job of showing who each of the characters are and what’s at stake, but for everything to make sense to the audience, they need to have seen all, or at least most, of the previous movies. This is not an “introductory” movie, it’s the deep end of the pool. Or maybe it’s the home stretch at the end of the maze: if you want to know how we got here, you have to look back at the path (or several paths) we followed to get here.
Oh, I know! It’s like Star Wars! If you are watching it for the first time and begin at the point where Luke is taking his run down the trench and end right after one of his fellow pilots has to bail, and the other gets shot down, and a disembodied voice says, “Use the Force, Luke,”… that is what is would be like to watch Infinity War without having seen everything that precedes it. It wouldn’t make much sense, would it?
So, if you have watched all the movies up to this point, and are thus familiar with the plot and all the characters thus far, in short, if you are ready… how is Infinity War?
I liked it.
I enjoyed it.
Yes, there is death and destruction all around, and the heroes lose severely, but what a ride!
Seeing so many beloved characters meeting, interacting, reacting to each other, and working together, it was fantastic! There was laughter, there were tears, there was horror, there were defiance and wit and everything else, all packed into a roller coaster lasting two and a half hours. At the end of it, all I could say was, “wow!”
A critical component of that was the villains. Thanos the Mad Titan, and his “children,” they were superbly done, I believe. Well, mostly. Each of them was distinct, each had their clear mannerisms and strengths. I am a little torn about Thanos himself, as they changed-up his motivation a bit from what it is in the comics. It made for something much more interesting, I think, as Thanos is able to believe himself to be a godly hero instead of the most vile of villains, but his insane thinking rang so terribly false that it was impossible to take seriously without the whole “slaughter of the universe” thing.
So, it was less the attempt at semi-humanity which made the villains threatening, and more their lethal power, cunning, and unrestrained zealotry. They were willing to do anything, sacrifice anything, in pursuit of their goal.
By contrast, the heroes fought bravely and well, on their respective fronts of this war, but they hesitated to make the sacrifices which were presented to them. The villain did not hesitate to sacrifice someone he “loved,” but the heroes, faced with that choice, could not do so, and certainly not easily. Oh, sure, sacrificing oneself, perhaps, they’d do that, but each other? Even more, whoever they love the most? That is something else entirely.
In tragic hilarity, even when they made those sacrifices, painful though they were, they still amounted to nothing in the face of Thanos and his exponentially-increasing power.
Small aside on that note: Thanos, most powerful being in the universe, with Infinity Stones at his command, followers who worshiped him like a god, and countless worlds destroyed in his wake… was actually kind of possible to beat. They handled that very cleverly, but, still, I was surprised whenever the heroes had any kind of physical advantage, even for a moment.
Related note: it’s an Infinity Stone, no power greater in the entire universe, and it can actually be destroyed?
Ok, so there are some plot holes. I’m not saying it’s a flawless masterpiece, I’m saying it’s a fantastic movie, and an excellent build-up and prelude to the true climax. 😉
Rating: 10 stars out of 10.
I am so ready and looking forward to the next one!