Infinity War is a Unique kind of amazing

All the way back in February, I wrote a pretty cynical list of my thoughts on the years upcoming Super hero movies. At the time, I felt like I was getting pretty burned out on them. But between Black Panther and Infinity War, I guess I really don’t have a clue what I’m talking about. Why are you even reading this?

The Avengers: Infinity War was an amazing movie. It was incredible, spectacular, astonishing and other such superlatives which also work as alliteration. It’s not just that Infinity War was a good movie though, it was that it felt unique in being the real proof that we could make the comic book cross over transition to the big screen. And do it well.

The following is going to contain spoilers concerning Avengers: Infinity War.

I don’t there is any other property out there that could manage to do what Marvel has managed with their cinematic universe. That has paid off in such an amazingly satisfying way for both the fan and the money people funding this crazy idea.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is 10 years old now, and in that time we’ve had two Avengers movies and a pretty large scale event in Captain America: Civil War, but Avengers: Infinity War feels like the first major crossover event that really was lifted from the pages of the comics.

While the likes of the first Avengers movie did feel like this huge, hard to be believe it was happing, cross over at the time, it pales in comparison to what Infinity War accomplishes. For one, the first  Avengers feels like a traditional movie still, characters are already established, but they also all get some degree of character development and quiet moments throughout, you can watch the movie on its own and still understand what’s going on. It feels like a movie based on an Avengers comic book.

Where Infinity War differs is that it expects you to go in knowing what has led up to it. It doesn’t spend time reintroducing characters, establishing relationships and current status quo, outside of a few passing lines. I’ve read reviews by critics that don’t care for the franchise who’ve said this is poor film making and shouldn’t be applauded, but that’s not what Marvel were doing here. They were trying something different and it worked for them so incredibly well.

Marvel have endeavoured to transfer that comic book experience over to a movie screen. Part of that experience is the huge crossover event: A huge occurance with bigger stakes that we see in comics every few years. This is that blown up and recorded. Comic fans don’t complain about a lack of focus or development on individuals, because that leg work has long since been done. We know who all these characters are and to take time for them would detract from the event that wants to take place.

There is such a huge cast list for this movie, that quieter character moments between the established persons are far and few between. The character who actually does get significant development in Infinity War is its only major new character; Thanos himself.

I’m probably not the first person you’ve heard from; but Thanos is the main character of Infinity War. It’s his story, and we spend a significant amount of time with him throughout as he works to accomplish his goals. He gets the development, the emotional beats and ultimately is the one who wins the day. While he is still very much a villain, he is a more sympathetic one, and probably the most realised villain we’ve seen in the movies outside of Loki.

He isn’t perfect though. His plan is kind of nonsensical if you think about it. His home planet was dying from overpopulation, his solution was to kill off half the population (at random though, because he’s not a monster) to free up resources for those who survive. He was called mad and cast out, only to be proven right as his planet doomed itself. His new solution to prevent any future suffering is to use the Infinity Gauntlet to erase half of all life in the universe to improve the lives of the remaining half.

If you think about that for a second, you realise that the near infinite size of the universe itself, coupled with the fact that many planets out there probably aren’t in a state of dwindling resources. There are much simpler solutions to half a universal genocide. And Thanos seems shrewd enough that he should know this, but it’s ultimately why he seems like a textbook psychopath. It’s also the reason I really didn’t buy his apparent, genuine love for Gamora. Like Gamora herself, I couldn’t come close to imagining this Thanos actually loving anything, especially another person.

That being said, Josh Brolin plays the part fantastically in both voice acting and facial capture. He turns Thanos into a genuinely huge threat, but keeps him from seeming too alien. The kind of threat that Ultron really should have been, brushing aside even the strongest of the established heroes throughout the movie. But he still doesn’t seem invincible, almost failing in his plans on a couple of occasions. Each time it did happen though, the movie made effort to make Thanos seem vulnerable and sympathetic.

Although that vulnerability goes out of the window when the heroes fail, piss him off and then cause him to chuck a moon at them. And that’s what the other half of this movie ends up being, a series of huge events of pure spectacle. Be it the encounter between the collective heroes on Titan against Thanos, Thor’s mission to make a new weapon by relighting a star or the final stand in Wakanda against Thanos’ armies.

Squeezed in amongst the  massive scale events, we got the snippets of great character interactions, snatches of development and the odd moment of levity. Part of the reason fans were looking forward to Infinity War so much was to see the butting of heads between Stephen Strange and Tony Stark, unique and touching moments between Thor and Rocket and pretty much anything involving Drax. But in the end, these moments turned out to be a very small part of what the movie ended up being, and it doesn’t feel any weaker for it at all.

It’s strong throughout, not feeling its near three hour run time at all. But it’s the ending that had me walking out of the cinema with my jaw hanging. The movie ends so incredibly strongly. Despite the heroes collective efforts, with all the hope, grit and determination behind them, they ultimately fail to stop Thanos acting out his plan, much to the shock of the entire audience.

That final shot of Thanos, sat in a picturesque cabin in the wilderness, a peaceful smile of quiet satisfaction on his face before credits role. It was a shocking moment. Thanos won, the good guys fail, and the movie has the good grace to not even bother to tease us with a “to be continued.” It was such a good moment.

Obviously, this isn’t over. The likes of Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and Black Panther aren’t going to be erased from existence just when their 10 film contracts are getting started. But for an ending point for the movie, it was fantastic. The villain won. And the heroes are left with no hope of reclaiming their lost friends. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

Infinity War is a fantastic movie that really feel like it rewards its fans for sticking with it for so long. It’s a unique event in cinema 10 years and 18 movies in the making. Part of the reason its so impressive is that is even happened at all. I still find myself reminding myself that these comics I grew up reading have become the biggest movies released in a year, and they’re really good to boot.

The MCU isn’t for everyone, and it might feel like an insane time investment for some. But what Disney and Marvel have done here is amazing and I can’t wait to see where they go from here.

 

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