MCU Rewatch – Avengers: Infinity War proves a villain can carry a movie

It’s taken me so much longer to get through this series than I’d originally envisioned. Then again, there were over 20 movies to watch and articles to write. Now we’re in what feels like the home stretch, and watching movies I certainly have never seen again since the cinema. Which is kind of a travesty when it comes to these last two last Avengers movies and how damned good they are.

It’s crazy to think that I started this rewatch series a year ago talking about how small the first Avengers felt in comparison to the franchise now, and getting to here and seeing this incredible franchise creating film series come together to do something no other movie has done before.

Before I get into this proper though, if you want to go back and read through the posts I’ve written about the movies leading up to Infinity War, then just give this link a lick and see the archive.

 

Bringing everyone together

When I wrote about the first Avenger’s, I spoke about just how much our perspective on that movie has changed from then to what we have now. When that movie came out in 2012, it seemed like this crazy ambitious project, bringing the main characters of three different movie series together to create this ensemble lead movie that felt like it rewarded you for watching the four movies that came before it.

MCU Rewatch - Avengers: Infinity War proves a villain can carry a movie

Now, it seems like a quaint little movie that played it safe. It’s nuts.

While Avengers felt ambitious at the time, Infinity War feels like that tenfold. Including Spider-Man, Black Panther, Doctor Strange and finally bringing the Guardians of the Galaxy together with the rest of the MCU. The cast is so big in fact that the movie is broken up into four of five different story threads, some of which come together by the end, other of which don’t reconnect until Endgame.

When this movies begins, the heroes of the MCU are broken up, fragmented. Some because they’ve had a big fight and aren’t on speaking terms, other simply because they haven’t met yet. In terms of the heroes in this movie, while it feels like a grand coming together, seeing almost the entire MCU cast so far coming together in one movie, they don’t actually come together properly.

Instead, it’s all one big setup for what is to come. Instead, the bulk of the character work and emotional weight behind this movie comes from following the story of the villain; Thanos.

 

The Mad Titan’s movie

MCU Rewatch - Avengers: Infinity War proves a villain can carry a movie

By this point, this declaration will come as a shock to nobody. But the story being told in Infinity War is Thanos’. While he is certainly no hero, he’s the primary focus of the story being told in terms of emotional weight and the narrative that begins and ends with this movie. His first appearance in Infinity War is that of the monstrous antagonist we expected him to be, pummelling Thor and Hulk before the movie even begins, as well as killing Heimdall and Loki.

With each subsequent scene involving him though, he softens more and more and we gain a little more insight into his goals and motivations. It by no means redeems him or what he’s doing, but it gives us some understanding and some empathy towards him as a person and not just a villain. It’s especially when he takes Gamora and she becomes the perspective character from which we see this more “vulnerable” side to him.

He’s known great loss, and it’s broken him. His entire planet and race destroyed themselves, and while the only solution was an extreme one, none of them were wiling to do whatever it took to survive. Thus he decided he needed to act, lest the rest of the universe met the same fate. He’s a tragic character with a heap of insanity thrown in there. He’s made him his mind about what he needs to do and won’t listen to what anyone has to say to the contrary.

And in some ways, that drive and determination makes him a more admirable character than all but a few of the villains in these movies that came before him. Nothing about what he’s doing it personal, in his own twisted perspective, it’s all fair, and if that fairness punished him too, he’s willing to make that sacrifice.

MCU Rewatch - Avengers: Infinity War proves a villain can carry a movie

And that’s the theme of the movie. Thanos’s sacrifice of everything, including his genuine love of his daughter Gamora. And the tragic fate of Vision, forcing the woman who loves him to kill him to save everyone, only for it to not matter thanks to the time stone. By the end, we feel bad for everyone.

But let’s not forget, Thanos is still a monster. As shown by what he does to Nebula with no remorse, and the eventual ending of the movie where he succeeds.

 

The Dusting

One of the most iconic and enduring sequences to come out of Infinity War. For a year after it came out until Endgame, half of the world turning to dust was a meme, it was a dramatic story point and it was one of the most ambitious and daring movies anyone could have ever expected Disney and Marvel Studios to make.

The villain won, the heroes lost and all these new characters we’d been introduced to crumbled into dust. It was a fantastic movie moment, and a shocking one at that. We knew there was going to be a second part to this story, but for the heroes to suffer such a devastating loss, one in which 50% of all life in the universe vanishes in one, drawn out and very dramatic, moment, it’s unlike anything else in the MCU.

MCU Rewatch - Avengers: Infinity War proves a villain can carry a movie

Not just that though, it was the real point of inspiration for the characters come the next movie. Everybody had lost someone, be it before the dusting or during it, but the event was one great big shared one that drove a ton of development and character moments in Endgame that wasn’t used here.

 

The proof of concept

One of my major takeaways from this movie was that we really can have interesting and compelling movies in the MCU lead by villains. As I’m writing this, there is no shortage of studios out there that have come to the came conclusion. Joker came out last year and was a major Oscar contender, and Sony have already started making their own pocket universe starring Spider-Man’s substantial rogue’s gallery. With Venom coming out the same year as Infinity War, a sequel in the works and Morbius coming out at some point in the future.

The work they did with Loki before was fantastic, and Thanos was just as good, done in a shorter span of time. With their work in television on their streaming service coming up, there is so much potential for the villains they’ve still got in their pockets to step up and star in their own movies, establishing them so that they can be the villains of future movies. Akin to how Black Panther and Spider-Man were introduced into the MCU, but in reverse.

I’ve been quietly wanting a Doctor Doom movie for a long time, and now that Fox has been absorbed into the great beast that is Disney, that Magneto movies that was talked about all those years ago could finally.

MCU Rewatch - Avengers: Infinity War proves a villain can carry a movie

 

Conclusions

Infinity War is a movie packed with so much. Between the amazing fight scenes, the fantastic interplay between the characters meeting for the first time and the stark ending leaving a ball in your gut, it does not feel the close to 3 hour runtime at all.

It’s certainly a special movie, one that could not had happened if not for Marvel Studio’s careful curation of their cinematic universe up until this point. Probably only surpassed by the one that came after it.

Thanos is a great villain and a fantastic lead for this movie, raising the stakes to untold highs and making the events of Endgame all the more dramatic by making us live through just what failure means for the heroes if they don’t follow through with their plan. I loved going back to this movie, and need to resist the urge to go straight to Endgame now. They both movies that aren’t just amazing in their own right, but movies that make every effort to look back at all aspects of the MCU that helped build it, no matter how fondly we look back on them or not.

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