YEEEEEAAAAAAH BABY!!!! Six years in the making and the wait is finally over.
Yes, you weirdos who can’t do math, SIX years. Not ten. Six. Ten years ago, yes, IRON MAN (2008) was released and started the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as we know it today. But it wasn’t INFINITY WAR that was teased during the post-credit sequence; it was THE AVENGERS (2012). “Phase One,” as the cool kids called it, was the build-up to the legendary team-up, not what the team would ultimately face. I suppose technically, you could argue that INFINITY WAR was built up in THOR (2011), as the Tesseract was an Infinity Stone, but… was that truly a revelation at the time and not just some otherworldly power source for Hydra to eventually use to power their weapons? I question this, but if so, then you can make the argument that the wait has been seven years in the making, but the point stands that it hasn’t been ten years as everyone wants it to be.
With that said, it has been quite a thrill ride for those of us who have been there since the beginning and intend to be here until the end, whenever that arrives. We already know that the end of this will likely result in a reboot of the franchise. Either here or the upcoming Avengers 4 (2019). What exactly that means, I have no idea, and I’ve taken great pains in avoiding all interviews and theories on what the MCU will look like in literally just a couple of years. I want to be surprised and speculate as the movies unfold, not beforehand.
The story looks like it’s about the big bad, Thanos, has come to Earth seeking the Infinity Stones for his prized Infinity Gauntlet and the heroes of the MCU unite to take the bastard down.
Here’s the all-star ensemble cast. There’s, like, thirty-plus names here, guys, so I’m just going to name a few. Sue me. Starring, we have Chris Evans (SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING , CIVIL WAR , AGE OF ULTRON , and upcoming films THE RED SEA DIVING RESORT  and the untitled Avengers 4 ), Robert Downey Jr. (SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, CIVIL WAR, AGE OF ULTRON, and upcoming films ALL-STAR WEEKEND  and THE VOYAGE OF DOCTOR DOLITTLE ), Josh Brolin (ONLY THE BRAVE , HAIL, CAESAR , SICARIO , and upcoming films DEADPOOL 2  and SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO ), Chris Pratt (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 , THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN , JURASSIC WORLD , and upcoming films JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM  and COWBOY NINJA VIKING ), Benedict Cumberbatch (THOR: RAGNAROK , DOCTOR STRANGE , BLACK MASS , and upcoming films MOWGLI  and THE GRINCH ), Tom Holland (HOMECOMING, CIVIL WAR, IN THE HEART OF THE SEA , and upcoming films CHAOS WALKING  and THE VOYAGE OF DOCTOR DOLITTLE), and Tom Hiddleston (EARLY MAN , KONG: SKULL ISLAND , and I SAW THE LIGHT ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Russo brothers Anthony and Joe, known for CIVIL WAR, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014), YOU, ME AND DUPREE (2006), and the upcoming Avengers 4. Co-penning the screenplay are Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, both known for CIVIL WAR, CAPTAIN AMERICA: FIRST AVENGER (2011), CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: LION, WITCH, AND WARDROBE (2005), and the upcoming Avengers 4. Composing the score is veteran Alan Silvestri, known for READY PLAYER ONE (2018), THE WALK (2015), and upcoming films THE WOMEN OF MARWEN (2018) and Avengers 4. The cinematographer is Trent Opaloch, known for CIVIL WAR, and the upcoming Avengers 4. Finally, co-editing are Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schmidt, both known for CIVIL WAR.
Overall, does anyone have that lingering fear in the back of their mind that this could be the worst movie out of the MCU? No? Just me? I have nothing to back this up, other than early ratings and reviews saying phrases like, “flawed, but awesome.” I’m worried that the flaws will distract me too much from the awesome, but whatever. I’m still totally excited, so bring it on!
This is my honest opinion of: AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR
The Mad Titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) is on the hunt for the Infinity Stones and already has one at his disposal and intends to seek the others. Knowing that Earth harbors two of them, he sends his minions to collect, while he ventures off to find others. Vision (Paul Bettany) is injured, but a splinter group of former Avengers, Captain America (Chris Evans), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) save him and come up with a plan to protect him and the Infinity Stone in his head. Meanwhile, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is attacked and captured and taken aboard an alien space ship that leaves the planet, but Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) come to Strange’s rescue before his Infinity Stone reaches Thanos.
I’m sorry, were you expecting a different reaction? Well, fine. Bear in mind folks that my review is chock-full of spoilers as this is the culmination of years of build-up. This is a story where shit is GOING to happen and as a result, it’s nearly impossible to talk about this without going into spoilers. So if you don’t want spoilers, then I HIGHLY suggest that you see the movie and come back to my review when you’ve seen everything. You’ve been warned.
A small heads up, to everyone who has begun to read this, I usually structure my reviews in a way where I talk about the good aspects first and then possibly segue into the negatives, or vice verse. But with this movie, I don’t know how much of that I can do as so many things in this movie have a little bit of negativity interwoven into what I found to be awesome. In short, my opinions are going to be all over the place because I don’t know how to properly frame them into something more sensible. So heads up on that front.
The movie’s first major action scene, outside of the opening, concludes with a really interesting set-up: taking Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange into deep space, and essentially, a new planet. Two of these characters have only ever been portrayed as Earth-bound characters, and the other is all about alternate dimensions. To see them go into space is pretty fun, especially when they wind up meeting the Guardians and not everyone gets along.
There’s a wonderful sense of balance of screen time with the characters. You’d think that with a cast this huge that a few people would get the short end of the stick, and you could argue that there’s a few that do, it actually doesn’t feel that way. Each of the founding Avengers get a respectable amount of presence, the Guardians, Thanos, it’s all balanced extraordinarily well, which helps with the film’s two and a half hour runtime, giving the audience time to not only see these characters, but to interact with those that they haven’t met yet, and to see these characters in action, doing their things, and working off of each other and their powers, which is a hoot and a half to watch, no matter what scene it is.
OH MY GOD, THOSE DEATHS!!!
From the first of them, Bucky saying, “Steve…” and then dusting off, Groot’s dusting off and Rocket watching him die a second f**king time, Black Panther trying to help Okoye off her feet and telling her “this is no place to die” only for him to dust off himself, nearly all of the Guardians dusting off, and Spider-Man clinging to Iron Man, exclaiming, “I don’t wanna go, I don’t wanna go,” being only sixteen God-damned years old and verbally proclaiming how he’s not ready to die to Tony… f**k, man! I almost cried!!
But here’s the problem with the choices made. If anyone follows these movies behind the scenes, as in, you know what movies are coming out in the future, then you know that most of the characters that got dusted off will somehow be making a comeback. As emotional as some of these “deaths” are, we know that Spider-Man is coming back because his sequel is coming out next year. Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is coming out in 2020, so we know at least some of the Guardians are going to return. We know both Black Panther and Doctor Strange are coming back because they’ve only had one movie each, both made huge sums of money and were very popular with critics and fans, introducing worlds ripe for exploration in future films. So really, it’s hard to get fully invested when you know some of these deaths aren’t permanent.
Did anyone else think that Red Skull was pretty shoe-horned in? If I remember correctly, the explanation behind him being in this otherworldly… world, was that the Tesseract judged him and transported him to this place, right next to an Infinity Stone that he couldn’t obtain. That’s… honestly pretty stupid. I’d rather have believed that he’s been on Earth controlling Hydra behind the scenes that even Hydra didn’t realize ever since WINTER SOLDIER, but that’s just a personal preference. But let’s face it, the image of a hooded, faceless figure who explains how the Soul Stone could be obtained didn’t have to change for the audience to buy into. His Red Skull face could never have been revealed and we the audience would be none the wiser. Pound to a penny, Red Skull is never going to show up again in another MCU film, despite this cameo. Sure, it could be argued that Thanos returned Red Skull to Earth for his information on obtaining the Soul Stone, but that’s not explained here. Guess we’ll never know until a possible “Captain America 4” movie gets made, and as far as I can tell, there’s no such plans down the pipe.
I’m curious what the consensus is on Thanos as a villain, but here’s my two cents. He’s really good and well-written. Before the title card even comes up, Thanos has killed half of the remaining Asgardian population, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is already battered and beaten down, beats Hulk to a bloody pulp, resulting in Hulk being too afraid to come out for the rest of the movie, and kills Heimdall AND Loki. In his hunt for the Soul Stone, he kills Gamora. When he gets the Mind Stone, he kills Vision. Upon getting all six stones, he kills Bucky, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, Strange, Vision, Star-Lord, Groot, Mantis, Drax, Spider-Man, Nick Fury, and Maria Hill. So he’s by far the villain with the highest death count.
While I maintain that he’s basically just Ultron, as they share the same mentality of “the only way to save humanity is to destroy it,” it’s done light-years better here with Thanos. There is a certain level of depth to his character. His home planet was overpopulated and on the brink of collapse. He suggests to wipe out half of the population, no segregation, not strictly the impoverished or anything like that, it would be randomized, but his views were considered “mad.” So when his predictions came true and his civilization died out, he vowed to not let it happen again. He goes to Gamora’s homeworld and sees that it’s in the same situation that his planet was in. He exacts his original idea, wipes out half the population, and despite Gamora’s hatred for him, her planet has since repopulated and thrived. While we don’t see this, we understand that he has reason to believe that his method works because… it’s worked before and who knows how many times before or since. He also isn’t stark raving psychotic about it. He’s usually depicted as calm and collected, who is very much in control of every situation that he’s in, be it in a melee brawl, or a debate. Even when he’s taken by surprise, it takes him only a few seconds to regain control. Any time a good guy gives him even the slightest bit of threat, the only thing that it succeeds in doing is slow him down, and that’s quite a generous statement, as I’m barely sure that’s even what happens. And for a character that we see very little of prior to this film, we were never made privy to the notion that he felt anything but pure blood-lust. In other words, there was no reason to believe that he cared about anything. But, we are shown that he does care and even loves at least one thing: Gamora. Hence, we now know what he gave up and sacrificed in order to get what he wants. There is an emotional connection there and it adds another layer to this character.
Which leads me to, arguably, my biggest problem with the flick, and it’s really not that big when you think about it… this movie ruins Gamora for me. Kinda. Let me explain. My first big eyebrow arch comes from the fake scenario that Thanos creates when half of the Guardians are in Knowhere. Gamora thinks she’s successfully killed Thanos, and breaks down crying. This… confuses the crap out of me. Before you say anything, I know that they’re trying to say that this relationship is complex. But there’s a single, solitary reason why I think it’s actually a lot simpler than it makes itself out to be.
Before the scene in Knowhere takes place, Gamora has a dream about when she was orphaned by Thanos and ended up getting raised by him. For one thing, Gamora was a child who clearly remembers what happened to her people and her family. We know that she hates Thanos for his actions, as previously mentioned in the first GOTG film. So… why is she crying over his “death?” Why is her relationship with him such a big question mark? What did he do to inspire such an emotional reaction out of her from her perspective? He raised her? That’s not what he did. He trained her. He threatened unfathomable punishment for failure. He never showed love for Gamora. Sure, someone could argue, “didn’t show love as we understand it,” but we the audience aren’t shown anything that could even be perverted as love. The knife he shows her? That’s not enough to explain twenty years of training and service. Maybe she was crying because she was overjoyed; that it was all over and the threat had ended? Perhaps, but that’s not what her expressions were saying to me. It also doesn’t help that Thanos comes out and says, “I knew you still cared,” or something to that effect, which only reinforces my beliefs. Maybe he’s delusional, but I don’t think so.
Anyway, further elaboration on why I don’t buy into Gamora’s emotional reaction toward this fake death of Thanos. When Thanos took in Gamora, she was a child. A child who was old enough to understand what had happened. Old enough to understand where her hate as an adult comes from. From where I’m sitting, this has a fix. Gamora should have been a toddler too young to remember what Thanos did, or best case scenario, an infant. As she’d get older, questioning the aesthetic differences between him and her, he could easily tell her the truth that her planet needed it to happen and get her invested in his vision of a balanced universe. This would establish a better emotional connection between the two characters, a foundation built upon a twisted sense of morality. We sympathize with Gamora more, and we hate Thanos all the more as well.
What would change her mind as an adult, you may ask? My answer would be: Nebula. While I don’t think it was ever explicitly said that either Nebula or Gamora were older than the other, I would argue that Nebula would be the eldest. Perhaps the first of Thanos’ adopted daughters and his first “most fearsome woman in the universe.” Perhaps, as Gamora gets older, Nebula is charged with training her and as Gamora’s skills develop and surpass Nebula, Gamora becomes the favorite in Thanos’ eyes, further explaining why Nebula hates Gamora in the previous two GOTG films. But after one too many cybernetic enhancements later, she’s had enough and wants to sabotage her relationship with Thanos and tells Gamora that he killed her real parents, practically stealing her from their very grasp. But Gamora doesn’t believe her, angry that Nebula would resort to such petty lies in order to knock Gamora down a few pegs to gain favor with Thanos. Again, further explaining their animosity toward each other. But at some point, Gamora learns the truth. Maybe some kind of record in his personal logs, a soldier that was there for the massacre confesses the truth to her, I don’t know, anything of that nature, and develops a complex hatred for the man she’s been calling “father” this entire time.
This elongated scenario that I just painted, doesn’t this better explain Gamora’s emotional reaction to “killing” Thanos? She loved him. He loved her. They were the tried and true father-daughter relationship. It’d have been an odd one, but it’d be one that we could all understand why she feels and reacts the way she does. But that’s not what we get. She remembers what happened, we’re led to believe that she’s all on board with killing Thanos, but when the time comes, she breaks down and cries. It makes very little sense and isn’t as complex as the movie wants us to believe. Oh sure, Thanos’ feelings toward Gamora are a compelling question mark because he’s a psycho who can only express love and compassion in his own f**ked up way, but Gamora’s feeling aren’t, or shouldn’t be. Based on what we know of Gamora’s character, she should have been overjoyed by Thanos’ death, or in some way triumphant over her supposed victory. Not bawling like she lost a beloved father.
One of the bigger criticisms that I’ve been noticing from some of my favorite reviewers (in a desperate bid for inspiration on topics to talk about) is the scene where Thanos is facing off against Iron Man, Spider-Man, Star-Lord, Strange, Mantis, and Nebula. The scene in question is when Mantis has Thanos kind of subduing him while everyone’s trying to yank the gauntlet off of his hand, but it’s all turned to shit when Quill can’t contain his anger and beats Thanos’ face, inadvertently freeing him from Mantis’ clutches and ruins the efforts of the heroes, resulting in Thanos getting the Time Stone, and the Mind Stone not long after, therefore killing half the MCU characters, including himself. Honestly, while I see where everyone’s coming from, I can’t say that I agree.
There’s a few things to keep in mind with this argument. For one thing, while the romance between Quill and Gamora wasn’t explicitly set in stone in the first GOTG movie, it’s very much a thing between them in VOL. 2. But bear in mind, VOL. 2 takes place only a couple months after their first outing, which means it’s still 2014 in that timeline (I think), four years prior to the events in INFINITY WAR. Within that time, I’m going to take a wild guess and say that Quill and Gamora have had ample time to develop their relationship. So I can imagine that Gamora’s kidnapping would have sent Quill into a mental and emotional spiral, angry that he couldn’t even grant Gamora’s request for him to kill her to prevent her from being in Thanos’ clutches again. Finding out that she died, and he was helpless to save her in nearly every single way imaginable. Quill is also very prone to sudden outbursts of aggression when faced with startling revelations, as evidenced (only once, granted) in VOL. 2 when Ego has Quill under that cosmic god spell and drops the “tumor in your mom” bombshell, what does he do? He breaks free of this control and opens fire on Ego. So I say it’s perfectly within his character to do something rash like this. Yes, the context of each situation is different, but Quill has always been portrayed as an impulsive character in the films.
To boot, I think it’s also a testament to Thanos’ strength, and I’m not just talking about his muscles. Thanos has always manipulated Gamora and Nebula, and when he first came into contact with Quill in Knowhere, he knew that he and Gamora were an item. Put a pin on this for a moment, I’ll make my point. Fast forward to the fight on the ruins of Titan, Mantis is on him, subduing him, but we know that it’s not a surefire effect that she’s having on him. Thanos is too strong to hold forever and is clearly strong enough to fight through Mantis’ abilities. And since Quill is right up in his face, he had just enough to strength to let a few key words to manipulate Quill, to send him over the deep end. With that information now unpinned from earlier, Thanos used Quill’s emotions against him, deduced that he was impulsive and used that against him too. While we can all agree it was a bonehead move on Quill’s part, it’s not without explanation and it does make sense. It’s the Iron Fist-effect to me. In IRON FIST, the character of Danny Rand is portrayed as a dumb and stupid character who whines just a little too much. But his behavior does make sense if you think about it. Ten year old kid, lost his parents violently, saved by monks who raised him and forced him to learn how to compartmentalize his emotions, which isn’t easy for a kid who wasn’t raised to think or feel that way, only to return to be faced with emotions that he hasn’t been able to acknowledge in ten-plus years. So is Iron Fist’s behavior explained? Yes. But does that make him an interesting character? Not really. It’s a writer’s worst nightmare; to create a protagonist that audiences won’t want to follow because he’s annoying. It’s the same effect here with Quill and Thanos. Quill’s actions are stupid, but understandable. There is a reason behind the stupidity. Does that make it good? Probably not, but unlike Iron Fist, I buy it here as the relationship between Quill and Gamora was strong enough to support the emotions he felt when beating Thanos’ face, knocking over the proverbial dominoes that leads to nearly everyone’s death. I see why it’s frustrating for some, but I think it’s frustrating for a different reason.
Oh my god, the humor in this is absolutely perfect. I could quote this movie for weeks. What are some of your favorite moments? Mine are:
When we opened our borders, this isn’t what I imagined.
And what did you imagine?
The Olympics. Maybe even a Starbucks.
Or what about:
Where is Gamora?!
I’ll do you one better. Who is Gamora?!
I’ll do you one better. Why is Gamora?!
I would love to quote each funny line, but everyone should go in experiencing the humor for themselves. Rest assured, it’s not THOR: RAGNAROK, nor is it as serious as BLACK PANTHER, but it’s got it’s appropriate use of jokes. Gotta love it.
Really, every character is done justice in some way, shape, and form. Captain America gets some decent punches on Thanos, even surprisingly matching his strength (on one arm, granted), and that moment where he and Panther are charging ahead and are the first to engage Thanos’ forces, I still can’t stop getting giddy from that shit. Oh and how about his line to Ross, “Your best defenders were just taken. We’re here to fight. If you stand in our way, we’ll fight you too.” I still get chills up my spine from that line. Scarlet Witch and her relationship with Vision is tackled a little bit, which was hinted at in CIVIL WAR, and I thought Olsen and Bettany had some really good chemistry together. Even Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) gets quite a bit of screen time and contributes a shit-load. Hemsworth really brings the emotions home as he interacts with Rocket (acted by Sean Gunn, voiced by Bradley Cooper), explaining how he feels what with everything he’s been through and the stakes of getting Stormbreaker. I love the interactions between Iron Man and Strange, these two egos constantly going at it, it’s all a joy to see these personalities work off of each other. It’s truly fantastic to see.
So, what’s my final verdict? The negatives that I have with this movie… I honestly don’t really care that much. This movie is just so much fun and it’s so different from every other MCU film that’s come out. Not only is it darker, what with nearly every single hero dead, but it doesn’t shy away from having lighter moments. Thanos is arguably the best villain that the MCU’s had since Loki, and for a two and a half hour movie, it’s such an easy watch that the movie could literally go on for another thirty minutes and I wouldn’t have checked my watch ever. It may have taken two viewings to get to this point, but it pays off incredibly well. There are things that I missed from my first time, as it’s hard to hear important information when people are screaming and cheering every five seconds, so it’s nice to have a more relaxed viewing and even come out of it with a different, but equally amazing experience. So… yeah, I love this movie. Bravo to the Russo brothers for churning out a movie of this caliber, with so much talent to direct, and create a movie that blew away even the most pessimistic expectations. If you’ve been a fan of the MCU films, you’re going to love this and I say it’s well worth a second, third, and even fourth viewing, which I plan to do when theaters get a little less crowded, and I plan to own this on Blu-Ray when the time comes. The build-up is more than worth the wait. I can’t stop cheering and loving it.
My honest rating for AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR: a strong 4/5