Written by Patrick Fitz-Gerald, Esq.
What would you wish for if you could have anything? More wishes? All-encompassing power over everything in the universe? The return of Planter’s Cheeze Balls? How about the instant death of half of everything?
I tell you what I would wish for: A Marvel movie system so good and so successful that one day I could go see a big screen version of The Infinity Gauntlet. Well, thank the Magus, I don’t need a genie or a monkey’s paw or even a weird metal glove, cuz I am getting my wish this Friday!
That’s right, after 10 years of build up, Marvel has assembled every single actor in the world to make the 2nd most expensive movie of all time: Avengers Infinity War. I personally, could not be more psyched. (Note: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was the most expensive. Also note: Ben Affleck is not an actor).
Let’s start with what we know: There’s these rocks that do stuff, and if you get them all you can do pretty much anything. Thanos, who is bad and purple, has been trying to collect ‘em all like some kinda Poke-man for a long time. With the hippin’ and the hoppin’ and the bippin’ and the boppin’. Now, too many of these rocks are on Earth for Thanos NOT to come here, so he got some baddie buddies together and booked a flight straight for the small blue dot we call home. When he gets here, he is going to grab a quick Cinnabon and some Aunt Annie’s pretzels (‘cuz that’s what Earth is famous for) and do some jewelry shoppin’.
Thankfully for Earth, the number of superpowered, magic or super-smart people has multiplied rapidly since 2008, so we MIGHT be ready for whatever Thanos has got up his non-existent sleeves. Also, Hawkeye is here too. Just in case Thanos has never come across a bow and arrow before.
Here’s what I think is going to happen in the movie: Thanos arrives and goes on Reddit: “I am Thanos, AMA.” Somewhere in the thread, DM_me_purple_dicpix reveals where all the stones are. Thanos asks politely for them. They are given to him, because he promises to build a big, beautiful space wall to protect us from aliens like him, and he leaves. Then, 2 hours of intense shawarma-eating wrap this thing up before the mid-credits scene reveals the upcoming Star Wars crossover: Yoda v. Rocket Raccoon!
Shit, I’d probably still love it.
Seriously though, I remember reading the comic Infinity Gauntlet as a kid and thinking about how great it was to finally just see the worst case scenario play out. You know, we never get to see what happens if the worst of the worst actually succeeds in getting ultimate power? What a great idea, right? I mean what would happen if one of those James Bond super-villains was actually able to irradiate the gold supply at Ft. Knox? What then?
Well, then Trump got elected and I learned that I would MUCH rather pretend that everything is awful, but that there are pretend superheroes who will save us, than actually experience everything being awful in a world where there are no superheroes to save us. I don’t know, maybe Hawkeye is real, but I don’t think he can do it on his own. Not without a lot more arrows.
Anyway, the fun of this should be the question: what happens when evil becomes all-powerful? Well, it ain’t good. And that means there is going to be plenty of work for the 20-odd superheroes, gods and tree-people who fight evil. Frankly, this may be the only downside I can think of: there are just too many damn people in this movie. Unless maybe you kill half of them off right away. Then the remainder can get together and all spit up into new and fun groups for us to watch interact (Dr. Strange and Wanda take an acid trip to the astral plane? Cap and Teen Groot in a Bucky costume? Hulk and Drax come to Colorado for 4/20? Team Green, Assemble!)
Two things we know for sure: 1) this movie will make a ton of money for the Mouse House and 2) It will set up Phase 4 and another decade of Marvel movies. So if you are like me, and I know I am, you had better save your nickels and dimes, you are going to need them!
First of all, you should know that any review of this particular movie is going to run the risk of spoilers, just because it’s that kind of movie. Some of the things that happen in this movie are unexpected and shocking, and others are obvious payoffs of long simmering subplots. It becomes impossible to discuss the movie without talking about how those paid off or didn’t and how surprising it was or wasn’t.
So let’s just answer the first question: should I see this movie? Yes. And you should see it on the big screen and before anyone spoils it for you. If you have liked any of the Marvel movies, there is something here that you will love. And like I said, a lot pays off in this movie and there is a lot you might not see coming. What about my kid, should I bring her? Maybe if she’s a little older. It can be quite shocking. Disturbing, even. I was going to bring my 6 year old (because I am a lousy parent), and I am glad I didn’t. I’ll show it to her when I inevitably buy it in a few months, but in our home, where she can run out of the room or hide under the covers. And ask questions. There will be so many questions.
Because there is A LOT happening in this movie. If I have any complaints, it’s this. There are a few breaks in the action to explain things to us, or let us take a breath, but mostly this movie is wall to wall things happening to all 24 main characters. Now that we have three, we know what an “Avengers” movie is like. They are big. They combine the disparate parts of the MCU. They don’t focus on just one person. Yes, this means that some of our favorite characters’ arcs seem abbreviated, and some of the new characters don’t really get the development they should, but if these sacrifices were made in order to make this the biggest, richest, end-all be-all of Marvel movies, it probably was a good call. If you wanted to slow this thing down, it would be 4 hours long. And by now we all know that if you want more of any character, you have to go to a movie where their name is in the title.
While there has clearly been a Marvel formula since we saw Tony don the Mark I ten years ago, these movies have also had a fairly wide range of tones. It is in the blending of these tones that A:IW succeeds the most. Thor: Ragnarok was one of the jokiest and lightest in tone of Marvel’s movies, and that tone blends well here with the tone of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Similarly, we see the Cap and Black Panther complement each other, and the mentor/mentee-with-a-mouth relationship of Iron Man and Spidey. Somehow all of these get mixed in with a base layer of sadness and PTSD to make for a very lighthearted travel through the seven circles of hell.
There has been much made about Marvel’s villian problem: they just aren’t as interesting as their heroic counterparts. I think the Phase 3 movies have made great strides to reverse this, and I think Thanos shows even more improvement. He is the bad guy, but like Killmonger or the Vulture, we get inside his head a little and understand why he does bad things. Maybe we don’t agree with it, but it makes some sense. And considering he is a purple giant who is all CGI and motion capture, it would be really easy to make him unknowable.
I know to compare the DCEU and the MCU isn’t really fair, but this film just feels so much more natural than the contrived Justice League. Does anyone even remember who the bad guy was or what he wanted in that one?
I could tell you all about all the stuff that happens and give you my comic nerd explanation of it all, but there are already thousands of those out there. Just know for now that you have to go see this, and that things always seem the darkest right before the end credits scene.