Well, all the good parts are already spoiled for me but this week I’m diving into the Avengers two-part movie that seems to have led to a huge change in how Marvel Studios approaches the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Trying to play friendly with the source material is a thing of the past, and this time you can’t blame Sony…but that’s a rant for another time. The thing about this movie is that everyone talks about the ending to Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, whether to praise or condemn it. So I can’t simply go in there blind. It’s one thing that the big reveal about The Empire Strikes Back or the original Planet Of The Apes movies are spoiled because they’re really old. These movies aren’t even a decade old. That’s both the strength of the internet…getting to talk about these films with more than your buddies at work or school, and the disadvantage for those of us who couldn’t go see them due to being broke and sick. In my case both.
So when they aired on TNT I managed to record them and tonight and tomorrow I can finally watch and review them. Tonight we begin with Infinity War, loosely based on the comic book story arc of the same name. I haven’t seen the Black Panther movie but nobody’s spoiling that movie for me so since there are so many other MCU films I’m not interested in (and thankfully didn’t fully need since I at least have some knowledge of these characters and what happened to Thor’s hammer) I’m going in with the same knowledge or lack thereof anyway. Since a lot of stuff has been spoiled already and I do have to talk about the ending (I’ll try to get through that quickly at the start of the review section so you can skip it if somehow you’ve pulled off a miracle), I’m going to be heavier on the spoilers than usual. At this point you can watch the two movies together, like I’ll finish doing tomorrow.
RELEASE DATE: 2018
RELEASED BY: Disney and Marvel Studios
RUNTIME: 2 hours 29 min
STARRING: way too many names to list here
SCREENWRITERS: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
DIRECTOR: Anthony and Joe Russo
GROSS REVENUE: $2,048,359,754 Worldwide, $678,815,482 domestic, according to Box Office Mojo
ESTIMATED BUDGET: $316,000,000
IMDB is not as helpful as it used to be, with some of this info now behind their IMDB Pro paywall, so I’m going to need a new source for info rather than jumping all over the internet.
The Plot: Things are unstable on Earth right now, thanks to the events of Civil War, a movie I won’t watch on principle if set in the Marvel multiverse, and Thor: Ragnarok, which I didn’t watch because I’m not really interested in Thor in general. No, it’s not a religious thing! Anyway into this situation comes Thanos, who has step up his collecting of the Infinity Stones, including attacking Asgard and destroying the Tesseract to claim one of the stones inside it. This draws in the scattered former Avengers, Thor, the Hulk, Spider-Man, the Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Doctor Strange to battle Thanos’s forces and stop him from his goal of destroying half of the universe. As you probably know by now, they fail, leading into part two.
Why did I want to see it?: As a superhero fan it was a no-brainer. I enjoyed the first two Avengers movies and this one had been hyped up a lot. “Infinity War” was a story arc and miniseries that is a huge event even today in the main Marvel universe and this is the first time someone has adapted it. It’s also a rather significant event in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that needed two movies to tell. As a critic and a fan I really needed to see these movies even if I never watch another MCU movie again, and given what I’ve heard of what’s come out lately that may just be the case.
What did I think?: I have a simple rule when it comes to a movie. I never want to walk out of the theater or hit stop on the recording and feel depressed. That’s what happens in this movie. Already there’s a huge body count in this film, as it seems like the writer, directors, and even Kevin Fiege were trying to clear the board and do new characters. Loki dies early in the movie and plenty of other favorites are killed off, including Gamora later but that actually serves the story as it goes into Thanos’s character and Gamora’s history with him, showing that she’s a better person than Thanos tried to make her. This is all before Thanos snaps his fingers, ending half the universe. I’m not sure how they chose which of the heroes to kill off during the snap and we’ll see what happens in the next movie, but this isn’t the cliffhanger I would want to go on. Maybe end on the snap itself, and then in the next movie all the disintegrating begins. I’m not questioning the use of a cliffhanger because that’s how you end a part one, but the cliffhanger itself I would rather not have dealt with. I’ll see the conclusion tomorrow but this originally didn’t have the other half show up for about a year. I would not be happy at all about that.
SPOILERS OVER! Let’s talk about the character interactions. The groups chosen for this movie were great and worked well together. Thor meets the Guardians after the attack and he goes off with Rocket and Groot on a mission while the other Guardians try to stop Thanos, eventually meeting up with Iron Man, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man, who also work well together. Then you have Captain America’s team (except for Ant-Man and Hawkeye…too many characters would have been too much, but I’ll get to that in a moment) meeting up with Black Panther’s people and they’re also a good mix.
And each hero gets a moment to shine, something that would have been impossible with any more characters and even then many of them only shine during the final battle. Character moments are relegated to a select few (Bruce is barely there and Hulk is offline for reasons unexplained), but there’s some good similarities and contrasts between the members of each grouping, except for Captain America’s team of Falcon, Black Widow, and Falcon. Wanda and Vision get the second least amount of character time but what they get matters to the plot. There’s a theme of sacrifice for the greater good, from Thanos’s warped vision of balance to the heroic sacrifices of the heroes and other heroes trying to keep their friends alive instead of sacrificing themselves. Everything…no pun intended…is balanced well. There’s no “fridging” because every death matters…except for Loki’s…to the story if not to their own character development. It all works really well.
Because there are so many characters it’s tough to list all the actors (last night’s article was already a higher word count than I like) but I wanted to give special praise to my favorite grouping. Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Downey Jr., and Tom Holland were my favorite group to watch of the various groupings and I wish we could get more of them. We won’t in future movies for obvious reasons if you know how it ends, including the next one, but it was such a perfect pairing of personalities that I wanted more of them.
Was it worth the wait?: For the most part, but frankly if I wasn’t watching Endgame tomorrow I wouldn’t be as happy. If you missed the spoiler paragraph I came away from this movie on a downer note rather than on a suspenseful note. I mentioned how the cliffhanger would have been better since we were waiting a year to see it end and I don’t like ending a movie depressed. Tomorrow we’ll see how this ends and if I’m in a happier mood when the credits roll.