Shea Reviews – Avengers: Infinity War

Note: This Avengers: Infinity War review contains spoilers. If you’re reading this and haven’t seen the movie, you’re going to go see it anyway. So do that and then come back to read my thoughts.

My growing apathy towards Marvel superhero films has been well-documented. It doesn’t stem from recent movies disappointing — despite not liking Black Panther, I loved Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and found Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to be better than most — but rather my tepid excitement can be traced to seeing two or more superhero films every year for the past decade. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

I still have high expectations for the quality of Marvel films. After all, the actor talent pool is quite vast at this point and the Russo brothers, in particular, have done a great job helming the series since Joss Whedon left. It’s just hard to get excited about seeing Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the rest save the world yet again. I know that comes across as incredibly jaded, but I am a comic book fan so that sort of comes with the territory.

I write all of this to explain why my perspective on Marvel movies has changed since the first Avengers came out six years ago, and why I was predictably “meh” on some aspects of Infinity War. But that isn’t to say Avengers: Infinity War is a bad movie by any stretch. I’d actually say it’s in the top half of Marvel movies in terms of quality. But generally enjoying myself doesn’t quite hold the same impact that it once did. We’ve been there, done that several times at this point, and without some new, big twist on the story or general shake-up of the status quo, I don’t see myself being head over heels hyped for another Marvel movie — a new Spider-Man notwithstanding because Tom Holland is just the best.

But enough complaining about there being too many good superhero movies, because that’s literally a thing I never thought I’d be thinking. Let’s talk about Avengers: Infinity War, because it really is a fun ride.

The scale of the story is certainly larger than it’s ever been before. Infinity War definitely comes across as a battle of universal importance. That isn’t just because galactic characters like the Guardians of the Galaxy finally join the Avengers cast, but the story does actually span across many different planets.

The climactic battle certainly has scale and flash but goes by too quickly.

There are a lot of spinning plates, as the saying goes. Hulk returns to Earth and meets up with Stark and Strange. Thor meets the Guardians and then those folks split up to attack Thanos on two fronts. Captain America’s crew heads back to the U.S. before ending up in Wakanda. Stark and Spider-Man go into space to save Doctor Strange. Star-Lord and Gamora are separated on Knowhere. Vision needs his Mind Stone removed. Rocket and Thor go on a side quest to build a new weapon. Thanos sacrifices Gamora to get the Soul Stone. Star-Lord and the other Guardians meet up with Stark and Spidey on Titan. Thor lands in Wakanda to help the other Avengers. And none of that even mentions all the backstory and exposition that Thanos’ story brings.

There’s a lot of shit that happens in Infinity War, and the Russo brothers do a great job bouncing back and forth. You’re never left on a scene so long that you forget what’s happening elsewhere. But while all the plates are kept spinning throughout, I still think there are just a few too many plates spinning in the first place. Part of that feeling may be due to my interest in certain characters and certain stories being higher than for others. For example, I was happy whenever the Guardians were on screen, but found myself caring less whenever Thor took center stage.

Vision’s sacrifice would have more impact if he’d been built into a larger character in previous films.

I felt similarly about the Vision subplot. Unfortunately for many Avengers characters, there are just so damn many that it’s impossible for all of them to receive the necessary development. Hell, they wrote Hawkeye and Ant-Man out of the movie entirely to help curb this issue. I personally wasn’t a fan of that move, but I get it.

Scarlet Witch and Vision have always fallen into that B tier for me. While that doesn’t matter so much for a character like Falcon, who never needs to do anything more than say a few lines and get some fun flying action sequences, Wanda and Vision’s relationship and story are central to the larger plot. And they just don’t hold all that much impact. Would I have cared more if Wanda’s Sakovian accent hadn’t mysteriously disappeared? Maybe, but probably not.

The reality is, Wanda and Vision were never all that interesting to begin with — and their relationship was never given enough screentime to be properly developed — so those final moments don’t hold the weight that they could. Vision certainly isn’t the last Avenger to die in Infinity War, but for reasons we’ll get into later, he might be the only one to stay dead.

I was also disappointed in the lack of development for Thanos’ minions. They’re unceremoniously introduced in the first scene and then unceremoniously killed off throughout the film. I bet most folks reading this couldn’t name a single one. They’re nameless mini-bosses that only stand in the way of the real bad guy.

And I get it, Infinity War is an already long movie juggling a dozen storylines and fifty-bajillion Avengers at once, but giving us just a little bit of info on Thanos’ Black Order (that’s their collective name in the comics) could have made them so much more intimidating. And for the record, their names are Corvus Glaive (sneaky dude with the spear), Ebony Maw (telekinesis Squidward), Proxima Midnight (the female who almost kicked Black Widow and Okoye’s asses), and Cull Obsidian (big dude with the retractable ax). Those names are all insanely rad as hell and it’s a huge missed opportunity to highlight them more.

Infinity War makes a huge mistake by not expanding the role of the Black Order.

Thanos’ story, to me, is the best part of the movie. I’m not saying I see his point in wanting to mercy kill trillions of people, but Josh Brolin does a great job selling the conflict of the character, despite working through motion capture to do it. As an aside, there’s an insane amount of CGI in this movie. It’s understandable and often necessary, but it also makes me feel a bit bad for the poor actors who probably spent weeks standing on a green screen set.

I particularly enjoyed Thanos’ final moments with Gamora and his final scene at the end of the film. He doesn’t do what he does for pleasure, he does it because he truly believes that’s the only way people will survive. He’s a complete monster for believing that, but that to me is far more interesting than a mustache-twirling villain that just likes to torture people for fun or wants power simply for the sake of having more power (insert most other Marvel villains here).

Seeing favorite heroes meet for the first time brings back memories of the first Avengers film.

It wouldn’t be a spoiler review if I didn’t write about the ending, so let’s get to it. I have complicated feelings. Immediately after seeing the movie, I went on a bit of a rant to my wife and father-in-law, who saw it with me. For me, so much of the impact of all those heroes dying was lessened because you know 100 percent that most of them will be okay. Hell, I even have a hard time believing that Gamora is actually dead, and that assumption is only strengthened by Joe Russo recently saying that Gamora might be trapped in the Soul Stone.

Then I read an internet comment that — and I can’t believe I’m saying this — actually changed my opinion on the ending in a positive way. See, I was looking at it from an audience perspective, with all the knowledge that I have about how Hollywood works and how this series of movies works. Instead, I should be looking at it from the perspectives of the characters, because it’s through their eyes that we’re meant to be viewing events. Tony Stark just held Peter Parker in his arms as he faded to dust. Captain America just witnessed many of his friends and fellow Avengers die, with the additional knowledge that half of the world’s population has also died.

And that’s how Infinity War ends. That’s some pretty dark shit, and I dig it.

Thanos thankfully ends up being one of the better Marvel villains in recent memory.

There are tons of other small scenes and details I could get into here (Peter Dinklage’s embarrassingly bad performance, teenage angst Groot being way better than baby Groot, Hulk disappearing with no explanation or resolution), but this would quickly become a 4,000-word behemoth of a review, so I’ll try and keep it to half that. If you want to hear some more thoughts, check out Episode 24 of The Shea Hates Everything Podcast.

To bring things full circle, it would be easy to nitpick Avengers: Infinity War to death considering my slightly waning interest in Marvel movies. Obviously, I’m not immune to nitpicking — this is Shea Hates Everything, after all — but on the whole, I thought Infinity War handled the insane amount of story and characters as well as I could have hoped. It’s certainly understandable why this was conceived as a two-parter.

As for theories on where things go from here, I’ll save that for a future post. Could the potential alternate realities become the bridge to bring over the X-Men and Fantastic Four? When in time will the Captain Marvel movie take place now that we know she’s in the sequel? Were the Infinity Stones destroyed or damaged along with Thanos’ gauntlet? Will the remaining Avengers make a replica gauntlet Eitri’s mold? Will Hawkeye and Ant-Man take part in the sequel? There’s plenty of fun stuff to discuss.

Suffice it to say, I think most of the “dead” characters won’t be dead by the end — or even middle — of Infinity War Part 2 or whatever they end up calling it. There’s too much money to be made on more Spider-Man films, and Chris Pratt already told us that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 starts filming next year.

Until the day comes that most Marvel movies start sucking, I’m going to keep seeing them. But a big part of me wishes they’d take a break before they start seeing sales decline. But this is a business, after all, and money comes before creativity all too often. And if money is what will keep these characters around for another decade of films, it’s a good thing Tony Stark was one of the guys to survive Thanos’ finger snap.

9.2/10

So, what did you think of Avengers: Infinity War? How do you think things will wrap up? Where does it rank among the other Avengers films? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to check out my ranking of all the Marvel movies!

 

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