AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR REVIEWED
“Avengers: Infinity War” continues Marvel’s streak of amazing first impressions. Somehow, they managed to bring the villains from the Starlin and Hickman eras smoothly into the MCU. Hell, the MCU finally feels like the NYC of Stan and Jack’s shared dream. Bruce Banner is yammering with Doctor Strange, while Tony Stark and Pepper Potts are having a friendly stroll at Central Park. Peter’s on a school trip, while the closest knock-off to the Beyonder’s Secret Wars portal shows up over the city skyline. That’s just the first 20 minutes, people.
Is the movie overstuffed? Does it matter? If America has told the world anything, it’s that we will shove junk into every open hole. Stuffed crust pizza, youthful excursions into Greek love and Spider-Man 3 should answer that query. Does the film suffer for the effort? Slightly, but that’s the reason why it’s Part 1 of 2. Don’t let the Marvel Press Kits lie to you, kids. This is very much the first half of a planned story.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE COMICS FAN?
Being a comic traditionalist, the downplaying of Captain America irked me. One of Cap’s biggest moments is staring down Thanos knowing that his death was imminent. But, Civil War liberally lifted from that moment to strengthen its narrative. In “Infinity War”, Captain America is yet one more human slowing down Thanos’s quest for his space rocks. Are there other moments to make the Comics fans happy? Hell, I was stunned by how much this film lifted from the end of Starlin’s Warlock Saga.
Elements of Hickman’s Infinity comic event were used with reckless abandon. Other aspects were tweaked here and there, but let’s make one thing clear. If you’re expecting Skrulls or the comic version of The Infinity Gauntlet, you’re barking up the wrong tree. If Kevin Feige and Disney have shown one consistent theme throughout the last decade, it’s that your expectations don’t matter in the MCU. These are films first and foremost.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE MOVIE FAN?
Fans that only know Marvel from the MCU will probably take the biggest emotional hit. Comic fans just see these character as variations on the ones they read monthly. Hell, I prefer movie Drax and Mantis to any iteration of the comic version. The MCU saved Iron Man and Star Lord from their comics selves and the comics influenced aspects of the movie. But, if you only invest in the films, then the end of this movie will devastate you.
Peter Parker’s death will probably be the scene that sticks with me. While it’s short and relies on Stark’s reaction, Tom Holland sells the moment. So many people forget that in the early days of Marvel, Spidey was a kid. Hell, graduating High School was a giant part of the character’s first three years in the book. While the cosmic types, Doc Strange and others can handle their sudden deaths…Peter freaks out like a kid. He wants Stark to tell him that he can fix this, but Tony has to let him turn to ash. Watching Peter go from not feeling well to breaking apart is pure terror, then acceptance.
Gamora being thrown to her death, The Vision having his skull smashed in and Loki being choked to death will find resonance in the kids and adults that discovered Marvel with each annual installment. I can see very young kids having a hard time with Groot and Spider-Man dying, but that’s what happens when you turn characters like this into audience favorites.
WHERE MARVEL SUCCEEDS
Dialing back the jokey nature of their last few films, Marvel double downs on the event nature of Infinity War. When discussing our coverage plans, I found myself asking how do you cover a movie that is just one giant spoiler? When a film is 90% pay-off and 10% new build, there’s very little that stays out of spoiler territory. If you have to wait until the weekend or later to see the film, you should rest assured that you’re going to learn something about the plot. It’s just the nature of the beast.
Will it matter? Not really. So much of the Infinity War experience will come from seeing how a full audience reacts to moments that we’ve spent a decade waiting to see paid off. Everything matters and when you hit that ending, you’re going to feel it for the next year. The fact that a studio can elicit that kind of response from a jaded audience in 2018 is astounding. Plus, the replay value is going to be immense as fans try to find hidden clues or psych themselves up for Avengers 4.
WHERE MARVEL FAILS
Marvel is going to have a hell of a time keeping audiences interest in “Ant Man and the Wasp” now. That’s criminally unfair to that movie, but scheduling is a pain. When that movies arrives in July, people are going to have a hard time seeing what happened between Civil War and Infinity War. They just had a culture bomb dropped in their laps and they want their Infinity War questions answered. Paul Rudd is one of the best leads of the MCU, but nobody wants shrinking antics while half of the Universe is dead. See, I warned you people about spoilers.
Marvel’s only failure with Infinity War is that the bar is set so high for Avengers 4 that the 2019 release has to be exemplary. Captain Marvel will have to be perfect, the plan to fix the world has to be perfect and you have to figure out what to do about Thanos. People are admiring the balls that the Russo brothers had in making this movie. I totally agree in their brave directing choices. The kicker is that they’ve painted themselves into a corner. How are they going to get out?
- 2 hrs and 29 mins