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Infinity War broke me. I’m too attached.
The latest Marvel movie to hit the big screen, Infinity War, is the first of a two-parter that has been billed as the finale of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as we know it. Not an outright finale but a massive turning point in the progression of our heroes that have formed the MCU since Iron Man in 2008. In this regard, Infinity War does not disappoint.
Know Your Stones
The origins of the Infinity Stones vary in the comics but in the MCU we are told that after the Big Bang six elemental stones of considerable power were scattered to the far reaches of the known universe. These stones represented Space, Mind, Reality, Power, Time and Soul. We have slowly been introduced to the stones since the beginning of the Marvel movie revival:
The Infinity War story arc is something that was first hinted at back in 2011’s Thor when it is revealed that the blue Space Stone is encased in the Tesseract (the ice cube) in the movie’s post-credit scene.
The yellow Mind Stone has been through the mill. It was first introduced in The Avengers when Thanos gives Loki a sceptre which he uses to control Hawkeye and others before attacking New York. The sceptre then falls into the hands of Baron Von Strucker which he uses to enhance Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch in the mid-credits scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Finally, it finds its way to the forehead of Paul Bettany’s Vison in Age of Ultron.
The red Reality Stone is the fluid-like ‘Aether’ from Thor: The Dark World that possesses Natalie (*extended yawn*) Portman and the purple Power Stone was the power driving Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) and our hero’s mission in Guardians of the Galaxy.
The green Time Stone resides in the Eye of Agamotto which Doctor Strange carries around his neck and used to defeat Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius and out-wit the other-dimension-ly Dormammu in his stand-alone feature film.
The final gem, the orange Soul Stone, has yet to be seen in the MCU.
Thanos’ plan is to acquire all six Infinity Stones which he can then wield with unbelievable power using his Infinity Gauntlet (his massive gold glove which we saw in his possession during the mid-credits scene of Ultron). With it, he would have the ability to wipe out half of the universes’ life “with the snap of his fingers”. This is obviously not a great outcome for give or take half of the universe so the entirety of the MCU address book (minus Ant-Man and Hawkeye) need to band together to put a stop to his plans; and so we have the Infinity War.
Warring Story Arcs
Keeping the Russo Brothers on board from the Captain America trilogy was a fantastic move from Feige and his team at Marvel. They have produced, along with writers Christopher Marcus and Stephen McFeely, the best that the MCU have produced thus far. They have shown in both Winter Soldier and Civil War that they can deal with big action scenes, multiple heroes and heartfelt moments simultaneously with ease. Each and every one of these qualities come into play throughout Infinity War as we follow three separate story arcs, each of which contain a collection of Earth’s (and beyond) Mightiest Heroes.
We are taken on a journey through the cosmos, stopping off at so many beautifully constructed planets and galaxies that I lost count of how many there were two thirds of the way through. Each arc of the story pits our heroes against the most devastating power that they have yet come across in Thanos and his intimidating enforcers.
Some of these arcs however do get in the way of each other. Most notably, the Wakandan battle scene suffers slightly when we are taken away at several points to see what everyone else is getting up to.
The battle for Wakanda is magnificent. Helm’s Deep magnificent. Getting to see Cap and Black Panther fight side by side was fantastic as was the team up of Okoye and Black Widow. As I had hoped, the Russo Brothers brought their love for up close and personal combat from the Cap trilogy and it really pays off. We also get to see Wanda (Scarlett Witch) at her best, displaying the extent of her powers. Its only let down is the unneeded break-aways. Their excellent direction in the over ten minute ruckus on the airfield in Civil War shows they can keep a big action scene going without having to break pace. Plus, it contained all of our heroes so over-population isn’t their problem. In Infinity War, during their pièce de résistance, they decided to change tact, and I believe this wasn’t the best decision.
The True Star of the Movie
As Infinity War’s arcs move along with the MCU cast spread across the universe, there is always one constant; the true star of the movie, Thanos. Where Age of Ultron gave time for its characters who weren’t gifted their own solo movies, namely Black Widow and Hawkeye, Infinity War gives the most time to develop our movie’s villain.
We learn of Thanos’ early life on Titan. How the planet was getting over populated, growing poorer and starved. Thanos’ logical solution; killing half the population. No prejudice. Rich and poor, old and young. His plan may have made him “The Mad Titan” but his beliefs dug deep and he now plans on doing his best to better the rest of the universe. Sound guy.
The only time that I was annoyed that Thanos was a giant CGI creation was during his more emotional moments, but for the most part the effects throughout were stellar. Not only Thanos, but his cronies, their alien battle-dogs and the plethora of cosmic sets were all on point.
Along with Thanos, one of the shining stars here is Zoe Saldana’s Gamora. Her scenes with her big bad step-dad are a perfect vehicle for the talented actress to show her chops. As far has the heroes go, there isn’t a whole lot to go around as Thanos takes up most of the screen time. Iron Man’s vulnerability that Downey has worn with pride since Shane Black’s turn behind the camera comes into full effect here. His visions from Ultron seem to be coming true, and there’s nothing he can do to stop it. Spider-Man too turns in a great performance and Thor’s humour but emotional loss from Ragnarok continues but finds a more natural balance. Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlett Witch also puts in the effort and is a great shout for a solo movie after playing a solid and crucial role in Infinity War’s story.
Otherwise the rest of them are all pretty much…there. Nobody really gets a whole lot of screen time. So much so that the box office hit Black Panther clings on to about five lines of dialogue in the entire movie. Chris Evan’s Captain America manages a bit more time on screen to assure us he really is the heart of the Avengers, exclaiming “We don’t trade lives” – therein lies the problem.
This hero shit is really starting to be a burden for the rest of the universe. Their inability to sacrifice one of their own for the greater good, the exact opposite of Thanos’ thinking, is the literal reason why they are still in the position they are in. And there are several points throughout the movie where a little apathy from an Avenger could have gone a long way, but oh no, the heroes have to be heroic.
I Need More
My most immediate gripe with Infinity War is that I have to wait twelve months for Part Two. Throughout the movie there are only bleak shimmers of hope, something that is to be expected in a two-parter (they’re not gonna kill off the antagonist before the interval), but because of this Infinity War will never be the “greatest Marvel movie”. It’s not enjoyable enough. At times, it is straight up bleak.
Personally, I came out a bit shook. I’m too invested. For ten years I’ve followed the characters I’ve loved since my childhood as they come to life on the big screen. With Infinity War no one is safe. The rules have changed. It broke me.
Just like any great half way mark of a finale, Infinity War will leave you with questions that need answering, situations that need fixing, wounds to lick and fallen to mourn.
Lady Macbeth said “What’s done cannot be undone.” But Lady Macbeth didn’t have a Time Stone.