Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Peter Dinklage, Benedict Wong, Pom Lementieff, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin. Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo.
However you may feel about comic book adaptations, there is something admirable about the concept and execution of films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe leading to Avengers: Inifinity War, and ostensibly concluding with its sequel in 2019. This is the nineteenth film in the series, with at least three to go in this cycle. Unlike other interminable series, which (with rare exception) at most plan ahead for two sequels, simply adding to the body with movie after movie according to the market’s demand, the MCU films have been driving toward this film seemingly since the beginning.
Whether the next Avengers movie is meant to be a conclusion or not, this one certainly feels like a pulling together of all the threads toward a final something. Although of course I assume that’s just part of the pattern for most long-running comic books.
Followers of the series are already aware of the Infinity Stones, MacGuffin devices containing unearthly power. Individually, they give their bearers amazing power. Combined, their power is insurmountable.
Thanos is determined to bring them together so that he might alleviate the universe of its greatest ills. Overpopulation has led to all troubles everywhere, so Thanos hopes arbitrarily to wipe out half the living beings, a terrible solution, but a last resort where one is needed. And since it is the only cure for what ails the universe, Thanos of course must let nothing or nobody get in his way.
The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the citizens of Wakanda, Doctor Strange, and Spiderman try to get in his way.
It’s a huge, far-flung plot involving a ridiculous number of important, charismatic characters with really only one villain, and it mostly works. It’s difficult to point to any one character and say, “That one didn’t get his or her fair share of screen time,” although at least three heroes are noticeably absent. I’m partial to Scarlet Witch and would have liked more of her, but everyone pretty much gets a nice, important part to play.
I really like the score, too.
I’ve heard criticism of the film’s pacing, but jumps in action from one set of heroes working on one part of the Infinity War to other sets of heroes working on their parts provide interesting scenery changes that pace the seemingly nonstop action rather well. It’s a fun, engaging, cool (wait ‘til you see Thor’s weapon) movie, and much better than the first two Avengers films.
9 thoughts on “Avengers: Infinity War (2018)”
I’m going to push back on this take. The Marvel films may have been pushing towards these final films, but did they do a good job? The fact that they had a general plan is less admirable, in my view, if you consider the comic books provided this narrative outline before the filmmakers made these movies. Considering this, I think the filmmakers actually didn’t do a good job. One example, which I’ve mentioned too many times, is the stuffing of the films with too many characters and story lines. This prevents the stories and characters to breathe and develop, which can deprive the richness and drama of action sequences, particularly climactic ones. I think this is true for this film.
Maybe I have the wrong understanding of a MacGuffin, but what makes you say this?
In my opinion, this is one of the things that creates a big incongruity to me. Once Thanos gets one or two stones, why is he engaging in hand-to-hand combat. Indeed, with the reality stone, there is no real fight; the fight is over before it starts, right? Now, I know this is a bit of wet-blanket attitude, but it is hard to suspend disbelief and that takes away from the entertainment in my view.
Something similar occurs with the Wakandan army–namely, why do their weapons have a primitive quality. When they battle the alien invaders, why don’t think have missiles or lasers? Again, why the need for hand-to-hand combat? Yes, the action wouldn’t be fun without the hand-to-hand combat, especially given the nature of most of the super heroes. Still, this is the sort of thing that can diminish the action, at least for me.
By the way, these problems are noticeably absent in Civil War. The characters fight in a way that makes sense. This would not have occurred, by the way, if Hulk and Thor were present, which explains the reason both aren’t in the film.
I think this is largely correct, although I feel like Thanos could have been built up a little more.
There’s some truth to what you say, although I sort of feel the film is a compression of the original Star Wars, episodes IV and V super condensed into Episode VI.
Yeah, I never considered the fact that the source material already has it laid out. Still, you have to admit that 22 movies is a scope of ambition that’s tough to equal. If some of the films (the first two Avengers movies) feel unnecessarily stuffed, I’ll just call those the low points. There have been 19 movies so far, and the series has pretty much kept my interest. I find this impressive by itself.
I think in the grand scope, the Infinity Stones aren’t merely MacGuffins, but the way they’re used in several of the movies, they definitely qualify. It’s just a device to get everyone chasing after something, like the Maltese Falcon.
This is going to sound churlish, but the nature of comic books–with specific “books” dedicated to individual characters and sometimes groups of them (e.g., Avengers, X-Men, etc.)–the number isn’t that large. Indeed, my sense is that the number should have been bigger. For example, I didn’t think the Avengers films were too bloated. The same could be said for the X-Men, and some of the Spider-Man and Iron Man films. In my view, these films should have been expanded into more films. My guess is that some economic/commercial factor is the reason the fewer number of films, although my feeling is that expanding some of these stories into two or three films would have made the films more popular and enjoyable, and could have made more money.
Yeah, and I don’t think of you as someone who really likes action-oriented movies. Is there anything different about these films that appealed to you? Or do I have a mistaken view of your interest in action films?
For me, MacGuffin has the connotation of a red herring–something that viewers may spend inordinate amount of attention on, missing a more significant point.
Wait. Are the Avengers films bloated or aren’t they? You’re confusing me. I don’t think they’re very bloated; I just think they’re boring.
Well yeah. If you compare a film series to a comic book series, of course 22 films is not that impressive. But a comic book series doesn’t cost $150,000,000 to make, and the credits page doesn’t take 10 minutes to read. Is there another film series with one dedicated story arc comprising more movies? James Bond, which is not serial at all except possibly in recent years, is impressive with 24 films, but that’s covering 56 years.
I tolerate the action sequences in these movies. I’m in it for the characters. Which is why those first two Avengers films are so boring to me.
I think they were bloated.
We might not be on the same wavelength. I’m not comparing the films to the comic books, I’m saying the comics books are the basis for the films and that would allow them to make many films and build up to multi-character/plot epics. The films had a solid roap map or blueprint, is what I’m saying.
OK. I can see how the character are more interesting compared to typical action films. I can’t remember the differences between the first two Avenger films and the others, though. (shrugs)
Not to drive this into the ground, but in my original statement, I wasn’t talking about the quality of any films on their own qualities (such as bloated casts or storylines). I kind of meant that I was impressed by the overall ambition and incipient realization of a 22-film series, with each film its own story yet contributing to a grander story arc.
The series is set up in three phases (plus a fourth, possibly unconnected phase that’s in the same universe but might not be within that same arc), setting up and unfolding over only ten years. Maybe you dislike the manner in which the pieces are meant to fit, but I remain impressed with the scope and accomplishment.
I’m reminded of the first film in the series, Iron Man. Ten seconds into this clip, you can see Captain America’s shield on Tony’s work table (beneath his right armpit). There’s another scene where I think you see him actually working on it. By itself, obviously no big deal. But it’s the kind of detail that reveals a long-term thinking that works its way into the overall product. Like in Harry Potter movies, but bigger.
If there were no source material, I would find your position more compelling. But not only did the filmmakers have the existing characters, but some of they also had the most complex stories written out. I wonder if the source of our disagreement stems from our perception of the challenge of adapting the Marvel source material versus Tolkien or Rowling. I don’t think the former was significantly more challenging than the latter.
If the filmmakers didn’t have the Marvel source material, I might share your feelings.
Understood. My criticism about the way some films were bloated was a specific way the filmmakers botched the adaptation process. The larger point is that the source material provide a really good blueprint. If the filmmakers never had that, then I might share your feelings of being impressed.
No, I think we disagree on the basic difficulty and expense of conceiving, producing, releasing, and marketing a decent movie, multiplied by 22 films, each of rather large size and ambition, and for each of those 22 films to do really well at the box office and to remain at least interesting enough to get even skeptics like you and non-action-movie guys like me to keep coming back.
There are no gimmes, as Solo: A Star Wars Story will testify (it’s doing fine at the box office, but not nearly as well as expected and for some reason people are mad at it).
It reminds me of a phrase I hate: “One-hit wonder.” Man, it’s a wonder ANYone has one hit. The truly amazing thing is when someone has several hits, because dang it: writing good songs is DIFFICULT. Putting out 22 hit movies in one series impresses at least me. Maybe I’m too easily impressed.
This would be impressive to me, if I excluded the fact that they had good source material and built-in, passionate fan base.