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Tuesday
May012018

Avengers: Infinity War Part One

This article was originally published in Nathaniel's intermittent column at Towleroad

NOTE: THE FOLLOWING THOUGHTS ARE FREE OF SPOILERS (THE MOVIE HAVING JUST OPENED) EXCEPT FOR THE MOVIE’S OPENING BATTLE AND A VAGUE SPOILER ABOUT THE GENERAL NATURE / IMPERMANENCE OF SUPERHERO DEATHS WITHIN THIS GENRE. IF YOU'D LIKE WE CAN DISCUSS IN MORE SPOILERY DETAIL A WEEK OR TWO FROM NOW. LET US KNOW.

If gloves make a big fashion comeback, blame Thanos. The alien destroyer has been haunting the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (aka The Avengers) from the sidelines (aka the post credits sequences) for a full decade of moviegoing. He's been on the hunt for the six “Infinity Stones,” (aka the Tesseract, The Aether, etc...) to decorate and power his universe-controlling glove (aka the “Infinity Gauntlet”). Sorry for all those ‘also known as’ asides but there are so many names to keep track of!

Consider, though it’s much less difficult if you don’t, that most of the six Infinity Stones have gone by at least two different names within the last decade’s worth of Marvel movies. We'll cite just one example since it’s crucial to the story.

The most familiar gem from the previous movies is “The Mind Stone”.  When last we checked in with our heroes it was sitting all lovely and golden on the broadly handsome expanse of The Vision’s Paul-Bettany shaped forehead… but it didn’t start there...

If I’m connecting the CGI dots properly it began life as the blue Tesseract cube from Captain America: The First Avenger but spent most of its headlining movie stardom in the Thor movies whilst embedded in Loki’s scepter. Previously the Mind Stone was used to possess people but with The Vision (aka the Artist Artificial intelligence Formerly Known as "Jarvis") it made him sentient and he mostly uses the stone to shoot laser beams. As one does.

Anywayyyy...

The Infinity Stones are so powerful that they can alter reality, grant super powers, reverse time, and break all opening weekend box office records when sharing the screen.

That’s a lot of backstory but what are superhero myths without backstory? The worst thing that can be said about the superhero genre as a whole is how often it defaults to origin story retreads -- how many times exactly do we need to see Bruce Wayne's parents die or Spider-Man get that radioactive bite? Perhaps the best that can be said about Avengers: Infinity War is that it never once slows down to let you catch up. It trusts that you know all these characters already or are willing to just hop on the rollercoaster with them toward yet another apocalypse.

Still, the first casualty of the rush of the pace is coherence. I’ve seen all 18 of the Marvel Studios movies, some of them thrice (aka the ones starring my husband Captain America) and I still got confused during Infinity War, and as early as the first scene! We begin with a very unsettling whammy for Thor, the god of Thunder. We've apparently jumped forward or sideways from the amusing ending of Thor Ragnarok because the Guardians of the Galaxy are not with Thor and he's already all chained up from some attack we weren't privvy to. Thanos promptly kills not one but two of Thor’s favorite people before his eyes (Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and Idris Elba’s Heimdall). The deaths are sick-making because the violence is less visual effects mayhem than painful close-ups on expressive faces. It looks and feels and sounds (ick!) real.

Thanos loves that you're squirming.

Thanos is extra.  Not only does his glove have six stone settings despite gloves generally being more number-five focused, but he towers over and easily defeats the two strongest and biggest Avengers in this same opening scene. The defeat makes Thor angry and vengeful (important plot point!) but The Hulk... well, this messes with the Hulk in ways which would be spoilery to recount. Just about the only thing that isn't extra about Thanos is his skin color. He started the movies with a deep purple hue but somewhere along the line the movies chickened out -- and he got desaturated to a greyish lavender. The color is the only thing less than extra about this supervillian.

Josh Brolin is chillingly calm-of-voice while detailing the alien's mass-murdering agenda. Supervillains are usually trying to destroy the planet but with Thanos the entire universe is at stake. Gamora, the green Guardian of the Galaxy (the one who looks like Zoe Saldana if you’re having trouble keeping track -- there are literally over 70 named characters!) warns anyone that will listen that Thanos will destroy half of all life in the universe “with the snap of his fingers” if he gets his hands on all six stones. He already has three of the Infinity Stones by the end of the first scene (if I recall correctly) and has a clear bead on where the other three are.

And off we go!

The director brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, who first showed their formidable action chops in Captain America: Winter Soldier  have the difficult task of topping 18 other movies in terms of the intensity, speed, and stakes of the action. They succeed intermittently though the action lacks both the thrilling character focus of Winter Soldier's intense melees and the emotional heft of Civil War's friendly-fire sadness. Infinity War never takes a deep breath -- there's no stopping at, say, Hawkeye's family home as in Age of Ultron to recuperate -- which isn't necessarily healthy for the movie. More time with The Scarlet Witch and The Vision, whose curious romance factors heavily into the film's story, would surely have granted the movie more rewatchable passion.

But perhaps any success given the supersized expectations and level-of-difficulty of this franchise devouring other franchises is something to cheer on.  And the action, at least, is exciting and varied. My favorite sequence was a Thanos versus Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange throwdown but there's a different configuration for virtually any taste since the movie is less a movie with big action set pieces than one long continuously evolving action setpiece with tiny emotional interstitials.

Still, the action works. Those two opening deaths imbue Infinity War with a feeling of genuine danger and 'anything might happen!' abandon that's usually entirely absent in franchises.

 Thanos is extra but then so is Avengers Infinity War. If you've kept up at all it shouldn't be a spoiler to tell you that the thrust of the plot centers around Doctor Strange and The Vision, both of whom openly display one of Thanos's must have gems on their costumes. If you love action spectacle the movie is a must see, each scene packed with detailed incident (it's not just mindless punching!), visual verve and even character-serving beats. Most of the heroes get at least one big quip and one big gif-able action moment despite there being three dozen of them! About five of the characters even get something approaching an emotional arc though let’s not start overstating the movie’s raison d’etre: it's a spectacle not an acting showcase. That said it's an awfully good thing that the movie has ten years worth of emotional investment to draw from, courtesy of its generally stellar casting choices and the anchoring power of Chris Evans as Captain America (at this point the amount of swoon he causes is its own super power) and Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man. 

Despite all of this and the two and a half hour running time Infinity War is only half a movie! 

This geekout trailer moment was a fakeout. It's not in the movie. Or at least it's different in a very major way in the movie.

During production it was originally called Infinity War Part 1 but the Part 1 got dropped along the way -- probably when Marvel Studios realized that audiences were getting sick of the popular Aughts trend of splitting last films of a franchise in two because 'why earn one billion when you can earn two?!?' But being only half of a movie is a problem. We're meant to be shocked and dismayed at the movie's crazy over-the-top climax with its alarming death toll but I personally ended up feeling cheated. The deaths become so outrageous in number that it was impossible to take them seriously -- no movie studio would ever commit suicide by killing off roughly $20 billion immediate dollars worth of their intellectual property -- and the drama fizzled away like ash. Part 2 (as yet untitled) will obviously be forced to reverse the destruction which makes Part 1  feel empty at the core or, at best, like a sick fake-out.

Cliffhangers are for serials and TV series, which both use chapter structure more naturally than feature films. Ending a movie at the halfway point is as annoying as cutting off a review in mi

 

 

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Reader Comments (33)

The Tesseract and the Scepter were two different things, if you can believe it. Why Thanos would give an Infinity Stone over to Loki to capture another Infinity Stone....doesn't really make much sense.

To be honest with you, I'm not totally sure I know what Thanos' plan was with New York in the first Avengers when you really think about it. To do something similar to what he did to Gamora's world? That's my only guess.

What'd he need any of these other assholes for anyway?

May 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKyle

I actively hated this movie. Not as much as Civil War, but that was just no.

People who want to make an ensemble movie and NOT have it be a confusing mess (like this movie was) need to go watch an Altman or Guest movie. Or the LOTR trilogy.

The ending was the crowning jewel of various and numerous bad discisions Marvel's been making since 2013, narrative-wise. And behind-the-scenes-wise, but that's a whole 'nother can-o-worms, I tell you h'what.

Also, because I'm a thirsty bitch I must say: you have Steve Rogers looking prime Daddy mode, and you have him in clothes for the entire movie?! No ma'am.

May 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterChris

The ending didn't really bother me. I thought it was part of the ride-- which this movie feels more like. A ride vs a 'feature film' and that's not a bad thing! I mean clearly they're going to find a way to bring those dead Avengers back, esp since two of them have two of the most successful solo outings of the bunch. IMO, this movie definitely delivered in a big way. I feel like it is so easy to criticize it for being overstuffed, but look what it is stuffed with! The effects are amazing, there really isn't a bad performance in the film, and you can watch those youtube videos with audio from audiences in theatre's going buck wild. I also don't think I can judge immediately since it is only the first part of it's story. I'm ready for Capt Brie and Antman 2 and then bring on the sequel :)

May 1, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermikenewq

Dude, confusing? Did you even watch the same movie? LOL

May 1, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterizz

@izz: you're right, confusing isn't the right word. Was trying to think of one and that stuck out, but yeah. Still a ducking mess tho.

May 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterChris

I liked the movie, but there are a lot of questions to answer. For instance (and I won't call this a spoiler since it ties into the first scene recalled in this article), where the hell is Valkyrie? She played such a major role in Ragnarok but isn't even given the glory of a movie death scene.

One reviewer said that Infinity War writes so many checks that will be impossible for the sequel to cash them all. I agree.

May 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

I 100% agree on the ending. Not to get too spoiler-y, but it feels like a cop-out, and it also ignores the fact that TV series eventually end, thus making this a different scenario with television. The emotional pull of that final scene would have been emotionally taxing (particularly the pleas of one superhero) if there was even the slightest chance it wasn't able to be undone, but as it was, I was mostly rolling my eyes at how they weren't even subtle about who remained.

May 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Sawyer: I read somewhere today that one of the Russo brothers basically confirmed Valkyrie is still alive. My guess is some future Thor sequel will in flashback show her leading some sort of small retreat/evacuation before Thanos attacked.

The movie was certainly a fun ride, but yeah, the ending felt like a cheat. Upon reflection though, I can see how this ending could lead to some really interesting plot threads for the next one. Looks like based on that end credits scence Captain Marvel is going to play a pretty central role too, which is an exciting prospect.

May 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDrewB

SPOILERS AHEAD:

I thought the ending was cheap given that we all know none of it is permanent, and that Peter-Tony scene specifically felt like audience manipulation.

Also, it seems like a big excuse to have a reason for the original six Avengers to save the day in Part 2. I'm guessing Hawkeye is going to have a huge part.

May 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Within the context of the movies and the story, it really works, Here in unfortunate reality, we sadly know better.

I did not know there was another movie, so I was surprised by the ending (and the audience reaction afterwards really did feel like a funeral).

Chris, you're completely right about Cappy (and he didn't have much else to do anyway), but we did get scruffy Ruffalo as compensation.

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

I quite liked it! It reminded me so much of ‘Return of the King’ where it somehow managed to be the best of a trilogy because it so powerfully unified all of the past elements into one robust package. My only issue with it was the familiar lack of depth a majority of the Marvel movies have, but it still managed to reap more than a few tears out of my eyes. The end is ine of the most terrifying Ive ever seen in film.

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKris01

Totally not confirmed but the Russo brothers have hinted Valkyrie is very much alive, and Tessa Thompson's winking has all but confirmed she's coming back for Part II.

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAlexD

SPOILER WARNING (for this and Toy Story 3, just in case anyone hasn't seen that):

Question: did anyone actually think Woody, Buzz and the rest were going to die in that furnace scene in Toy Story 3? No!!! We all knew they would get rescued and get back to Andy somehow... and yet, that furnace scene is still unbelievably effective, because even though we know they're going to get out of there somehow, they don't, and watching a group of characters we've come to know and love facing what they believe is their imminent death is horrifying.

I bring this up because I feel the same principle applies here. Yes, we know most if not all of these characters that crumbled into dust will come back somehow in the next film, but these are characters we've spent so much time with that watching them crumble like that, or even yet, seeing the people next to them watch as they crumble (particularly Tony watching Peter crumble as he pleads with him that he's not ready), that's incredibly effective. For all these people know, they've just lost these people they've come to care about, and no matter how much we may know about how this universe works, in the moment, this may as well be permanent. I'm curious to see how they handle their return in the next movie or if any other character we haven't seen has crumbled (did Pepper Potts? what about Hawkeye's family?).

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

This movie is a miracle, in a profit-obsession, safe-only Hollywood.

Thank you, Marvel, for taking risks again and again.

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

As a dedicated MCU fan, I enjoyed the film a lot, but...

I would have traded 10 or 15 minutes of CGI battle spectacle for more character moments. (But I have this same complaint with nearly all superhero films.) The character interactions were the real jewels of the film. "Wait, there's now an Ant-Man AND a Spider-Man?"

Of all the things that remained unshown, the one that REALLY annoyed me was Thanos already having the Orb/Power Stone in his possession in the first scene and just telling us he'd already been to Xandar and defeated the Nova Corps to get it. Couldn't we have had a brief flashback with Glenn Close and John C. Reilly doing their best to stop him?!?

One of the many articles I read in the last couple of days pointed out that this film isn't the MCU's Empire Strikes Back - as many are saying - but its ST:TNG Best of Both Worlds Part 1. As thrilling as that cliffhanger was when it first aired, NOBODY expected Captain Picard to remain a Borg if the series was to continue. And the pile-up of character deaths in this film is the same: moving as they are, given comic book storytelling, we shouldn't mourn too much.

Hiding in Plain Sight Solution: Doctor Strange examined 14 million possible futures with the Eye of Agomotto and discovered just one where they defeat Thanos. After he hands the Time Stone over to Thanos, apparently to save Tony, he says, "It was the only way." He's in effect initiating the one future where they're successful... even if means half the universe "dies" FIRST. Did he enspell the Time Stone to only SEND the "dead" to elsewhere in the multiverse? Did he foresee Captain Marvel riding to rescue? Did he read Kevin Feige's mind?!?

Beyond the film: Yesterday I also saw some set pics leaked from the simultaneous shoot of the next Avengers film of things that definitely weren't in this film. Cap in his blue uniform from The Avengers; Natasha with red hair; Thor with his long hair and classic costume; forties cars... So I suspect a Back to the Future Part 2 return visit to the events of the earlier films. And do the old cars explain why Hayley Atwell is present in the ten year class photo?!? Our beloved Agent Carter?!? (Though she might still be SHIELD Director Emeritus in the nineties-set Captain Marvel instead... or also!)

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDoctor Strange

@Steve

"audience manipulation"? It's character developement in a story arch... Tony's relationship with Peter Parker starts in Civil War, then follows in Homecoming and culminates in that moment, which is not only amazing and touching, but also EARNED through three films.

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

In response to Richter

SPOILER ALERT

I agree with Toy Story 3 comparisons to a certain extent. I'd honestly be fine with this ending IF the franchises weren't going to continue on and on forever-and-ever. Part of what made Toy Story 3 so effective was that it was that furnace scene coupled with Andy's final play time with Woody & the gang. It was the idea that we were officially saying goodbye to these characters. Toy Story 4 in many ways ruins the last movie, and ruins the franchise to a lesser degree because stories need to end. This one didn't. Even if Avengers decides to end certain character's franchises with the next picture, this story never ends, and just keeps going and going and going. That might work in something like a soap opera, but it will eventually become redundant and repetitive and less interesting as time goes by, particularly considering how formulaic the Avengers origin stories tend to be. Movie series should end, because even the most enduring characters will eventually become repetitive and dull after enough time. Otherwise they eventually become TV procedurals, which while somewhat popular, are relatively banal and unable to hold the public's interest indefinitely, and certainly don't hold the zeitgeist captive.

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Re: Toy Story 3...

...the difference was, Toy Story 3 didn't open with numerous sequels and spinoffs already announced.

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAustin

John T- say that to Bond. Thise last movies reinvigorated that franchise

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPedro

@Doctor Strange

1) Xandar... buzz is, that will be the opening sequence of "Nova", a film about to be announced and Marvel's worst kept secret.

2) Ant Man and the Wasp are the opening door for the quantum realm, which is what will open the Pandora box for multiple paradoxes in A4. Multiverse is the key word... at core, don't expect as much as the dead characters "resurrecting", but diving ourselves into an alternate continuum in which SOME characters will come back, but others will stay Dead-Dead or die without resurrection. After A4 is finished, expect Chris Evans, Dave Bautista, Tom Hiddleston, Robert Downey Jr and some others to only pop up in flashbacks/cameos in future films. I'd say that there's a HUGE chance of Aaron Taylor-Johnson coming back... if they adapt "Disassembled" and "House of M".

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

Pedro-fair, but Bond had been eyebrow-raising in terms of quality for a couple of decades prior to Daniel Craig ordering a martini.

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Jesus -- it's crazy that the comic book genre never can let go of multiple universes. It's almost always why I personally eventually tune out. It's impossible to have stakes if everything is constantly chaning and rules constantly rewritten and past events constantly undone. That was one thing i liked about the Marvel movies is that they seemed less oroborus like and "never mind" and "psyche!" back-tracking.

It's literally why i gave up comic books back in the day and I predict it will eventually make people bored of this genre... though they dont seem to be yet. But it would be foolish to assume that the genre will never lose its appeal for audiences since all genres have at one time or another.

May 2, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

SPOILERS:

I'm not bothered at all about Infinity War being two parts. If they had tried to fit it in to one movie it would have been extra bloated (its still a little bloated but not to the degree it could've been). Also its true to the main story this is based on. In the comics Thanos wins at first if I'm not mistaken.

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJackie

The difference between TOY STORY 3's furnace scene and the end of INFINITY WAR is that the furnace scene reaches for the emotional wallop and then the movie still ends. It feels a bit silly to see people online talking about how the end of INFINITE WAR has destroyed them because the film is suggesting that what happened is it and the end (not helped by the trailer marketing it as "it all ends here", which obviously it doesn't).

May 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

Finally just watched it. The film is just what you expect it would be and more. But I'm still indifferent toward the whole thing. Just grateful they didn't kill Black Widow.

May 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSTFU

"We've apparently jumped forward or sideways from the amusing ending of Thor Ragnarok because the Guardians of the Galaxy are not with Thor and he's already all chained up from some attack we weren't privvy to."

WHAT?

Thor never met Guardians before, and thos movie begins almost right after Ragnarok end credits scene where Thanos' ship shows up.

May 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMierzwiak

Nathaniel...

Why would people get bored of superheros, when the superhero genre actually allows any kind of genre in itself?

R-Rated Comedy: Deadpool
Drama: Superman Returns
Thriller: The Dark Knight
Heist: Ant Man and Infinity War
Space Comedy: Guardians of the Galaxy
Comedy: Thor: Ragnarok
Horror: The New Mutants (promised to be following that genre)
Indie: Super (James Gunn)
etc...

How many iterations of Dracula and Sherlock Holmes have we had yet? And the ones to come. And zombie films. And so on... people will not get tired of superheros as long as they stop reinventing themselves, and Marvel surely knows how to avoid that... Just compare Dr. Strange and Iron Man's first outings... they're basically the same story with different angles and perspectives to make them feel unique and different. It's OK you grew tired of super heros, but I think they're just warming up in their possibilities... and most of the characters you don't imagine can stay dead, may be dead-dead in the end. There's enough time-jump between their last films and Infinity War for some of the dead characters to have had adventures to be shown as their announced sequels of the films (so, they could take place BEFORE the events of Infinity War... in some cases, their REPLACEMENTS have been already introduced to the audiences)

May 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

Mierzwiak -- that wasn't a stinger on THOR RAGNAROK? I was almost 1000% certain it was. I've seen other reviews wonder what happened between the ending / beginning.

May 8, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I saw this site which Streams HD Comic Book Movies in 1080p
https://comicsmoviesdb.weebly.com
Worth checking out

May 9, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterrosa smith

The Super Movie Ever!

May 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVeronica Grill

@Nat: The GOTG gang never met Thor before this film. The last scene in Ragnarok just showed a black shadow -- which leads into this film. I think for some reason you and others are remembering the last scene from one of the Infinity Wars trailers.

May 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSid

Nice movie and this is so awesome movie, I'm excited for next part

June 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMovie waploft

So Aowasam movie

June 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMovie waploft

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