I’ll admit, I was having a hard time getting hyped up about Infinity War as we approached it. First I thought that Black Panther had stolen all my excitement, but once the movie was past, still didn’t feel that enthused. I just kept looking at Infinity War and thinking oh god this is going to be a train wreck. Just too many characters in something movie-length.
Well, having seen it, I can now tell you that past me was wrong. The movie actually did a really good job of fitting in all the characters and giving most of them at least a moment or two. This was accomplished by splitting them up into several groups, and then interweaving the individual plots of those groups to build up to the Epic Battle(TM). That worked way better than I could have imagined; it was fun, the right people got put together for neat interactions, and I never found it confusing.
No, I’ve got completely different reasons that I’m not happy with this movie.
The plot, by the way, is that Thanos is a dick and wants the Infinity Stones so he can make half the people in the universe, determined by RNG, instantly die. Because scarce resources, something something no one ever bothers really arguing with his philosophy. The good guys think this is a bad idea, and thus there is conflict and a lot of punching.
There were things I really liked, which are the standard things you get out of any MCU film: some damn fun dialog from characters I like and good fight scenes. I did genuinely enjoy myself at places.
If you want to know what I didn’t like, well. That’s spoiler territory. Read at your own risk if you haven’t seen the film yet. And also let’s keep in mind that I’m totally allowed to have my opinion and you’re totally allowed to disagree because different people relate to pieces of art differently! *throws confetti*
ATOMIC SPOILERS INCOMING, TURN BACK NOW TO SAVE YOURSELF.
This is, without a doubt, my least favorite MCU movie that I’ve seen. (Having not bothered with Ant Man or Doctor Strange, I’ll admit this isn’t definitive.) I can divide my objections into one major and two minor points of unhappiness:
1. The plot structure is shit.
The plot of the film, beneath the veneer of Thanos wants a thing and we need to stop him, is literally sectioning off pairs of characters and repetitively giving them the same choice: Do you save the one person you love most in the world, or do you save 50% of life in the universe? Once or twice, maybe that could have been interesting, depending on the characters you use for it. Particularly because the choice gets mirrored in the one Thanos makes when he decides to murder Gamorra so he can then murder half the universe (more on this later). That could have been an opportunity to compare his convictions with that of the good guys.
But not Every. Fucking. Time. Literally every time one of the infinity stones is brought into the equation, that’s the choice presented. If the movie is trying to pose a question about the weight of one life against the many, it does a shit job. And frankly, it’s boring. While stakes need to be personal, making them literally the same stakes over and over gets repetitive. Frankly, it’s boring.
And besides that, the movie takes great pains to show that when one of the characters makes the choice they’ve been cornered into, it doesn’t matter. Quill tries to follow Gamorra’s wishes and shoot her, which Thanos undoes with the Reality stone. Wanda tries to blow up the Soul stone because Vision convinces her to, and Thanos rewinds things using the Time stone.
I’m not arguing that there wasn’t a certain amount of inevitability inherent to the plot of this film. We knew by the end that Thanos would have the whole set, and it would be a down ending, and the sequel will be about fixing that. Hell, we know they will be fixing at least the people Thanos turned into ash, considering Spider-man and Black Panther have got to have more films coming at the least. And that’s sure one way to pull the punch out of all of those deaths, even if Tony getting a final hug from Peter still managed to crack my heart because the actors just fucking sold it.
My real problem here is that the inevitable conclusion was arrived at by character choices literally not mattering. Wanda and Vision’s sacrifice meant nothing. Quill’s struggle to do what Gamorra wanted meant nothing. Arguably the only two character choices in the entire goddamn film that mattered were Thanos’s decision to murder Gamorra and Strange’s decision to give up the Time stone since it presumably sets the path for the one future where the good guys can win.
I have a particular hatred for deterministic plots. If you don’t share my dislike of them, that’s fine. And there is something to be said for the use of inevitability in plot when it’s something where you’re pointing to the horrible reality that so many of our choices don’t mean a fucking thing in the real world. But this is a fucking superhero movie, and the whole point of superhero movies is to play out the fantasy that individual action can have world-shaking effects.
There were plenty of other ways they could have arrived at this same, necessary, downer of an ending. Hell, I love the really twisty thing where the heroes make choices that they think are right, and it actually plays into the villain’s hands. That would have been a hell of a lot more interesting than what we got. At least give me some fucking variation. You had three hours to figure it out.
So yeah. I really didn’t dig this.
2. Gamorra’s death is shit.
I’m not necessarily angry with the fact of what went down. Thanos is a piece of shit, news at 11. What I don’t like here is that Gamorra is curiously absent from her own murder. He flings her off the edge and then we focus on his Single Tear of Manly Pain(TM) while she presumably falls, then we get a brief look at her corpse. The whole cinematic point of her death is to somehow humanize Thanos, like oh look he believes in his despicable plan so much he’ll totally kill the person he loves most in the universe without ever interrogating how fucked up and wrong it is to even call that love.
(As an aside, it’s also frustrating that the only challenge Thanos ever gets in this regard boils down to “you can’t kill half of everyone.” There’s no push back from the heroes on his view about limited resources or anything like that. Which is not something you do to convince the character, but rather to show the many dimensions of why he’s wrong and how twisted his thinking actually is.)
Basically, Gamorra’s death is entirely about Thanos, and his feelings. It’s about developing his character. There should have been a fridge waiting at the bottom for her to land in, and it would have been perfect.
3. What happened to the Asgardians is shit.
I will admit here that I might be angrier about this than I should be, because the Thor movies have always been my favorite part of the MCU. But yeah, they can go fuck themselves for this one. I loved Thor: Ragnarok. I loved the place where it left Loki and Thor. I love what it set up with the future of the Asgardians. I loved what Taika Waititi did.
And this movie took such a giant shit all over it, I can’t even begin to count the splatters. The killed Heimdall–first death in the movie was the black Asgardian, way to go. They killed at least half the Asgardians–we only have dialog to assure us that some survived, and I guess they’re with Valkyrie? And then they killed Loki in the most stupid fucking pointless move ever. That’s where I come really unglued.
Great emotional moment where Loki calls himself Odinson and reels off his titles. Then he tries to stab Thanos… from the front? How is that like Loki at all? And he accomplishes nothing with his death. Like if it had even acted as some kind of diversion so Thor could escape, I would have been unhappy, but okay. But instead, all it does is make Loki a sad corpse, one which Thor later assures us he’s pretty certain is real this time. And I tend to agree with him, since Loki definitely would have stopped playing possum by the time Thanos had fucked off and left Thor apparently dead and drifting in space.
(Bonus ARGH that later in the movie, Rocket gives Thor a new eye, thus shitting all over yet another development from Ragnarok and hitting the “let’s magically fix disability” trope too. While making it a joke that it was up Rocket’s butt because yeah that’s totally okay and not really disturbing and gross and horrifying to anyone who might actually use a prosthetic.)
So yeah. I hated that so fucking much and that was the first scene of the movie. And if the next movie totally undoes it, I’ll be simultaneously happy that they’re unfucked and mad that I got emotionally manipulated like that, so yeah. Whee.
Have I mentioned that I hate a lot of time travel plots for this reason?
(Also in the realm of shitting on previous movies, how about Peter Quill after two movies of learning to get over his asshole masculine issues ruining the best chance of getting the gauntlet of Thanos because he couldn’t control his fucking temper for five seconds.)
And of course I’m going to watch the next one.
Because they’ve got me by the emotional balls and I want to know if only the people who got ashed come back, or if any of their other cheap moves will get fixed by Strange ex Machina. I find this aggravating. I’m also not counting on it… but fuck I want them to fix what they did to the Asgardians. (It’s possible, since it looks like Tom Hiddleston’s got another film on his contract if this is to be believed… and it’s pretty sad that we’re doing spoilermancy this way, but that’s how we know for example that the Guardians of the Galaxy are Just Fine and that kind of sucks the stakes out of it too.)
But I guess yay for Captain Marvel?