Last weekend, Marvel’s newest film Avengers: Infinity War opened to record breaking sales and excited fans everywhere. I saw it opening day and afterwards, the theater was oddly silent. One fan stood up and said, “Well that was extremely depressing!” then walked around for a bit before sitting back down to watch the after-credits scene.
I’m going to be posting spoilers in this review, so be warned of that if you haven’t seen it.
No, really. I’m going to spoil it.
I’ve seen every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe except for Ant-Man, and I’ve enjoyed most of them. Sure, I’m not rooting for them to win any Oscars or go down as the greatest movies of all time, but I can’t deny they’re enjoyable, or they were. There’s no point in playing coy: I didn’t love Infinity War. Yes, it was fun, and yes, I’m glad I saw it, but I spent much of the movie stressed out in a bad way. In this post, I’m just going to say…
What no one wants to say
The Avengers movies are bloated to the point that a lot of heroes spill into each others’ standalone films. If all heroes are going to be in all movies, what’s the point of distinguishing between team movies and standalone movies? I’ve been wondering this since Captain America: Civil War, and I’m still wondering about it.
This is one reason I think Black Panther works so well; the film focuses on one place, one hero, so viewers get a complete idea of WHO T’Challa is and what he thinks being the Black Panther is all about. Spending time with characters means getting to know them, and that is a good thing. The inclusion of so many characters is making it difficult to actually LIKE these characters. For example, I like Sam, the Falcon, but barely had time to acknowledge he was in the movie before he was gone again. He flew across the screen and then was out, making way for a flood of other characters to, essentially, make cameos. In a way, this is personal preference. Some people enjoy seeing all the heroes at once, but I’d prefer more talking, more story.
One of Marvel’s strengths as a comic company is creating well-developed, emotionally rich characters, and I just don’t see that in Infinity War. The origin movies in the MCU do a good enough job of actually creating characters we care about, but once they’re introduced they’re thrown to the wind (literally, in the case of Infinity War). There’s a clear lack of time for all the characters to share the spotlight, but I wonder why that doesn’t mean a more condensed cast instead of inclusion at the cost of story.
So many characters fighting for screen time makes dramatic lines seem cheaper than they should. I didn’t feel a whole lot from this movie, though I know many did. I remember CRYING in theaters as I watched Steve Rogers tell Peggy to save him one last dance. Even though I knew what would happen--that Cap would be frozen for years and Peggy would grow old and die--I felt sad for them. I felt like their relationship meant something. In Infinity War, MANY MANY heroes died. Thanos wreaked destruction on a global level, but it somehow seemed less important than the quiet death of Peggy Olson.
Additionally, and perhaps I’m being petty here, the plot completely falls apart if you think about it for too long. Jenny Nicholson discusses this much more eloquently than I can, so take it away, Jenny!
Stuff I liked:
Though I just complained about the film having no emotional impact, some scenes did stick with me. Most notably, Peter Parker’s moment with Tony after The Snap haunted me the next day. Something about the way Peter hugged Tony Stark (a character I openly dislike, but have to accept as a core member of the team) and said, “I don’t want to go, Mr. Stark,” was touching. It also summed up how strange the disappearance of half the people in the world must have seemed. They didn’t die per se, they just...went away.
As usual, the fight scenes and special effects are great, and the addition of the Guardians of the Galaxy was a good thing. Dr. Strange also had an opportunity to be his weird self, which was fun. Lots of people dislike Benedict Cumberdoodle, but I think he’s great as Dr. Strange.
Ultimately, I’m not the audience for team hero movies, even though I love comic books and superheroes. I don’t like long fight scenes or constant action, but even I enjoyed Infinity War, despite its problems. No matter how you feel about the MCU, Infinity War is a movie everyone will be talking about, so if you want to be up to date on pop culture, you better go see it!