Cinema: ‘Infinity War’ Is An Unsatisfying Mess
The Marvel Cinematic Universe started ten years ago with Iron Man and ever since then it has been building up to and promising a finale that would be truly epic. Infinity Stones have been magic MacGuffins for countless films and Thanos has made plenty of cameos as it was promised he would be the villain of all villains. After ten years of many lackluster villains and only a handful of truly compelling ones, expectations ran very high in anticipation of Thanos and the conclusion of ten years of buildup. Hype like this is hard to live up to, and it’s important to gauge your expectations to be as realistic as possible. However, even with that in mind I couldn’t help, but leave Infinity War disappointed. Warning, major spoilers are ahead.
Besides some misleading marketing that this would be a finale to the MCU, one of the biggest problems of Infinity War was the tone. With the high death count and the super serious stakes of half the universe dying, you’d think that Infinity War would be a more somber and serious movie. Unfortunately, during most of the film the serious scenes were undercut with jokes. The movie couldn’t go more than a minute or two without making some sort of witty line or gag. To say it was obnoxious would be an understatement. That’s not to say the movie needed to be dark and depressing the whole time. However, the levity of humor should have been spaced out and only used when necessary, and not forced into every other line. If the movie can’t even take itself seriously, why should I?
Another big issue of the movie was the pacing. With how many characters Marvel needed to juggle, it’s not much of a surprise that this movie’s plot is clunky and all over the place. Basically, the characters were divided up into several groups and each group was given only a little bit of time before the movie progressed on to the next group. It reminded me a little bit of Batman V Superman, where scene would come after scene without any real connectivity. It wasn’t nearly as bad, but the story still didn’t flow very smoothly. In a good film, a movie can either start at the beginning and slowly build up the momentum over time or it can start right in the middle of a conflict or the in medias res as it’s called. Infinity War takes the in medias res option, but fails to keep the ball continuously rolling. There are many lulls in the story before it’s able to regain some steam.
Infinity War was also full of plot contrivances. For one, I don’t buy for a second that only one in fourteen million of Doctor Strange’s looks into the future led to Thanos’ defeat. If Starlord hadn’t punched Thanos, the plan they went with would have worked. Are we really supposed to believe that even if the heroes had the Infinity Gauntlet, they would still lose? Speaking of that plan, while it was in character for Starlord to attack Thanos, it’s such a selfish decision that it makes Starlord’s character extremely unlikable and just about unredeemable. No matter how upset he was, he is directly responsible for half of the galaxy dying. There is no coming back from that. He comes off as either too stupid or too selfish to understand the consequences of his actions. It’s even a bit hypocritical of him as he chided Drax for attempting to do the same thing earlier in the film. Besides that, for someone who acts as though his quest to exterminate half of all life is the most important thing in the galaxy, Thanos sure screws around a lot. The movie tries to paint Thanos as some sort of well-intentioned extremist, but instead he comes off as some sort of sadist who revels in hurting others. He talks about what a burden it is, but never acts as if it is. Thanos almost loses the Infinity Gauntlet twice in the film, even though he has the reality gem in his possession both times and should have never even come close to losing it. You might say that this was done to give the heroes a fighting chance, but it feels like artificial conflict. The reality gem should have been one of the last gems for him to obtain along with the time stone, because with either of them it should be next to impossible for Thanos to lose a fight.
Finally, one of the most disappointing problems of this movie was the lack of weight to the stakes. No one who died in this movie will stay dead. I’ll admit the first couple of deaths actually had me believing there would finally be some consequence to these films, but once half the characters started disappearing I knew everyone would just be back by the next movie. Not a single of the original Avengers died, but nearly every single one of the new generation of heroes did. Marvel can’t possibly expect us to believe that for one second that it would kill off Black Panther, Spiderman and every single member of the Guardians of the Galaxy except Rocket Raccoon. Maybe this is just a problem of Marvel announcing their slate of films years in advance, but even characters that haven’t had official sequels announced yet we know won’t die. Black Panther is not only one of the highest grossing superhero films, but one of the highest grossing films period. You’d have to be stupid not to make a sequel to it. How is anyone supposed to feel the weight of the situation when you know none of it is going to stick? Now, a movie doesn’t always have to kill half its characters to have stakes, but there at least needs to be some sort of lasting consequence to characters’ actions. Civil War was one of the only films to acknowledge this, but even the consequences of that film were literally handwaved away by Rhodey. Even Thor who only lost his eye one movie ago, already had a new one by the halfway point of this film. Why even take his eye if you’re just going to give him a new one before he can even reflect on his loss? Comics are notorious for lacking consequence as the status quo must be kept, but this isn’t a comic book. This may be an adaptation, but unlike comics, these same characters can’t keep going on forever. Robert Downey Jr. is eventually going to get to a point where he’s tired of playing Iron Man. Heck, this was even supposedly Chris Evans’ last movie until Kevin Feige convinced him to stay. These characters deserve a fitting end, and their audience deserves some sort of conclusion for all the time its invested. Every story should have a beginning, middle and end.
At the end of the day, Infinity War is far from the worst film I’ve ever seen. While it does have its share of problems and it’s a film I have no intention of viewing again, many will likely be able to see past its flaws and enjoy it. The film is full to the brim with fan service and those just looking for a couple hours of distraction will be entertained for at least a decent portion of the film. The action and effects, while nothing mind blowing, were serviceable and the acting was solid with a few genuinely good performances here and there. It’s not a film I would recommend, but if you loved every other Marvel film that’s come before it, chances are you’ll love Infinity War too. It’s disappointing that this is what the new bar of quality is for the biggest movie of the year, but it’s hardly the most offensive movie to have held that title.