Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War serves as the culmination of the first three (3) “Phases” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film finally set the stage for Thanos, the Mad Titan, and his quest to find the Infinity Stones and his desire to use it for his own ends. He brought with him an army and his “Children,” lieutenants with power to rival those of the Avengers’. However, with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes effectively disbanded, and with some even on the run, it appears nothing stands between Thanos and his quest for universal domination.
Fans and those familiar with the MCU would’ve described the film as the “darkest” in the franchise to date. This isn’t entirely wrong. Plot-wise, the film finally starts tying loose ends that began in as early as The Avengers (2012). Thanos chose the best time to pursue his quest as Earth’s heroes had split into their own factions after Captain America: Civil War. Unfortunately, it seems the universe doesn’t wait for anyone – and Infinity War set off the proverbial time bomb since the Avengers disassembled after Sokovia. The End is here, and no one’s there to stop it.
Production-wise, Infinity War serves as the 19th film of the MCU, which as of writing is the highest-grossing film franchise of all time. The movie will finally start connecting the dots and tie up all the loose ends of around 35 hours’ worth of storytelling. The film also heralds the conclusion of acting contracts of some of the franchise’s biggest actors. This means, unfortunately for fans, some characters will have to say goodbye one way or the other.
Almost a month into the film’s premiere, and our team here at What’s A Geek! thinks it’s about time we wrote an Infinity War review. Here’s Rhenn Taguiam and his own take on the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe entry. Spoiler warning, too.
Marvel’s Infinity War: Welcome to the End
Pacing had undeniably become one of the film’s most appealing qualities. Fitting a Thanos introduction and the pursuit of the Infinity Stones may seem tad a bit too intense for two-and-a-half hours, but Marvel made it work.
Destiny finally arrives in the form of the Mad Titan, already possessing the Power Stone at the start of the film. He does quick work to gain the other Stones, too, getting the upper hand in a matter of minutes of screen time as he pursued one Stone after the other. Kind of like that one person in group projects that inevitably does all the work.
The result made Infinity War having nary a moment to breathe. Thanos maneuvering over threat after threat seemed natural and “on point.” This perhaps made the concluding #ThanosSnap all the more intense, and the credits all the more dreadful. Fact of the matter is, audiences really only had the credits to digest everything.
Half the universe was obliterated: so where do we go from here?
At this point, it can be viewer consensus that Infinity War is good. It may have even cemented itself as a hallmark of the superhero film industry. It’s certainly far from the best, though, and fans would also agree the film had its share of setbacks. What propelled Infinity War to its blockbuster status, though, was not just fan hype, but the massive investment people had going into the cinemas.
The Right Kind of Hype
Hype, perhaps, contributed much to the success of the film – both in terms of reception and production. Ten (10) years and 18 films’ worth of narrative had given screenwriters a lot of room to adjust elements like pacing, plot, and character development. Marvel’s cinematic entries evidently have problems with the latter, perhaps even the other two, but a reference here and an implication there helped push stories forward.
Do take note though, “Hype” in this case doesn’t necessarily mean the film was successful “because of the hype.” The same goes for the rest of Marvel’s cinematic entries. However, Infinity War did get the tease as the highlight of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since its conception. Investment on part of the viewers arrived as soon as the clamor for The Avengers started, and the MCU skyrocketed to popularity. The idea of having superheroes together in a grand crossover is nothing short of epic.
Marvel generated the right kind of hype for its own film franchise, and the hype ballooned into a massive ray of fan expectations, both in terms of story and production value. With 18 films of rather entertaining adventure flicks before it, fans can enter cinemas as though they “knew” Infinity War would have that signature Marvel “flair.” It was only a matter of whether Marvel gets to follow-through with the Infinity War hype.
When Thanos teased (inevitably) a race for the Infinity Stones, fans knew it was only a matter of time before an Infinity War story. When the Russos revealed the slate for the first three “Phases,” theories on Infinity War were already popping left and right. One thing is for sure, though: the idea of having superheroes die is nothing short of dreadful.
Leveraging on Care
Marvel does a unique take on comic book adaptations that other franchises could take a page out of. Their shared universe admittedly takes elements from their comic book origins – but they never quite tried too hard with the details. Theories on most MCU films barely land the jackpot because fans keep on looking at comic books instead of the ongoing narrative. Marvel does a spectacular job of making the fan hype work for itself that a lot of room is left for production to get creative.
The results are stories that are as close as we could get to “real” Marvel. Characters, too, seemed as though they were “real.” Vira Haglund mentioned one of the best ways to make a remarkable story is to make sure viewers can identify with characters. This allows the audience to have a “window into the story,” and see the world through their eyes.
From a creator’s standpoint, one could do this by revealing subtle things about their past, or making them intriguing for readers. These characters should have habits or patterns, flaws and opportunities for redemption, and a goal to aspire to. Fitting all of these in a single film is nothing short of impossible. Marvel created quite the engaging characters not because their writers were the best, but they leveraged on time and the investments of viewers in the franchise.
In the case of Infinity War, you either get the winning narrative of Thanos or the losing narrative of the heroes. Overwhelming dread washes over you over and over as you see your heroes quip and make jokes as you know their demise is slowly retrieving his keys to victory. That’s why #ThanosSnap made such an impact – our heroes lost, and we can’t do anything to help them.
That Thing Called Thanos
Discussing Thanos again at this point is a bit too much, considering how many already do praise his development as a character. If Black Panther was any indication, character development doesn’t always need a mythic introduction. Sometimes, you just need to grab an unwilling character and throw him into a story. The character will inevitably do the rest – the same way Thanos shaped up to be quite the interesting antagonist in the film.
Of course, some sarcastic viewers may wonder why Thanos had to send “representatives” and wait ten (10) years instead of pursuing the Stones in the first place. He could’ve avoided the trouble by sending the Black Order immediately – they seemed perfectly capable of taking Earth’s Mightiest Heroes head on. Perhaps Thanos sent people like Loki and Ronan to get the Stones because the Black Order hadn’t been invented yet. Or maybe Thanos cost too much to have on-screen.
The Mad Titan will eventually have to make a move, of course, lest Infinity War wouldn’t have any central villain. This was compounded back in Age of Ultron (2015), when Thanos finally pushes the plot forward by donning the Infinity Gauntlet himself.
Thanos didn’t get much development prior to the film. If anything, he only got to menace the audiences through cameos. Marvel has had a habit of letting the story shape the character, something other promising stories failed to do. Hawkeye’s initial lackluster reception aside, his role still did quick work to propel the plot forward. One might compare this with the Vision’s creation in Age of Ultron.
Regardless, Marvel’s persistence on showing ordinary people rise against the odds is a shower of hope people need. Perhaps this is the same kind of hope that transforms even the emptiest of characters into fan favorites.
The Devil is In The Details
Marvel’s Infinity War didn’t fall down the dark path in one fell swoop. If anything, Infinity War proved the dark side did have cookies, and it was a terrifying sight to behold. Marvel’s cinematic entries proved despite the level of realism it tries to achieve, it never lost its comic book origins. The witty banter, the awkward exchanges, and the epic entourages were still ever-present in the film. It’s when Thanos continuously reminded the audience of his impending victory that really set the ominous tone for the entry. Perhaps it’s the details – especially the subtle changes – that can really set off even the most cautious of viewers.
- There wasn’t any instance of the team groufie, as in the shot at the third act that heralded the heroes’ victory. Battle lines were drawn, though, showing their last stand.
- The introductory and final credits felt empty. Take note – they weren’t bland, they felt empty. Empty, as though they were expecting you to know the outcome. Think a superhero documentary, where the facts are there, but the future remains ever uncertain.
- Considering the news about Stan Lee, to think this – or any of the future films – will inevitably his last is heartbreaking.
These were just few, and there were evidently more that other fans would’ve spotted. Some of these may even seem grasping at straws, but perhaps that’s what Marvel had intended. After all, to put more meaning into things can prove how much something could make an impact. What’s clear though was that Marvel had really gone for the extra mile to produce a Marvel film that, for all intents and purposes remains a Marvel film, but at the same time be very clear that things will change.
Perhaps what makes this scariest was to quote Thanos: No resurrections this time.
One of the reactions fans would have is, of course, that awkward gaze to Warner Bros. and the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). After the infamous #ThanosSnap at the end of Marvel’s recent cinematic foray were questions for the industry rival’s shared universe that, when summarized, would probably be along the lines of: What’s good, DCEU?
It’s perhaps fair to say the DCEU, which is still the unofficial name of the franchise, shouldn’t be immediately compared to the MCU. It’ll be an unfair match anyway, both in terms of sales and fan reception. The series has accumulated a total of a little over $3.7-billion worldwide, making it the 12th highest-grossing film franchise. This makes DCEU fall in between Transformers and Despicable Me (at 11th and 13th, respectively). Not exactly the prettiest of rivals, too.
Its supposed aces in the hole – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017) weren’t exactly shining beacons of the franchise either. Should we give the DCEU some slack? Probably, seeing as we’re looking at it from the perspective of a franchise barely a few years old competing against something that had 10 years’ worth of films (19, for a reminder) as a foundation. It will be a discussion for another time, point is, perhaps DCEU might make something out of Alfred’s: Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.
Admittedly, DC Comics’ shared film universe franchise has yet to meet the kind of “quality” Marvel has offered with theirs. Much more so given how Infinity War effectively occupied the hearts of geek masses for now. However, DC’s strong publishing game and its recent slate of stories may prove quite the formidable tales to share on the big screen.
The Future Is Still Bright
In retrospect, Avengers 4 will likely surprise audiences with either twice as much hopelessness as its predecessor, or perhaps counters it with twice as much hope. If the pager were any indication, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) will have some choice words for Thanos upon her arrival. And even then, all deaths aside for now, the Marvel Cinematic Universe does seem to have more films on its slate.
There is a tendency to forget that Infinity War serves as Act One for the Phase Three finale, with Avengers 4 to resolve things that needed to be resolved. Avengers 4, of course, will have to cap the stories of the main Avengers cast and pave way to the new batch of heroes. This is a trend which, as early as now, fans predict might be the trend for the franchise for years to come.
After Thanos’ inevitable defeat (spoiler alert?) will come a sequel for Spider-Man: Homecoming (2019). Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 and two other films will arrive come 2020. Three (3) more will grace 2021, and another three (3) for 2022. That’s a whopping 13 films, counting Ant-Man and the Wasp, Captain Marvel, and Avengers 4. The future is bright for superhero cinema – at least, for the MCU.
If you’ve enjoyed this review, do watch Avengers: Infinity War in cinemas! The film premiered in the Philippines on April 25, 2018, with a worldwide release on April 27, 2018.