Last night, the family and I finally found a timeslot to watch the much anticipated latest addition to the Marvel franchise, Avengers Infinity War. I was really looking forward to seeing this film at first, but the more I thought about it, the more hesitant I became. How much were the events of Infinity War going to change the universe that I’ve enjoyed for the past ten years? Since I’m still wrestling with that idea after seeing the film, I decided to knock out a quick few bullet points detailing my initial likes and dislikes.
Like: Inclusion of so many great characters, and being able to see some of them interact for the first time. The funniest dialog in the film occurs between Thor and Star Lord as the latter attempts to assert his male dominance over a clearly superior specimen. Not far behind is Star Lord attempting to usurp Tony Stark’s battle plan in favor of one that “doesn’t suck”. Basically, any time Chris Pratt is on screen fun things happen.
Dislike: For the most part, they do a nice job of juggling so many characters, but many (Captain America, Bucky, War Machine, Black Widow) don’t get the screen time they deserve and need in order to develop. Some, like Agent Hill and Nick Fury, only make a post-credits appearance. Some (Hawkeye, Ant Man) are completely absent. Given the already lengthy runtime of the film, it’s mostly focused on the events and battle sequences and less on developing characters.
Like: Inclusion of the Red Skull. Finally, we get to see what happened to one of the first villains in the MCU! While it was pretty evident that the great Hugo Weaving was no longer playing the role, it was a satisfying reveal, nonetheless.
Like: Loki’s meaningful death. It seems that Loki’s veer into the light side in Thor Ragnarok was genuine. After a turn as the main villain in Avengers 1 and numerous attempts to kill his own brother, Loki finally decides to risk his own survival to try and save Thor. Was it true brotherly affection that motivated him, or just the lesser of two evils? We’ll likely never know, but the Loki of old would have sacrificed Thor in order to gain favor with anyone who could do him a good turn. Not only did Loki’s death complete his character arc, it did end up saving Thor who becomes a vital piece of the Infinity War in later scenes.
Dislike: You killed Loki! The most interesting villain in the MCU (until Thanos) and you killed him! Bah.
Like: Bruce Banner driving the hulkbuster armor. A delightful bit of irony, the hulkbuster being driven by the Hulk, himself!
Dislike: Iron Man’s nano-bot technology. Honestly, this may be one of my biggest complaints about the film. Apparently since Civil War Tony has redone his Iron Main suit to be composed completely of nano-bots ala Big Hero 6. This allows his suit and weapons to take any form imaginable, creating an almost Mr. Fantastic quality to his fighting style (my arm is a hammer, oh, now it’s a gun, now my boots are one big rocket, now I’ve got a shark fin!). Not only that, but the suit, being completely adjustable and forever changing, is much more form-fitting than it has been in the past, and as a result looks much more cartoonish. The older suits (with the exception of the tin can Iron Man 3 variants) seemed much more weighty and impenetrable. Dare I say, even more realistic?
Like: The new Spider Man suit. Same technology as the Iron Man suit, presumably, but it just looks cool on Spider Man, who’s always been known for wearing form-fitting tights.
Like: Doctor Strange bargaining for Tony’s life. He had previously used his chrono-magic to view millions of potential future outcomes and saw only one in which the Avengers prevailed. He must have also seen that Tony played a major part in that one scenario, thus his willingness to hand over an infinity stone, which he had sworn his life to protect, in order to spare him. For several seconds, it certainly looked as though we were going to lose Iron Man, and I was very happy when we didn’t.
Dislike: Oh no, what’s the major part Tony has yet to play? Does he forfeit his life later? Are we going to lose him anyway? Oh no, oh no, oh no!
Like: Thanos as a complex, somewhat sympathetic villain. We learn pretty much everything we know about Thanos from this film alone, and the most surprising thing is that (unlike most MCU villains to this point) he’s not motivated by power. He’s motivated by peace. In his own twisted way of thinking, the only way to save the universe from consuming all available resources is to reduce the entire population by 50% in order that the remaining 50% can enjoy peaceful, prosperous lives without famine or wars due to resource contention. It’s essentially the opposite of Cap’s “we don’t trade lives” philosophy. And, to his credit, he keeps his eye on the prize, even at great personal loss.
Dislike: Screw that genocidal maniac, man.
Like: Captain America is back, and he’s even cooler as a vigilante than he was as a soldier. He goes toe-to-toe with Thanos and very nearly prevails. Though he looks a little rougher, he still holds firm to the principles that won him the opportunity to take the serum in the first place, just like the dying Dr. Erskine told him to so many films ago.
Dislike: Cap’s new shield. What’s with that thing? It barely covers his arm, let alone protect him from the greatest threat in the universe. And he can’t fling it around like the old one, or at least he doesn’t. Maybe he doesn’t know how to use it yet? Perhaps I’m just nostalgic, but without the iconic shield it just feels like there’s something missing. I know everybody is down on the whole “America” aspect of Captain America (since everybody hates us now), but it would be nice, for continuity’s sake, and to remind us of his roots, if the old red, white and blue shield would make a comeback.
Like: Thor as a major player. After mostly sitting on the sidelines in the first two Avengers films, the God of Thunder finally makes a formidable appearance now that the entire universe is at stake. What took you so long, Sparky?
Dislike: I’ve just got a bad feeling about Thor’s survival in the next film. Ever since Asgard was destroyed in Ragnarok, I’ve had this nagging feeling that Thor has little left to do in the universe. Now that his entire family and all his friends are gone (a point they made sure to cover in a conversation with Rocket, possibly setting the stage for a sacrifice play), it seems like his time is coming to an end. I mean, say he does survive the next film. Where does he go from there? He quite literally has no place to go and nobody to go with. Thor has nothing left to lose, and he knows it.
Like: Despite the apocalyptic snap of Thanos’ fingers, all of the original Avengers have survived. Captain America, Hulk (well, Banner, anyway), Thor, Widow and Iron Man are available to lend their talents to whatever comes next. Presumably, Hawkeye will also show up at some point. In hindsight, this actually makes perfect sense. They’re going to need those heavy-hitters to undo the Empire Strikes Back-type ending that we’ve been left with. It’s also nice to come full-circle to allow the originals to fulfill the purpose for which they were assembled.
Dislike: After viewing the film, I’m left with the nagging sensation that some of my favorite MCU characters will not make it through the next film. The only question is, which ones? I’d prefer an ending in which Tony Stark and Steve Rogers are allowed to walk away on their own terms, free to appear in small roles throughout the future phases of the MCU. But throughout Ragnarok and Infinity War, the writers have established that the “nobody’s really dead in Marvel” joke may no longer apply to the films. From a storytelling aspect, I completely understand. But from a fan’s standpoint, I’ll be very disappointed to see some of my favorite characters from the past ten years “offed”, never to return to their now classic roles.