And lo, Marvel Studios absolutely wasn't kidding when they taunted that Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of the past ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is not idle hype. Though Comic Book Reality being what it is, you have to wonder just how much of what happens in this truly epic film will have lasting effects on where we are going forward.
Something tells me not all of it is going to all be washed away. What ends up sticking is anybody's guess.
Except not really...
If you've ever read comics before... if you've ever been left hanging in the middle of a two-part comic book story before... then there's nothing much in Infinity War that could be all that shocking to you. Likewise, anticipating the thrust of the story in next year's still-untitled-conclusion-movie also doesn't take much effort.
Infinity War actually did redefine the word "epic" when it comes to super-hero movies... or movies in general, really.
Obviously, my thoughts on the film are going into a spoiler-laden extended entry, which you absolutely do not want to read if you haven't seen Avengers: Infinity War yet.
You've been warned.
And also... another warning? Skip any trailers you haven't watched yet. One pretty major spoiler was dropped in one of the trailers I saw, and I'm still pretty raw about it.
And now? This is your last chance. Do not proceed unless having a movie ruined is something you enjoy.
Spoilers await in an extended entry...
In many ways, Avengers: Infinity War is misnamed. "Infinity War" implies that The Avengers will be fighting a war that goes on forever. If you've seen the movie, you know that's not quite true. Though the battle of good vs. evil does go on forever, this is truly the end for Earth's Mightiest Heroes as they are now.
Perhaps in some ways that are permanent.
It would be more accurate to say that this movie is the "War for The Infinity Gauntlet," a weapon of unimaginable abilities. Whomever wears The Infinity Gauntlet has mastery over all six fundamental energies which have defined the universe since it began (as defined by the half-dozen Infinity Gems the gauntlet contains... Power, Space, Reality, Soul, Time, and Mind... most of which have been finding their way into Marvel Studios films for the past several years). Thanos wants to assemble the gauntlet so he can finish the mission he set out upon ages ago: destroy half of all living things in the Universe.
His motivations for doing so are, by his thinking, a way of saving the Universe from itself. Too few resources are being fought over by too many beings, so getting rid of half of them will put the Universe back in balance. It's a noble goal, I suppose, and ample screen-time is given to Thanos so he can sell the audience on the idea of it all. He kinda succeeds, which is deserving of a hat-tip to directors Joe and Anthony Russo and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. They gave us one hell of a story.
And at the end of that story, half the Universe (as well as half the Marvel characters) are dead.
Like I said... no surprise. If you've read even a few comics, you know that the villains usually triumph before they are ultimately defeated. Going into the movie I expected Thanos to win. I expected heroes to die. that's how comic book stories work. They always have.
But even death ain't permenent in comics, so that's something that has to be factored in. Unless Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 is going to consist solely of Rocket Raccoon, at least some of those deaths will be temporary. Unless somebody other than Peter Parker is going to be Spider-Man in the Homecoming sequel, his death is temporary. Unless Marvel is going to kiss their money-making machine goodbye by having somebody else become Black Panther, he's coming back. If I were a betting man... I'd speculate that most everybody who died in Infinity War will come back so that the "final deaths" that are yet to come will be the real rug that gets jerked from under our feet.
Things I liked...
Things I didn't like...
Ultimately I enjoyed Avengers: Infinity War a heck of a lot. Though it's far from the top of my list. The spectacle of it all was almost too much, even though it was done so well for what it was meant to be. With that in mind, it may actually be the best Avengers movie yet, even though I didn't rank it as high as the first one. But I don't think it's the best Marvel movie. It definitely ranks behind Black Panther, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Doctor Strange, and Thor: Ragnarok, for example. Not sure it it places higher than Civil War, but it's probably in that area. Definitely deserving of an "A," that's for sure. I can't wait to see how they wrap it up. But if you want my guesses on that I've put my speculations in an addendum at the bottom of this entry.
Time to update my "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard...
The Avengers... A+
Avengers: Age of Ultron... A
Avengers: Infinity War... A
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Batman Dark Knight Rises... A
Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice... D
Big Hero Six... A+
Black Panther... A+
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Captain America: The Winter Soldier... A+
Captain America: Civil War... A+
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Deadpool 2... A
Doctor Strange... A
Electra Woman and Dyna Girl... B-
Fantastic Four (2005)... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Fantastic Four (2015)... D+
Guardians of the Galaxy... A+
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2... A
Ghost Rider... C
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance... D
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A-
Iron Man 3... A+
Jonah Hex... F
Kick-Ass 2... B-
Man of Steel... F-
Punisher War Zone... C
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World... C
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Amazing Spider-Man... D
Amazing Spider-Man 2... D-
Spider-Man: Homecoming... A+
Suicide Squad... D
Superman Returns... C+
Thor: The Dark World... B
Thor: Ragnarok... A+
The Wolverine... B
Wonder Woman... A
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: First Class... B
X-Men: Days of Future Past... B-
X-Men: Apocalypse... D+
And now for my speculations on the next Avengers movie. Don't read if you don't want it potentially spoiled. Come back in a year and a couple months!
It's almost certain that Chris Evans will be hanging up Captain America's shield. He's all but confirmed it himself. He never wanted to do it this long, but signed the contract because he wanted to play the character. And, with that in mind, he's been extraordinarily generous in making cameos in other Marvel movies plus extend his contract by one film in order to wrap things up in whatever The Avengers 4 ends up being called.
It doesn't take a genius to put 2 and 2 together here and know that Cap is going to die. But, as a cornerstone of the Marvel Universe, he's not going to go out quietly. He's going to go out in the most heroic way possible: saving the Universe. At some point he will wield the Infinity Gauntlet to restore half the lives in the galaxy, then die because humans can't wield infinity stones and live.
Perhaps he will restore Asgard along the way? That would be nice. A bunch of Asgardians probably escaped the carnage, but they still have no home. I'm opposed to them setting up shop on Earth like they did in the comics.
What I am not sure about is Tony Stark surviving. Robert Downey Jr. seems to love playing the character. I'd love to see him continue. I'd love to have another Iron Man movie. He is the bedrock upon which the Marvel Cinematic Universe was constructed, and he needs to stay. Even if he's no longer active and just makes a cameo from time to time. RDJ could charge a million a pop and donate it to charity. The world needs Tony Stark.
As for Thanos? Well, he's the villain and is most likely going to be defeated. There's nowhere to take him after these films.
I hope Vision returns. There's so much more to explore with him.
Gamora, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Nick Fury, Scarlet Witch, The Guardians of the Galaxy, and most of the others? They're all coming back. Cap's death... along with the deaths of Loki and Heimdal... are enough to satisfy the body count.
As to the end? The Infinity Gauntlet is destroyed and dozens of new Marvel movies are announced. Life goes on.
For some of us.