The Marvel Cinematic Universe: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

| April 25, 2019

For better or worse, a generation is now growing up with the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and whatever that says about the direction of Western Civilization will be left to history depending largely on who writes it.  Avengers: Endgame brings the hammer down on this series on April 27th, so for the next few weeks I am going to take a look back at the films that have built a massive phenomenon.  Are they any good?  Let’s take a look . . 

Image result for avengers infinity war screenshots

Avengers: Infinity War is a movie about hopelessness.  Nobody wins.  That’s a bold step for massive tentpole movie and, for those of us who appreciate the new, kind of a breath of fresh air.  This is a sad movie, very sad.  Bad things happen to good people – or at least half of them and by the time the movie is over you feel that you have experienced a bold exercise overturning the Deus Ex Machina.  Some gotta win, some gotta lose, as the song goes.  And losing big is what this movie is all about.

The movie is unusual in that it is based on a villain who gains the power to bring about the end of humanity not with a bang but with a whimper, and how the mightiest superheroes in the world are helpless to stop him.  The Avengers and their affliates are on the job across the galaxy to keep the overlord Thanos from attaining a bunch of powerful stones that will allow him to eliminate half of humanity with a snap of his fingers.

Yet, the larger bulk of the film is how the heroes struggle and fail.  There is no hope here.  Thanos will win.  Everyone knows it.  Some accept it better than others.  And by the end, all is lost.  Thus far in the MCU movies we have Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Guardians of the Galaxy combined have the infinite power of the universe but it is interesting that the movie establishes a plot in which none of that matters.  In some ways, this reminded me of Watchmen in that you have heroes who are powerful but still people underneath.  They have insecurities, flaws, faults, haunted pasts and try to cover up those insecurities when faced with a hopeless situation.

That feeling of hopelessness is the film’s great through-line.  And what is most interesting is that Thanos’ reasons for eliminating half of the population of the universe almost kind of make logical sense.  He’s not doing this to be evil.  He’s not doing this so that he can have a bellowing laugh and rule the galaxy.  His stated goal has a purpose is based on the reasonable assessment that things are in danger of becoming too powerful.  You don’t get villains like that every day who have a philosophical point.

In a lot of ways, this is really Thanos’ story.  There are at least 24 major characters to shuffle around in this story but the heart and soul lies in its villain, a being who, despite his machinations of evil, is not a thundering one-dimensional slavering megaloth.  The film’s ending is painfully sad, yes, but it is also kind of inevitable given the direction of the screenplay.

By the time the movie was over, I appreciated what I had seen and – I must confess – privately wished that there wasn’t a second part.  The end of this film is so strong, so powerful and such a punch to the emotional gut that I wish that I wasn’t calculating in my mind how the heroes are going to get themselves out of this mess.  Much like The Empire Strikes BackBack to the Future Part II, the end of Avengers: Infinity War will have a positive conclusion, but you’re not left with much of a solid indication of how that’s going to happen.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
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