Avengers: Infinity War is a tough one to review objectively. It was an emotional gut punch, and I’m going to have a hard time recovering from all of these emotions to gauge the actual quality of the film itself. But if the goal of the film was to devastate us, then it succeeded spectacularly.
Warning: This review contains SPOILERS for Avengers: Infinity War. “THANOS DEMANDS YOUR SILENCE.” If you have not seen the film, turn back NOW.
There’s been a lot of controversy about the Forbes article that came out prior to the film’s release, which spoiled everything about the movie to an audience that had not yet seen it. That’s not our intention with this review. This review is intended as a discussion for those who have already seen Infinity War. This is meant as a place to discuss what happened in the latest film in the franchise with others who have also seen it, and theorize where it’ll go from here. So again, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.
Before Infinity War premiered I was very vocal about my fear that they would kill Captain America or Bucky Barnes. My hunch was that it’d be Captain America as they’ve been teasing his death for several films already. The trailers also solidified this fear with him grabbing the Gauntlet with his bare hands, so I went in bracing for Cap to die and Bucky to be devastated. But lo and behold they flipped the damn script on me. When Thanos snaps his fingers it’s Bucky who disintegrates into nothingness with a confused and somewhat pained “Steve?” as he stumbles through the jungle towards his friend. It’s Cap who is left to mourn for Buck, who was supposed to be with him until the end of the line. The moment this happened I grew numb and every subsequent death was just an additional teaspoon of salt in an already gaping wound.
The thing about that ending sequence is that everyone has a favorite who is impacted by the snap of the Gauntlet. If your character didn’t directly die, they lost someone important to them. Mine just happened to go first, which lessened the impact of every subsequent death. Once it started, though, it just kept going. Some franchises were basically entirely wiped out. No matter what your favorite section of the franchise is, you lost someone from this film and are probably in a lot of pain right now.
The only saving grace from all of this is that a large portion of the characters who died happen to have films scheduled in the MCU in the coming years. This has to be reversed somehow, unless Marvel released fake movie names, which seems highly unlikely. A small part of me wishes they’d stick to their guns and keep half of their characters dead. It’d be incredibly ballsy of them. But the bigger part of me needs Bucky to come back. And I need more Guardians of the Galaxy films and more Black Panther films, too. None of this can happen unless they reverse this.
The fate of the characters who died before Thanos snapped his fingers may not be so certain. I have a suspicion those deaths will stand. I hope I’m wrong, but I feel they have to keep some of them for dramatic tension going forward and this might be how they keep some of the narrative integrity and emotional impact. I expect however they plan on turning back the clock to have some sort of limitations that prevents everyone from returning. And I have a feeling there will be more perma-deaths in the next installment. We might save Bucky by turning back the clock, but will Captain America finally die like they’ve been teasing for years? I have a feeling this will be the case. I’ll have to sacrafice one or the other and it’s going to suck.
While most of the devastation I’ve discussed so far involves that dramatic ending sequence of Infinity War, it certainly wasn’t the only painful moment. Infinity War picks up immediately where Thor Ragnarok ended. We often forget how tragic Thor’s story is because of how humorous his dialogue and interactions with other characters are portrayed. He’s a god-like alien with stilted language and a shaky understanding of other alien cultures, which is great fodder for jokes. But we can’t forget that right before this film starts he lost his father and his entire planet to a sister he never knew he had. Then, when it seems he’s finally saved some of his people that gets derailed by Thanos. And then there’s the death of Loki… Thor has had a rough time, guys. We laugh at the jokes, but his story is a god damn tragedy.
The humor surrounding Thor’s interaction with others is amplified when he teams up with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Like him, they are aliens with awkward interpersonal skills that we derive a lot of amusement from. Even when Thor and Star-Lord are one upping each other with their tragic backstories, we can’t help but laugh. The only moment when the full gravity of his backstory really hits is when Rocket decides it’s time to ‘be a captain’ and sits down to talk to him about it. Thor shows his determination in that moment. Despite all the tragedy he’s endured, he is ready to continue going forward to save the universe. It’s weighing on him, but he won’t let it consume him. He’s a true hero in every sense of the word. I’ve never appreciated Thor more than I did after that scene.
The character who suffered the least in this film was Doctor Strange. That isn’t to say he escaped tragedy entirely, of course. His backstory is marred with tragedy, but for much of the film he’s the only character of his section of the franchise on screen at any given time. At the crucial moment when Thanos snaps his fingers and people around him begin to disappear, he has nobody close to him to mourn over. I almost feel like positioning him this way was intentional. The lack of someone to mourn over and the willingness in which he gave up the stone is going to put him at odds with Tony whenever things pick back up again. Tony was already somewhat antagonistic towards him from the get go.
Doctor Strange’s willingness to give up the Time Stone is likely a hugely important detail, though. Initially it’s upsetting that’d he’d do this, but we have to remember that he’s seen literally millions of outcomes for their situation. I don’t see him pursuing an outcome that he knows would ultimately fail for them. It has to be incredibly difficult to watch half of the universe die and know that you’re partially responsible for it. But he made that decision and there has to be a good reason. What he saw when he explored the millions of possibilities has to be that reason. Why else would he give it up? It makes no sense otherwise.
Infinity War touched on every franchise in the MCU so far, including Ant-Man. Sure, we sort of got a cop out for Ant-Man and Hawkeye, but they were still mentioned at least. Because of this I know that I haven’t spent the time on each character that I wish I could. I barely touched on Black Panther, which quickly shot up my list of MCU films (it’s top 5 for sure). I didn’t even get to how emotionally heart breaking Wanda and Vision’s story turned out to be, even though the crux of the film rests on the stone in his head. And I profusely apologize that I was too numbed by Bucky’s death to adequately mourn over that spectacularly acted Peter and Tony scene.
Every single character in Infinity War deserves their own paragraph at the very least, if not a 1400 word review all of their own, but sadly someone has to edit this article before publication and I don’t want to torment them with a 15,000 word dissertation. However, you as a reader are welcome to tell me all your FEELS in the comments section below. What impacted you the most? How do you think they’ll continue the franchise? What’s next for our favs? What scene punched you in the gut the most?
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.
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