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#TAPReviews | “Avengers: Infinity War”

Destiny Arrives. And so does a pivotal moment of truth for Marvel Studios.
Dulani Wilson 30th April, 2018 Comics, Movie, Reviews
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This is it. All things converge at this pivotal moment. Ten years of film-after-film churned out by Marvel Studios brings us to the point where the titan known as Thanos would descend upon Earth like a blight to begin his campaign of holy terror. Yes, this moment comes just after Wakanda has thwarted a major civil war of their own – welcome to Avengers: Infinity War.

Thanos has come to collect all those coloured Universe mood stones, and this treasure hunt is set to end with a big bang… like killing off half the universe in the greatest genocide recorded in all existence. And all that stands in the way of his grand scheme of purification is the Avengers. A team that is pretty much like a disbanded rock group with affiliates strewn across the universe.

With the moment of truth now here, was Infinity War a worthy capstone at the apex of 10 years of cinematic releases of superherodom? And what does this say for the future of Marvel Studios and their next phase of films? Let’s deep dive.

 

SPOILERS AHEAD

 

 

Somebody’s gonna die tonight

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The beginning feels like the end as the heroic rise of Marvel Studios typical ident is replaced by drones and the cacophony of radio chatter. The Asgardian fleet is under attack. And there are numerous casualties. All at the hands of Thanos and his children. Now, this is where we first see that a lot is on the line. Specifically, people are going to die. And it was something that was feverously hammered home from the first sequence. A bit too ferociously. Idris Elba’s Heimdall – dead. Loki – dead. The Hulk would have gotten KIA too if it weren’t for Heimdall last-ditch efforts to Bifrost his green hide to earth – right on Doctor Strange’s doorstep. Convenient.
 
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Now Thanos, already armed with the Space stone he snuck away after the events of Thor: Raganrok, is on the hunt for the rest of the stones. Two of which are on earth – the Time stone that Strange has in his amulet, and the Mind stone that is embedded in Vision’s head, the great Titan travels the universe and Earth to collect all stones in order to have the power to destroy half the universe to balance the scales and make right the primordial order. Because all tyrants who commit genocide have some greater good ideology they cling to justify savagery on a colossal scale.

The first sequence, having death be so brutally injected into the forefront, the cracking of the neck, Loki died with his eyes open, the Russos tried their best to prime us that death would become many before the film was done. It wasn’t the most tactfully done, but nevertheless, it drove the point home. But by the end of it, how many of our heroes would be left standing?

The stones we learn were formed from the creation of the universe during the big bang, and they were powerful conduits of elements that make up the universe – Space, Time, Mind, Soul and Reality. The power of the entire stones could yield great destruction for the Universe as we know it. It would, however, take something powerful enough to harness it. Where Thanos’ gauntlet comes in.

Now with the Avengers disbanded, can there be a means of keeping earth safe and saving the Universe from a tyrant like Thanos? Whilst Captain America and the Wakanda nation defend the Earth front, Iron-Man and his small slice of the Marvel-verse seek to fight Thanos on his home turf.

This sadly does little to stop the ebb of inevitability. Thanos proves to be just too powerful a foe. And the MCU as we know it is set to change forever.

 

The guest features that never end

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Now this was a bit of a criticism I had even before a trailer was shown for Infinity War. There was talk of 60+ unique characters making their appearance in the star-studded blockbuster, and I felt that this amount of characters would end conflicting and disrupting the narrative.

This is why I was pleasantly surprised that despite the numerous headcount, this didn’t have as much a jarring effect on the narrative as I previously predicted. Reason? Infinity War felt more of one titan’s journey of universal cleansing than it was about the many factions setting out to stop Thanos.

 

The Hulk can fuck right off

Thanos and Hulk’s fight happened first thing and it is apparent that Thanos beating the Christ Jesus out of the Hulk made the green mean machine a bitch and a no-show for the rest of Infinity War, as the Hulk does not make a return even with some forced coercion from a hapless Banner. Banner frankly was nothing more than a messenger pigeon for Thanos’ arrival. Reminds me of Rizwan Ahmed in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Not to mention how unfunny and gag-worthy the sequences of Banner switching between himself and the Hulk in conversation. You’re fricken Dr. Banner. Not Dr. Dolittle.

 

Behold the Titan’s might

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Understandably, when Thanos had one and two stones, he felt a bit like a one-trick pony. Warping reality to turn dangerous objects and gunfire into bubbles. Or ‘hologram’ an entire environment to mask the true state of things. But it is on Thanos’ old home planet, facing Star-Lord + the GoTG gang, Doctor Strange, Iron-Man and Spider-Man, does the successive use of the Infinity Stones in his possession take on a beautiful, intense action sequence that felt more anime than movie. That’s a good thing.

 
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Remember this image? At first glance, it just looked like an orb being generated by the Space Stone. In reality, tt’s way better than that. Thanos literally uses the stone to take hold of a neighbouring planet and brings this entire heavenly body hurtling down on top of his enemies. Follow that up with Thanos generating what looked like a miniature black hole / collapsing star and bending the Avengers’ firepower against them – you get an all-too-sexy action sequence. Using the stones, in succession, one after the other, proved to be the most entertaining sequence of the film.

 

Star-Lord and Doctor Strange damned the entire MCU

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Never was a fan of Guardians of the Galaxy, although Star-Lord comedic timing has always been its saving grace. And whilst Doctor Strange was a hopeful feature when the trailer first hit, the film fell a few rungs short of the Matrix meets Inception meets supernatural whimsy that was promised. So it does not surprise me that these two characters single-handedly dolled out assured destruction to the rest of the MCU.

As far as I am concerned, the time stone is about the most powerful stone there is. The fact Thanos used it to undo Scarlet Witch’s final resort is proof of this. Scarlet Witch destroys the Mind Stone in Vision’s head and an unperturbed Thanos even manages to give Maximoff a little pep talk before reversing time to the point before the Mind Stone is shattered and rips it straight out of Vision’s head.

 
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And how did Thanos get the Time Stone? Ripped it from the chest of a dead Doctor Strange? Nah. Strange just kinda… handed it over. Saved Iron Man’s life, though. If it was one person that deserved to die… Jesus. Strange, however, previously used the Time stone to search multiple outcomes across infinite timelines to see if there was a way to win against a jewel-encrusted Thanos. There was 1 way he found. But without giving details, it seems that that one way involved him giving up the Time Stone.

Honestly, during the Avengers’ tag-team effort to relieve Thanos of his gauntlet, Iron-Man and his team-up with Strange, Drax, Spidey and Mantis managed to subdue Thanos for a moment in a barrage of physical and psychic attacks. And it would have remained that way if Star-Lord didn’t get lost in his feelings over the now dead Gamora. Love is love, I guess.

 

Civil War never happened – or might as well have not have… happened.

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Now this was one thing we wish would have gotten rectified. Last time we saw Tony Stark and Steve Rogers together, they were duking it out in Captain America: Civil War. The idea of them putting aside their differences to face this great global threat would have been a nice moment. But this was none existent, with the team divided and fighting isolated battles on and off-world. Maybe a reunion is more in order for Avengers 4.

The concept of them meeting for the first time under dire circumstances, learning to trust each other and the vying for authority was a narrative gem that kinda got missed out on. Understandably as Infinity War takes place in several unique locations strewn across the MCU.

 

Infinity War: The Death Toll Ranker

The only thing that rung louder than the alarums of war was the Death Toll bells that saw many heroes and affiliates bite the dust. So we decided in a very non-crass way to list the most heart felt deaths racked up by Thanos (directly and indirectly-directly):

 
Nick Fury

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Death by: cinerary evaporation (via Infinity Stones)
Manages to let off a beeper message to Captain Marvel. What is this, the 90s or ER?!

 
Fury’s assistant / SHIELD agent chick – Maria Hill
Death by: cinerary evaporation (via Infinity Stones)

Chauffeuring Fury. Like Ms. Daisy. Had way too many speaking roles whilst affecting nothing.

 
Black Panther

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Death by: cinerary evaporation (via Infinity Stones)
Gentleman to the end helping Okoye to her feet. Trash, Marvel. How you going take two potential Wakanda royalty from us in the space of a few weeks?!

 
Spider-Man

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Death by: cinerary evaporation (via Infinity Stones)
Somehow he took the longest to go and ended up sounding full of regret. To Tony, of all people. We kinda wished Spidey at some point stood up solidly to Iron Man, especially in his decision to remain on the departing space vessel of Ebony Maw. Nevertheless, it was the most heartfelt moment in Infinity War. No consideration for Aunt May or Uncle Ben though. But they ain’t famous, so we get it.

 
Vision

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Death by: Scarlet Witch destroying with magic and Thanos ripping the mind stone from his head

Dude died twice. Once on his knees. The other time in the firm throat grasp of Thanos. Run the jewels you overrated hunk of AI machine parts. Virtually Maximoff’s sex-toy.

 
Gamora

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Death by: Thanos prompted cliff-dive

The Soul stone, as put by the Red Skull albeit, has its own wisdom. In order to obtain it Thanos had to sacrifice the one thing he loved the most. Which turned out to be his adopted daughter Gamora. A genocidal maniac capable of love. Twisted. A stretch. But hey, why else would Marvel give him more of a human disposition with softer skin-tone than the harsh purple of the comics and earlier film adaptations if not to make him more relatable.

A soul for a Soul Stone. Kick off. Get rocks.

 
Loki

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Death by: Thanos strangulation

Death by Thanos’ hand. The first to go. Had to die with his eyes bloodshot and open so we know Thanos’ killing spree was for realsies. Thanks for setting the tone. Unless you’re playing dead again. Naw, the snap confirmed your really dead, right?

 
Heimdall

Death by: Skewered through the heart with a blade

And even dying he manages to send the whisp away the Hulk back to earth via the Bifrost.

 
Falcon
Death by: cinerary evaporation (via Infinity Stones)

Yeah, well. Winged Cap fan-boy died.

 
Winter Soldier

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Death by: cinerary evaporation (via Infinity Stones)

Bucky, after all the undoing of the mind control and experimentation he went to, he died like he lived – on the battlefield fading into nothingness. Kinda fucked up Cap has to live with Bucky’s death all over again.

 
Scarlet Witch

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Death by: cinerary evaporation (via Infinity Stones)

Romanced the Stone. Broke the stone. Her magics showed great potential for destruction. Somewhat unweildly. Too bad it was pain that brought out the best in you.

 
Drax

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Death by: cinerary evaporation (via Infinity Stones)

Your humour was great. Forced in places. One of the better points of the entire Guardians Of The Galaxy films.

 
Groot

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Death by: cinerary evaporation (via Infinity Stones)

You were an adult, then a baby, then a grumpy teenager. You made Vin Diesel lots of monies for doing fuck all. You trash.

 
Mantis

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Death by: cinerary evaporation (via Infinity Stones)

You had your own charm and you got us in touch with our feelings. Better than any therapists we’ve ever met.

 
Star-Lord

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Death by: cinerary evaporation (via Infinity Stones)

You killed us, homie. Still love you though with your dated pop references, devil-may-care attitude and sexy dance moves. And that’s despite the GotG series on a whole kinda falling flat in the narrative department.

 

Can we just put a stop to post-credit scenes?

Before we head into that, let us talk about the credit sequence first. I saw what the Russo brothers were trying to do. Moving away from the highly-visual credit sequences that Marvel is known for to the simple, classic credits you’d expect to see after a prolific drama. Bit pretentious. We’re not exactly watching Logan or The Dark Knight here. Don’t get me wrong, Infinity War is far from a dud, it’s just a different type of good.

Another bane of mine that is right up their with trailers flaunting new / altered footage that doesn’t exist in the main feature. This was meant to feel like Marvel Studio’s magnum opus, but here we are being reminded that, hey Ms. Marvel’s got sent a chirp from Nick Fury like she is his weed connec’. The star on the display would have been enough but then they brought in the red and the blue.

Great.

And to top it off “Thanos will return”. To what? Guy looked pretty peaceful basking in the Wakandan sun after killing half the universe. And with Avengers 4 rumoured to be entitled “Endgame”, something tells us this may not be the case if any plan hatched by the surviving members involves undoing the deaths experienced in Infinity War. That would be so trash. For the sake of Thanos, don’t do that.

And are we going to ignore the post-credit tease of Adam Warlock from Guardians Of The Galaxy 3? Is that even happening again?

Just a general rule I think everyone should follow: if it generally doesn’t reveal something drastically new or exciting, just… don’t waste any film giving us post-credits.

 

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Avengers: Infinity War functions despite the number of characters that exist within it. But in all fairness, this is mostly due to the fact with the viewers informed history of previous films. Could it stand alone? I honestly don’t think it could. So with that said, can this film be considered to be a good narrative?

This, however debatable, plays into the hands of Hollywood elitist who look down upon our fandom for comic book films and other media like animation and games. And though Infinity War was a magnum opus in the scheme of Marvel Studios 10-year reign, it felt just a few rungs above “ultimate” or “apocalyptic”.

It was definitely fun seeing characters, once separate, coming together and interacting in the same space. Who would not love the hate/hate relationship and banter between Doctor Strange and Iron Man, the two most self-involved, arrogant characters in the MCU?

Thanos is not as afflicted with the one-dimensional villain curse which has affected many a Marvel villain. However, as powerful as the Titan is, Thanos has not topped the villainy charts for us. The act of humanising him with the lilac skin tones, moving away from the stark alien purple was not enough to us sided or at least understanding the stance of the Titan. We’d need more info and backstory, me thinks.

Definitely, a fun film to watch, and though death was rife, there wasn’t anyone we saw that we felt terribly heartbroken over. Must be my sadistic streak.

So what is next for Marvel Studios. The next phase of films, by all accounts, seemingly is more aimed starwards to space and beyond. But given that Marvel’s space run seemed hellbent on fusing the stars with ‘comedy’ is there no way we can get a space odyssey that takes itself a little bit seriously? Who knows. Surely, there is a conversation(s) brewing in Marvel’s evil lair that involves the Disney/20th Century Fox deal bringing Fantastic Four and the X-Men back into the fray, as well as the Hulk and Namor IP being tied up with Universal, as well as Spidey and Marvel’s ongoing Sony relationship. All this will play a part in the narrative direction of Marvel’s confirmed upcoming films – namely Captain Marvel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Black Panther 2.

It’s been a good run. Marvel has been efficient, to say the least. The second run around the course should most certainly be more narrative-focused, and creating bodies of work that will stand both the test of time as much as test of numerical success at the box-office.

 

RATING: 7 out of 10

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What you guys think? Tell us in the comment section + via Twitter @TheActionPixel and on Facebook

 

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