Infinite Complications Moving Into the Endgame
I still have weird unresolved feelings about Infnity War. At the time I saw it, I wanted to do a deep dive into how I felt, but it was hard. I didn’t hate it. I really loved parts of it. But I can’t shake that maybe we’ve fully emulated comics in movies now, including halting forward momentum for individual stories for the sake of a summer crossover. Now that the trailer for Avengers Endgame is out, I’m hammering some thoughts and feelings into shape.
I was pleasantly surprised that the Russos did such a good job capturing the Guardians of the Galaxy in the film, because I wasn’t sure if they could manage the same tone set in their movies.
I loved some of the interactions between characters, like Tony and Doctor Strange and the Guardians and Thor. I liked that Thanos was oddly compelling, but there is a downside to that as well.
The . . . Not Perfectly Balanced
I’m still not thrilled that there were some things that felt like they should have had way more impact than they did. Steve, Black Panther, and Wakanda in general all felt like they were underutilized in the movie. Steve’s best part was introducing himself to Groot.
The fight on Titan, at least at the most furious point, almost reached Transformers 2 levels of “what’s even going on here?” Everything can shift, everything was shifting, and there were no rules to anything, so colors, explosions and stuff happened.
I hated Tony and Pete’s armor. I usually don’t complain about CGI, but both sets of armor really jumped out as “not real,” and their morphic qualities didn’t seem to have any rules. Where does stuff get stored, what’s the limit to what Tony can fabricate?
Tony Stark—Father Figure
The movie continues the side issue I have with Pete and Tony partially as a remnant of Spider-Man Homecoming. When you don’t mention Uncle Ben as Pete’s motivation his motivation becomes proving himself to Tony as a father figure and that’s not any version of Spider-Man I’m familiar with.
He’s a fun character in the MCU, but he could have been some kid that cobbled together some armor tech that caught Tony’s attention, for all that the actual Spider-Man elements matter at this point. In fact, the more I think of it, this Peter Parker is almost as much Riri Williams as Spider-Man, and that’s bad just because it makes it harder to introduce Ironheart later on, borrowing some of her story beats.
The End of the End of an Age
Thor Ragnarok is a movie I dearly love, and it was greatly undermined by this movie. The last we see of the Asgardians, they are fleeing a ravaged world, and the first we see of them here, they get wiped out. Way to say nothing in Ragnarok mattered. To some extent, the character development we got with Hulk from Ragnarok also got erased, because instead of seeing anything of his greater depth, he gets his ass handed to him and he refuses to come out again the whole movie.
The revelation of Thor’s powers and the implication of that story beat from Ragnarok was seriously muddied. If we had an indication that Stormbreaker was made to make Thor more powerful than ever, that would be cool, but it feels like we just lost the thread of “Thor never needed the hammer” from Ragnarok.
In fact, Thor getting a new hammer to be even more powerful would have been a better beat for part 2, after he shows up mastering his new powers that he figured out in Ragnarok, but wasn’t strong enough to make a difference. But we needed Thor/Groot/Rocket time in part 1 I guess.
How Do You Solve A Problem Like The Mad Titan?
I kind of don’t like that Thanos has a (dubiously) reasoned plan. Playing him exactly the same, but being obsessed with making an offering to Death would have avoided a lot of . . . strangeness . . . around his character.
Thanos can be compelling, he can even be likable, but he really shouldn’t be relatable or sympathetic. That “sympathetic” vibe touches elements of the movie it really shouldn’t touch. I think with all of the other potentially drastic things they wanted to at least imply in the movie, they went the “safe” route by trying to make Thanos more (and I hate this term) grounded. But the Ebon Maw was already fanatic space preacher, so why worry about death worship? It doesn’t even lock you in to introducing an anthropomorphic embodiment of Death. It would be totally possible for Thanos to worship death without being in love with the physical embodiment of Death.
Regardless, “Thanos is a relatable dude” unfortunately gets amplified as the Soul Stone requires him to sacrifice something he loves. That could have easily been framed to be “something that means more to him than anything else.”
No, Really, Thanos is a Terrible Father
If they had phrased it this way, it would have been way easier to not lose the thread of “Thanos is an abusive father,” because of course he values Gamora, takes credit for her being who she is, even if he doesn’t have any right to feel proprietary. But instead, it’s “love.”
I’ll admit, when I first watched the movie, I was less upset by the cosmos confirming that Thanos “loved” Gamora (which still has problems), than I was that Good Dad Thanos undermines that he “loved” Gamora and tortured and belittled Nebula.
Because Nebula was introduced as a villain, it almost feels like we’re getting a dismissive “of course he treated her that way, she was crazy,” instead of the very clear message of Guardians Vol. 2, that Thanos made her the way she was by abusing her and elevating Gamora.
It’s All Connected
I think Avengers 3 and 4 have some tricky things to navigate. They have to be the big epic conclusion of 10 years of shared universe. Some of what bothers me may be addressed, especially considering “3 and 4” are essentially one 5 or 6 hour movie, not really two separate pieces.
I really enjoyed parts of the movie, but the parts that aren’t working for me just have me worried that the next movie isn’t really going to come together the way I hope it does.
At this point, I’m more excited for Captain Marvel than Endgame. I just want to know where they put everyone at the end of Endgame so I know where and how they are likely to show up in the next wave of movies, if at all.
By no means let me dampen your enthusiasm if you loved Infinity War. As I said, I liked parts of it. I’m just in this odd holding pattern where I can’t fully resolve how I feel about the movie, and I’ve got some nagging problems with it. If you love it, that’s awesome.