Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War

As early reviews already mentioned, Infinity War is Civil War multiplied by 20. It is a montage of fight scenes characterized by teamwork you can only dream of seeing on the big screen. The storyline is straightforward: Thanos (Josh Brolin) collects the Infinity Stones while heroes from across the galaxy band together to stop him from wiping out half of the universe as we know it. Forget every naysayer acting all smarty-pants claiming that this is not the ultimate cinematic crossover event of our time. IT IS. It is obviously not the first attempt, but it definitely is a game changer not only for the superhero genre but for cinema as a whole. Dialogues are laced with humor most of the time, which is a good counterbalance for the gravitas of the situation. Those light moments are essential once you realize how grim the actual scenario is.

The Soul Stone is NOT in Wakanda. After all fan theories and speculations as to where the last Infinity Stone resides, Marvel catches all of us off-guard with the introduction of a totally new setting that we've never seen in the MCU before. The pursuit of the orange gem is pivotal and used as a plot device to open doors not just for an unexpected cameo from a forgotten villain from Phase 1, but also for the addition of a layer of humanity to a character whose main motivation in the comics was nothing more than flimsy whim.

At the end of the day you will view Thanos here as a titan with a purpose. Perhaps his methods are not always agreeable but he has valid points and his dedication is unwavering. You can't really call him out for stroking his ego because most of the characters he's sharing the screen with have also done so in the past, leading to dire consequences. That's where Thanos triumphs as a villain. He refuses to be one-dimensional. The same cannot be said for his children, though, who just fail to live up to the hype and are unable to even establish anything beyond their henchmen roles.

DeathS. How do we even begin? If you have read or even scanned The Infinity Gauntlet, then the death toll should not really make you flinch anymore. The difference is that there are so many obscure characters in the comics that many people didn't even know existed. Who the hell cares if they bite the dust, right? In the MCU it's a different story altogether. You have witnessed these characters evolve before your eyes in the last decade or so, some even headlining their own movies. Seeing them fall one by one just feels like losing a friend.

On the contrary maybe the important issue here has nothing to do with quantity after all, but rather consequence. You must ask yourself, are these deaths really significant in the bigger scheme of things knowing the direction the narrative is taking? In any case there are at least two death scenes here that are pretty hard to swallow, not because of the execution, but for the mere uncertainty of those deaths being reversible or not. This brings us to our next point.

With such magnitude involved in all of these cataclysmic events, perhaps the most important question here is if they can actually be retconned. Knowing how most of these characters have sequels lined up in the next few years or so, this really is nothing more than a rhetorical question. BUT HOW ARE THEY GOING TO DO IT? If you are hungry for clues, then you only have to look at the two Marvel projects sandwiched between Parts 3 and 4.

Ant-Man and the Wasp's timeline is said to be set BEFORE Infinity War, while Captain Marvel's origin story will unfold in the 90's, three decades prior. What do Scott Lang and Carol Danvers have in common? You'll never know, because this was only alluded to in Ant-Man's first solo outing. The Quantum Realm, as well as the vital role it will play in the long run, will more or less be explored in detail in these two films. Just Google set photos of Part 4 if you don't believe such theory and you need more convincing.

There is only one after-credits scene all the way at the end. It features two doomed cameos that can be dismissed as inconsequential considering all the shit that has gone down in the last two hours and a half. The hint is not so subtle if you are familiar with the comics, but hushed audience reaction in two different screenings confirm that not a lot of people understood the clue, which is rather sad because they won't be able to relate to the excitement.

Nevertheless that logo already serves as some sort of confirmation of several speculations swirling around the internet regarding the sequel's main storyline. Hey, we all need hope, even more so after that shocker of an ending that just leaves your jaw on the floor. As the last sentence that you will see onscreen indicates: "Thanos will return", and we know that payback will be a super-powered bitch. Who still uses a beeper. Millennials, take note.

Watching Infinity War more than once is not really that crucial, unless you want to revel in the epic fight scenes or bask in the looming uncertainty. Scrap that, I watched it again on the same day and it was still awesome. The run-time is long yet seems so short and abrupt given the multitude of characters sharing the screen time. But with that cliffhanger ending, 2019 can't come soon enough. Watching this culmination of a decade's worth of interweaving storylines over and over again might just be the best antidote for your anxiety. 

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