I remember how I felt at the end of Avengers: Infinity War so incredibly vividly. It was a strange sensation, summed up not by “is that how the movie is going to end?” or even “what just happened?” but “did they really do that?”
Marvel movies are known for having underwhelming villains, no real risks for their heroes, and protagonists that are seemingly invincible. “Infinity War” rejects all of these critiques, which is its biggest strength as well as its biggest weakness. But before getting to the controversial finale, there are some smaller gripes (and praises!) I have for the film.
When I was going into the movie at first, I thought that it would be impossible to balance such a large cast. With 28 heroes-Avengers, Guardians, and Wakandans in droves-it’s difficult to imagine each character getting a satisfactory amount of screen time and being fleshed out enough. But, with a few exceptions, this was handled incredibly well! The three disappointments that immediately come to mind here are Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans). The only thing I can recall from the appearances of Black Widow and Cap are their new ‘do and beard, respectively, which is unsurprising given that both had less than 7 minutes on screen during the entire movie. Even heroes that got much less, such as Black Panther, were more memorable. Meanwhile, Bruce’s continuous struggle to bring out the Hulk in dangerous situations is comical but adds nothing of genuine substance to the film. Despite these few characters, the vast majority of the cast left lasting impressions and was balanced masterfully.
Something else that irked me throughout was how the classic Marvel humor was handled in this film. While a taste of humor is a wonderful thing for most any movie, Infinity War went from deep emotional scenes to lighthearted comedy so quickly it gave me whiplash. It came very close to outright ruining some very heavy parts of the film. For how serious Infinity War was supposed to be, the humor was often misplaced and unnecessary.
These are all a bit nitpicky, so let’s get to my last and biggest qualm with the movie (excepting the ending); the acting. To start with, the chemistry between characters. From playful rivalries to friendships to parent-child dynamics, the movie had it all-the most notable of these was the relationship between Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), but the playful banter between Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) gives these two a close second. However, the area where the film falls short is in its romantic relationships-namely, the bond between Vision (Paul Bettany) and Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). Their connection was meant to be at the heart of the film, but felt dry and too rom-com esque to really convey anything or elicit any real feelings. Bettany and Olsen are both decent enough actors when independent, but when put together, the two weigh each other down. The only scene wherein I felt anything for the couple was a particularly heartrending one near the end, but even that wasn’t as evocative as it could have been because I simply didn’t care for their relationship. If this romance was to be the backbone of the film, it should have been executed better. Unfortunately, because such importance was placed on these specific two and their bond (or lack thereof), the much better and more enjoyable connections were often sidelined. A shame. While we’re on the topic of acting, I feel like it would be a crime not to mention the far and away best performance of the movie-Josh Brolin as Thanos. Brolin’s performance in conjunction with the writing make Thanos a villain who is so much more than just a one-dimensional antihero. In a twisted way, his motives are almost understandable, and the incredible ability of Brolin to personify these terrible and misguided ideas makes the conflict in the movie that much more interesting. Bravo!
And that brings us to the most polarizing part of Infinity War: The end. I mentioned earlier on that this part of the movie was both its strongest and weakest point; let me explain. In killing off half of the MCU’s heroes, Marvel proves its critics wrong. The heroes DON’T always win, and the end of Infinity War takes that idea to an extreme previously unheard of in these usually light hearted movies. It gave the film an element of shock, and for the duration of those last few minutes, everyone in the theater was purely astounded, myself included. This proves to be one huge advantage, as predictability is a trap many superhero movies fall into that most definitely does not snare Infinity War. Though the ending made myself and many other movie-goers upset, it was necessary to break out of that classic MCU mold. However, one thing makes this entire situation fray and unravel: Logic. Marvel can’t keep half of its cast dead, and CERTAINLY not the immensely profitable Black Panther or Spider-Man. This fact, combined with knowledge of future movies coming out in 2019 starring some of our “dead” protagonists, makes the conclusion of Infinity War worthless. It’s clear that in Infinity War 2 all of the events of Infinity War will be reversed via the Time Stone, so what was the point of the movie? This question cannot be answered until Infinity War’s sequel comes out, and while I’m sure there are a number of ways to ensure that this film wasn’t a complete waste of time and resources, the obvious impermanence of this ending is unsatisfying. The bottom line is, if you don’t want to look too deeply into the practical reasons why this movie cannot work, then you’ll enjoy it at its triumphant parts and be devastated at its finale. But once common sense kicks in, you won’t feel so bad.
Let me make something clear: I enjoyed Infinity War, and it definitely makes my top ten Marvel movies. However, its drawbacks were at times painfully noticeable, and its ending doesn’t have much meaning in any context other than in the moment. It was the little things that saved this movie: The friendships, the banter, the beautifully choreographed fight scenes, the glorious entrances (cough Stormbreaker cough). I would recommend seeing Infinity War even if you’ve never seen a Marvel movie before, since the plot is simple enough to understand, but go in knowing that you won’t recognize all of the characters or be as impacted by some of the scenes. Trust me, it will be money well spent.