Spoiler-Free Study – The MCU & The Avengers: Infinity War 1/4
This is the SPOILER FREE part of the [Infinity War review/MCU study] delete as applicable in which I’ll be talking about all the work that got us here. This is going to be a long one, hence the “Part one of four” in the title.
I’ve spoken a lot on the subject but let me reiterate, the MCU is the cinematic event of a generation, as Star Wars was before it. Nineteen films in ten years, fourteen directors, ten titles and twenty-something main characters, that all coalesce into a single universe, not wholly ripped from the pages of the comics but treated with sufficient reverence to the source material and laced so deeply with lore that even the most dogmatic comic book fans can at least respect the effort, even if they don’t like the final product.
Naysayers may grow weary over the concentration of films in such a short space of time, the constant barrage of advertising, and the impact the MCU has had on cinema as a whole. They’re right to do so, Disney’s ambition has been something of a drunken steamroller, flattening anything that they don’t acquire.
Don’t Believe The Trailers
Infinity War’s trailer is quite deceptive, in fact I wrote a mini-treatise on a line that then never appeared in the film itself, and this is a pretty common element of Disney’s advertising scheme. Thor: Ragnarok is top of that list, with the hammer-smashing scene taking place on a coastal cliff rather than an inner-city alleyway. Many people bemoaned the reveal of Gladiator Hulk in the trailer, but those people utterly deterred by that spoiler missed out on some of the more hilarious and shocking moments of the film, especially when it comes to Banner’s part therein. The same was said of Spider-Man in Civil War, and yet we still got to see an incredible film filled with intense and revelatory moments, and knowing that he’d be present did not mean we liked Spidey any less.
The MCU has also been (fairly) accused of being formulaic in its approach to origin story films, the hero begins as arrogant but undergoes some humbling experience that forces them to take action and pursue a changed life, inadvertently stumbling across an enemy they didn’t realise was right in front of them or perhaps acquiring someone else’s enemy. Typical monomyth stuff, there are other ways to create a hero but there’s a point when the formula stops being predictable and becomes outright blatant.
So you may think you know what to expect, but remember that we’ve been pleasantly fooled before. Bear these words in mind, because the internet has been – for many months – awash with theories, the most prevalent of which being “Who will die?” and while it’s always fun to speculate, and while we also have another film to come and conclude what Infinity War started, it is a dangerous thing to believe you can presume anything.
For a start, no origin story to be found here. We can earnestly launch into Infinity War knowing, and understanding the characters in play except… one.
We’ve been introduced to Thanos, a glimpse in Avengers: Assemble, the creeping reveal of the Infinity Stones, before finally – in Guardians of the Galaxy – we come to understand his methods and attitudes. He keeps a stable of “children” that he has genetically and mechanically enhanced, and a council of immensely powerful minions such as Ronan the Accuser, Loki the Trickster, and The Other who brokered the Chitauri deal. Thusfar his interactions have been some insulting dialogue, some sitting in a chair, and picking up his shiny glove.
To say that we now understand the threat posed by the Mad Titan is an understatement to begin with. We had a notion of what the various Stones could accomplish individually, and in the hands of rank amateurs. Now, we’ve never fully brought together the science-fiction, space-faring elements of Thor and Guardians and the kind of planetary threats they have faced, the mystic and cosmic components brought in by Strange, and the ever escalating intensity of the Avengers as a whole, the terrifying forces that bring heroes together to fight side by side, especially given the divide between them.
Sir Not Appearing In This Film, Ant Man! Of course, he’s got a film coming up very soon, but it’s noteworthy that at this point he has been in fewer films than Spider-Man.
He’s been given a cop-out for now, but I’d really like to see Scott Lang get quantum on Thanos!
And Thanos does it all. This is his film, the story of a nemesis that could unite heroes of Earth and stars, bring together a friendship riven by betrayal, and frankly a force to challenge them all united! Thor, Strange, Hulk, Wanda, and Vision are forces to fear, the Wakandan army and their vibranium-clad king also have some new allies with yet more vibranium toys, Tony just keeps building more suits, including his new and impossibly versatile suit and the long-awaited Iron Spider, and of course the Guardians grow ever-more unified and potent as they learn about one another.
All of the above is a prelude. This is about as far as I can go without spoiling something, because minute one of Infinity War is so laden with purpose, and with importance, that to say more would be to reveal too much and to disrupt your enjoyment of this film, the culmination of ten years of work, of film making, and of collaboration between creative minds.
Thursday, and the following Tuesday/Thursday I will be talking Infinity War with some heavy spoilers, but by that point you’ll have had a week, and I’ll have seen it twice. Huge thanks to these folks who made my first viewing so much better. I look forward to arranging more cinema trips with GeekOut.