Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Avengers: Infinity War

Here we go again, on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch a movie and blog about it.  Quick heads up, I had a brain fart last week and forgot to share the link to last week's entry, The Fisher King, on social media.  So give that one a read, if you haven't already.  And now, on to Avengers: Infinity War.  This is originally in my notes at August 26, 2018.

When you start picking it apart, Avengers: Infinity War is a strange movie.  It spends almost no time re-establishing our heroes...we just jump straight into the thick of things.  It's episodic as hell, following at least three or four divergent plot lines as our heroes battle Thanos on various fronts.  Our heroes lose big time, and our villain is arguably the protagonist. 

But damn it, it works so well. 

And no doubt it's because Marvel Studios spent 10 years building up to this.  10 years of laying the seeds across 19 films that came before it.  Part of the reason why there's no recap of the previous events or re-establishing our heroes.  Marvel knows if you've been here for 10 years, then you're primed for this.  Everyone laughed at Marvel back in 2006 when they announced they were forming their own movie studio and making their own movies, starting with Iron Man.  But just three years after that they were considered notable enough that Disney snatched them up, and another three years after that, every other movie studio in town was trying to duplicate that success and build their own cinematic universe. 

And here we are. 

After the fun, goofy tone of Thor: Ragnarok, the opening scene is a swift punch to the gut as we see the ship full of Asgardian refugees being ravaged by Thanos as he searches for the Tesseract.  Loki goes down, making one last heroic sacrifice.  Hulk joins the fray, only to have his ass thoroughly handed to him by Thanos, Heimdal uses his dying breath to send Hulk to Earth to warn the others, and a restrained Thor is forced to watch it all.  The Hulk comes crashing down into the Sanctum Santorum of Doctor Strange, and as Hulk reverts to Bruce Banner, he manages to spit out, "Thanos is coming." 

Cue opening credits. 

Our plot threads are set in motion.  Doctor Strange gets Iron Man, and Bruce Banner lays out the situation.  Thanos's minions show up to the claim the Time Stone from Doctor Strange, so Iron Man and Doctor Strange put up a fight, and are soon joined by Spider-Man.  Banner doesn't join in, as he's unable to Hulk-out for yet-to-be-explained reasons.  Before long, Doctor Strange is captured by Thanos's minions, and Iron Man and Spider-Man are on a journey through the stars to rescue him. 

Another group of Thanos's minions is on Earth to claim the Infinity Stone that has given Vision life.  After being rescued by Steve Rogers and his secret Avengers, they manage to re-connect with Bruce Banner (he remained on Earth), and Banner fills them in.  Our heroes wonder if there's some way to remove the stone from Vision without killing him, and Steve Rogers knows that if anyone can figure it out, it's the scientific geniuses in Wakanda.  So our Earthbound heroes head to Wakanda, where Black Panthers offers up the Wakandan forces to aid in the defense of Earth. 

Up in space, the Guardians of the Galaxy rescue Thor.  Thor, Rocket, and Groot head off to find a weapon capable of defeating Thaons.  The rest of the Guardians head to the planet Knowhere, where Thor left the Infinity Stone from Thor: The Dark World for safekeeping.  The Guardians show up too late, and Thanos makes off with his daughter Gamora, as she knows the location of the final remaining Infinity Stone. 

And this is part of the reason why Thanos has become one of the better Marvel villains, maybe even the best.  Because we spend so little time with out heroes because there's no need to further develop their characters, all focus is kept on Thanos and developing him as a character.  Especially in his relationship with Gamora, we see him going through the hero's journey as he quests for that final stone.  Turns out Thanos isn't just your typical conqueror with designs on ruling the universe.  He feels that overpopulation is the problem, and that the universe could be a paradise if the population were cut in half.  So he's on a quest to wipe out half the population of the universe.  And with all the Infinity Stones, he could do that quite quickly and easily. 

And I must say, in the most delightful and unexpected cameo in the film, the guardian of the final stone turns out to be the Red Skull, unseen since he was spirited away by the Tesseract at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger.  But much like in the hero's journey, we see Thanos sacrifice everything for what he believes is the good of the universe. 

And of course, it all ends with what is now that famous snap.  Thanos wins, and with a snap of his fingers, half of the population of the universe turns to dust.  And the thing is, we know those heroes are coming back.  With the box office returns on Black Panther, we know Black Panther's coming back.  Hell, the Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel is filming as I write this, so we know Spider-Man is coming back.  But damn it, if I didn't get choked up a little bit when Spider-Man starts disintegrating and pleads to Iron Man, "I don't want to go." 

While I do love Spider-Man, I wasn't much of a Marvel guy growing up.  The only Avengers comic I remember having and reading was one where Spider-Man attempted to join the Avengers.  So when Iron Man realizes that Spider-Man is coming along and says, "Alright kid, you're an Avenger now," that brought me so much glee.  For Easter egg hunters, would have been a great time for the classic Marvel line, "Welcome to the Avengers, (hero name).  Hope you survive the experience." 

Honestly, when Avengers 4 comes out in 2019 and brings this story to a conclusion, I wonder what Marvel's going to do next.  Even in the promotional materials for Infinity War, they've been playing it up as "the end."  But for now, I'm waiting for Avengers 4, so we can see how the end ends.

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