In case you hadn’t guessed from the title this is a “discussion” of Avengers Infinity War. I hesitate to use the word discussion because it’s going to be more of an (probably) incoherent jumble of thoughts/gushing about the film as I try to process what the hell I actually watched. It is SPOILERS GALORE so, seriously, if you haven’t seen Avengers Infinity War yet or, in fact, if you haven’t seen any of the previous Marvel Cinematic Universe films and you intend to, then please (for the love of God) DO NOT read any further, you will be spoiled.
There, I think that’s plenty enough of a spoiler warning to placate Thanos’ demand for “silence”.
And, as a disclaimer that I hate feeling obliged to make but will make nonetheless, I have seen all the MCU films to date. This does not make me an authority, and I’m not claiming to be. I don’t remember the infinite details of all of them (frankly, I loathe some of the films so I haven’t been keen to rewatch them too many times). But I am a HUGE fan of the journey the MCU has been on in the last ten years and I’ve been there for a large portion of that time (2011-2018 still feels like a decent innings, right?) so I’m just speaking as a fan. I haven’t read any of the comic book iterations and I don’t constantly theorise about what elements of them the MCU will incorporate into their films. I just watch the films, enjoy them, and occasionally fall down Wikipedia holes. That’s the extent of my wider reading about them. So this is just one fan’s gushing and theorising (oh boy, is there theorising), probably unsubstantiated, but I’m putting it on record all the same. IS this for you? Probably not. It’s more for me to be able to look back in however many months’ time and check how right or, let’s be realistic, how WRONG I was about this entire film.
To begin, I should give my overall opinion of the film, but this is the hardest thing for me to do. Everything about it was for the fans. It wasn’t something you’d casually go and see and hope to follow along and understand. It was the culmination of 10 years worth of films and hard graft by EVERYONE involved in the MCU. That’s a lot of pressure, and it’s a lot of buildup and a LOT of expectations.
Truthfully? I don’t know what I thought about this film. Instinctively, I liked it because I’m easy like that but on a deeper level, I don’t know where I’d rate it and this is for one very simple reason… I want to reserve judgement of what I thought until I see the next few films in the MCU. Because I don’t think you can know what you felt about Infinity War because… here’s the thing… I don’t think it’s made clear what actually happened, happened without the possibility for reversal or explanation. So how can you decide how you liked a film, if you strongly believe “what you saw” WASN’T entirely what you saw.
About three things I am absolutely certain:
- Loki and Heimdall are dead, for good. They’re vaporised into space, I’d say that’s a pretty done deal. (Though I’m still mad at Loki for being so FUCKING stupid and, in fact, I don’t believe he’s that stupid to try to stab trick Thanos by just hiding his dagger by his side and then trying to stab him. This isn’t the intelligent, tricksy Loki I signed up for but they do always seem to do a number on any sense of character development he has had so I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. But maybe that’s the point?? Maybe that’s the point of the whole thing – of all the “deaths” he’s had, this was the most… lacklustre… the most boringly mundane and human and maybe that’s the whole “point”. You don’t get to write your own death (though if anyone could, I always thought it would be the Trickster God), it turns out you are human enough to be felled by a dude who is bigger than you simply squeezing the life out of you. Still, it’s not theatrical enough for me.
- I’m pretty sure Gamora IS dead and won’t be resurrected. Whenever someone false to their death there is ALWAYS a hope they survived somehow (cough Sherlock Holmes cough) but if Gamora is brought back, I think that entirely undermines the sacrifice allegedly needed to forge the Soul Stone. The Soul Stone was created therefore I do NOT want her resurrection through some double bluff, because then the internal logic doesn’t hold up.
- Anyone who “disintegrated” is alive. Anyone who didn’t disintegrate is for the chop, one way or another, in the next film. This is a HUGE part of my theorising so I’m going to devote a whole section to it but you’ll need to bear with me a second here.
Point 3 is why I didn’t cry. Because for the entirety of the film, it hit certain notes and tones that were reminiscent of the other previous MCU films to the point that I can’t help but think it’s intentional. And it’s intentional because anything you’re watching in what is called Infinity War is only one reality and it’s one of the many that Doctor Strange flicked through when he was trying to find the one out of a bajillion that would lead to Thanos not winning.
Thanos has won, he has the Infinity Gauntlet, and allegedly he sits on a newly reborn world where half of the population have faded into nothing… like they didn’t even exist at all, you might say. Now what? Why bother with any more MCU films or, specifically, any more Avengers films? And why was this originally billed as a two-parter, literally called Part One and Part Two yet this is now just Infinity War and the story you were expecting to need two parts is actually all nicely rounded off in the first part. It’s like when authors announce a series of books and then clarify that it isn’t a direct sequel, it’s a companion novel. I’m pretty sure that’s what we’re going to get with Infinity War. They won’t release the new title of Avengers 4 because it’s spoilery but I’m also pretty damn sure it’s because it’s called End Game – “we’re in the End Game now” says Stephen Strange in a stupidly dramatic throwaway line? Maybe. Or maybe I’m just looking for more.
(Side note: damn you Taylor Swift, whenever I hear the phrase End Game I just hear you singing “big reputation, big reputation, ooooh you and me would be a big conversation”. Just me? Oh ok.)
And on that point, I’m pretty sure all of this does not exist in a linear structure. One of the joys (and frustrations) of the MCU, for me, is that you know “what’s coming up” in some extent because of which characters’ films are coming up and when and how many films a certain actor is contracted to appear in. If there’s a Captain Marvel film slated for release next year, you know she must play a part in Avengers 4 (so that end scene of Infinity War was kind of confirmation of what myself, and I’m sure a lot of others, expected rather than a total shock). Likewise, I’m pretty damn sure Ant Man and the Wasp are playing a huge role in the next one. They (along with Hawk Eye) were conspicuously absent from this outing and I think, for good reason. I’m pretty damn sure some of this Infinity War stuff will be “cleared up” by a trip into the quantum realm. I don’t know how, and I don’t yet know why, but I’m pretty sure it’s leaning towards this idea.
The Captain Marvel film is set in the 90s. The beeper Nick Fury sent her a message on? Looks like suspiciously old tech, especially given the Helicarrier and Phase 2 weapons S.H.I.E.L.D. usually throws around. Likewise why is Tony’s phone strangely 90s? Tony Stark… on a flip phone? It doesn’t track to me. And I want to know why. Maybe I’m clutching at straws but there are just references or sudden moments of the scene focusing on tiny details that are pretty much insignificant*. So I think it’s part of a bigger plan. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the events of Ant Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel run “alongside” the action of Infinity War and all tie together somehow in a very timey, wimey way.
(* Another complete side note but why is the dagger Thanos gives Gamora made SUCH a big deal of? When I first saw it I wondered if, actually, he’d given her some kind of Infinity Stone because that jewel in its handle is suspiciously glowy and fancy looking. She keeps the dagger. He clearly cares for her more than she, or anyone else, ever realised. I wouldn’t put it past him to trust something like that to a child because who else would think he would? Ergo, the stone is safe. I don’t know why I think this, and I know this could just be a HUGE red herring. He seems to already have one glowy red stone after all… but I just can’t help but think some things, this included,were made SUCH a deal of with the camera that I can’t believe it’s just irrelevant or sloppy writing and visual cues.)
Ultimately, I think the disintegration we see at the “end” of the film is actually the start of the time stone being used to reverse everything. Or, well, not everything but the bits that CAN be erased and “re-done”. So the people that were seemingly left standing? Yeah, I think they’re toast. I think the reason the disintegration had no effect on them is because they can’t be reversed into a different path, because they’re stuck in THIS reality and will be forever. (Can I say that’s them “dying”, I’m not sure yet.) But I don’t think it’s going to end up being a cheap “oh we went back in time and changed the outcome” get-out. I trust Marvel more than that. They showed through Dr Strange taunting Dormammu that they will play around with infinity loops and time and it CAN work in a logic which holds up within the MCU. Whatever the outcome, I’m pretty sure the expectations of who “survived” Infinity War and who didn’t actually need to be flipped on their heads because I think the disintegrated ones are the true survivors.
Orrrrr (and this is a theory I’m SUPER into but I fear doesn’t have a consistent internal logic so I’m probably just crazy), I think they’re going to “go back” to moments in the timeslines and films of the characters who allegedly “survived” and have them altered, somehow. For example, I think Cap is gone. I think that is because at some point in “his films” the path he goes on will be altered. He will die when he’s meant to live i.e. Bucky won’t pull him out of the river, or something. Similarly, I think Tony’s gone. I went into this film SO sure that it would either be Cap or Tony that would be the “big death” at the end of this “part 1” film. And then I was wrong-footed… or was I?
I think this is part of why I didn’t cry. I am a NOTORIOUS crier. (I cried at the Heathrow bears advert shown at Christmas, I’m that liable to tearing up.) I was prepared to have beloved character deaths and to mourn them. And I didn’t… not even a little bit. I’m still not sad about them now, and it’s because I don’t believe I’ve truly seen the final hurrah of ANYONE on screen. One way or another, we’re going to revisit their characters and their stories in the next Avengers film and I suspect that’s because we’re altering time with Dr Strange. (Which is going to baffle my head because I do NOT understand time alteration and don’t try to explain it because I don’t GET it.) So they didn’t really die in Infinity War, or if they did, the true effects of that won’t be felt until Avengers 4. I have complicated feelings about this but, hey, it’s taken 10 damn years for the MCU to build to this climax, I can’t wait another year to find out what actually happened in it, and what didn’t.
If you think all of this is coming from the mind of an in denial fan who just CAN’T accept that her favourites all died so is wildly speculating to find a way that they could possibly have not died, my favourites include Loki, Thor, Heimdall, and Cap. So no, I’m not looking for a way to save my favourites because, in fact, if everything I write here turns out (one way or another) to be true, they’re all dead to the MCU. And, do you know what, so long as the logic in the next films hold up? I’m not even mad about it. A little sad, maybe, but not mad and not disappointed. I just need the next MCU films and stat.
Additional Notes (that didn’t fit elsewhere):
We need to talk about the Hulk. Banner and Hulk are clearly having a moment and the Hulk didn’t properly appear for the rest of the film after the opening scenes on the Asgard refugee ship. (Speaking of which, where’s Valkyrie in all of this?) I presume this is relevant, otherwise it just seems like kind of a waste of a character who is enjoyed by a lot of people. Though it was funny to see Mark Ruffalo clumsily tripping over in an Iron Man suit.
I’m really annoyed at Peter Quill. During one of the many failed attempts to stop Thanos, Spiderman, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Mantis, Drax, Quill team up in a not altogether unsuccessful ploy to wrench the Infinity gauntlet off his arm. They are succeeding, slowly but surely, with Mantis influencing the way Thanos feels long enough for Peter Parker and Tony to lever the gauntlet off. Up until Peter Quill realises that Thanos has sacrificed Gamora and he gets pissed off and punches him, thereby breaking Mantis link with Thanos and leading to all hell breaking loose again. It’s such a supremely selfish and self-indulgent moment (which, to be fair, isn’t entirely out-of-character) but you’d think he could wait like ten seconds to get the satisfaction of punching Thanos in the face after they’d succeeded in pulling the gauntlet off.
Another thing that’s bugging me (read: doesn’t quite “track” as I’ve called it) is how the trailers made it look so much like the mind stone would be collected by Thanos first. It looked like Vision was a goner and pretty early on in the film yet, despite many encounters with the Children of Thanos, he remained unscathed until the closing act of the film in Wakanda. Don’t get me wrong, I understand trailers being cut in such a way to wrong-foot people and (in a refreshing change of the usual) not give away everything that happens in the film itself, but that just seems… a strangely unnecessary thing to suggest and then not follow through on. UNLESS there’s a reason why Vision had to be kept “alive” until this final act, for purposes that will be explained in Avengers 4. (Also why would Scarlet Witch leave Vision’s side to go into the field knowing full well that she NEEDS to destroy that stone the second they manage to get it out of his head so should probably stay close and not be distracted by, you know, a battle. Girl, that’s SOME multitasking you’d need to do.)
After one of the many failed attempts to kill Thanos, he snarks “You should’ve gone for the head” in triumph. This is undoubtedly a reference back to Mantis manipulating him earlier on, an almost successful attempt to defeat him, but I also think it’s probably more significant than that. In fact, I wonder if I can incorporate this into the rest of my theory with Doctor Strange playing a large part in the setup and ultimate outcome of Avengers 4, is this we’re seeing not altogether “reality” but some level of mind control, somewhere along the lines. I don’t know if any of this makes consistent sense but, hey ho, I’m tired and talking myself into circles now. It’s going to take many a re-watch of this film for me to decide on one singular theory that can incorporate all of this.
i’ll end these overly long notes on a strange one… the Marvel fanfare being silent during the opening credits was weirdly chilling. From the very beginning it put the entire audience in a discombobulated mood because it seemed like the gloves were off and your expectations would be shattered. I’ve never been part of a cinema audience that has sat quite so enraptured and engrossed in a film ever before. When the credits started to roll not a single person even thought about getting up and leaving, everyone just sat still (and kind of stunned), waiting for the post-credits scene to somehow explain what the fuck we’d just watched. It didn’t. As Liz has astutely pointed out, this might be the first Marvel film I’ve actually come out of seeing feeling like I know less about the MCU than I did before I went into it. And at the same time as I feel frustrated by that, I also kind of LOVE it about the MCU.