When Marvel released The Avengers roughly ten years ago, it seemed like the event of a lifetime. It was. Our favorite superheroes together, uniting despite their differences and their possible initial dislike of each other, to “fight the battles that we never could”. Joss Whedon was in charge of directing a star-filled cast, with relatively new names like Chris Evans and Tom Hiddleston emerging even higher than they had in their respective individual films. Steve Rogers and Tony Stark nearly went at each other’s throats. Natasha Romanov and Clint Barton, then under the spell of Loki’s scepter, seemed to have an unspoken history everyone was curious about. SHIELD was still running.
The Avengers were born.
It’s been roughly ten years, and our favorite heroes have gone through their fair share of trauma and pain since Nick Fury first called upon them. Wonderful additions have resurfaced from the dead —looking straight at you, Bucky Barnes— and others have joined Earth’s mightiest heroes even when they were forced to fight against each other. The Falcon, Black Panther, Spiderman, The Guardians of the Galaxy…
If you thought The Avengers was star-filled, you may not be ready for what comes next.
Because here’s what Avengers: Infinity War is: bigger, better, spacier, funnier, much more dangerous, much more painful.
Avengers: Infinity War is what every Marvel fan has been waiting for for ten years.
This time, and for what seems like the last time —thus far, anyway— Earth’s mightiest heroes unite to try and keep mad titan Thanos from possessing the six Infinity Stones that will allow him to destroy half the universe with a simple snap of his fingers. In the process, they will form new alliances and lose some other ones. And that may not be enough to stop the indestructible Thanos from accomplishing his goal.
TELL ME HIS NAME AGAIN
The movie, as it often happens with superhero movies, is nothing without a worthy villain. Sure, our favorite heroes uniting and throwing shade at each other is, essentially, what we wanted to see, but the story doesn’t sustain itself without a decent opponent. The latest Marvel movies have blessed us with incredibly morally complex and interestingly constructed villains —Erik Killmonger being the latest— and Thanos joins that list and ranks high. Marvel’s biggest movie to date needed a villain who was up to the task, and Thanos certainly was. He is the ultimate opponent, the one supervillain strong and smart enough to remain invincible even after each and every single one of the Avengers goes at him.
But despite his psychopathic tendencies, despite how his murderous actions could lead one to very well assume his sociopath-like qualities, he is a reality-rooted villain with his own morality. One that hits almost too close.
Thanos stands for power, and his ability to collect the six Infinity Stones almost too easily is the perfect metaphor for our social and political organizations, for their agendas. Thanos might be purple and scrotum-faced —Quill’s words, not mine— but he is eerily relatable because we’ve seen his motives before. Because his honest concern —despite how morally doubtful— responds to problems we are aware of, problems we face.
Ultimately, Thanos is scary not because of his calm demeanor even when he’s about to snap Loki’s neck —yeah, that happened ridiculously early on— or because of his impenetrable skin, or his gauntlet. He is terrifying because he sounds like someone we’ve heard before. Because despite looking like an alien and holding glowing gems, he represents a corrupt power system in which those at the bottom are at the mercy of those on top.
And not even Captain America can save us from that.
Thanos is real. He is somewhat human. Deep down, he is deeply moved, he is allowed to love —in a very toxic way, fine, but love regardless— and through this we not only understand his motivation, but we also understand why we should fear him. Why the Avengers fear him.
Why they can’t defeat him.
Honestly, he’s more than half of the movie’s worth.
The other half, of course, are our beloved heroes.
Possibly the greatest thing about this movie is how well the dynamics between characters functioned, and how elegantly and organically they were introduced to each other. Albeit we were hoping for some partnerships that we did not end up getting —Shuri and Peter Parker would’ve loved each other, just saying— it was rewarding to see so polarizingly opposite characters come together. Who knew Peter Quill and Iron Man could get along somewhat fine?
They were well-written and feeling-inducing, surprising and hilarious. Their, at times, reluctancy to work together was trifled by need, as it often is whenever The Avengers are involved, but teaming up fully grown and developed characters that have achieved a certain high point in their abilities proved not only that Marvel’s ten years worth of superhero movies accomplished to create the most well-crafted universe in the past decade, but that the elements in common, the links, the perfect synchronicity and fusion between movies and characters, despite how different they appear to be, has been taken care of with such remarkable attention to detail and precision that any combination works.
Because if the first Avengers movie did anything was convince our superheroes that they needed to work together to defeat the evil foes. That’s why Agent Coulson’s death is the pivotal point, that’s why Nick Fury is so insistent to make them understand that individually they are great, but together they are amazing. It’s why that revolving shot of all of them fighting in The Battle of New York is so deep-rooted in our minds.
Civil War proved the same idea, reminding us that the Avengers are nothing if they are separated. And Infinity War reinforces this, and whatever terms Tony and Steve are on, their willingness to fight with anyone with the same goal as them is the basis of what this movie is and means.
Some of these relationships have achieved a familiar level to them that also root the movie in a very real place. The first time we see Tony Stark in this movie, he is engaged to Pepper and ready to have kids. By the time the movie ends, he loses —although he doesn’t, but more on that later— the one son he’s had in the last couple of years: Peter Parker.
Seriously, if that scene where Spidey literally begs Tony for his life before disappearing didn’t make you tear up even a little bit, what kind of robot are you?
Their relationship, although somewhat dysfunctional since Spidey first appeared in Civil War has a very honest truth to it, a very moving camaraderie based on mutual admiration and respect that is perfectly tainted with the faintest stroke of Tony’s father issues that grant him a certain innocent incompetence that is ultimately hilarious to watch, but also touching to witness. He knights Peter Parker an Avenger, and immediately we understand that there is something much deeper and purer than we’d first seen. Seeing that dynamic —and Spiderman’s constant “old” pop culture references and new amazing spider legs— was probably one of the highlights of the Space Team’s storyline.
But, alas, Tony and Peter —the spider kind— are just one of the father-son/daughter relationships that really stand as pillars of the movie’s main plot. Thanos and Gamora’s troubled past, their dynamic, their —dare I say it— relationship ends up becoming, potentially, the movie’s most important storyline. Gamora is Thanos’ weak spot, the one person he cares for. She is the key to his plan failing or succeeding.
Her death is as surprising as it is badly timed —please bring her back somehow!— given the final culmination of her and Star-Lord’s relationship, but it’s necessary to construct Thanos as something more than just another psychopath with impenetrable skin.
And the one Avenger that managed to really tear his skin was Thor. And man, oh man, were we proud of Thor. His character hadn’t been done real justice until Ragnarok happened and for once we understood why he really was the God of Thunder, but Infinity War further proved it. It gave Thor the much-deserved time to shine he needed. He sacrifices himself constantly, he is driven by spite and revenge and a deep pain stemming from the loss of half of his people, his best friend, and yes, his brother Loki, yet again.
I’ve never been a big fan of Loki, but I have to admit, his death scene was worthy of a hero. He was ultimately redeemed in the best possible way. It may have made me tear up a bit. And, by the way: “We have a Hulk”? Talk about development.
Thor’s eventual team up with Groot and Rocket, who has had one of the most touching character developments in the franchise, is hilarious and moving in equal parts. And my sincere gratitude for allowing him to cry for his people, his best friend, and his brother.
So, with his new axe and a strong will to avenge everyone, Thor came in and annihilated half of the invading aliens in the coolest way possible, and his near-defeat of Thanos seconds before he snaps his fingers was cheer-erupting.
Thor 3 – rest of the universe 1.
WAKANDA (FOREVER) SQUAD
The one complaint to make about this movie is that there was not nearly enough time for these characters to shine, although admittedly it had to be that way, because Thanos’s motivation and past needed to be explained in detail for the movie to be as compelling as it was.
But after two years, we were hoping to get more from Steve Rogers —who takes on Thanos one on one like it’s just another day at the gym— and his troupe of misfits. Steve Rogers, the most dramatic man in Brooklyn and now also the entire universe, appears from the shadows accompanied, for the first time in the entire film, by Alan Silvestri’s Avengers theme, and doesn’t apologize or ask for permission. The star on his chest is gone, but his moral compass and good-hearted nature is scruffy but untouched. He has a new shield. He is more than ready to fight.
Chills, guys. Literally.
His Earth-saving squad includes a very Mark Ruffaloesque Bruce Banner who can’t get a PTSD Hulk to come out, badass friends Natasha Romanov and Sam Wilson, a very smiley yet tired Bucky Barnes, and the entire population of Wakanda.
And they aren’t strong enough to stop Thanos from getting what he wants.
Emotions ran high on Wakandan soil, especially because it proved to be the most devastating battlefield where we had to bear witness to some of our favorite heroes disappearing in front of their loved ones. It was the perfect stage for emotional stress and pain, accomplished not only through the violent scenes, but also through the surprisingly touching relationship between Wanda and Vision.
Their relationship had been teased in earlier films, but it really came to fruition here, and the imminent danger that threatened it was highlighted through Vision’s importance. Infinity War made us really care for these relatively new characters and their relationship, and so Vision’s double death was, albeit predictable —the guy had the Mind Stone in his forehead!—, almost just as painful to watch as Loki’s.
But the Wakandan team did need some of the less action-driven scenes that the Space Team enjoyed numerous amounts of times. Perhaps more planning and less punching would’ve been the best way to go. Maybe give Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes some time to talk —although that hug was really something. Perhaps let Sam Wilson have more than one line.
But ultimately it felt balanced. It felt like Tony’s side of the story needed more protagonism than Steve’s this time, and it’s probably because we can count on Avengers 4 relying much more on Earth-bound strategies than Infinity War.
We do have to be thankful, however, for the fighting scenes. Wakanda is the perfect terrain for fighting, and the immensity of the battles were unbelievably well crafted. They also gave us a much needed scene in which Okoye, Wanda and Nat prove to the world why women are worthy of being celebrated and respected.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
So we’re all in agreement that the people who disappeared aren’t actually dead. Surprising as it was, it makes no sense that three characters such as Loki, Gamora and Vision, who aren’t as transcendental as half the people who disappeared —T’challa is the Black Panther, come on— got dramatic, climactic, musically enveloped death scenes while Peter, Bucky and Doctor Strange simply disappeared into thin air.
So, not dead.
How the original Avengers —the only ones that don’t disappear, isn’t that a coincidence?— manage to bring them back is definitely what Avengers 4 will resolve. It will show us the one in fourteen million scenario in which The Avengers, as always, win. The one in fourteen million scenario that Doctor Strange saw, the one he needed to sacrifice the Time Stone and his life for, the one that The Avengers are now on the path towards.
It looks like Avengers 4 will rely on the nostalgia of the first Avengers movie to restructure Earth’s mightiest heroes to fight what may perhaps be their last battle and to give way to the new Avengers. Whether time travel and Captain Marvel will be involved, and to what extent they will be involved, is still unknown to us.
For now, we can only keep believing that our favorite group of misfits, our superhero boy band, our brilliant heroes who will be there, always, to fight the battles we never could, will manage to pierce Thanos’s skin and restore the longest episode of The Leftovers back to how it was before.
After all, that’s what The Avengers were meant to do, right?
AWARD-WORTHY MOMENTS I’M STILL THINKING ABOUT:
- Loki looking at Thor while saying “Odinson” before Thanos kills him.
- Rocket and Bucky with machine guns.
- Rocket asking Bucky for his arm. Seriously, we asked, and we got it!
- Okoye side-eyeing Bruce when he falls down in the Hulkbuster.
- Steve and Bucky hugging.
- PETER PARKER ASKING NOT TO GO.
- “You speak Groot?” “Yeah, it was an elective in Asgard.”
- Peter Quill facing the hardest moment of his life and keeping his promise to Gamora. Seriously guys, tears.
- “I told you to go right.”
- Peter Quill and Gamora. In general. Just because.
- “Where is Gamora?”
- “Who is Gamora?”
- “Why is Gamora?”
- WAKANDA FOREVER
- Shuri being badass always and forever.
- Nat’s snarky comments. I live.
- Quill copying Thor’s voice.
- “What am I supposed to say? Jesus?”
- “Oh God.”
- “I am Groot.” “I am Steve Rogers.”
- Thor telling Cap he copied his beard and Cap telling Thor he likes his haircut.
- Thor getting his eye back. Yay!
- Thor in general. Amazing.
- “You’re embarrassing me in front of the wizards.”
- Red Skull.
- “Thanos will return.”
Avengers: Infinity Wars is in theaters right now.