30 April 2018

REVIEW: Avengers Infinity War

I do not own any of these images.

Avengers Infinity War
Directed by Anthony & Joe Russo
Release date: 27th April 2018
This review contains major spoilers.

The excitement we felt leading up to this film was unparalleled. This franchise has been in our lives since we were children. Iron Man came out when we were 13 and now 10 years later at the age of 23 we find ourselves rushing to the cinema in our marvel shirts, smiles shining and hearts palpitating. We were able to see the film on its opening week-end which was amazing.

The MCU has accompanied us through our teenage and young adult years, providing escapism, inspiration and a little bit of support in difficult times. It's such a wonderful thing to be able to get so excited about something. Life would be so incredibly dull if we didn't have this capacity to feel passionate about art, books, films... To be able to share that passion with millions of other fans world-wide as an exciting collective experience is absolutely wonderful. It's an incredible thing to be part of: sharing stories, theories, fan art, gifs and memes and interviews and thoughts and predictions... This film has so much value because it reflects that special connection shared by fans, actors and creators alike. I pity anyone who mocks the concept of fandom or those who get excited over films and franchises. They really don't know what they're missing out on.

There is a lot to discuss, this review will showcase some of our thoughts about the film, some predictions and a few theories. We discuss the subplots, the team-ups, the villain, and the different themes explored in the film.

Film synopsis :

The Avengers & their allies unite in an attempt to stop the titan Thanos from collecting all 6 Infinity Stones and achieving his goal of "restoring balance" to the universe. The fate of their world and the universe has never been so uncertain.

Infinity War evolves around 3 different teams, each with their own story arc. Spoilers ahead:

-Iron Man and Spider Man try to prevent Thanos from getting Doctor Strange's Time Stone, and are eventually joined by Star Lord, Drax, Mantis and Nebula. Their goal is to protect the Time Stone and retrieve the Gauntlet before Thanos collects any more of the Infinity Stones.

-Rocket and Groot accompany Thor to the planet Nidavellir in order to forge a new epic weapon that could help defeat Thanos, before re-joining the others in the final showdown.

-Cap, Black Widow, Vision, Wanda, Sam, Rhodey and Hulk travel to Wakanda where Shuri attempts to remove the Mind Stone from Vision and destroy it before Thanos can get to it. They join Black Panther, Okoye and the White Wolf Bucky - together joining forces in an attempt to stop Thanos' forces from getting to Vision.

Gamora becomes separated from her fellow guardians and has her own separate arc, the most emotional and vital one of the film.

  • Creating a comprehensive plot that involves over twenty characters and 18 films worth of backstories
In an effort to create a comprehensive plot, Infinity War split its twenty-plus characters into teams and gave each team a storyline. Not every character had an arc in the film, but their presence was still felt through brilliant one-liners, epic action sequences and character interactions: Bucky & Rocket fighting side by side, Groot contributing to the forging of Thor's epic new weapon, Steve & Thor commenting on each-other's beards and hair... There simply isn't enough space or time to dive into individual plotlines which aren't directly connected to the Thanos plot and to be honest they aren't necessary. We already know the characters and when there is a threat of infinite proportions these people probably aren't going to be focusing on a personal problem, they're going to be working as a collective unit to take down the bad guy. That being said, some characters story-lines are personally tied to Thanos which is why they had more screen-time than others.

Some people argue that the film felt overstuffed with characters and that is was difficult to feel any kind of emotional attachment to some of them: again, this film is the culmination of all of the MCU so farInfinity War wasn't made for a casual cinema goer who has no knowledge of the MCU characters. It was made for those who have followed the journey over 10 years. It's the end of a chapter and to fully appreciate it you have to have read the whole book or in this case, have seen the 18 films.

For instance, if you have watched both Guardians of the Galaxy films you would know Nebula & Gamora's backstories so the big moments in IW will undoubtedly have a stronger impact. Each character has been more or less fully established by now: IW is built upon their previous character arcs and backstories although most casual cinema goers will enjoy the film they won't be able to appreciate the full picture, nor will they grasp the importance of it. Those who have seen every MCU film will be the ones who benefit from it the most as they are aware of each character's backstory therefore will be more emotionally invested in the dramatic, heart-breaking moments of the film. IW also managed to keep the feel of each previous film, for instance the humour from Thor Ragnarok & the music moments from Guardians Of The Galaxy.

Despite the huge number of characters in the film, Infinity War managed to build a comprehensive plot through an intricate web of backstories and by intertwining all 4 storylines in a well-juggled manner.

  • A story 10 years & 17 films in the making 
IW is a culmination of a decade worth of films, so it is a lot to take in. It's quite dazzling and overwhelming, there is a lot of CGI so it's definitely worth seeing a second time on the big screen if you can. Marvel delivered a wonderful, fun, heart-breaking and epic chapter in the MCU: they kept the humour and all the other characteristics that we associate with Marvel but still showcased the gravity and importance of what was happening. We are well beyond Earth-based issues now, this is universal.

The very plot of the film is thought-provoking and compelling, and the villain's perspective is actually logical ("cool motive, still murder"). The recurring themes are family, sacrifice & unity: putting aside past conflicts in order the defeat the evil at hand. This applies to both Thanos and the Avenger/Guardians. Despite the huge scale of the plot the moments between the characters were heartfelt, emotional and the true strength of the film. The teamwork and unity between the characters that has been carefully constructed over the past 19 films made that jaw-dropping end scene all the more poignant and heart-breaking.

  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe finally earns it's name with a huge, jaw-dropping scale: intergalactic terrain, titans, wizards & gods
Marvel has been slowly building its cinematic 'universe' over the course of 19 films, filling it with more and more characters who do not originate from Earth. Little by little we were introduced to these intergalactic beings (the God of Thunder, aliens) and before we knew it, it was totally acceptable to watch a talking tree and talking raccoon. Elements that would not have fit into this universe at the beginning were slowly introduced and established later on, making the whole concept of Infinity War more believable. These intergalactic elements contributed to the huge scale of the current MCU in which Space now plays a huge part (let's just appreciate how much Thor and the Guardians brought to this universe, they introduced us to a whole new level and the possibilities are endless!)

Infinity War
 finally brings to fruition the Marvel Universe showcasing more planets and beings than ever before: a Titan, a Wizard, Gods and more. 

  • Higher Power, Fate, Destiny & Gods - heavenly, divine, celestial
There were several references to a higher power in this film. This is a theme which has developed in the MCU since the introduction of Thor: since then we've seen higher beings (God of Thunder, God of Mischief, demi-god Star Lord, Ego) and we have had several references to divine kingdoms in Phase 3 (most recently a glimpse at an after-life/heaven in Black Panther & Ragnarok), but in Infinity War there are more references than all the other films combined and it is something that is truly valued in the story.

The first reference is Loki telling Thanos that he'll 'never be a god', followed by Thor & Heimdall praying to the All-Fathers. Thor is referred to as a 'pirate-angel' by Drax, and the god of Thunder goes on to share his thoughts on his fate and destiny. In one scene, Peter Quill mentions Jesus and we also have Thanos' entourage who worship him as if he were a god. Once again we see another glimpse at an after-life. The Infinity Stones give god-like powers to any who wield them and the fact that there is a Soul Stone is proof that there is a certain divine characteristic to their universe.

  • The Titan Thanos and the threat of the underdeveloped villain trap
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a force to be reckoned with for sure, but that isn't to say it isn't flawed: the Marvel phenomenon continues to grow regardless, and continues to improve and learn from its past mistakes. Once a very white, male dominated universe, it is finally becoming more diverse and inclusive (and it has thrived by being so) and it seems they have found a solution to their reoccurring under-developed villain problem. Phase 3 introduced the best villains we've seen thus far with Zemo (Civil War) and Killmonger (Black Panther) and Infinity War also succeeded in creating a good bad-guy

Thanos believes that the universe is over-populated and off-balance and that by killing half of it the other half could live peacefully with the remaining resources. Despite being a very fast-paced, action filled film, Infinity War managed to showcase Thanos' reasoning, morals and ideology. Thanos believes that what he is attempting to do is right, that he is the only being brave enough to step up. It's also important to point out that he wants this overpopulation problem to be solved fairly, by random - he himself chooses not to kill when he is fully capable of doing so (the exception being of course the need for a sacrifice): ultimately, Thanos wants the universe to decide who lives and who dies.

I found it so interesting that through-out the film Thanos has multiple opportunities to wipe out the Avengers and the Guardians but ultimately decided not to. During that heart-stopping final sequence in Wakanda, he simply flicks the heroes aside, he doesn't kill them, but he fully well knows that he can if he wanted to. Thanos does value life and his actions in Infinity War prove that. He doesn't harm people unless they are truly holding him back (Iron Man) yet he is set on killing off half the Universe. He tortures people, yet he is still capable of feeling sadness, guilt and grief. Thanos is so complex and Infinity War really did make sure this character was well-developed and had plenty of screen time so that his actions made sense in the story and to the audience. I for one am very grateful that we were given such a compelling villain.

  • Theories and questions & Avengers 4 (title yet to be revealed)

There are many theories and questions flying about now that the film is out. 

Along with some on set pictures (Infinity War and Avengers 4 were filmed back-to-back) and spoilers accidentally revealed by the cast members in interviews, we can assume some things but with Marvel, it's impossible to know anything for sure. Here are some theories concerning the end of Infinity War:

-What happened to half of them? Thanos clicked his fingers, and half the universe disintegrated in to nothing (urgh, typing it makes it real). Marvel has repeatedly mentioned that IW is the culmination of all the past films, meaning that after Avengers 4 (2019) we will have mainly new superheros at the forefront: if that's the case, why is it that the newest cast members (and the ones who still have 4+ films in their contracts) were the ones to go? Bucky, Spidey, Sam, Wanda, Peter, Mantis, Drax, Groot & T'Challa? What if the situation is actually reversed somehow? Some people have suggested that those who disintegrated may have been transported to the Quantum Realm (seen in the new Ant Man trailer) where space and time is irrelevant... or maybe all of their souls are in Soul Stone itself.

-Shuri succeeded in removing the stone from Vision. Vision can manipulate his appearance, so is it too far-fetched to believe that they succeeded in removing the stone after all, replacing it with a fake somehow? The end of the film of course disproves this, but we can still hope right?

-Mantis managed to hold Thanos back long enough for Iron Man, Strange, Drax, Star Lord & Spidey to dislodge the reality stone, weilding it and making Thanos believe he succeeded in his mission...

There are also lots of questions left to be answered too. 

Is Loki really dead? Yes, it appeared like he had truly bit the dust for real this time. However, Loki was off screen was a brief time during the Hulk x Thanos fight (leaving time for a little apparition trickery) and attempting to kill Thanos with a knife whilst surrounded by other baddies? Doesn't seem like a very smart move by the god of Mischief now does it?

Where is Valkyrie? The newly introduced character in Ragnarok was nowhere to be seen despite being on the ship with Thor & Loki at the end of that film. Thor reveals that half of the Asgardians were killed by Thanos but there is a big chance that Valkyrie succeeded in escaping before their ship was destroyed. And where is Lady Sif? You know the rule guys, if you don't see the death on screen then there's no true evidence that it really happened...

Why did Doctor Strange give up the Time Stone? Strange said he went forward in time to foresee every single outcome of their situation, and that they were only victorious in one of these scenarios. He gives Thanos the time stone in order to save Stark, and before disintegrating claims that this was 'the only way'. This suggests that Strange knew more than he let on, and that Thanos may not be victorious just yet. You could even say that because of Strange's comments, we already have confirmation that he will lose in the end.

Cursed with knowledge. Thanos knew Stark by name, claiming that he 'wasn't the only one cursed with knowledge': looks like Iron Man still has some work to do. And what about Cap Steve Rogers stopping Thanos with his bare hands? Thanos certainly appeared shocked, confused and a little worried about that.

After credits scene. Nicky Fury and Agent Hill are in New York and before they know what's happening they begin to disintegrate. Fury manages to page someone before he goes. The pager drops to the floor and a certain superhero logo appears on the screen: the Captain Marvel logo! Carol Danvers will make her first appearance in her own debut solo film, set to be released next year. With Oscar winner Brie Larson as the lead, Captain Marvel will be set in the 1990's and will feature Nick Fury, Agent Coulson and Lee Pace's Ronan - the villain in the 1st Guardians of The Galaxy.

Untitled Avengers 4. Marvel have yet to officially announce the title of Avengers 4, supposedly to avoid spoiling IW. What will happen next?  Ant-Man & The Wasp and Captain Marvel will be released before Avengers 4. I think it's safe to say that although it appears that Thanos succeeded, nothing is stopping someone from retrieving the gauntlet and turning back time to undo his actions (after all, didn't he himself do that to Vision at the end of IW?).

What did you think of the film? As a huge Marvel fan I found it quite overwhelming and was at a loss for words after seeing it, like the characters in the final moments of the film we couldn't process what we were seeing. It was very dazzling and a lot to take in, a second viewing is definitely in order. There were several dramatic and emotional moments that shocked me, the scene between Gamora and Quill hurt and the last one between Peter and Tony hurt a lot (The fact that Peter's spider-senses caused his disintegration to last longer - it's going to take me a while to recover from that). Some scenes were quite haunting too, Thanos holding Loki's lifeless body, Vision's body reduced to a disregarded piece of tech. There were a lot of epic scenes involving Thor: reigniting the dying star and appearing on Earth with Groot on one side and Rocket on his shoulder, armed with a new mighty weapon (I think we were all Banner in that moment). It was great to see The Avengers at their full strength too, to think Wanda is strong enough to hold back Thanos armed with 5 Infinity Stones AND destroy the Mind Stone at the same time. I personally loved the film and can't wait to see what will happen next: first up, Ant-Man and the Wasp in a few months time!

Holly & Summer

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