Does Avengers: Infinity War Bore?

Last time I did a collaboreview with The Wages of Cinema, it was just Jack & I on Pacific Rim: Uprising. This time we’ve got the whole kooky quartet back together! Forsooth this is the most ambitious crossover event in history! Alas, they can’t all be odes to dirigible crime! Infinite Spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War would be a lie because I eventually run out of them. I did throw in some for Agents of SHIELD because everything is tenuously connected.

How come the GotG (their name is too long to copy & paste) don’t get their name in the title like the Avengers? Is the second installment going to be Guardians of the Galaxy: Infinity War to make up for it? Why does the mega-crossover movie even need any teams attached to it as if fans wouldn’t see it otherwise? Is this really the third Avengers movie more-so than than the third Captain America was? Is the next one going to be titled Infinity Crusade or will they get punny with Avengers Forever?

The Thanos reveal at the end of The Avengers was one of its coolest moments. The prospect of getting an Infinity Gauntlet movie really opened up what the MCU could be, at least until I remembered Thanos sucks. Thanos’s real introduction in GOTG being betrayed by Ronan the Accuser didn’t help sway me. By the time he returned in the stinger for Age of Ultron, I was already sick of him. He’s already an indomitable Mary Sue before he collects all the Infinity Stones, so it feels like waste of time throwing all the superheroes at him & his goons. It just prolongs me having to stare at his ugly mug & hear him drone on. The Mad Titan is a better baddie than Malekith the Accursed, but aren’t they all? The Thanos Copter is a glaring omission. Plus I am predisposed to disliking Josh Brolin. Why couldn’t they have cast Keith David or Ron Perlman? Why are they letting Brolin play so many cinematic comic book characters after Jonah Hex? Replacing Clive Owen with him made Sin City 2 even worse!

Thanos’s backstory being crammed into this movie instead of being threaded through his earlier appearances compounds my issues with his character. In the comics, Thanos wants to kill half the universe to woo his unrequited love that is literally Death. There was a rumor that the MCU would substitute Hela for Death, which could explain how she could tell Odin’s Infinity Gauntlet was fake. She’s way out of his league, but we’d at least get more Hela. This is sadly not in the movie, much like how Ultron’s Oedipal Complex was absent. Thanos’s new motivation is Malthusian, as he wishes to spare the universe the ravages of overpopulation that befell his native Titan. This was compelling when Ra’s al Ghul tried it on a smaller scale in BTAS, but Thanos is so dry it’s hard to empathize with his lateral thinking. His sorrow over sacrificing Gamora would’ve been sad if most of their relationship hadn’t happened offscreen. It seems shortsighted since the halved population will eventually reproduce to their former amount. Since he’s got an Infinity Gauntlet, why no just wish every being unlimited prosperity with no negative ecological impact? At best Thanos’s plan is a temporary half-measure & failure of imagination at worst. It would’ve been better if they pushed him into being the ultimate goth necrophiliac so his “to court Death” grin from The Avengers‘ stinger would make sense.

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WASH YOUR COSTUME.

After GOTG 2, Thor: Ragnarok, & Black Panther wowed me with their vivid colors, the the palette on this was a letdown. Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, Black Panther, Winter Soldier, War Machine, & Falcon all have such drab costumes. Steve simply removing the embossed star from his chest is a really half-assed way of showing he quit … the USA? (I really don’t understand the political statement since Steve Rogers is still as interventionist & anti-regulation as America.) At least in the comics he got new Nomad or The Captain (later popularized by USAgent) suits when he forsook his mantle. They couldn’t give him a scale mail number for his final two films? Vision literally desaturates upon death. Lots of people disintegrate into brown wood chips for the MCU’s most blatantly reversible demises. Casual Thanos is hideous, especially since the golden armor he needlessly doffs at the film’s start was his big selling point that differentiated him from Darkseid.

Contrariwise I dig Spider-Man’s Iron Spider suit better than either he wore in Homecoming. Tony Stark gave Peter an acceptable number of legs as opposed to the comics, although it’s going to make MCU Doctor Octopus look like a copycat instead of vice versa. The Infinity Gauntlet itself looks fittingly regal.

The schism between Avengers doesn’t matter at all. Whatever the warring factions have been doing in the interim isn’t important enough to show us. They wisely reconfigure swiftly with no ill will. Even War Machine thinks the Sokovia Accords are dumb now. Thanks for wasting all our time with that petty pissing contest, Iron Man v. Captain America: Dawn of Vengeance!

Loki’s death is very underwhelming. He neither does anything ingeniously cunning nor wears his glorious horns. Shouldn’t his corpse revert to blue? He & Heimdall get slain in the most perfunctory ways just because their actors’ contracts are up. Their fridging does make Thor’s optimistic resolve even more impressive, not that his grief stakes really needed upping. The slaughter of the refugees makes sacrificing Asgard pointless.  Thor: Ragnarok made me ask “Where’s Sif?,” whereas this makes me ask “Where’s Valkyrie?” Occam’s Razor implies she died offscreen. (Nakia doesn’t appear either, but it’s easier to imagine she’s on a separate mission to rescue Sharon Carter, Jane Foster, Christine Palmer, & Betty Ross.)

I really like the idea of Vision & Scarlet Witch as an item, but we don’t get enough of that to really invest in it. I’m disappointed that what little we do see has Vision inexplicably in normal Paul Bettany form. I prefer it when Wanda (whose vague Eastern European accent has evaporated) is into him specifically because he’s Christmas colored synthezoid. Wafer-thin spouse duo Proxima Midnight (they could barely spare Carrie Coon any dialogue) & Corvus Glaive more than hold their own against the two most powerful terrestrial Avengers but retreat once a few of their much less formidable teammates arrive?

The film’s main selling point is seeing unusual groups of heroes interacting. The best is Thor meeting the GotG. Iron Man, Star-Lord, & Dr. Strange compete to be snarkiest of them all. The banter is on point. Thankfully there’s only one mistaken identity skirmish.

The biggest surprise is the return of Red Skull! Now Hugo Weaving knows how to make an underwritten villain charismatic. Can he return to upstage Brolin with more than a cameo? Wait, they recast Weaving with Ross Marquand? Bummer. Where’d he get his anti-gravity cloak from? Red Skull totally would’ve sacrificed someone he loves for the Soul Stone if he wasn’t stranded on that planet by himself.

Giant-size Peter Dinklage is a good sight gag, although his Tyrion Lannister accent is cartoonishly overwrought. As a replacement for the dearly missed Mjolnir, he crafts Stormbreaker for Thor. Unfortunately he MCU version looks so crude. But Stormbreaker is Beta Ray Bill’s hammer! When will we meet everyone’s favorite alien cyborg horse substitute Thunder God? What does the MCU have against larger than life characters with three names like him, Fin Fang Foom, & J. Jonah Jameson?

Dr. Strange fighting with magic was keen! Iron Man’s armor is generated from an unlimited nanite supply that can rapidly form any technology Tony Stark thinks of so it’s less grounded in hard science than ever before! (Ironically his ML action figure doesn’t include any morphing accessories.) Thor is a mighty angelic pirate! Meanwhile the least superhuman heroes get the least interesting action scenes. Charging at the ravenous alien horde doesn’t seem like good tactics. It’s amazing they weren’t all slaughtered. This movie underscores that “DC superheroes are too powerful to ever relate to” is a ridiculous complaint if you can swallow everything Marvel’s do. The assault on Wakanda also preemptively steals some War Wheels from the Blackhawk movie.

The Hulk persona being too chicken to manifest after being walloped by Thanos instead of an autonomic reflex is a cop-out. Ditto Vision losing his density-altering powers after being stabbed by an alien spear. Why didn’t Loki use the Tesseract to teleport himself, Thor, Heimdall, Valkyrie, Korg, & Miek away? Or why didn’t Heimdall do that for all the Asgardian refugees before the massacre was at full tilt since he apparently doesn’t need to plug his sword anyplace special to activate the Bifrost? Why didn’t Dr. Strange use the Eye of Agamotto to revert the Gauntlet to before Thanos had any Infinity Stones in it? His sudden insistence that giving Thanos the Time Stone is the only way to prevail in the long-term doesn’t sound as reasonable as his previous stance of never surrendering it. Must Tony Stark literally be the MCU’s most important man?

Nobody says “Avengers assemble!” yet? Why are they holding out on the team’s iconic rally cry until the last possible moment? Shouldn’t moviegoers have heard it repeatedly by now so when it’s said one final time it has emotional resonance instead of being corny fan service?

I’m glad the Soul Stone wasn’t the Vibranium meteorite. What does the Soul Stone do anyway? It seems like the Reality Stone is only one that’s truly indispensable. Aside from preventing the others from being used against you, why do you need all six once you’ve got the that one? It’s confusing the Cosmic Cube was reduced to the Space Stone when its comic book function is closer to the Reality Stone.

Introducing the Infinity Gems in earlier movies seemed like a good unifying idea to set up the Infinity Gauntlet. Since Thanos went so far as to even lose the one Infinity Stone he already had, this movie has to devote its running time to him finally getting them one by one rather than telling a complete story. He steals the Power Stone from the Nova Corps before the movie begins & it still feels like it’s taking too long. If he just showed up with the completed Forever Glove & halved the universal population in act one, they could’ve concluded this in a single movie. Of course then there wouldn’t have been anything for dozens of superheroes to do. That’s the main reason the Black Order Children of Thanos are shoehorned in. (Jonathan Hickman is out of his element!) Ebony Maw makes the best impression despite not having a black mouth. Black Dwarf Cull Obsidian looks like Abomination should’ve.

It would’ve been great to see The Defenders help out in NYC even if their skills are limited to punching really well. The more versatile Agents of SHIELD contained one measly throwaway reference in its latest episode. Since I’ve spent over 100 episodes with this cast, I’m miffed the movies won’t throw them a bone in return. It hardly seems fair that for their conveniently simultaneous apocalypses SHIELD gets crazy Adrian “YOU FILTHY CALAMARI MATA HARI!” Pasdar while Infinity War has to settle for discount Darkseid. I was looking forward to crazy Ian Hart as Graviton, but this works too. Even at its most ragtag, SHIELD will spontaneously generate nameless canon fodder agents we’ve never seen before. R.I.P. Crossfit Tinker Bell & her wonderfully pointy shoulder pads.

What took so long for Nick Fury to beep Captain Marvel? Loki & Ultron weren’t dire enough? (At least he didn’t call in midlife crisis Hawkeye as Ronin.) She’s getting a prequel origin movie to distract from her being a Deus Ex Machina retcon. It’d be ironic if she’d been in the obliterated half. Oddly the Deus Ex Machina more famous for vanquishing Thanos, Adam Warlock, was introduced into the MCU last year for the express purpose of not factoring into this cinematic saga.

Maybe the second installment can redeem the first? Hopefully Nebula steals the Thanos’s bejeweled glove in Infinity War 2 like she did in the comics. In addition to using the Gauntlet to undo Thanos’s deathwave, will it be used to recast the outgoing Avengers actors or assimilate mutants & the Fantastic Four into the MCU? They had better not rip off JLA’s “Rock of Ages” by having Hawkeye & Ant-Man kill Thanos! Since Justice League 3 may never happen, that astounding climax ought to be reserved for next season’s CW crossover. (They’d likely replace Darkseid with Amazo, Mongul, or Despero as he’s movie-embargoed.) Instead Thanos needs to be destroyed by Milana Vayntrub’s Squirrel Girl!

The Russo brothers do the best they can with what they’re given. They successfully coordinate even more characters than Civil War. I’m just not wild about the concept of this movie either. The cliffhanger ending does not feel shocking. Most of the deaths will be undone in the next movie, so it feels like much ado about nothing. The CW’s Crisis on Earth-X! is a more satisfying live action crossover. It’s a watchable movie but it still feels hollow & unengaging. The hype for this movie has been snowballing for years yet it somehow feels less than the sum of its parts. At least the title lied about how long its war lasts.

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