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Warning: This is as spoiler-filled as a spoiler-filled write-up on Infinity War can get. Please, watch the movie before reading.
Let’s get the bad out of the way first...
On the Black Order
Marvel Studios had a ton of things to juggle, in this movie more than ever: not just the 20+ superheroes from previous films, but all the new characters as well. (I’ll include Thanos in there, since all we really know about him is that he’s big and OP.) Even with two and a half hours of screen time, it remains a tall order, if not the tallest in cinema history, perhaps after what Star Wars Episodes I and VII had to do.
Among the new characters are the members of the Black Order, aka “Children of Thanos”. Whatever they were, they weren’t much of it.
Now, by-and-large, Marvel did a tremendous job, but the poor treatment of the Black Order kind of sticks out. To a non-comic-book fan like myself, the Black Order were just a little band of tough, but run-of-the-mill, henchmen: there was the big tough guy, the wizard tough guy, the tough ninja girl… and their dog army. That’s about all I can remember.
Sure, the MCU’s had plenty of forgettable villains. I’m not even one to complain about underdeveloped villains, as long as they give the heroes a legitimate conflict. But my particular issue with the Black Order was that, given their almost non-existent introduction into the universe, none of them were tough enough that it felt like they had influence over any of the events onscreen, but they were tough enough that it was annoying how they could let up a fight against the freaking 10-years-of-movies’-worth-of-battle-worn Avengers. Then of course comes the “Where were they this whole time?” sentiment for new characters that only grows as the MCU progresses.
On the MCU TV shows
Although that pales in comparison with how egregiously left-out any acknowledgement or influence the TV shows should have had in the MCU by now, much more at this point where everything is supposed to culminate, much much more where one of the epicenters of the chaos is New York City. Isn’t this where the TV shows take place or something?
Case in point: I haven’t watched a single episode of any MCU TV show. Not one. Avengers: Infinity War did the worse possible job at making me feel left out in any way.
That about does it for negatives. This is an otherwise amazing roller coaster of a film – it’s the biggest crossover event in cinematic history, how could it not?
The deaths in this movie takes everything up a notch. It’s what the fanbase has been clamoring about for years now – it really does drastically raise the stakes – and I’m glad Marvel held off until now to kill off major characters.
Loki’s demeaning death – after simply being choked out by Thanos, before which he’d totally laid out Hulk – was an excellent start and set-up for the movie. From this point on, every scene with Thanos interacting with someone is like playing roulette.
The deaths come one-by-one, each one heart-wrenching in its own way, then all of a sudden half of all life in the universe – heroes included – simply turns to dust. Then comes the somber credits sequence – a stark contrast to previous ones… It’s one of the more artful moments in the MCU arc of movies. I don’t think I’d have it any other way.
Coming into Avengers: Infinity War, I already knew that Thanos had it in him to simply flick off any offense and annihilate the heroes where they stood. But after having seen the movie and having mulled over his story arc… I realize that there’s a surprising amount of it with just him simply letting things happen rather than him forcing things to happen.
He was slow to speak, methodical, and never dealt his best hand, at least not immediately – and still got the job done. Thanos, the godlike villain and soon-to-be decider of the universe’s fate, was the quiet eye in every storm. He was so scarily calm that even talking at all risked wasting motions. He knew, just as much as anyone did, how insanely powerful he already was and was to become.
Giving his character the history that they gave him, and his arc those emotional beats, particularly having to sacrifice Gamora for the Soul Stone, just did that much more for him. Thanos, in my book, is one of the best movie villains already, and the best – definitively – in MCU.
It’s hard to articulate about him further... I’ll probably have to follow up after watching again.