Saturday, May 19, 2018

It Came From The Cineplex: Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War was written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and directed by the Russo Brothers (Anthony & Joe).

The four of them have become something of a well-oiled machine at Marvel Studios, turning out some of their biggest and most profitable films.

Markus and McFeely are working partners who previously wrote The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The WardrobeThe Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince CaspianThe Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn TreaderCaptain America: The First AvengerPain & Gain (eh, you can't hit a home run every time at bat), Thor: The Dark WorldCaptain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War. If there's a colon in the title of a film, odds are they wrote it. 

The Russos previously directed Pieces, Welcome To Collinwood, You, Me And Dupree, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War. They also directed many episodes of Arrested Development and Community.

Infinity War is the NINETEENTH movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Can you believe it? We've had a whopping TEN YEARS of MCU movies already! Where the hell did the time go?

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige had an unusual and long-term plan. Over the course of several years, he released a series of movies that introduced the various Marvel characters, and patiently and carefully built a shared universe for them to live in. This allowed audiences to slowly become invested in this world and its characters. It makes me happy to see all of Marvel's hard work and effort pay off for them so well. I wish more movie studios would learn from their strategy, but sadly, I don't think it'll ever happen.

According to Kevin Feige, Infinity War and the as-yet untitled Avengers 4 will tie up all the storylines and loose ends begun way back in 2008's Iron Man. That sounds... ominous. Said Feige, "It doesn't mean the MCU is coming to a close, by any means. But it means the narrative that started when we began 10 years ago will have a conclusion." It take it that means there're gonna be significant and permanent deaths before it's all over with. Get yer hankies ready, folks!

If you liked seeing the various Marvel heroes team up in The Avengers, then you'll LOVE Infinity War. Virtually every single character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe makes an appearance here.

Once again I'm amazed at how effortless Marvel makes all this look. They somehow juggled thirty five to forty major characters from their various movies, and gave each and every one of them a moment in the film.

It's even more incredible how well it all works. One would think that taking a snarky character like Iron Man and teaming him with an uptight, serious one like Doctor Strange would be a recipe for disaster. Just the opposite is true. The characters all feel like they belong in the same universe, and none of the teamups are jarring. It's all completely seamless and the Russos make it look effortless.

I grew up reading about all these characters, so it does my cold black heart good to see the general public flocking to the theater to see them. See guys? For decades we comic book geeks tried to tell you all how cool these characters and their adventures are. You could have been reading them along with us all this time!

These amazing characters and their world are quite literally America's mythology. The Greeks and Romans had their various gods, England had Arthurian legend, and America has Marvel superheroes.

As you might expect, Infinity War is a MASSIVE box office juggernaut. So far it's grossed over $1.7 BILLION worldwide ($573 million of that in the States), against its $316 million budget (some sources claim the budget was closer to $400 million).

And it's still raking in the money. Obviously it's not gonna have any trouble breaking the $2 BILLION dollar mark. I don't think it's gonna beat Avatar's total worldwide gross of $2.7 billion though. I think it's gonna be a long time before any film ever breaks that record.


The Plot:
Get comfortable— it's a long 'un, as there're a ton of characters and plotlines to keep track of.

Picking up right where Thor: Ragnarok left off, Thanos invades the Asgardian refugee spaceship in search of the six Infinity Stones. Once he collects all six, he'll have the power to wipe out half of all life in the universe, to restore balance or something.

Thanos is joined on the ship by his alien Black Order: Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw, Corvus Glaive and Cull Obsidian. Thanos and his posse easily defeat the superstrong Asgardians, including Loki, Heimdall and even Thor himself.

Thanos already has the purple Power Stone, which we're told he obtained after wiping out the planet Xandar. He demands the blue Space Stone from Loki, who stole it from Asgard before its destruction. At the last second, Loki surprises Thanos by calling for the Hulk. The Hulk bursts out of the rubble and attacks, but Thanos easily knocks him out! 

The dying Heimdall then uses the last of his power to open the Bifrost Bridge and send the Hulk back to Earth. Thanos kills him for his trouble.

Thanos then picks up the injured Thor, and threatens to kill him unless Loki hands over the Stone. Loki pretends to give it to him, but at the last second tries to stab him with a knife. Thanos takes the Stone from him, and brutally snaps Loki's neck for his effrontery! He then places the Stone in a slot in his Infinity Gauntlet, as it begins throbbing with energy.

Thor vows to kill Thanos for his actions. Thanos and his crew teleport away seconds before the ship explodes. Welp, so much for the Asgardian race then, I guess!

The Hulk appears high above New York City and crashlands inside Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum. He reverts back to Bruce Banner, as Strange and fellow wizard Wong watch in amazement. Banner tells them about Thanos and the Infinity Stones. 

Meanwhile, Tony Stark and Pepper Potts are in NYC, engaging in typical witty banter. Stark says he dreamed Pepper was pregnant and wants to know if it's true. Sadly, Pepper dashes his hopes and says no. If this scene isn't foreshadowing for a tragic end to Tony Stark's character, then nothing is. Just then, Doctor Strange opens a portal and tells Stark to come with him.

Back at Strange's HQ, he and Banner explain the situation to Stark. Strange also reveals he's wearing the green Time Stone as a necklace. Right on cue, a giant ring-shaped alien spaceship appears above the city. Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, spots the ship while on a school field trip. He has his friend Ned Leeds create a diversion, while he suits up and swings off into danger.

Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian exit the ship, and start wrecking the city as they search for the Time Stone. Stark suits up in his new nanotech Iron Man armor, while Strange and Wong ready their defensive spells. Banner tries to transform into the Hulk, but experiences performance anxiety and can't change (maybe he needs some Cialis?).

There's a big setpiece battle over a curiously unpopulated NYC, as Iron Man, Strange and Wong attack the two aliens. Spider-Man joins the battle as well. Cull Obsidian attacks Wong, who teleports him to the Arctic. He tries to lunge back through the portal, but Wong closes it, severing Obsidian's arm. Unfortunately Ebony Maw captures Strange and takes off with him in the ring ship. Spider-Man follows, clinging to the side of the ship.

Iron Man pursues the ring ship and spots Spider-Man holding on for dear life, about to pass out. He tells his A.I. Friday  to unlock "17-A." Immediately a package streaks out of Avengers HQ and flies toward Spider-Man. As he loses consciousness and falls, the package bonds to him, and we see it's actually a new, upgraded costume— complete with four cybernetic spider legs! 

Iron Man then sneaks inside the ship before it goes to warp. In the aftermath of the battle, Banner contacts the other Avengers.

Meanwhile in space, the Guardians Of The Galaxy— Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, Mantis and Teen Groot— respond to the Asgardian ship's distress call. As they fly the Milano through the remains of the destroyed ship, Thor's body lands on their windshield. They assume he's dead until his one functioning eye opens.

The Guardians somehow bring Thor inside. When he comes to, he tells them about Thanos and his plan. Gamora is all too familiar with Thanos, as she and Nebula are his adopted daughters. She says if Thanos finds all six of the Infinity Stones, he'll wipe out half the galaxy with the snap of his fingers, because apparently that's a gesture even aliens know about.

Thor says Thanos already has the Power and Space Stones, while the Time and Mind gems are safe on Earth. He says no one knows anything about the Soul Stone (except its name, apparently), which leaves just the Reality Stone. It's currently owned by The Collector, who resides in Knowhere, the world carved out of a giant Celestial head that we saw in Guardians Of The Galaxy.

Thor figures Thanos will strike Knowhere next, but insists on traveling to Nidavellir first— the Dwarven planet where his mystic hammer Mjolnir was forged in the heart of a dying neutron star. There he can get the Dwarves to create a new weapon for him. The Guardians decide to split up, as Rocket and Teen Groot follow Thor to Nidavellir, while Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax and Mantis travel to Knowhere.

Cut to Scotland, where Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlett Witch, is living with the Vision, the android created by Ultron. The Vision is powered by the yellow Mind Stone, which is embedded in his forehead. This will no doubt become a problem for him when Thanos comes to collect it.

As the two walk home, they're attacked by Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive. The aliens somehow block Vision's ability to phase his body and pin him down. Just as they're about to yank the stone out of Vision's head, Captain America, Black Widow and Falcon appear. They're able to fight off the aliens, who beat a hasty retreat. Cap and the others take Vision and Scarlett Witch to New York in a Quinjet.

As the Milano flies to Knowhere, Gamora has a flashback to her home planet of Zen-Whoberi. Thanos came there when she was a child and decided the planet's vast population was too big a drain on its resources. He then ordered his troops to wipe out half the citizenry, which in his mind restored balance to the world. Gamora's mom was one of those who Thanos murdered. He found Gamora wandering the streets in tears, took pity on her and for some reason decided to raise her as his own daughter.

Gamora snaps back to the present and asks Peter to do her a favor. She has a huge secret that Thanos doesn't know, and is afraid that if she encounters him, he'll force the info out of her. She says if they encounter Thanos, she wants Peter to kill her to protect what she knows. He realizes she's serious, and reluctantly agrees.

The Milano arrives at Knowhere. The place looks deserted, but sensors detect lifeforms in the third quadrant. They investigate and find Thanos interrogating The Collector, demanding he hand over the Reality Stone. The Collector swears he doesn't have it, but Thanos knows he's lying. 

Drax hisses that Thanos killed his family (even though I thought  he said Ronan The Accuser did it in Guardians Of The Galaxy), and decides to kill him. Star-Lord holds him back, saying to wait until Thanos gets the Stone. Just then Gamora and Mantis move in to attack, against Star-Lord's orders. 

The Collector finally hands over the Reality Stone, and Thanos places it in his gauntlet. Gamora then sneaks up behind Thanos and stabs him in the throat with a knife he gave her as a child. Thanos collapses, and the Guardians, along with The Collector, are amazed that he could be taken out so easily. He then laughs and reveals he can now alter and control reality, and is perfectly fine.

Thanos tells Gamora they need to talk about her little secret. Just then Star-Lord and the rest of the Guardians rush to save Gamora. Thanos uses the Reality Stone to turn Drax into stone, and unravel Mantis like a spool of thread. Gamora pleads with Peter to kill her like he promised. He points his blaster at her chest, but can't bring himself to fire. Thanos laughs and urges him to do it. Peter finally pulls the trigger, but is shocked when reality-altered bubbles shoot out of it. Thanos teleports away with Gamora. The altered Guardians return to normal the second he leaves.

Inside the New Avengers' HQ, James Rhodes, aka War Machine, meets with a hologram of General Ross (the Hulk's old foe). Ross is still going on about the Sokovia Accords, and the fact that half the Avengers are considered war criminals. Just then Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon, Vision and Scarlet Witch enter. Ross orders Rhodes to arrest them all, but he switches off the General's hologram.

Captain America says Thanos will no doubt come for Vision's Minds Stone, so they need to be ready. Vision offers to sacrifice himself by having Scarlet Witch destroy the stone with her powers. Bruce Banner shows up, and says it may be possible to separate Vision from the stone, but he doesn't have the tools to do so. Cap says he knows someone who does, and suggests they take Vision to Wakanda.

Meanwhile, Ebony Maw's ship is still heading for Thanos' homeworld of Titan. He tries to snatch the Time Stone from the captive Dr. Strange's neck, but is zapped by a protective spell. Maw begins torturing Strange, as Iron Man watches from above. He's surprised by the sudden appearance of Spider-Man, who used his new suit to sneak back onto the ship. Iron Man's furious that Spider-Man disobeyed his orders and placed himself in danger.

They discuss how to save Strange, and Spider-Man suggests a trick from "an old movie called ALIENS." Iron Man blows a hole in the side of the ship, which sucks Ebony Maw out into space, where he dies. That was easy! Unfortunately Strange is almost sucked out as well, until Spider-Man rescues him. Iron Man seals up the hole.

The three then try to figure out how to turn the ship around and return to Earth. Iron Man says he thinks they should go to Titan and take the fight to Thanos, since he won't be expecting that (just how he knows Thanos will return to his home planet is apparently none of our business). They all agree to proceed to Titan, and Iron Man makes Spider-Man an honorary Avenger.

Onboard Thanos' ship, he explains his philosophy to Gamora. He says the universe has finite resources, and its population's using it up too fast. To remedy that, once he gets all six Infinity Stones he plans to eliminate half of all life everywhere. He then says he's aware that Gamora knows the location of the mysterious Soul Stone. He reveals he got this info from Gamora's "sister" Nebula, who he's torturing by pulling her cybernetic body apart. Gamora can't stand to see Nebual suffer and tells Thanos to stop. She says the Soul Stone is on the planet Vormir. Thanos grabs Gamora and the two teleport away.

Meanwhile, Thor, Rocket and Teen Groot are tooling along in the Milano's pod ship. Rocket says if Thor's gonna defeat Thanos, he'll need two good eyes. To that end, he hands him a cybernetic eye he stole from "a jerk on Contraxia." Thor inserts the eye, and that little plot point's solved!

They approach Nidavellir, and Thor's horrified to see the planet's forges are dark and its neutron star burned out. They land the pod and investigate. Rocket spots a mold of Thanos' gauntlet (FORESHADOWING ALERT!), right before they're attacked by Eitri, last of the Dwarves of Nidavellir. Oddly enough, Eitri's a good fifty feet tall, which I guess is a thing among Space Dwarves. 

Eitri's furious that Asgard didn't come to the aid of his people, until Thor tells him his homeworld was destroyed. Eitri says Thanos came to him and demanded he forge a gauntlet that could harness the power of the Infinity Stones. He obeyed, hoping that doing so would save the lives of the three hundred Dwarves on Nidavellir. Unfortunately Thanos killed them all anyway, and turned Eitri's hands into metal (or encased them in metal, it's hard to tell).

Thor says he needs Eitri to make him a new weapon, one which can destroy Thanos. He says he'd love to, but they'd have to reignite the neutron star and restart the forges.

Elsewhere, Nebula kills her torturer and escapes Thanos' ship in a pod. For some reason, she radios the Guardians and tells them to meet her on Titan.

Speaking of Titan, the ring ship containing Iron Man, Dr. Strange and Spider-Man finally arrives there and crash lands on the surface. As Iron Man and the others brush themselves off, Star-Lord, Drax and Mantis arrive. The Guardians attack Iron Man & Co, thinking they're with Thanos. Eventually Iron Man convinces them he and his pals are from Earth.

Iron Man says they should make their stand on Titan. He proposes they attack Thanos when he returns, and pry the gauntlet off his hand. Having no other ideas, the rest of them agree.

Just then, Mantis notices Dr. Strange vibrating (POSSIBLE PLOT POINT!). Iron Man asks if he's OK, and Strange says he used his Time Stone to look ahead and view the future. He says he looked at 14,000,605 various alternate timelines, but there's only one in which the heroes win.

Thanos and Gamora arrive on Vormir. They climb a treacherous peak, where they're met by the Guardian of the Soul Stone. He warns Thanos that the Stone exacts a terrible price. When Thanos asks how he knows so much, the Guardian reveals he's the Red Skull, last seen in Captain America: The First Avenger. If you'll recall, in that film the Red Skull held the Space Stone in his hand, until it seemingly disintegrated him. In reality it transported him across the galaxy and dumped him on Vormir.

Red Skull tells Thanos that the Soul Stone demands a sacrifice— a soul for a soul. Thanos understands, and grabs Gamora. He apologizes to her, and even sheds a tear as he throws her off the cliff and into the abyss. We then see Gamora's broken body at the bottom of the mountain (!), as the Soul Stone presents itself to Thanos. He takes the Stone and places it in his gauntlet. 

Cut to Wakanda, where Black Panther and his guard Okoye prepare for the arrival of their guests. They're joined by Bucky Barnes, who's been recovering in Panther's kingdom for the past few movies. Captain America, Black Widow, Bruce Banner, Vision, Scarlet Witch, War Machine and Falcon land in their Quinjet, and are welcomed by Black Panther. 

Captain America's happy to be reunited with Bucky, and see that he's apparently been cured of his villainism. Black Panther takes Vision to his sister Shuri, who he hopes can figure out a way to separate the android from the Mind Stone. She says she can do it, but it'll take time. Just then, several large objects descend from space and land in the jungles outside Wakanda. 

Captain America and the others suit up for war. Cap tells Scarlett Witch to stay in the lab and use her powers to blow the stone to hell the minute it's out of Vision's head.

Back on Nidavellir, Thor uses the pod to push the mechanical rings around the neutron star and get them spinning again. Amazingly it works, and the star reignites. We probably shouldn't think too hard about any of the science here. Unfortunately Eitri says the iris, which focuses the star's energy into the forges, is broken. The only way to fix it is for Thor to stand in the center of the iris and hold it open. This is suicide though, as the energy of the sun will certainly incinerate Thor. 

In Wakanda, Promima Midnight, Cull Obsidian (now with a replacement cybernetic arm) and Corvus Glaive emerge from the jungle, and approach the gigantic forcefield around Wakanda. They demand the massive Wakandan army surrender, but Black Panther tells 'em to get lost. Midnight gives a signal, and thousands of mindless, multi-armed alien creatures pour out of the jungle. The aliens literally smash themselves against the forcefield as they try to breach it. A few make it through, although they're incinerated in the process.

On Nidavillar, Thor opens the iris, as the full power of the neutron star blasts over him. The energy fires up the forges, and Eitri uses the heat to melt several mystical metal ingots. He pours them into a mold and breaks it open, revealing Stormbreaker, Thor's new magical axe. Unfortunately Eitri can't find the handle, so Teen Groot forms one out of his living wooden arm and sticks it into the bottom of the axe.

Meanwhile, Thanos returns to Titan, having apparently sensed the Time Stone there (I guess?). He confronts Doctor Strange, who asks him what happened to the planet. Thanos says it was overpopulated, and he offered to save it by randomly killing half the population. They refused, and his prediction came true— Titan tore itself apart. Strange asks him what he'll do after he successfully wipes out half the universe. Thanos says he'll finally be able to rest, and "watch the sun rise on a grateful universe." (FORESHADOWING ALERT!)

Suddenly Iron Man, Spider-Man and the Guardians attack Thanos and try to pry the gauntlet off his hand. He struggles, until Mantis hops on his back and puts him to sleep with her mental powers. Star-Lord then demands to know where Gamora is, which begins riling Thanos. The others almost have the gauntlet off him, and tell Star-Lord to cool it. Unfortunately he keeps needling Thanos, desperately trying to learn Gamora's fate. This causes Thanos to throw off Mantis' mind control, and he blasts the heroes off his body. Way to go, Star-Lord!

Thor, Rocket and Teen Groot arrive in Wakanda. Cap greets the group and fills them in, seemingly unfazed by a talking racoon and tree. Black Panther notes the aliens are swarming around the forcefield, heading toward downtown Wakanda. He says if that happens all is lost, so he orders a section of the shield opened, and the aliens pour in toward the heroes.

The Avengers and the Wakandan army then engage the alien horde in hand to hand combat. Bruce Banner, who still can't transform, appears on the battlefield wearing a new version of Tony Stark's Hulkbuster armor. Ironic! Scarlet Witch, who's still with Vision and Shuri, sees the carnage below. She flies down to the battlefield and uses her powers to wipe out hundreds of the alien grunts.

On Titan, Iron Man attacks Thanos. He actually gets in a few good punches, until Thanos reaches up and uses the power of the gauntlet to literally pull a moon apart and rain debris onto the heroes. Iron Man dodges the falling rocks, and delivers a powerful blow to Thanos, actually managing to hurt him. Thanos laughs, saying "All that for a drop of blood," which may or may not be a plot point in the next film.

Thanos is about to kill Iron Man, when Doctor Strange tells him to stop. He says he'll give him the Time Stone in exchange for Stark's life. The others are horrified and scream for him to stop, but Strange hands over the Stone. Thanos places it in the gauntlet, says, "One to go" and disappears.

Thanos materializes in Wakanda. Cap and the others try to stop him, but he's just too powerful. Shuri seemingly completes the separation process, but it's not clear if she does or not. Vision floats down to the battlefield, and tells Scarlet Witch that the others can't stop Thanos, but she can. She's horrified when she realizes what he's saying. He tells her if she doesn't destroy the Stone in his head, half the universe will die. 

Seeing Thanos approaching, Scarlett Witch realizes Vision's right and reluctantly begins blasting away at his forehead. The Mind Stone explodes, sending a massive shockwave through the jungle. Scarlet Witch weeps, as she sees the lifeless Vision lying on the ground. Thanos tells her this is no time to grieve. Get it? "No time?" He then uses the Time Stone to rewind events thirty seconds or so, before the Mind Stone exploded. He picks up Vision and pulls the Stone from his forehead, discarding his body. 

Thanos then places the last Stone in his gauntlet. He's immediately filled with the energy of all six Infinity Stones. Just then Thor appears in the sky above, and hurls Stormbreaker at Thanos. He counters with an energy blast, but the axe cuts right through it and slices into his body.

Thor reminds Thanos that he told him he'd kill him for what he did to Loki and his people. The severely wounded Thanos tells Thor he should have gone for the head, and he raises his hand and snaps his fingers. There's a massive energy release which fries the gauntlet, rendering it useless. Thanos disappears as Thor screams, "WHAT DID YOU DO??"

Thanos looks around and finds himself in an idyllic landscape, which may or may not be inside the Soul Stone. He sees a vision of Young Gamora, who asks if "he did it." Thanos says yes. She asks what it cost, and he says, "Everything."

Across the universe, half of all life begins to disappear. In Wakanda, many of the various superheroes begin turning to ash. Bucky, Teen Groot, Scarlett Witch, Falcon and Black Panther all disintegrate, leaving Captain America, Black Widow, Bruce Banner, Thor, Rocket, War Machine, Okoye and M'Baku alive. On Titan, Star-Lord, Drax, Mantis and Doctor Strange disappear as well, leaving only Iron Man, Spider-Man and Nebula alive. 

Suddenly Spider-Man says he's not feeling well. Iron Man holds him in his arms, and watches in horror as Peter turns to ash. He looks helplessly at Nebula.

Cut to Thanos, sitting on the porch of a farmhouse on an idyllic planet. He watches the sunset as a satisfied smile spreads across his face. Yep! That's how it ends!

In the post credits scene, Nick Fury and Agent Maria Hill are driving through New York City. Suddenly a car smashes into them, and when they get out to investigate they see there's no driver. Fury looks around and sees various citizens turning to ash. Hill calls to Fury, and he turns to see her disintegrate. He takes an odd looking pager-like device out of his pocket and activates it. He manages to say, "Motherfu..." before he disappears.

The pager falls to the ground, but its screen displays an icon that's suspiciously similar to the one Captain Marvel wears.

• I hope everyone who sees Infinity War is up on their MCU lore, because the film doesn't waste a second explaining who any of the characters are as it dives straight into the action.

That's probably for the best. As I said above, there are almost forty major characters in this film. Can you imagine what would've happened if they'd stopped to introduce them all? In addition to being six hours long, the movie would have been an incomprehensible mess.

Honestly we didn't need any introductions here. We've been following these characters over the course of ten years, so by now we know who they all are, their relationships with one another and what they can do.

This is the major advantage of slowly and patiently growing a shared universe the way Marvel's done. They got the character introductions out of the way in their individual movies, so this one can focus on the interactions and plot.

If only Warner Bros. would study what Marvel's done and put the info to use in their own films.

• I'm impressed by the way Marvel Studios has handled their cinematic universe, as they slowly and methodically introduced increasingly outlandish comic book concepts over the years. If Infinity War had been the very first MCU movie, it would have been too much to handle all at once. Audiences would likely have been overwhelmed by bizarre characters like Rocket and Groot, and put off by cosmic ideas such as Asgardians, spell-wielding wizards and magical colored stones.

Kevin Feige and his pals knew to start small, and lay a relatively realistic foundation upon which they could build. 2008's Iron Man is actually fairly grounded (how I hate to use that word). It's pretty much about a guy who builds a flying suit of armor. You could almost believe that a man with enough smarts and cash could actually create such a thing in the real world.

They upped the ante considerably with 2011's Thor, which introduced the space city of Asgard and its god-like inhabitants, and then went all in with 2014's Guardians Of The Galaxy, giving us a whole new galaxy of bizarre aliens and worlds.

By carefully doling out these outrageous ideas over the years, they eased the audience into them, like an old man into a hot bath. They're now perfectly willing to accept a movie where talking raccoons coexist with wizards, purple space men wield magical gloves and Peter Dinklage is fifty feet tall.

• Regular readers of my blog know my movie reviews tend to be pretty negative. That's because most of the films I see these days are pure and utter crap. How could I not be negative about them?

Happily that's not the case with Infinity War. I thought it was amazing and was entertained by every second of it.

Here are just a few of the things I loved about the film:

— As always, every word out of Drax's mouth was pure comedy gold. Especially his odd fascination with Thor, and his insistence that he can become invisible if he moves slowly enough.

— The interaction between Tony Stark and Doctor Strange. And why not? Doctor Strange was pretty much a shot for shot remake of Iron Man, and they're basically the same arrogant, egotistical character.

— When Doctor Strange meets Iron Man and Spider-Man, he quips, "I'm confused as to the relationship here, I mean, what is he? Your ward?" Definite Batman & Robin reference there!

— The battle between Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Wong and Spider-Man against Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian was amazingly awesome, and very well done.

Speaking of Ebony Maw, I liked him quite a bit. Especially the way he used his telepathy to calmly and effortlessly toss deadly rubble at the heroes.

— The Russos didn't just team up the main characters in the film— they brought in the supporting casts as well! I really like seeing side characters such as Wong, Pepper Potts, Ned Leeds and The Collector appear again. 

— When Star-Lord tells the Guardians to "put on their mean faces," watch Mantis, who's sitting directly behind him. She does her best to make a "scary" face.

— Speaking of Star-Lord, I loved when he called the purple-skinned Thanos "Grimace." HAW!

—  One of the highlights of Infinity War was seeing Peter Dinklage play a fifty foot tall "dwarf!"

— I'm also a fan of the unlikely pairing of Bucky and Rocket during the battle of Wakanda. As they're both shooting away at Thanos' forces, Bucky fires his gun with one hand while picking up Rocket with the other, using him as a surrogate weapon!

— I also quite liked the team up between Black Widow and Okoye as they took on Promima Midnight in Wakanda.

• No film's perfect though, not even Infinity War. Here's a few things I didn't love:

— I wish Thanos' Black Order had been given a proper introduction. As the movie opens, the four of them are just sort of there, with no explanation. Who the hell are they? Where'd they come from? What are their powers? Why should we fear them? 

Heck, I'm not even sure any of their names are ever uttered onscreen.

— For such an action packed spectacle, Infinity War seems awfully... empty. We see a few people running for cover during the battle in New York City, but for the most part the only characters we see are the various superheroes. An occasional crowd shot would have given the action some more stakes.

It's not until the Battle Of Wakanda that we actually see more than five or six characters onscreen at the same time.

— At the very end of the movie, the survivors of the "dusting" sit speechless, too stunned to talk. 

Check out Bruce Banner in this scene. Apparently the effects guys were either exhausted by this point or simply ran out of time, because it looks for all the world like they just Photoshopped a picture of Banner's head on top of the Hulkbuster armor. 

Not only does the lighting on Bruce's face not match the environment, but his head looks like it's twice as big as it ought to be. Seriously, it's really, reeeeeeally bad. Like 1990s quality CGI.

— That's it! There really wasn't a lot that I didn't like!

• The Russos did an amazing job of teaming up characters from the various Marvel franchises, and making it look smooth and effortless. No doubt that wasn't easy, as the tones of the different films varied wildly, from the silly (as in the Guardians movies) to the ultra serious (the Captain America ones). It really is an incredibly impressive achievement.

That said, there are a few obvious and visible seams in the film.

— In the Avengers: Age Of Ultron post credits scene, Thanos gets fed up with his lackeys constantly failing to bring the Infinity Stones to him. He then opens up his closet, revealing the Infinity Gauntlet inside. Thanos smiles as he puts on the Gauntlet and says, "Fine. I'll do it myself."

This scene tells me he been keeping the Gauntlet in storage for quite a while. But in Infinity War, Eitri the Dwarf King implies that Thanos just recently invaded Nivadellir and forced him to forge the Gauntlet for him. Whoops!

Also, it doesn't feel like Thanos is "doing it himself," since he sends his squad of "children" to collect the Stones. Eventually he does end up doing it himself, but he still gets quite a bit of help early on.

— In Guardians Of The Galaxy, Gamora's arrested by the Nova Corps on Xandar. During processing we get a look at her rap sheet, which says she's the "Last Survivor Of The Zehoberei People." A couple things here:

During a rare quiet moment in Infinity War, Gamora and her pops Thanos have the following conversation:

Thanos: "Your planet was on the brink of collapse. I'm the one who stopped that. You know what's happened since then? The children born have known nothing but full bellies and clear skies. It's a paradise."

Gamora: "Because you murdered half the planet."
Thanos: "A small price to pay for salvation."

Hmm. So that pretty much confirms Thanos DIDN'T destroy the entire population, and Gamora's NOT the last of her people.

I'm betting this pretty major discrepancy isn't a mistake, and was a deliberate change on the part of the Russos. Most likely they came up with Thanos' "Kill Half To Save The Other Half" philosophy as they were writing Infinity War, and decided not to be hamstrung by Gamora's readout in Guardians. After all, her rap sheet was visible for about two seconds (if that), and 99.9% of the audience probably never noticed it.

Also, in Infinity War Gamora's race is called the Zen-Whoberi, not the Zehoberei. Whoops again! Rhomann Dey's the one who processed her on Xandar— maybe he's just not very good at spelling.

— According to onscreen captions, Guardians Of The Galaxy and Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 both take place in 2014. However, Infinity War is set in 2018. So what the hell have the Guardians been doing the past four years? Their lineup is identical to the one they had in their previous movie, they're all wearing the exact same clothes, and Teen Groot is still a teen. Why, it's almost like no time at all has passed between their last appearance and this one!

— Drax seems to be having some trouble remembering who slaughtered his family. In Guardians Of The Galaxy he says, "Ronan murdered my wife Ovette and my daughter Camaria. He slaughtered them where they stood, and he laughed!"

But in Infinity War, Drax sees Thanos in person on Knowhere and hisses, "Today he pays for the deaths of my wife and daughter!"

So which is it, Drax? Did Ronan The Accuser kill your family, or was it Thanos? I dunno about anyone else, but I don't think I'd ever forget the person who murdered by loved ones.

There might be a way to explain away this discrepency. During Gamora's arrest in Guardians, Nova Corps officer Rhomann Dey says, "Recently, Thanos lent her and her sister Nebula out to Ronan, which leads us to believe that Thanos and Ronan are working together."

Maybe Thanos ordered Ronan to kill Drax's family. If so, then they'd both be complicit in the murders, which could explain why Drax blames them interchangeably.

Or it could just be a whopper of a mistake that no one caught!

— In the Infinity War post credits scene, S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury and Agent Maria Hill are driving through downtown New York when they're suddenly dusted by Thanos' finger snap.

Um... since when is Fury the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. again? Even better— since when is S.H.I.E.L.D. a thing again?

In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Fury deliberately destroyed S.H.I.E.L.D., which had secretly been taken over from within by HYDRA. He then faked his own death and went into hiding.

Then in Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Fury reappeared in the nick (heh) of time, using the last remaining S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier to rescue the citizens of Sokovia from Ultron.

At the end of the movie, we see Fury in his old getup, seemingly in charge of the new Avengers HQ in upstate New York. We see Maria Hill, Dr. Erik Selvig and Dr. Helen Cho there as well. There're also squads of soldiers running around the grounds, apparently in training.

So does this new Avengers HQ also double as the new S.H.I.E.L.D. base? I guess so!

Infinity War is very, VERY loosely based on Marvel's 1991 comic book miniseries Infinity Gauntlet.

Long story short: As the comic begins, Thanos already has all six Infinity Stones in his Gauntlet, which gives him the powers of a god. He tries to win the love of Lady Death, but she ignores him. Thanos then tries to impress her by snapping his fingers and wiping out half of all life in the universe.

Adam Warlock, who's not yet been introduced in the MCU, goes to Earth and assembles a team of surviving superheroes. He also gathers a group of superpowerful cosmic entities to join the fight.

The heroes attack, and there's lots of battling back and forth. Eventually Nebula, who's Thanos' granddaughter in the comics, grabs the Gauntlet from his hand and uses it herself. She becomes mad with power, and Thanos then has to join forces with his enemies to defeat her.

The heroes eventually beat Nebula, and Warlock takes the Gauntlet for himself. He imprisons Nebula, returns the heroes to Earth, and banishes Thanos to a peaceful world, where he lives out his life as a farmer (?). 

As you can see, there ain't much of the comic in the movie. About the only part they used were the bits about Thanos wanting to wipe out half of all life in the universe, and retiring to a verdant planet and watching the sunset after he was done.

I have a feeling the fact that Nebula survived the "snapping" is significant though, and that her storyline in the next film may mirror the one in the graphic novel.

• The movie begins with a staticky distress call from the Asgardian refugee ship, which is being attacked by Thanos and his crew. The signal says, "This is the Asgardian refugee vessel. We are under assault. I repeat, we are under assault. Aliens are dead, sliced open... Requesting aid from any vessel within range. Our crew is made of Asgardian
families, we have very few soldiers here. This is not a war craft, I repeat, this is not a war craft."

This signal sounds AMAZINGLY like the distress call from the Kobayashi Maru in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan. It's way too close to be a coincidence, and I can't help but feel it's an homage.

• Callback Time! Thanos and his Children invade the Asgardian refugee ship, looking for the Space Stone. Loki reluctantly hands it over, but says the sun will shine on Asgard again. Thanos says, "Your optimism is misplaced, Asgardian." 

Loki then tells Thanos, "Well for one thing, I'm not Asgardian. And for another... WE HAVE A HULK!" The Hulk then leaps out of hiding and attacks Thanos.

Note that Loki's line is identical to Tony Stark's in The Avengers. When Loki confronts Stark, he says he'll win because he has an army. Stark quickly replies, "We have a Hulk."

 As the movie opens, Thanos already has the purple Power Stone in his Gauntlet! When the heck did that happen? According to a line of dialogue later on from Thor, Thanos got the Stone by wiping out the planet Xandar sometime before the movie starts.

Funny how Infinity War very meticulously shows Thanos acquiring each and every one of the Stones except for that one. But why? Why not show him and his forces decimating Xandar to get the Stone? It's not like it's an obscure little planet. Xandar played a huge role in Guardians Of The Galaxy, and we got to know several characters there, such as Nova Prime and Rhomann Dey. I feel kind of cheated.

Did they skip the Xandar scene because it would have made an already long movie even lengthier? Or did they blur past it in an effort to save money? 

There was a very easy solution to this situation. All they had to do was insert a short little post-credit scene into either Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 or Thor: Ragnarok, in which we see Rhomann Dey waking up on Xandar. As he shuffles out into his space kitchen, he pours a bowl of space cereal and turns on his space TV. As he munches away, there's a news broadcast reporting on a strange disturbance in the upper atmosphere. Suddenly the sky goes dark. Dey looks out the window, and sees a massive ship blotting out all three of Xandar's suns. 

BOOM! There's your scene. It's short and to the point, and it tells the audience Thanos is comin' for that Power Stone without requiring a ton of expensive special effects. You're welcome, Marvel. I expect to see this deleted scene on the Infinity War blu-ray, and you can send me my royalty check in care of my blog.

• When we first see Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, they're enjoying a sunny day in Central Park (I think). Tony tells Pepper about a dream he had, in which she was pregnant. For anyone who's ever seen a movie before, this is some heavy duty foreshadowing. The two characters might as well have stopped, looked directly into the camera and winked.

I fully expect Pepper to announce she's pregnant in Avengers 4 (whatever it ends up being titled). Which of course will make it all the more tragic when Tony sacrifices himself to save the universe.

• Hey, look! Sherlock Holmes meets Sherlock Holmes!

• I gotta say, I am not a fan of the "Iron Spider" armor that Peter Parker wears in the film. For one thing, I don't care for the color scheme or the over-complicated, fiddly design. And I reeeeally don't like the idea that Tony Stark is constantly upgrading Spider-Man's suits, and packing them chock full of high tech bells and whistles.

Comic book Spider-Man has traditionally been a low-key, street level kind of hero. The kind who sews his own costume and stops purse thieves, all while trying to juggle his classes and part time job. Heck, he even calls himself "Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man!"

He's also not perfect, as his personal life always seems to go wrong, and he's not always victorious against his opponents.

Having Iron Man simply hand him all the tools he needs to defeat the bad guys completely undercuts the character. Heck, his new costume even has goddamned mechanical spider legs that pop out of it!

This isn't the Spider-Man I grew up with. He's more like Iron Man 2.0.

That said, I do enjoy the mentor/protege relationship between Tony Stark and Peter Parker. So I guess there's that. I just wish they'd tone down the Stark tech a notch or twelve.

By the way, the Iron Spider armor is from the comics. It first appeared back in 2006's Amazing Spider-Man #529, and was part of the Civil War storyline that ran through Marvel comics around that time.

• When the Guardians find Thor floating in space, they bring him inside the Milano. A couple things here:

First of all, after they rescue him, we see Gamora shaking her hand and rubbing it, as if she's in pain. Back in Guardians Of The Galaxy, we saw that Thanos made enhancements to Gamora that allowed her to survive in outer space for a brief time. 

I'm betting her hand rubbing was supposed to imply that she'd opened the ship's hatch, reached outside and yanked Thor into the ship. Nice touch!

Secondly, once they lay Thor out on a table, Gamora absentmindedly starts stroking his arm, saying, "It's like his muscles are made of Cotati metal fiber."

Believe it or not, that's actually a comic book reference! In the Marvel Universe, the Cotati are a fictional race of highly intelligent telepathic plants. Somebody's been doing their homework!

• This is some heavy duty nitpicking, but whatever. Gamora warns that if Thanos gets his hands on all six Infinity Stones, he can wipe out half the population of the entire galaxy with the snap of a finger. Later on we see that's exactly what he does! 

Who knew finger snapping was a universal gesture, practiced on planets all over the galaxy?

Told you it was heavy duty!

• In this film we learn that Thor's 1,500 years old. I'm pretty sure this is new info, and he's never mentioned his age in any previous movie.

• We also learn that Thor can understand Teen Groot, because apparently "Grootish" is an elective in Asgardian schools!

• One last thing about Thor— in Thor: Ragnarok, he lost his right eye in a battle with his evil sister Hela. He then starts sporting a stylish Asgardian eye patch.

Halfway through Infinity War, Rocket says Thor he's gonna need two good eyes if he wants to defeat Thanos. He then gives him a bionic eye he stole from a space smuggler. Thor takes the eye, pops it in, and he's good as new. That was easy!

I figured Thor would eventually get his eye back somehow, but I thought his restoration would be a bit more... epic. I definitely thought there'd be more to it than a space raccoon tossing him a new eyeball!

By the way, watch Thor closely after he gets his new eye. For the rest of the movie, his eyes are two different colors! Now THAT'S attention to detail!

• When Scarlet Witch was first introduced, she spoke with a thick Sokovian accent, similar to Romanian or something. Amazingly her accent's completely gone in Infinity War, as she speaks pretty much like I imagine Elizabeth Olsen does. Whoops!

I suppose we could say that since she's been living outside of Sokovia for several years, her accent just naturally faded. I suppose we could say that, but I don't see why we should.

• Sometime between movies, Vison apparently developed the ability to make himself look like British actor Paul Bettany!

• At one point, Gamora flashes back to the day Thanos wiped out half the population of her home world of Zen-Whoberi. Thanos' Chitauri soldiers storm the capital city, lining up the populace and firing on them.

The skies of Zen-Whoberi are filled with gigantic Chitauri space worms as well!

Note that these are the same Chitauri troops and worms that Thanos loaned out to Loki in the Battle Of New York in The Avengers! Cool!

• The Guardians fly to Knowhere, hoping to recover the Reality Stone before Thanos does. Unfortunately they arrive too late, after Thanos has destroyed The Collector's warehouse.

Watch carefully as Gamora picks her way through the wreckage. At the left of the screen you can catch a brief glimpse of a bald, blue man locked in one of The Collector's cages. That's none other than Tobias Funke, the Blue Man Group wannabe from Arrested Development!

As I mentioned above, the Russos directed episodes of both Arrested Development and Community, and like to toss in little homages to those shows whenever they can. Captain America: The Winter Soldier featured a cameo by Danny Pudi, aka Abed of Community Fame. And the Bluth family stair car was briefly seen in the background in Captain America: Civil War.

• Inside Thanos' warship, he explains his philosophy to Gamora. He claims the universe is becoming too populous, and its resources are being used up at an alarming rate. To combat this, he plans to wipe out half of all life everywhere in the universe, in order to save the other half from starvation. A couple things here:

First of all, I'm pretty sure the UNIVERSE is infinite. As in, it has no boundaries and never ends. There's no way in hell any amount of life could ever use up its resources.

I kind of wonder if the screenwriters meant to say "galaxy" here instead of "universe." It's a pretty common mistake. Our galaxy, while immensely large, is indeed finite, and I suppose it could conceivably run out of resources someday— like in a hundred million years or so.

Secondly, Thanos has the Reality Stone now. With it he can literally do anything— alter the laws of physics, transmute elements or create something from nothing. If he's so worried about resources, why doesn't he just use the Stone to conjure up plenty of stuff for everyone?

Didn't think of that one, did you, screenwriters?

• A big tip of the hat to Digital Domain, the effects house that primarily worked on Thanos. I thought he looked amazing, and absolutely 100% real. Heck, they even managed to give him moles, beard stubble and arm hair! Incredible!

Watching the movie, it never once occurred to me that I was looking at a CGI creation. Thanos wasn't just a special effect— he was most definitely emoting. You could look at his eyes and see what he was thinking. It's an impressive achievement.

Of course Josh Brolin's performance deserves a shout out as well. He acted his ass off and gave the effects guys the raw material they needed to turn Thanos into a living, breathing entity.

I hate to always rag on the DC movies, but compare any scene of Thanos with Steppenwolf, the similar purple spaceman from last year's Justice League movie. Thanos makes him look like a character from a 1990s era movie.

• Thanos first appeared in the comics in 1973's Iron Man #55. He was created by writer Mike Friedrich and writer/artist Jim Starlin. Starlin created many of Marvel Comics more cosmic characters. 

Starlin created Thanos during a college psychology class, saying:

"I went to college between doing U.S. military service and getting work in comics, and there was a psych class and I came up with Thanos and Drax the Destroyer, but I'm not sure how he fit into it, just anger management probably. 

So I came up to Marvel and [editor] Roy [Thomas] asked if I wanted to do an issue of Iron Man. I felt that this may be my only chance ever to do a character, not having the confidence that my career was going to last anything longer than a few weeks. So they got jammed into it. Thanos was a much thinner character and Roy suggested beefing him up, so he's beefed up quite a bit from his original sketches ... and later on I liked beefing him up so much that he continued to grow in size."

In the comics, Thanos is the son of Mentor and Sui-San, and brother of Eros (none of whom have been introduced in the movies). Thanos' family are members of a race called the Eternals, who are in constant conflict with another race called the Deviants. The Eternals look more or less human, and live on Saturn's moon Titan. While Thanos is an Eternal, he carries the Deviant gene, which explains his unusual appearance. 

Thanos' mother was horrified by his looks and tried to kill him, fearing he'd grow up to destroy all life in the universe. How prescient! Unfortunately Thanos' father Mentor stopped her.

Obviously none of this happened in the movies, as MCU Thanos is a completely different animal.

Comic fans have long accused Thanos of being a ripoff, er, I mean pale imitation of DC's Darkseid character, who was created by the legendary Jack Kirby. Both are superpowerful spacemen with purple skin and similar builds, they each have extended families and they live on nearly identical advanced worlds.

They're also both fixated with death. Darkside is constantly searching for the Anti-Life Equation, a mathematical proof of the futility of existence. In Thanos' case, he's literally obsessed with death. He's in love with Lady Death, the personification of lifelessness in the Marvel Universe, and will do anything to win her approval.

Starlin himself freely admitted that Thanos was influenced by Darkseid. Said Starlin:

Kirby had done the New Gods, which I thought was terrific. He was over at DC at the time. I came up with some things that were inspired by that. You'd think that Thanos was inspired by Darkseid, but that was not the case when I showed up. In my first Thanos drawings, if he looked like anybody, it was Metron. I had all these different gods and things I wanted to do, which became Thanos and the Titans. Roy took one look at the guy in the Metron-like chair and said: "Beef him up! If you're going to steal one of the New Gods, at least rip off Darkseid, the really good one!"

So there you go! Thanos' creator copied Darkseid and doesn't care who knows it!

• In the comics, Thanos and his family live on Saturn's moon Titan, in our solar system.

Movie Thanos also lives on Titan, but it's apparently a completely different world. Iron Man, Doctor Strange and Spider-Man take control of Ebony Maw's ringship, but can't deactivate its autopilot. It then takes them quite a while to reach Titan, even at warp speed, indicating it's located far outside our solar system.

• As I mentioned earlier, in the Infinity Gauntlet miniseries, Thanos is obsessed with Lady Death, and would do anything to win her love. To that end, he uses the unimaginable power of the Gauntlet to wipe out half of all life in the Universe, hoping to impress her.

His motivation is quite different in Infinity War though. No longer is he trying to hook up with Lady Death, as she's not even a character in the movie! Instead, Movie Thanos is inexplicably concerned with ecology, and wants to preserve the universe's precious resources. Wha...?

I didn't really understand Thanos' new incentive, or why the screenwriters changed his motivation so drastically. Storywise, it just seems lacking. Why the heck would an evil supervillain care about saving the universe?

Turns out they actually knew what they were doing!

1990's Silver Surfer #35 featured the titular character clashing with Thanos, who gives him a lesson in galactic ecology. He says the universe is unbalanced, as there's far more life than resources. According to Thanos, the only possible solution is to cull half the population EVERYWHERE to restore the balance.

So believe it or not, Movie Thanos' motivation, odd as it may be, comes straight from the comic page! Kudos to the screenwriters for knowing their comic book history!

One last thing about Thanos' motivation here. I have a feeling that Marvel Studios originally planned on using the whole "In Love With Lady Death" plotline. 

Movie Thanos made his very first appearance in the post credit scene of 2012's The Avengers. At the end of the film, one of Thanos' acolytes reports to him, saying, "Humans! They are not the cowering wretches we were promised. They stand. They are unruly and therefore cannot be ruled. To challenge them is to court death." 

As those last two words are spoken, Thanos turns to the camera with a big ol' sh*t eating grin on his face.

Obviously the "To court death" line means "to tempt fate" here. But it could also be taken another way— Thanos literally wants to court Death. As in, trying to get busy with Lady Death.

That's why I'm convinced they were originally going with the Thanos + Death angle, but decided to change it later on.

• Thanos and Gamora teleport to the planet Vormir, to find the elusive Soul Stone that's hidden at the top of an enormous mountain. For some reason, Thanos materializes a good five or ten miles from the base of the mountain. He and Gamora then spend gods know how long (Hours? Days?) climbing to the summit.

Why the hell didn't Thanos just teleport to the top of the mountain and get it over with? 

This happens over and over in sci-fi and fantasy movies. Characters constantly materialize or land their spaceships miles away from where they want to go, and then trudge the rest of the distance on foot (I'm lookin' at you, Rogue One and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier).

• At the top of the mountain on Vormir, Thanos and Gamora are greeted by our old friend the Red Skull.

At the end of Captain America: The First Avenger, the Red Skull held the Tesseract in his bare hand. Unfortunately for him, its power was too much for him to handle and his body began to disintegrate. A portal then opened, and the energy of the Tessaract shot through it and into space.

We now see that Red Skull didn't die after all, but was teleported to Vormir, where he's became the Guardian of the Soul Stone. It's a nice little callback to a scene from one of the earlier Marvel movies.

The Red Skull was originally played by Hugo Weaving, but he chose not to reprise the role in Infinity War. In an interview with Collider, Weaving said: 

"I [signed a multi-picture deal] for Captain America. I think the tendency, with those films, would be to probably not bring a villain back. They might for The Avengers, but I didn’t think I’d be in Captain America 2 or 3. I don’t think Red Skull will be there. And it’s not something I would want to do again. I’m glad I did it. I did sign up for a number of pictures and I suppose, contractually, I would be obliged to, if they forced me to, but they wouldn’t want to force someone to do it, if they didn’t want to. I think I’ve done my dash with that sort of film. It was good to do it and try it out, but to be honest, it’s not the sort of film I seek out and really am excited by. As an actor, to do all sorts of different films is great. It stretches you in different ways. But, I increasingly like to go back to what I used to always do, which is to get involved with projects that I really have a personal affiliation with."

So there you go. Sounds like he's a serious ACT-ORE, and not a comic book fan.

So with Hugo Weaving out, the part was recast with actor Ross Marquand. He's probably best known for his role as Aaron on The Walking Dead. Marquand's an amazing vocal talent, and does some incredible impressions. Check him out on YouTube. I especially like his John C. Reilly and John Malkovich impressions, as there's not a lot of people who can mimic them.

• When Thanos returns to Titan, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and the Guardians team up to temporarily immobilize him. While he's incapacitated, they attempt to pull the Gauntlet off his hand. They almost succeed, until Star-Lord ruins everything.

Here's an idea instead of trying to pull the Gauntlet off, why not just sever Thanos' entire hand? During the New York battle at the beginning of the movie, Wong opened a portal and sent Cull Obsidian to the Arctic. When he tried to leap back through it, Wong slammed the portal shut, inadvertently slicing off Obsidian's arm in the process.

Why not recreate that little trick on Titan? Have Doctor Strange open a portal, shove Thanos' arm through it and then shut it. No more Gauntlet! The End!

Heck, why stop with his arm? Why not just shove Thanos' entire head through a portal and shut it?

Cruel? Sure. Extreme? Most assuredly. But we're talking about the fate of the entire universe here. It's not a time to be delicate!

• The last third of the film takes place primarily in Wakanda. I would bet just about anything that these scenes were filmed at the same time as Black Panther. It would make sense— the cast was already assembled, the costumes and sets were handy and they wouldn't have to call in all the actors again. Plus filming all the scenes at once would mean Danai Gurira wouldn't have to shave her head twice!

• As is par for the course these days, the Infinity War trailers feature several scenes that either aren't in the final movie, or appear in an altered form.

Like this scene, for example. The trailer shows the Hulk fighting alongside Cap and Black Panther's forces in Wakanda. Unfortunately this scene doesn't appear anywhere in the final film.

I'm guessing this scene was created specifically for the trailer, in order not to spoil the big reveal that Bruce Banner wears the Hulkbuster armor into battle.

OK, I guess I can understand wanting to avoid spoilers, and this is mild compared to the massive deception of the Rogue One trailers. Still, I have to say I am not a fan of this practice. Packing the trailer with scenes not in the movie feels like a very slippery slope to me. When does it end? 

Mark my words, the day's coming when we'll see a trailer that doesn't feature a single scene from the actual movie!

• Speaking of the Hulkbuster and trailers:

One of the Infinity War trailers features a scene of the Hulkbuster armor in Wakanda. The minute I saw that, I told my movie-going pal that Bruce Banner would be the one inside the armor, not Tony Stark. 

It just made sense— in Thor: Ragnarok, Banner was reluctant to transform, as last time he did he stayed in Hulk mode for three years. So putting him in the Hulkbuster armor would be the perfect way to allow him to join the battle without having to change. Plus it would be a cool reveal to the audience, who'd be expecting Tony Stark inside.

I also predicted that at some point Banner would be overrun by Thanos' minions. This would cause him to transform, and the Hulk would then explode out of the armor.

Well, looks like I was half right. Banner was indeed inside the Hulkbuster armor. But alas, he didn't burst out of it. 

Or did he?

Take a look at this Funko Pop Vinyl figure, one of the literally thousands that line the shelves of every retail establishment today. I dunno what anyone else thinks, but that looks like the Hulk bursting out of the Hulkbuster armor to me.

Due to lengthy manufacturing lead times, companies have to start designing and sculpting toys long before the movies they're based on are released. Sometimes a year or two early.

Based on the existence of this toy, I'm convinced that at one point in the script, Bruce Banner was supposed to Hulk out inside the armor and tear his way out of it. But for whatever reason, the producers changed their minds and the scene was dropped. Maybe they're saving that for Avengers 4.

• As I mentioned earlier, there are at least three dozen main characters in the film, and the Russos did an amazing job of giving them all something to do. That said, it's only natural that some of them would be featured more than others.

Like Captain America, for example. Poor ol' Cap definitely gets shorted in Infinity WarHe's in surprisingly few scenes, has little dialogue, and we get no explanation for his new suit and why he's wearing it. Heck, I think Teen Groot had more of a story arc than Cap did!

Same goes for Black Widow. She doesn't get much to do either, and we never find out why she decided to become a blonde.

Hopefully the two of them will have a lot more to do in Avengers 4. They'd pretty much have to, since most of the other characters were dusted!

• My favorite scene in the entire movie: The heroes battle Thanos' alien horde on the plains of Wakanda. Suddenly several enormous mechanical wheels burst up out of the ground and roll toward Black Panther's army. Scarlet Witch, who's guarding Vision in a Wakandan tower, sees the troops are in danger. She then she flies into the fray and destroys the wheels with her powers.

An incredulous Okoye looks at her and says, "Why was she up there all this time?"

• In the final minutes of the film, Thanos grabs the Vision and yanks the Soul Stone out of his forehead. Vision's lifeless robotic body then turns a dull gray, as Thanos callously discards him.

I'm not 100% sure, but I think that might be an homage to the Vision story arc that ran through The West Coast Avengers back in 1989. The Vision, who'd fallen in love with Scarlet Witch, gets disassembled for reasons. Unfortunately when he's put back together, he's a soulless, emotionless android with absolutely no feelings toward her or anyone else. He then turns himself and his clothing stark white, saying, "If I am to be called The Vision, is it not logical to look the part?"

• Eventually Thanos collects all six Infinity Stones and snaps his fingers. True to his word, half of all life everywhere ceases to be, as the various Marvel heroes crumble into dust.

Note that we only see the main characters disappear. Would it have killed them to give us a crowd shot showing half the population of New York City disintegrating? Think of the impact it would have had to see regular, non superpowered people like Pepper Potts, Ned Leeds or even Peter Quill's Grandpa turn to dust.

• By the way, after the Snap, Bucky begins turning to dust. Note that his bionic arm disintegrates along with the rest of his body. In fact his metal arm is the first thing that crumbles away! But then his gun falls from his right hand unharmed. Does that seem right?

• Many fans have criticized the ending of the movie, saying all the heroes' deaths are meaningless, since they'll obviously all be undone in Avengers 4

Well OF COURSE everyone will (probably) come back! It's a comic book movie, for corn's sake. Coming back from the dead is pretty much an everyday event in such films. The question is, HOW will they all come back? That's the reason to watch the conclusion!

I have no idea how the Russos will wrap up the story, but I can make a few educated guesses. 

Obviously characters like Black Panther and Spider-Man be restored, as they both have sequels scheduled. Same goes for the Guardians as well including Gamora. There's no way in hell James Gunn's gonna let ALL his characters be permanently killed off in someone else's movie! Especially when Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 begins shooting in a few months.

In fact I'm confident that everyone who was "dusted" after Thanos snapped his fingers will be back. Heck, I'm not even worried about the heroes that died before the snap. Gamora's likely residing inside the Soul Stone, and will be restored somehow. And it wouldn't surprise me if Loki figures out a way to come back as well. Especially since the women of the world all think he's dreamy.

The ones I'm really worried about are the six original Avengers. That's right, Iron Man, Cap, Black Widow, Hulk, Thor all survive the snap. Even though Hawkeye doesn't appear, his name is mentioned, so I'm convinced he'll show up in the Avengers 4.

That can't be an accident. I fully expect the original team to play a huge role in the next film, as they figure out a way to undo Thanos' actions.

And since most of the original Avengers actors' contracts are up and everyone's getting older, it would not surprise me a bit if some of them end up sacrificing themselves to save everyone. Robert Downey Jr's most likely on his way out as Iron Man. Chris Evans recently said he's enjoyed playing Cap immensely, but is ready to move on. Hawkey's probably outlived his usefulness to the franchise as well. I fully expect those three to bite the dust in the next film. Who knows, maybe all six of them will!

Also note that Nebula's one of the few characters to survive the snap. Keep your eye on her. If the next movie follows the graphic novel at all, she'll end up possessing the Gauntlet, and will use it to exact revenge on her dear old dad. And then of course the heroes will have to deal with a superpowered, insane Nebula!

• In the obligatory post-credits scene, Nick Fury and Agent Hill (who may be working for some form of S.H.I.E.L.D. again?) are among those who get "dusted." Before he disintegrates completely, Fury digs through the back seat of his SUV and pulls out an odd looking, honest to goodness pager. He activates it just before he says "Motherf*cker" and it drops to the street.

We then see a closeup of the pager, as it displays a white, star-shaped logo against a field of blue and red. I heard lots of confused murmuring in the theater at my showing, as most of the audience had no idea what this meant.

It's Captain Marvel's symbol. Apparently Fury called her for help in his final seconds. When she eventually appears, she'll be played by actress Brie Larson. 

So who the heck's Captain Marvel, you ask? That's a good question. It'd take at least another ten thousand words to adequately explain the character, as she has one of the most convoluted histories in Marvel Comics. Heck, she can't even seem to settle on a name. Over the years she's called herself Ms. Marvel, Binary, Warbird and finally Captain Marvel. There've been at least two previous Captain Marvels (or is that Captains Marvel?) in the comics as well.

In the comics she's a Human/Kree hybrid (the Kree being a blue skinned alien race) with a whole laundry list of superpowers. She has super strength, she can fly, has limited psychic powers and can shoot energy blasts from her hands. She's basically Superman.

I have no idea what Movie Captain Marvel will be like. Most likely they'll keep all her powers from the comics, but will simplify her origin drastically. 

We'll find out in March 2019, when the Captain Marvel movie premieres.

Oddly enough, her movie's supposedly set in the 1990s, which raises some questions. When she gets Fury's page and comes runnin' to fight Thanos, will she be in her fifties? Or does she age more slowly, so she'll still have her youthful appearance? Or does Fury's pager reach into the past, and Captain Marvel will time travel from the 90s to help? Your guess is as good as mine.

I gave the original The Avengers an A grade. Not just because it was a well-made movie that I thoroughly enjoyed, but because it was a milestone in film history it marked the first time a studio set up its own shared universe and then teamed up its various characters in one big movie.

I graded Avengers: Age Of Ultron a much too generous B+, mostly because at the time I couldn't admit to myself that it wasn't as good as the first film, and nowhere near as much fun. If I had to do it over again, I'd give it a much more realistic B-, or possibly even a C+.

I'm having trouble deciding whether to give Avengers: Infinity War an A- or a B+. Although I enjoyed every single frame of it, even I have to admit it's far from perfect, as it has its share of plot holes and outright mistakes. So storywise I'd say it's a B+ or even a B. 

On the other hand, the sheer amount of effort and coordination that went into combining the various Marvel franchises into one massive movie has to count for something. The fact that it's the result of ten years of patience and hard work by Marvel Studios elevates it quite a bit as well.

Taking all that into consideration, I'm giving Avengers: Infinity War a rare, but well deserved A-.

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