Kevin: Well CJ like most of America apparently, we caught “Avengers: Infinity War” last weekend. Note that they changed it from “Infinity War Part 1” a while back, because as we’ve been repeatedly told, this is not one movie that’s been broken into two parts for financial reasons, as with the final “Hunger Games” or “Harry Potter” films. Nope, this is a totally standalone movie that totally stands alone, alone all by itself. In fact I don’t know if I even need to see the second standalone movie next summer considering how satisfactorily this one stands alone.
Yeah in case you couldn’t detect my sarcasm through the computer screen, this is totally the first part of a two-part story, complete with a cliffhanger ending. Or I don’t know, maybe this is a standalone movie, which I guess would mean that Thanos has secretly been the hero of the Marvel universe this whole time, since he is kind of the main character in this and he winds up victorious in the end. Maybe next year’s installment will be a completely unrelated adventure for the remaining Avengers, while Thanos is just chillin’ it on a deserted planet and catching up on his summer reading list.
Before we go on let’s discuss Thanos a bit more, especially his reasons for wanting the six Infinity Stones we’ve been hearing about throughout the Marvel series. First of all, I’m just glad a bad guy’s plan doesn’t yet again involve getting revenge for the collateral damage caused by the Avengers in some made-up country like Sovaklia. Also, for the first time in forever, it doesn’t seem like Tony Stark is somewhat responsible for the mess that he then has to clean up, at the cost of thousands of lives.
Second, after several movies worth of empty threats, Thanos finally gets his ass off his floating space throne. I was actually surprised he started the movie with only stone; I haven’t seen all of the Marvel films, but I could have sworn he was a little farther along. And considering how easy it was for him to find them in this, he probably feels pretty dumb for not doing it earlier.
Either way, Thanos is obviously a big fan of Paul Ehrlich’s influential 1968 book “The Population Bomb,” as it turns out the reason why he needs the six stones for his Nintendo Power Glove is to control overpopulation. Not through condom distribution and family planning education, but by wiping out 50 percent of the universe. That sounds pretty harsh, but if it were up to Thanos he would have all the stones and thus the power to painlessly eliminate people with just the snap of his fingers rather than violently massacring them. If only this dude didn’t have any fingers we’d be saved; wait, I think I’m predicting how the Avengers will defeat him, cut off his fingers!
Now the reason Thanos is so hardcore about this is that he saw the effects of overpopulation on his home planet Titan, where he proposed that to conserve their resources, they should kill 50 percent of the population at random. For some reason Titan’s stupid leadership refused to go along with this totally reasonable plan, so Titan went from looking like something out of Disney’s “World of Tomorrow” attraction …
… to a fiery post-apocalyptic wasteland. How long exactly did that take, because even in the most overpopulated countries in the word, it takes decades for them to go really downhill.
CJ: Wouldn’t this also make Thanos a “go green” type of guy? So not only is he aptly handling the universe’s clear overpopulation problem, but this will also help Mother Nature get back into fighting shape. All Hail Thanos, lover of trees!
Kevin: Also, Thanos goes from planet to planet killing half of everyone there. But is every planet suffering from overpopulation? There have to be a few ones that have their shit together, right? Or to take Earth as an example, is his arbitrary killing policy really that fair if a country with a billion people like China is treated the same as, say, New Zealand? I’m just saying maybe if one person on the Avengers had brought up these points to Thanos rather than trying to pull his glove off, they could have at least started a dialogue.
Now back to the overall movie, I think we are on the same page that it was perfectly good for what it was and juggled the various characters and storylines well. Until … that ending. First though, remember all the bitching and moaning Joss Whedon did before “Age of Ultron” about how difficult it was meeting the various story demands laid down by Marvel? Well the Russo brothers did a much better job at that with a ton more characters, and their main credit before this was “Arrested Development,” so maybe lay off the put-upon Joan of Arc routine there Joss.
CJ: I’d like to think Jossy is going nuts listening to his friends constantly drop compliments like “that was so awesome!,” “they did a great job handling all those characters!,” “what a spectacle!,” “Thanos was so scary and evil!” Meanwhile he flashes back to “Age of Ultron” and his friends going, “Uh, yeah … Joss that was really … so is James Spader a nice guy?”
Kevin: Before I forget, a couple of things to note. This is the second superhero team-up movie lately along with “Justice League” in which the bad guys escape fights by just floating up into some shaft of light. God can you imagine if that really existed, drunk dudes in South Boston at closing time would be constantly sucker-punching someone and then floating off before the other guy could hit back.
CJ: I don’t know how Boston fits into this. Then again, everything and everyone from Boston is the worst thing in the world, so fuck Boston!
Kevin: Also, the movie toys around with the expectation that several of our heroes are not going to make it, so you are always wondering if a wound to one of them will prove fatal. I think at least three different characters are stabbed in the left side of their stomach, and as usual in movies this does not kill them. Hell The Rock got shot in the same spot in “Rampage” a few weeks ago, and not only did that not slow him down, I think it gave him an energy boost.
Now getting back to our core group, one of the advantages of having so many characters is that the movie is constantly jumping from storyline to storyline before any of them gets stale. The Guardians of the Galaxy are surprisingly well-integrated into this, and honestly I could have done with more interaction between them and Thor. The scene where everyone is trying to one-up each other with their fucked-up family histories is a clever, without being annoyingly meta, acknowledgment of how ridiculous these comic book stories sound when you think about it.
Honestly in terms of comedy, Dave Bautista is still the MVP, while Hemsworth has become the most surprisingly reliable source of humor from a previously brooding character since Tim Riggins on “Friday Night Lights.” Fortunately the movie doesn’t overload on the quippy and sarcastic Tony Stark-Peter Parker banter, which was a major annoyance for me with “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” Meanwhile I’ve come to enjoy Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange once we got past his “House”-lite backstory.
But while the movie starts at a good clip and seamlessly transitions from one set-piece to the next, eventually some fatigue does set in. For instance, I don’t know if we needed to spend THAT MUCH time on Thor trying to restart some intergalactic smelting plant so he can forge himself a new magic axe, especially since we’ve learned from Rosie O’Donnell that fire doesn’t melt steel. Also, I like how he had to go through all these impossible steps to create the blade, but apparently any piece of wood for the handle will do. I would have expected maybe custom rubber grips or something at least.
There is also a very long scene where several of the Avengers try to capture and defeat Thanos on what is left of Titan, which would be more suspenseful if we didn’t already know that there is no way he can be defeated until next summer’s totally stand-alone film. Which leads me to the ending, and once again, MAJOR SPOILERS below.
Now with this movie being positioned as the last hurrah for our original Avengers before Marvel starts its “Phase IV” of films, the speculation has been about what beloved characters would bite the dust in order to raise the stakes. I think most of us assumed that it would be one of the originals whose contract is up like Robert Downey Jr. or Chris Evans, along with a few of the JV squad like Falcon, Vision, or Bucky. And it looks to be going in that direction, as Thanos kills Vision and gets the final stone, and finally fucking snaps his fingers after talking about it all movie, at which point we first see Bucky start to dissolve into nothing.
That’s right, we are left with the Avengers unable to stop 50 percent of the universe’s population from disappearing, a horrifically unimaginable scenario only previous imagined by the creators of the Kirk Cameron franchise “Left Behind.” It’s hard to think of a way our remaining heroes can come back from this, right? Well put your thinking caps on, because after Bucky goes, one of the next Avengers we see dissolving is Black Panther. Which I think is the moment CJ and I both looked at each other with the expression of “well this sure as hell isn’t going to be permanent.”
We also lose everyone from Scarlett Witch, to all the Guardians, even pre-teen Groot, to Dr. Strange. Now we know the Guardians have their third movie coming up, while I’m assuming Dr. Strange will get a sequel because even Ant-Man has one for god’s sake. Meanwhile “Black Panther” just pulled in a billion dollars, and I’m assuming Marvel wants to make another few billion with further adventures for their new cash cow.
So yeah, knowing how Hollywood and franchises work, it’s hard to think of this as some powerful conclusion. It’s obvious that next year’s installment will involve the remaining original Avengers undoing everything that just happened, before some or all of them sacrifice themselves and leave Phase IV in the hands of the newer crew. Now I’ve heard some defenses for the conclusion, including that hey, little kids who don’t know about Robert Downey Jr.’s contract situation are gonna be real traumatized. Great I guess, although I shall note that the six-year-old in front of us took it a lot better than the insane middle-aged lady next to us.
Now we can’t end without discussing this nutjob for a second. I had a feeling that we were gonna be in trouble when, during the overlong and not that funny “Deadpool” trailer, this person laughed hysterically at every joke and felt the need to read aloud the text on the screen. My fears were confirmed at the very beginning of the movie, in which she fucking cried like a baby when Loki died. You know, the guy who is actually a villain and is responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people. Yeah, that guy. It didn’t get any better as she spent the next two-and-a-half hours gasping at not very shocking shit, clapping every time one of the characters made an appearance, rocking back and forth in her seat, pumping her fist, and loudly adding her commentary and thoughts to every scene.
Like at one point when Hulk and Black Widow first see each other, she kept saying “Go to her, go to her.” Bitch he’ll go to her if he feels like it or not, this isn’t “Choose Your Own Adventure,” your urging him along will have zero impact on how this scenario plays out! Finally I hit my breaking point at the very end of the movie when she kept tearfully exclaiming “It can’t end like this, it can’t end like this.” I cannot believe someone could be this stupid, even the fucking little kids in the theater knew where this was heading, so I leaned over you CJ and said, “Will you please be quiet for the love of god!”
CJ: Yes, this woman was the worst, constantly taking me out of every scene. When Loki dies she did that weird hiccupy cry that some people do, and when I looked over at her I could easily see the light reflecting off of her tears as they tsunami’d down her cheeks. Hey, I enjoy a good misty-eyed moment in a movie as much as the next person, but I at least respect that other people in the theater PROBABLY aren’t interested in hearing me scream out “WHYYYYYYYY!!!!!???????”
Kevin: At which point the credits started rolling, and after discovering there was no first post-credits sequence, I got up to go to the bathroom, and on the way I let her know she was the most annoying person I’ve ever sat next to in a movie theater, and that next time she should be quiet and sit in her seat like a normal human being. Unfortunately I did not consider the fact that you were staying through the credits and thus would be awkwardly sitting next to this broad for another 10 minutes.
Apparently she justified her embarrassingly annoying behavior on account that these were “her characters.” Um, no ma’am, these are not your characters, they are Marvel’s characters, I’m pretty sure you had zero input in how they were created. Just because you have a frankly unhealthy attachment to a bunch of fictional characters doesn’t mean you are free from the normal rules of decorum in a public theater. All I know is that if we end up sitting next to her again for the conclusion next year, I’m gonna be firmly on Thanos’ side and wish that I could snap my fingers with similar results.
CJ: Yup. Thanks for that. That was a Top 3 most awkward situation in my whole life. You walked off, she’s looking at me shell shocked, and all I can muster is “Sooooo … Thor calling Rocket “rabbit” was funny right?” But yes, I have to agree, her telling me “these are my characters” seemed like some bullshit. Because, ok, you love these characters, but I’m guessing there were a fair amount of people at our showing that also feel that way, but they were nice enough to keep it to themselves. This includes the six-year-old-boy in front of us who, after the movie ended, turned around and started waving to the projection room. I was impressed that this child had more emotional maturity than this lady.
TGD readers may be unaware, but I have a soft spot for the “Transformers” film franchise. There is no world in which I could envision myself walking into “Bumblebee” later this year and violently crying every 30 seconds. And if I do, I implore all TGD readers to find me and punch me in the face.
Speaking of, how do you think they are going to bring everyone back? Alternate dimension, resurrection spell, or the incredibly obvious time reversal? Is Gomorra gonna stay dead? I say no, mainly because Star-Lord as a grieving tragic character doesn’t work. And how is this going be addressed in the next “Ant-Man” this summer? Maybe with a throwaway line like “Looks like some crazy stuff is happening in Wakanda, anyway let’s figure out how to steal this microchip from the Pentagon”? And what’s the chance that it ends with Ant-Man and the Wasp high-fiving before dissolving into dust?
Also what was the explanation again for why Hawkeye wasn’t there? Is he just hanging out on his farm with Linda Cardellini and the kids?
CJ: I would have loved a scene of Hawkeye and Ant-Man sitting in Hawkeye’s farm reading magazines. Hawkeye looks up and out the window at his cows and suddenly one of them disappears. He just stares wide-eyed for a second and then just goes back to reading. Because if you don’t acknowledge it happened, then it didn’t!