Directed by: Anthony Russo/Joe Russo
Written by: Christopher Markus/Stephen McFeely
Based on characters created by: Everyone under the Marvel Sun
I’ve been sitting with this movie for a week. I feel like I still don’t really know how I feel about it. I know that I liked it, hence the four-star rating. But I’m not really sure how much it affected me. I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I think it’s done things that no other series has managed. Over 18 movies in 10 years, it’s managed to build a solid world with multiple important characters that we love. Sure, there have been weak entries, here and there (Iron Man 2, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, any Thor movie not also called Ragnarok), but even the weak ones are watchable and even enjoyable on a certain level. (Even if it’s really only Kat Denning that makes it watchable.)
Basically, for someone who has never read comic books for any substantial length of time, I’m fully invested in the adventures of Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson)…and every other character that could possibly fall under the “Avengers” title, even if they haven’t officially been named “Avengers.” If even one of them falls in battle, it’s going to crush my little geek heart…right?
When last we met with the Avengers, they were in disarray. Cap and Tony had split everyone up by being on opposite sides of a Civil War. Do the Avengers need government oversight? Or should they just be allowed to be their own thing, basically lording over the entire world? Both sides made good points…although, I was pretty firmly on the side of Cap. These guys saved the world more than once. If anyone needs government oversight, it’s Tony Stark. He’s the one who allowed Ultron to happen. His creations were weaponized by themselves. He’s an arms dealer, for Stan Lee’s sake! Everyone else is pretty altruistic.
But that’s neither here nor there. Bruce suddenly shows back up on Earth after a couple of years of fighting on Ian Malcolm’s planet, and he’s got a warning: Thanos is coming. And Hell’s coming with him. It’s time to get the band back together, whatever it costs. Even if Rhodie (Don Cheadle) has to be court-martialed to do it.
So our friends go to all corners of the universe. Tony and Spidey (Tom Holland) end up on a ship trying to stop one of Thanos’s minions. Thor and half of the Guardians head to Nidavellir to get a new weapon. The other half of the Guardians head to Titan, home of Thanos. Everyone else on Earth heads to Wakanda to try to extract the Mind Stone from Vision (Paul Bettany) so they can destroy it without killing him.
Lots of fun stuff happens for the next nearly three hours. Not only do a lot of people get beaten down, but they manage to keep this dark stuff lighthearted. I mean…Thanos is trying to collect all of the Infinity Stones to stick in his Gauntlet so he can destroy HALF OF THE FUCKING PEOPLE IN THE UNIVERSE! Why, you might ask? Because there are just too damn many people. Resources have been depleted. People live in poverty and hunger. His solution, instead of creating more resources, is to kill half of everyone. Because he’s batshit insane. He’s a monster. He’s inconsolably crazy.
BUT…he’s also kinda right. Like Killmonger and Vulture before him, he’s an actual sympathetic villain, not just a “let’s kill everybody because I likes killin'” villain. He sees the suffering of the world and wants to do something about it. This, to him, is the only way. Creating more resources would just cause it all to happen again. And he would have to constantly be creating more resources for the rest of his life. And more people would come. And the cycle would be neverending. Killing half the beings in the universe means that the few resources that are left will last a LOT longer and it will take millennia to restore the universe to the numbers that we have now. So, yes. Kill ’em all! (Or half.)
By the end of the movie, I actually kinda LIKE Thanos. I mean, I wouldn’t have him over for coffee, or anything. He might turn one of my cats to dust. But I get it.
So, what are my issues with the movie?
(Here there be spoilers, because I really can’t talk about this movie, or my problems with my feelings about it, without them.)
My main issue with the movie is an issue with comics in general: nothing sticks. At the end of the film, Thanos wins. He gets all six Infinity Stones, snaps his fingers and half of all beings in the universe are turned to dust.
This includes half of our heroes. Black Panther? Gone. Dr Strange? Gone. Falcon? Gone. Spidey? Gone. (THAT was hard. Man, they got his death right. That was…hard to watch.)
Then the movie ends. Just…ends. Thanos goes back to Titan and sits down to watch the sunset. Cap and Tony fall down and cry over their lost brothers and sisters in arms. And we’re left to…what? Wait until next year to see that all of them are coming right back.
No, really. Not only is this comic book land, where death is never forever, but it’s also movie land, where we know whose contracts are up and who has a sequel coming. Black Panther and Spider-Man? Their sequels are due out next year or the year after. So, they’re coming back. I might have teared up a bit when Peter Parker said, “I don’t wanna go!” while Tony held him in his arms like a dying son…but I know he’s coming back. I know that they’re going to get the Gauntlet and someone is going to turn back time to where no one is dead.
Ok…maybe a few are actually gone. I’m betting that Heimdall (Idris Elba) is gone. Idris was done with this character years ago.
But the ones whose contracts are actually up? They’re still here. Chris Evans is done. He’s been done for a few years, now. He just wants to hang out with his girlfriend, direct, and swim in pools full of money. Iron Man 4 might be coming out in the near-ish future, but Robert Downey, Jr is done. He’s absolutely ready to pass the suit.
I know that this story couldn’t have been contained in one movie. At least, not under four hours. But I think releasing them a year apart is a mistake. We’re all sitting here, thinking about what happened, and saying, “Ya know…nothing mattered. The only thing that matters is HOW they get out, not THAT they get out. We KNOW that they’ll get out.”
I know that Captain Marvel is next and will likely have SOME connection to the events of this movie, even if it takes place in the 90s. (Can she travel through time? Because they’re going to have to age Brie Larson up if she’s going to play 2019 Carol Danvers eventually.) And the Ant-Man & Wasp movie is right after that. It will DEFINITELY have some repercussions from this movie, no matter how insulated Scott and Hope are from the Avengers, right now. (They’re not in this movie at all. “Wait. There’s an Ant-Man?!”)
But, really, we’re just waiting for next year for the emotional content of this movie to actually MEAN something. Until then, True Believers…we’re just in limbo, wondering what it all meant.