(Welcome to Road to Endgame, where we reviewed the first 22 films of Marvel's Cinematic Universe and asked, "How did we get here?" In the first part of our two-part analysis Avengers: Infinite War: as Thanos and the Stones of Infinity rewrite our favorite heroes.)
Avengers: Infinite War invaded the successful landscape of 2018, overcoming the shift in pitch, scale and narrative priorities across the industry that Marvel had announced in over a decade. The film combined eight existing franchises to deliver the first half of a humungous finale; the result was an enormity on the screen, accompanied by an inevitable box office survey of $ 2 billion. The sequence, Avengers: Endgame, it is certain to overcome it.
The Marvel film universe has its roots in military propaganda; the US Department of Defense subsidized (and therefore had approval of the script) Iron Man, Iron man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain Marvel. Although Avengers: Infinite War did not have to execute his script by the Pentagon (as far as we know), he falls within the paradoxical frame of heroism of the series, as a result of his predecessors financed by the military. However, this unprecedented cross-breeding event could not have been successful, or even existed, without a decade of narrative investment. The film gets the most out of it – albeit with mixed results.
For better or worse, Avengers: Infinite War is the culmination of all that the Marvel Cinematographic Universe represents.
Avengers: Infinite War occupies a unique space in the Marvel landscape, given its villainous Thanos (Josh Brolin), the Titan Mad. Thanos is not the protagonist of the film, remember you; this marketing angle is as false as Ant-Man and The Wasp Start one romantic comedy or Captain America: The Winter Soldier Start one 70's Conspiracy Suspense. However, Thanos' main role is to prevent (and in some cases undo) the arcades and tangles of a decade from the movie's real protagonists: The Avengers, The Black Panther, The Strange Doctor, Spider-Man and the Guardians of Galaxy. Where narrative bets are concerned, this is a commendable risk.
The six Infinity Stones, which have been appearing ever since Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011, help facilitate this function. With almost unlimited control over Mind, Soul, Space, Time, Power and Reality – combined, they help Thanos eliminate half of the universe – these all-powerful MacGuffins function as metatextual re-writings, as if Thanos's Infinite Gauntlet was reaching the series of some external realm and undoing its own fabric.
Take, for example, the climactic moment in which Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) is forced to kill her lover The Vision (Paul Bettany), whose consciousness lies in the Stone of the Mind. The couple struggle with the control, protection or destruction of that power throughout the film, ultimately choosing the sacrifice to save the universe. And yet Thanos, having just purchased Time Stone (a time travel device introduced in Strange doctor), simply undoes his decision with a movement of his wrist. However, he leaves his harrowing emotional crater intact; Wanda still remembers the pain of killing The Vision, which Thanos then continues to kill anyway before taking the Stone of Mind.
In Avengers: Infinite War, the sacrifices of the heroes are in vain, and the steps forward for the characters are canceled by intentional steps.
The series so far has featured superheroes Shopping Cart Problemseach growing in complexity and personal closeness to the heroes. In his debut films, Thor, Captain America, Doctor Strange and the guardians of the galaxy chose to sacrifice himself to save civilians. In The AvengersThe Iron Man almost died while preventing the World Council from killing millions to prevent the global invasion. The heroes of Captain America: The Winter Soldier were confronted with a similar problem – H.Y.R.A., the villains, sought to kill millions to bring world peace – and in Avengers: Age of UltronThe Avengers were challenged with a dilemma where failure meant global extinction, but success meant killing an entire city.
And while the Avengers had a convenient exit from Ultron's plan (the resurgence of S.H.E.E.D.), they did not receive such luxury in Avengers: Infinite War, in which the Thanos Trolley Problem places half the universe in one band and the Avengers' loved ones in the other. In comics, Thanos kills half of his entire life to impress the personification of death. In movies, he is driven by a manic utilitarianism and without feelings; the logical result of an MCU, where humanist heroes refuse to compromise – until they should.
Thor, god of nothingness
Undoing developments in previous films begins in the first scene. The Asgardian refugees – whom Thor (Chris Hemsworth) had saved by destroying his own kingdom in Thor: Ragnarok – are attacked, as is the fate of many refugee ships in the real world. As much fun as the movie may be in parts, it's not a bright and happy story.
The massacre of his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), his friend Heimdall (Idris Elba) and half of the Asgardian remnants sends Thor to the regression. His eye patch was undoubtedly a cool new look, and one that aligned him with mythical wisdom of his father, but replacing it with a mechanical eye serves a dual purpose. Mark Thor as a victim of Thanos – Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Nebula (Karen Gillan) and other children of Thanos have similar robotic distinctions – and represents a return to recklessness,Ragnarok Thor, as well as getting a new hammer.
Thor spent his last five appearances overcoming his arrogant and vindictive warmongering. Here he is forced to return to this youthful state. At the end of the film, he is so stubborn in not only killing Thanos, but looking him in the eye and making him suffer – a mission of revenge rather than an act of altruism to save the universe – than the few seconds between hurting Thanos and potentially killing him is enough to turn the tide.
Instead of doing the action, Thor stops to boast and insults the Mad Titan. During this interval, Thanos snaps his fingers and erases half of the universe. Thor's catharsis leads to catastrophe.
Guardians of Nobody
Lord of the Stars / Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is forced to return to a similar state of repressed development. His first appearance in the movies Guardians of the Galaxywas about him learning to accept the pain of mourning and tied the death of his mother – the rejection that locked him in perpetual adolescence – to the love of Gamora. The Force Stone even conjured up the image of his mother when he reached Gamora, accepting love the moment he accepted death. "Take my hand," said the two women.
In Avengers: Infinite WarQuill's longbow culminates when Gamora asks him to kill her, hoping to prevent Thanos from finding the Soulstone. She even makes him curse his mother to do it. Quill is forced to leave the love he was given – not long after losing his father Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – In order to achieve the heroism of Marvel: saving people through personal sacrifice.
When Quill points his weapon at Gamora, he goes through the anger, denial, bargain, and sadness of the action he must commit. And as he begins to accept his mission, Thanos pulls the rug underneath him, using the Stone of Reality to turn his weapon into bubbles.
Quill can not regret it. Later in the film, when he discovers that Thanos killed Gamora (while the Avengers try to steal the Gauntlet), Quill's return to reckless anger causes him to attack Thanos and make the mission unfeasible. This bow is a great narrative catalyst, at least on paper. Although while Quill's emotional bookends work in isolation – accepting Gamora's death and then failing to do so – the time between these moments does not dramatize Quill's emotional journey. In the meantime, he goes on to make arrogant jokes and jokes.
In contrast, Thor's sadness is a focal point whenever he's on the screen. That is why his arrival at Wakanda seems so viscerally exciting; he gains his place in the battle and his opportunity for revenge. Quill spoils himself, however, does not feel tied to the emotions that lead him. He acts recklessly on Titan, but his narrative hitherto never externalizes the source of his regression: a deep pain, as he is prevented from accepting death again (dramatic stakes becoming apparent only at the moment is one of the most troublesome common).
Gamora is also forced to a premature culmination; her story is essentially finished when she believes she killed Thanos. She is forced to rely on the pain of having murdered her own father, but this turns out to be another artifice of Reality Stone. Even when Gamora tries to kill himself to prevent Thanos from acquiring the Soul Stone, the Mad Titan does not allow that sacrifice. He also replaces the knife with bubbles and takes her life.
This thematic sacrifice – which means, and who can do it – is best personified by Captain America (Chris Evans), whose brief presence speaks volumes about the series so far. However, the idea of sacrifice is also contorted and corrupted by the Mad Titan, making him the distorted reflection of the Avengers.
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