The Avengers face what’s been coming for the last ten years: Thanos. His quest for the Infinity Stones is absolute, and he pays the highest price of all. But guess what? It’s not over.
What the Movie got right:
Characters & Characterizations
These characters are totally in character. It feels all throughout the movie like the characters we’ve known and loved for the last ten years. Holland’s Spider-Man couldn’t be any more perfect. We get a much better glimpse into the fact that Dr. Strange understands the game on a much higher level. That was present in his solo movie, but it’s at the heart of all of his actions here.
Shuri also gets a stellar moment, where she demonstrates once again that her knowledge of the sciences is on par with, perhaps even superior to, both Stark and Banner combined. And Vision is the most human he’s ever been, stumbling over himself in expressing his love for Wanda. Yet his true nature as a unique synthezoid with multiple brain patterns feeding his mind plays a critical role in everything that happens to him in the film.
They explain Hawkeye’s absence as well as Ant Man’s. I still think both characters earned the right to be a a part of this, tho.
Thor is actually the breakout character of the overall film. He gets restored to even greater power levels, he even gets his eye back, tho it’s been in Rocket Raccoon’s butt. Yrgh. But Thor comes into his own as a wielder of a new hammer, Stormbreaker, and manifests his strength and lightning powers on a scale we’ve never seen. I can truly say that this is the Thor we’ve been waiting for since we first met him.
Downey as Stark, Boseman as Panther, Olsen as Wanda, Evans as Cap, Hiddleston as Loki, all spot on. And the Guardians literally feel like it’s a sub-continuation of their movies. Pepper Potts, the Annoying Minstrel, singing her song of eternal whining is here. Even Josh Brolin as Thanos comes across exactly as you’d expect Thanos to, if you know him from the comics. Pensive, brooding, feeling misunderstood, yet cruel and unhesitant to do what’s necessary to get the stones, and bring Death her pleasure. So nobody really feels out of pocket…
…with one notable exception. Which I’ll get to in a minute.
They’re funny and breathtaking. Stan Lee shows up as a bus driver. Peter Dinklage is also here, but not in just a cameo. He’s in the role of one of the forger dwarves that made Mjolnir. Here he makes Thor’s new hammer.
But the biggest one is probably the Red Skull. He shows up as the guardian of the Soul Stone. It is his curse to forever usher people into its presence, but he himself can never possess it. Wow. He gets set free tho, because Thanos walks away with it. For a price. More later.
This was probably the most brilliant element in the movie. They talked about the end of Iron Man 3 and why Tony is still wearing an arc reactor on his chest. The movie opens precisely where Thor: Ragnarok ends, like literally five minutes apart from it. It answers all of your questions about the fate of the Asgardians in the first ten minutes of the movie. Yeah, none of it is good for them. Tony again admits his PTSD from the New York attack in the first Avengers movie, and how the fact that beings on Thanos’ level being out there has destroyed his peace of mind. We find Wakanda, its inhabitants, and its guests just like we left them in Black Panther.
You really don’t have to have seen the previous movies to understand what’s going on here. Of course, you won’t get all of the inside jokes and humor, and you won’t understand which relationships are new and old. But if you’re a non-comics reader, even if you haven’t seen every movie preceding it, you can easily understand what’s going on. Except for the ending. Which I’ll get to in a minute.
It was huge. Epic. Visceral. We literally felt every blow, every scar, every scratch in this movie. In fact, I was noting as I was watching how each fight scene? Could literally be its own locale in a video game about this movie. Sometimes it felt that way too, like it was a huge VR experience for the audience. I can imagine these locations and these fights showing up again in multiple mediums.
Thanos’ children were wickedly awesome. They were believable threats and were not easily dispatched. They both won and lost some fights too, which I thought was a great writing convention.
In terms of upgrades, we definitely see it for Thor. Iron Man however is also upgraded, and his nanotech armor can do way more things and they are spectacular. We see one version of the Iron Spider armor, and it saves Peter’s butt more than once. I never liked that armor in the comics, it really felt like overkill, but here it was pitch perfect. Peter literally wouldn’t have survived without it. Black Widow was shown to be even more of a skilled fighter than we’ve seen before, although I’m still not a fan of blonde Natasha.
The breakout action character was Wanda Maximoff. She did more than we’ve ever seen her do with her flying capabilities, telekinetics, and just the overall range of her powers. Her love for Vision is also palpable; they were really true to the comics in terms of how they felt about each other.
Man, did they nail this. Wanda and Vision’s doomed love, Steve Rogers’ resolve(even though his lines are minimal), Dr. Strange’s determination. I know pathos means evoking pity or sadness, but these other emotions feed into the heart wrenching stuff. Vision’s death is painful because it’s slow. Let me mention here, that Vision is basically out of it and on his back for the whole movie, and I didn’t like that. He’s a major player, but it was all about the Mindstone, so he got hurt early and was never at full strength.
Loki is killed in the first ten minutes. As Thor states, he’s been dead before, so maybe this time, as Thanos says, “no resurrections.” But it’s really rather hard to believe. Loki tried to stab him and kill him, but to no avail, and Thanos chokes him and breaks his neck. But we’ll see if that’s truly the end of the god of mischief.
But the biggest moment? Thanos and Gamora.
Thanos is told that he has to give up what he loves in order to wield the Soulstone. Gamora laughs, as she believes that he loves nothing and has therefore lost his chance to get the stone. He turns around with tears in his eyes, and the Red Skull informs her, those tears are not for Thanos himself. We got an earlier flashback to how they first met, and how Gamora’s whole existence since that time has been a true love/hate relationship with her adoptive father. And then? Thanos kills her. Throws her right off the ledge, and she plunges to her death. A soul for a soul. It was poignant and awful, you feel bad for them as a father and daughter, and Thanos is the villain. That’s how moving that moment was.
You really need to check out the comics version of this whole saga:
What could’ve been Better:
Don’t misunderstand me, the humor was awesome. Some of those laughs were fantastic, I’ll watch it again just for the one liners. But there was just a tad, just a smidge, just a scosch too much of it, like over-salting a steak. Every single time the Guardians are on the screen, the movie slows down to make jokes. It also makes Starlord and Gamora’s “love” less weighty.
There were some scenes that were lit so darkly it was hard to tell what was going on. That was a little frustrating.
That One Character
As I mentioned before, I really didn’t like Vision not being a player in the action that much. I understand his function in the movie tho.
But the thing that annoyed me the most? The treatment of the Hulk.
The Hulk is only in the first five minutes of this movie. He attacks Thanos on the destroyed ship, and Thanos kicks his butt royally. I mean, WWE style and all. And then Heimdall, with his dying breath, sends Hulk to Earth to warn the Avengers. And then the Hulk literally refuses to come out for the rest of the movie. I kid you not, Banner kept trying to change and couldn’t.
He even talked to the Hulk, because Hulk’s face would surface as he screamed “NO!” to Banner’s request to come out. This takes away from the idea of Banner losing control, the Jekyll/Hyde cursed nature of his existence, and Hulk being a creature born of rage. He comes off as scared and spoiled here….like, he lost a fight really badly and now he’s pouting. I just didn’t understand that choice at all. And Banner called him “Buddy.” They seem to be okay with each other now, and that takes away from the basic idea of the Hulk’s existence. Remember Banner talked about trying to kill himself in the first Avengers movie and here, Hulk feels like that crazy uncle you call when you need to win a fight. Just no. Banner is also in Hulkbuster armor for the final fight, so that scene you see in the trailer of Hulk running with Cap, Black Panther, and the Wakandans doesn’t happen.
And then there’s…
Now hold on just a blue-black minute. We know that Thanos has to get all of the stones, because there would be no point to the movie if he didn’t. The way he uses the Time stone to reconstruct Vision and take the Mindstone from him was awesome. Vision goes grey in death, that was a nice touch too. Then Thanos does what we want, because it’s how he does it in the comics: he snaps his fingers to end existence. Then he shows up in his version of the afterlife, gauntlet off, with the younger version of Gamora. He is asked if he did it, he says he did, and then he sits down to watch a sunrise. Exactly like he said. And then….fade to black. Roll credits. ….WHAT?
Thanos laid out his philosophical underpinnings all throughout the film in a very well written way. Basically he believes that all planets are overcrowded, and the solution is to wipe out half the population. Everything about the people and the planet that’s left after that will be better, he believes. So it’s unclear here if he just wiped everyone out, because people instead start to de-rezz. So, is half the population dying, or, did he go back and wipe out certain events in the past so they never existed, or what?
The redemption for that very abrupt and emotionally unsatisfying ending was the post credits scene. There’s only one this time. It’s Fury and Maria Hill in New York as everything is going down in Wakanda. People start de-rezzing all over the place, Maria herself de-rezzes, and then so does Nick Fury. But in the last shot of the movie, we see that his communicator was calling none other than Captain Marvel. So this actually brilliantly sets up her own solo movie, which is set in the 90s, and Avengers 4. I’m assuming Carol Danvers is gonna come in and wipe the floor with Thanos. What I’m not clear about is, how much of continuity is going to be reset when they’re done. We’ll have to wait until next year to see.
This was a really epic movie. A lot happens, and honestly, I could have taken many more hours in this world. I feel like I want a movie for all the things we didn’t get to see in this one, that’s how much fun watching it was. Well now, we have somewhat of a cliffhanger, like we did at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, and we had to see Return of the Jedi. So they’ve more than whetted our collective appetites for the Captain Marvel solo movie and Avengers 4, so I say bring them on! 2019 can’t get here fast enough. Because I really want to see how all this stuff turns out. I highly recommend this movie, as Marvel has paid off the last ten years of our investment into their world in buckets.
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