Matt, Jay and I all took in Avengers: Infinity War last night and I expect you can guess how that went. I loved it, Jay hated it, and Matt liked it but would have preferred to be at a DC movie instead. Of course, it is clear that Matt backed the wrong horse in the DC/Marvel race, as Marvel continues its streak of good movies. Marvel’s so hot they even managed to resurrect the Spider-Man franchise for Sony along the way and might soon get the rights to use the X-Men and other characters currently being held hostage by Fox.
Whether adding more characters to this already bloated roster is a good thing is something we can (and will) argue about, but for a Marvel fan like me, the best thing about an Avengers movie is seeing all my favourite characters team up to save the world just like they’ve done in the comics a hundred times previously. It’s particularly sweet now that Spider-Man is helping Iron Man and Co. on a regular basis (and fantastic that Spidey gets about as much screen time as anyone in Infinity War).
Even better, in Thanos, Marvel has found a threat big enough to require these countless heroes to team up to fight. Finally, we have an Avengers movie that doesn’t have to use internal conflict as a plot point. Past grudges are quickly put aside as we jump right into the fight, where literally half the lives in the universe are at stake. Though the film is two and a half hours long, it didn’t feel like there was ever a lull in the action, not even for a second.
I don’t ever expect Jay to like the superhero movies I drag her to, but she hated this movie much more strongly than I had anticipated. In hindsight I should have seen this coming and prepared her for it. Anyone who has read the Infinity Gauntlet crossover event will not be surprised by how the movie plays out, and anyone who has read comics in general knows that rule #1 is no one ever stays dead. But when anyone can (and almost everyone does) come back to life in the comics, and in this movie, it makes death feel cheap. Without getting too deep into spoiler territory, let’s just say there is at least one on-screen death that feels like it is going to be undone in the next Avengers movie (and when I say at least one, I really mean every single one). That resurrection expectation takes away from this movie significantly because it doesn’t mean anything if everything gets reset.
The writers should have found a better way for this film to play out, one that didn’t feel like any hero’s death was just a temporary setback, particularly because the MCU can afford to lose several dozen characters – if it did then we might actually have enough screen time for heroes like Ant-Man and Hawkeye!
I could overlook the inevitable resurrection issue because that’s my expectation of comic books, but it is not going to be so easy for most to deal with. And really, whether you can get past it is almost secondary, because it would undeniably have been so much better for the MCU to have risen above that trite comic book convention and given our heroes a loss that felt irreversible, instead of one that we feel certain is going to be undone within a year. Avengers: Infinity War is still an enjoyable, fan-pleasing blockbuster even with this problem, but due to the perceived lack of permanent consequences, Infinity War is missing the dramatic heft that should have followed naturally from a battle over the fate of the universe.