Avengers Infinity War

 

Avengers-Infinity-War-Team-Cap-Banner

Slight Spoiler (This scene is not in the movie)

Avngers Infinity War (Non-Spoiler)
Back in the 1990s when I was really getting into comic books I would tell people how Marvel should just start making Movies and TV shows that all take place in the same universe like they do with comics. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is something I wanted for decades before it happened. And after ten years they’re finally reaching their end game for a storyline they started in 2008.

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo had an impossible job: Take characters from 18 previous movies, some technological, some tactical, some magic, and some cosmic, and make a coherent story that ties up storylines that were spread throughout movies from the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is similar to what Joss Whedon had to do with the first Avengers movie except multiplied into double digits. Most of all, they had to have Thanos, a character with less than five minutes total screen time all together, be as fearsome and dangerous as he’s been built up to be. I’m happy to say that the Russo brothers not only pull this off, but go far beyond that.

With so many characters, it’s no surprise that some characters do not get much to do or say. What is surprising is how few characters I can say that about. The Russos did a fantastic job of giving even secondary characters a good moment or two.

Perhaps the most important aspect of Infinity War is how Marvel earned this. Taken on its own, Infinity War is a non-stop action slugfest. Taken with the 18 films that have led up to Infinity War and this fight is one of the most earned fights in cinema history. One of the key things that plague DC Universe movies is that they simply have no patience. The first Avengers movies was the fifth MCU movie. They did five whole movies without much more than a wink or a nod at each other. DC did exactly one movie (Man of Steel) that didn’t explicitly have direct connections to the other movies. Imagine if Captain America: Civil War was the second movie in the MCU. It wouldn’t have made any sense because we don’t yet really care about the characters. Now imagine the opposite. Imagine if Batman vs Superman wasn’t the second movie in an ongoing franchise. Instead it’s the 13th movie (like Civil War). Suddenly the stakes of Batman and Superman fighting actually matter. There’s a classic moment in the first episode of Community when Jeff Winger says, “I can pick up this pencil, tell you it’s name is Steve and go like this…[breaks pencil] and a part of you dies just a little bit on the inside.” That’s basically storytelling in a nutshell. DC is under the impression that the important part is breaking the pencil. They’re wrong. The important part is naming the pencil. It’s only after we know the pencil has a name that we care. If we don’t know the characters we can’t care about them.

The action in Infinity War is unrelenting and incredible. Given all of the things going on with so many characters it is impressive as hell that they were able to do everything they did without making it confusing.

 

Overall, Infinity War is a fine addition to the MCU and the best of the Avengers movies in my opinion. In order to talk more about this and its connection to the comics that inspired it, I need to get into spoilers.

Infinty War (SPOILERS!!!!)

Infinity War impressed me on a number of levels, but I think one of the best things about it is that it put millions of viewers in a position comic book fans find very familiar. When reading a comic book, if one of the side characters die, you know it’s kind of serious. If one of the major characters die, you know it’s really serious. And if half of the major characters die, you know they’re almost definitely going to be brought back. This was true the first time Thanos snapped his fingers and killed half the universe back in 1990.

Check out the list of dead from Infinity Gauntlet #2 (Note that only Black Panther is disappeared in both the comics and the movie.)

InfintyGauntlet2

There are of course significant differences between the comics and the films, but one of the other surprising things about Infinity War is that it has a lot of things in common with the comics. In the comics Thanos is in love with the entity Death. She’s resurrected him and told him to kill half the universe. And so he gets the Infinity Stones to do so. In the MCU abstract concepts aren’t entities (yet). So instead they give him the motivation of feeling the universe is dangerously overpopulated. This also comes from the comics. There’s an issue of Silver Surfer leading up to Infinity Gauntlet in which he makes much the same argument.

Perhaps the biggest difference is that unlike comic books (usually), we have to wait a whole year to find out what happens next.

This gives Marvel a great opportunity to integrate their TV stuff. They could easily have episodes of Agents of SHIELD, Daredevil, Luke Cage, or any of the other upcoming seasons of Marvel shows in which half the cast disappears into dust. If history is any indication, Agents of SHIELD will touch on it while the other shows will not.

While it’s true that they’ve killed off characters we know are coming back, (Sony isn’t going to let Spider-Man die after only one of their movies.) it’s still impressive to end a movie that’s likely going to make a billion dollars in less than two weeks with the bad guy killing half the universe and smiling at the sunset. When DC killed Superman in BvS they felt the absolute need to put hovering dirt above his coffin to make sure even the dumbest person in the theater knew he was coming back. With Marvel, at least they had the guts to kill them dead.

What happens next? Well I can tell you what happens in the comics. If you don’t want to know, skip this paragraph. In the comics it’s the Silver Surfer who falls through Dr. Strange’s roof to warn everyone about Thanos. Then half the universe disappears. Then the rest of the heroes show up to save the universe. Of course Thanos is all powerful and it does not go well. Eventually Thanos tries to become one with the cosmos, but he retains his mortal body. Nebula gets her hands on the gauntlet and puts everything back how it was, but that includes her being on fire. She loses the gauntlet only to have Adam Warlock pick it up and save the universe. Of course in the MCU, Adam Warlock has only been hinted at and isn’t likely to save the day. That role seems to be filled by another hero, Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel is the symbol you see on Nick Fury’s space pager in the after credits scene. She’s a human named Carol Danvers who has quite the colorful history in the comic books. Carol is an old spy pal of Wolverine’s, got her mind, personality, and powers stolen from her by the X-Man Rogue in Rogue’s first appearance, ended up getting a whole new power set and becoming a space pirate for a while before eventually going back to being an earthbound superhero who is more than comfortable in space. These days she’s taken up the role of Captain Marvel and runs Alpha Flight Station, an orbital platform that tries to keep the Marvel universe safe from near constant alien invasions.

Of course in the MCU, since they have yet to get the rights to the X-Men back, most of that isn’t going to happen in the upcoming Captain Marvel movie or in Avengers 4. Instead I expect that there will be a variation of the Nebula moment (given that she’s still alive) and everyone who got killed by Thanos with the snap of his fingers will come back (though Heimdal and Loki are probably dead for good). I’m personally holding out hope that Avengers 4 is going to give us at least a hint that the next big overarching storyline is Secret Invasion.

That’s all speculation naturally. Officially, next up for Marvel movies is Ant-Man and Wasp which takes place shortly before Avengers 3 and Captain Marvel which takes place in the 1990s. It’s going to be a long year waiting for Avengers 4, but I get the feeling it’s going to be worth it.

NOTE: This review was featured in my weekly newsletter, Notes From Table 30. The comments section is for those who want to talk about this review and other content from the newsletter. Not a subscriber to the newsletter? You can do that right here.

Advertisements

Marvel Movies Cinematic Universe FAQ

Marvel-Movie-Montage-smallX-Men: Days of Future Past comes out this weekend. It’s the third movie in two months based on a Marvel Comic. Those who watched Amazing Spider-Man 2 saw a preview for the new X-Men movie. Meanwhile over in Captain America: Winter Soldier, viewers saw a glimpse of a disturbed and speedy character comic book fans know as Quicksilver along with his sister, the Scarlet Witch. However, if you watch X-Men: Days of Future Past, you’ll find Quicksilver running around in the 1970s.

I know this is likely confusing for people who aren’t aware of comic books in general and the movie rights of comic book properties in particular. So I’m writing this to explain things in a way that hopefully will make sense. So here are some FAQs when it comes to Marvel Movies.

Do all these Marvel movies take place in the same ‘universe’ like in the comic books?
No. It wasn’t until 2008’s Iron Man that Marvel started making and financing their own movies and integrating different Marvel movies into one cohesive cinematic world. Before that they would sell movie rights to different movie studios.

Why would they do that?
In the late 1990s Marvel was on the verge of bankruptcy. They were too busy trying to stay in business to even think about spending hundreds of millions of dollars on movies. This was especially true because at the time, comic book movies were far from a sure thing. The Batman franchise had fizzled out. It wasn’t until 1998’s Blade (and then X-Men in 2000 and Spider-Man in 2001) that comic book movies really took off.

Isn’t Marvel owned by Disney?
Yes. Disney bought Marvel in 2009.

So when it comes to Marvel movies who owns what?
Sony owns the movie rights to Spider-Man.

Fox owns the movies rights to X-Men and Fantastic Four.

Marvel owns pretty much everything else.

What about Daredevil, Punisher, Blade, and Ghost Rider?
All of these characters had movies made by other studios. However, the rights to these characters have all reverted back to Marvel.

If Spider-Man movies are done by Sony and X-Men movies are done by Fox what was that X-Men preview doing at the end of Spider-Man?
Amazing Spider-Man 2 director Marc Webb was supposed to do a movie for Fox as a follow up to his 500 Days of Summer. Instead Fox made a deal where Sony got Marc Webb but they had to put a preview of X-Men at the end of Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Why don’t all the studios get together and merge everything?
Because it would take a level of collaboration these studios are not comfortable with. Fox has even gone on record as saying they don’t even want to crossover X-Men and Fantastic Four despite owning the movie rights to both.

Okay. So Marvel movie characters owned by different studios shall never meet. Then what’s up with this Quicksilver character being in X-Men Days of Future Past AND the upcoming Avengers Age of Ultron?
In Marvel Comics, Quicksilver is the son of Magneto and started out as a member of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. He soon defected from that group and joined the Avengers along with his sister, the Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye. All of these were former villains turned heroes. So due to Quicksilver’s history he is both an X-Men character and an Avengers character. Both studios are using the character but the character is being played by two different characters and have no connection to each other except that they are based on the same Marvel character.

And for the simpler version:
Marvel Movies and TV shows all taking place in the same shared ‘cinematic universe’
Iron Man
Incredible Hulk
Iron Man 2
Thor
Captain America
Avengers
Iron Man 3
Agents of SHIELD (TV show)
Thor: The Dark World
Captain America: Winter Soldier
Guardians of the Galaxy
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Ant-Man
Agent Carter (TV show)
Daredevil (Netflix TV show)
Luke Cage (Netflix TV show)
Iron Fist (Netflix TV show)
Jessica Jones (Netflix TV show)

X-Men Movies all taking place in the same shared ‘cinematic universe’
X-Men
X2: X-Men United
X-Men: The Last Stand
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
X-Men: First Class
The Wolverine
X-Men: Days of Future Past
X-Men: Apocalypse

Every other movie based on a Marvel character unless it’s a specific sequel (such as Amazing Spider-Man 2) is entirely in its own little world. The short version is that in the movies, Spider-Man will not be swinging by Avengers Tower any time soon.
– Jack Cameron

Movie Monday: The Avengers

I’ve been collecting Marvel Comics since I was twelve years old. One of the things that has kept me interested is the fact that all of these characters live in the same world. The fact that Spider-Man can go to the Baxter Building, hang out with the Fantastic Four who have end up having a run in with Magneto only to get some last minute help from Wolverine is pretty cool. Shared universes rock. And pretty much the only place I got to experience a shared universe was between the pages of comic books. Until now.

The Avengers is an important movie for a lot of reasons, but the biggest one to me is that it shows how successful a shared universe can be. I’m sure that the Avengers would be successful without any other movies leading up to it. With a great cast, a giant marketing campaign, and a writer/director with a huge cult following, it would be difficult for it not to be successful. However, by putting in the time to building the universe with five previous movies, Marvel Studios created something that’s never been done in movie history. And they broke all previous box office records doing it.

Unfortunately, Marvel has licensed out many of their properties such as Spider-Man and the X-Men. So you won’t see Wolverine hanging out with Iron Man any time soon. If I were Sony or Fox, I’d be talking to Marvel/Disney and seeing if I couldn’t integrate any future movies I made just a bit more. This can only help and fan boys will love it. It’s a philosophy that most companies can’t understand and won’t agree to: play nice and we all make money.

Now as for the Avengers movie itself, it’s a well-oiled machine. It’s a smart, character-driven, super-action, comic book movie. Every character gets their moment to shine. The people who just showed up for the big explosions will be just as happy as the people who showed up for snappy dialog. This is the movie Michael Bay could never make.

For Joss Whedon fans the fact that the movie works on all levels is no surprise. They’ve followed him from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Angel to Firefly to Serenity to Dr. Horrible to House in the Woods to the Avengers. Many fans of Joss will talk about the fact that he’s just as much fan boy as a big time writer/director. He is one of us. And that’s true in a lot of ways. Joss Whedon is more capable than just about any other writer/director working of giving us exactly what we want.

It’s amazing to me that he’s only just now getting big budget movies to play with because Joss Whedon while being tremendously talented to the point where I’m happy to read or watch whatever he’s writing also tends to be tremendously safe. He will make (and I’d argue has made) the ultimate summer popcorn movie. But he doesn’t often do anything that challenges expectations.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely loved Avengers. It’s the movie I’ve wanted to see since I was twelve. There’s almost nothing wrong with it. If I were grading it, I’d give it an easy four stars. I can’t give it five though because it didn’t surprise me.

– Jack Cameron