I remember the first time I saw Thanos in that small post credit scene of Avengers. My eyes widened and a huge grin appeared on my face. "Is this it?" I wondered, "will Thanos be the villain of the next Avengers film?" That is usually the Marvel Cinematic formula: one film sets up the next. But unfortunately not—instead we got Ultron. We then see Thanos again in Guardians of The Galaxy, and his scene was great. We are then introduced to Ronan who we quickly see is powerful and merciless; however, this poses no real threat or appeal to Thanos. Finally, we see Thanos again in Avengers: Age of Ultron with a post-credit scene. The mad titan readies his gauntlet claiming if you want something done, you have to do it yourself. Apparently, it took him three years to get that something done. That or one could argue the MCU was just overbooked.
In 2018 we finally get the biggest crossover ever, as many people on social media stake it out to be. Unfortunately, going into the film and the build-up I did not feel that way. We already saw Thanos once before in Guardians of The Galaxy, therefore the mystique was kind of over. If you follow the MCU and everything in the news religiously, you also know what is coming, and therefore the film itself is hardly a surprise at all. I have been waiting for Thanos since that post-credit scene in 2012—six years later and I don't really care anymore. They showed such little of him in such an uninteresting way it was hard to truly care about this character in just these films, and not just from what I know from the comics. That is what these films should do: they should offer intrigue for characters as just film characters, not from what I know as a comic fan.
Moving onto the film I must say I was not remotely impressed at all. Normally I do not mind long films; in fact, I prefer them. In a world of inflating costs I cannot help but want as much bang for my buck as possible. The film was not hard to follow at all; it quite simplistic in nature; however it was quite a chore to follow. What makes the film such a task is that you have three distinct groups: the Wakanda group, the Titan group, and Thor & Rocket traversing throughout space. With all of these characters and groups and subplots you begin to forget about the others; it can feel very laborious.
The action is by far not the worst I have seen; in fact, there is nothing wrong with the action or the choreography whatsoever. Problem arises from the fact there is just too much with too many people and the film ends up becoming visual noise. We have too many characters on screen to follow. Half-way through the film I find myself yawning thinking “oh great another fight scene.” All of the action barely becomes memorable at all, with so much on screen and so much happening you can leave such a better impact on audiences with just two people sometimes, instead of a super heroic special effects extravaganza.
This leads to the next problem: a lack of heart. We have so many deaths in the film and yet none of them, at least for me, led to any empathy or tears. The only exemption was Spider-Man’s, given my fan boyish love for the character and his sheer terror. We cannot help it, as humans we share the emotions of our loved ones. If they are scared, we are scared; if they are upset then we are upset. The film again packs so much action, with so many deaths there is little to no breathing room. The MCU never fails to stray away from their pathos as well. We have the romance between Scarlet Witch and Vision (yes I know it is a thing in the comics, but they start on it in the film out of nowhere). There is no real build-up to it, no true exploration and are just supposed to be in tune with it? I dare say the Russos should go back and watch any romance film. Star Lord’s, dare I say toxic, outdated masculinity does not help in this department at all. When Thor arrives, we see Star Lord feel almost emasculated and having to make up for it.
It can be hard to care about most of these deaths, given we all know that films for these characters have been set. We know there will be a Black Panther sequel. Killing off Spider-Man—are you really buying that? This cheapens the death and sense of loss in the film...unless you are an audience member who watches the movies but follows no news for these films at all and live under a rock.
In the end, Avengers: Infinity War is the special effects, action-fest that older people stereotypically complain about. With so many characters that do so little, I ponder why even have them there. Could the movie sustain without Black Widow? Sadly, yes. Sure, Thanos is interesting with his new take and motive. yet, I dare say the lawful evil villain that we do not truly hate is becoming old and tired. MCU also has an obsession with providing face time for everyone, sans masks—you'll notice it with Cap, Spidey, and Stark all the time. Do they really have to apply it to the villain as well?
Go back to Captain America: Civil War where we learned about peoples’ losses that occurred off-screen. Film is meant as a visual medium, with the retelling of these stories it is hard for audiences to truly empathize. Did Thanos really bring balance and order to these planets? Are they better off? We only have his word to go off, so I guess we just have to accept it. But we don’t have to accept this film is particularly great just because of social media, hyped fans, and a box office to show for it.
Skyler Sneathen is a happily married man with a kitty cat for a kid. He's going to school to be a high school social studies teacher and also loves comics and nerdom.
Follow Skyler on Twitter @SkylerSneathen.