Marvel Movies Grow Up...
So...there are going to be spoilers here. But everyone on the planet has seen this, so, does it really matter?
"Avengers: Infinity War" is the 19th movie in a decade from Marvel Studios and everyone has seen basically all of them. My quick rundown...
"Iron Man" -- Fantastic and fun. Feels small, now.
"The Incredible Hulk" -- HIGHLY underrated.
"Iron Man 2" -- Not as bad as everyone says. Mickey Rourke doesn't get enough to do.
"Thor" -- Boring. I don't remember anything from this.
"Captain America: The First Avenger" -- A lovely film; probably my favorite of Phase 1.
"The Avengers" -- It's fine. Perfect Sunday morning movie for the kids.
"Iron Man 3" -- I don't know if I love it or hate it, but it feels different from all the others.
"Thor: The Dark World" -- I remember less about this than the first one.
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" -- The best spy movie in almost 20 years.
"Guardians of the Galaxy" -- It's so good it saved the Marvel Universe.
"Avengers: Age of Ultron" -- A MUCH better-made film than the first...but pacing issues.
"Ant-Man" -- Very fun. Feels like a B-film, which it is.
"Captain America: Civil War" -- As fun as the fight is, the rest of the movie I skip through.
"Doctor Strange" -- Great in the theater, forgettable and boring at home.
"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" -- Not as fun as the first, but still great.
"Spider-Man: Homecoming" -- I'm too old for this film. Great performances, though.
"Thor: Ragnarok" -- My favorite Marvel movie. Most fun I've had in a theater in years.
"Black Panther" -- Overrated. Looks cheap to me. It's fine, though.
So there we are. The biggest issue with most Marvel movies is that they're all right up the middle. Generally, they don't swing for the fences because when you play it safe but keep making a BILLION DOLLARS there's no reason for you to go out on a limb.
They're all FINE, but usually forgettable and disposable. As Professor Drew Casper at USC would say, it's like a potato chip; you eat it, but ultimately, there's nothing THERE. No nutrition.
But this movie, man...
I saw this movie the day after it came out and I haven't stopped thinking about it since. And for the life of me, I can't remember when a big-budget summer blockbuster ended the way this one did.
And the more I think about the previous films all playing it safe (except maybe "Iron Man 3"...?), the direction and tone of "Avengers: Infinity War" seems like either the ultimate form of hubris or a decade-long misdirection to make sure we weren't prepared for how dark and depressing this movie would be.
In the first five minutes of the movie -- before the OPENING TITLES, even -- we see half of the remaining populace of Asgard dead, Thor beaten, Loki and Heimdall murdered, and the once-ace-in-the-hole HULK EASILY BEATEN BY THANOS. That is NOT a fun way to start your big-budget, kid-marketed superhero film.
Then, for the next 2.5 hours, we see our heroes fight and lose every-single-fight. We see Gamora die. And, of course, we see almost all of the characters NOT in the original Avengers line-up, turn to ash and blow away. Then, the movie ends with the villain smiling, having killed half the people in the universe.
Seriously, this is NOT the way movies like this are supposed to go. Even the grimmest of the grim ("Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" we're looking at you) ends with the promise of the Justice League and the OBVIOUS hints Superman isn't staying dead. However, while people can assume (rightly) most of the dead characters in "Avengers: Infinity War" are coming back, that's all due to knowing there's a sequel already filmed, and many of the 'dead' characters have films coming out in the next couple of years. The film itself, though, gives no hint there will be any chance of hope. If you watched this the way a child watches films, you would be DEVASTATED.
I know this because this is what happened to my 5 yr-old nephew. We had to tell him about the other movies just to get him to calm down.
So, now let's talk about my absolute-100-percent-most-favoritest part of the film...THANOS.
Growing up, I didn't like Thanos. I thought he looked lame and was lame. However, now Thanos is my favorite superhero villain to appear on screen. He's calm, collected, and has millennia to think about his plan. And, as he told Gamora, his plan WORKS. Overpopulation IS a serious issue and he found that it's either half die or EVERYONE dies. He doesn't want this to be how things go down, but he's seen both sides and his way WORKS. Like or not, it works...and he's made peace with that. He knows other people don't understand and doesn't hold it against them. Hell, he has respect for most of the people he fights in "Avengers: Infinity War"...but he can't let them stop him from doing what he thinks is right.
(So, I don't think I should HAVE to say it, but I will just in case: I don't agree with Thanos -- but like all great villains, HE sees himself as the hero with the cross to bare)
Going back to the scene of Thanos talking to Gamora in the throne room; it's the best scene in the movie. When he says he heard every day for twenty years how she hated her life, you feel for him a bit. And without that scene, I wouldn't believe the tears he has right before sacrificing her for the greater good (the greater good).
So, yeah. Thanos is awesome.
I could go on and on about what I loved about the movie (mostly everything) despite its flaws (often cheapish-looking CGI, some pacing issues) but they don't really matter. This movie deserves every dollar it has and will make.
I'm not saying this is the best superhero film made -- it's not. But It's up there with "X2: X-Men United" and "Superman II" as one of the all-time greats. This is the best Avengers movie and the moment where Marvel films grew up.