Now that the waiting is over, and we’ve had a few hours to digest the amazing new Avengers: Infinity War trailer, let’s talk about what we saw and what we think it all means. Obviously, this is much more than just an Avengers movie, it’s the kind of over-the-top, star-studded, genre event that Hollywood hasn’t made since the era of The Longest Day (1962) or It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963).
The biggest question for everyone at LRM, and this is a preface for all of the topics below, is how the directors (Joe and Anthony Russo) and the writers (Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely) can possibly make a coherent plot that combines so many major characters, while also developing their villain (Thanos, played by Josh Brolin), and bringing it all to a satisfying conclusion that also sets up Avengers 4?
Fortunately, if Captain America: Civil War proved anything, it’s that this group of creators can successfully execute a high-profile, mega-team-up, superhero extravaganza; we should feel confident that this project is in the best possible hands, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have questions. We have many big questions!
Is This The World-Ending Narrative To End Them All?
At this point, yet another “world in peril” plotline is beyond cliched and tired, it’s become a joke and an anchor for the genre. To borrow videogame terminology, Thanos is the “ultimate” or “final” boss character we’ve been driving toward since The Avengers (2012), but what does he want besides possession of the Infinity Stones? More important, the story must deliver the gravitas and scope required to really make Avengers: Infinity War stand out from every other mega-team-up superhero movie that preceded it. No easy task.
Additionally, Thanos worships Death in the comic, it’s his core motivation, but what does that really mean? Avengers: Infinity War must be about more than a two-hour, running fist-fight — that’s nearly good enough anymore, as we’ve just learned from Justice League. Thanos wants to collect all of the Infinity Stones, and then test himself against Earth’s mightiest warriors. He wants to divide, humiliate, and conquer these heroes, and ultimately impress Death (note the capital ‘D’). That’s right, Death is a Marvel character, a deity, that Thanos wants to meet, challenge, or something even more diabolical, which might be the lead-in to Avengers 4, since we’re busy guessing stuff.
For Avengers: Infinity War to succeed where Age of Ultron, X-Men Apocolypse and Justice League failed, it requires well-established stakes, the status quo upended (deaths, new alliances, etc.), and villains exhibiting a meaningful and resonant set of goals. At this point, if Thanos doesn’t come across as a truly charismatic figure with a mission that makes some kind of logical sense, then we’ve learned nothing from every MCU film that came before. The final act of Infinity War must deliver meaningful and resounding change to the MCU, and hopefully Thanos delivers on his promise as the best MCU villain yet (and if he’s really that compelling, don’t frigging kill him off in one film, either). Thanos also needs to be the unkillable equivalent to the Joker, Loki, and Magneto combined — he needs to be a continually recurrent presence deep into the MCU’s Phase 4!
How Does Magic And Mysticism Factor Into The Fight?
The six infinity stones that Thanos desire, and the Avengers (partly) possess, are the MacGuffin for this movie. Yes, this is another cliched premise, the “coveted object of power” that’s been around since Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps (1935). The stones give the bearer power over time, space, mind, power, soul, and reality — collectively, the ability to manipulate and reshape existence.
With the exception of Dr. Strange, most of Marvel’s MCU films have focused on science and technology as the underlying factors that make its universe tick. Magic (or mysticism, if you prefer), undermines these other principals. In other words, when our heroes are backed into a corner with no clear way out, magic can be used to cheat death via a spell or incantation, which can feel cheap and subvert the stakes.
Avengers: Infinity War will continue to primarily focus on science and technology in their battle with Thanos. Dr. Strange will be taken off the board early, or otherwise distracted by Thanos’ lieutenants to mitigate his use of magic. By limiting mysticism, the rest of the Avengers will be forced to contend with both Thanos’ physical strength and also his mastery of the stones
The trailer shows that Thanos’ is in possession of (I think) the Space and Power stones, and he also tries to pry the Mind stone from Vision’s forehead. Dr. Strange possesses the Time stone (in his Eye of Agamotto pendant), The Collector holds the Reality stone, while Loki (at least temporarily) possesses the Space stone (hidden within the Tessaract). The Soul stone remains in the wind — I suspect it’s held in Wakanda.
Are The Avengers Officially Sanctioned Or Vigilante Outlaws?
The events in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War illustrated that the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. are on the outs with the governments of Earth. It’s not clear from this trailer whether the Avengers are fighting for any particular flag or organization (they shouldn’t be). So who do they represent, and how does this play out? I can’t see the American government standing down during Thanos’ worldwide nightmare.
The locations in the film also appear to be many and sprawling. From New York’s Sanctum Sanctorum, outer space in Starlord’s Milano, and a massive ground battle in Wakanda with Cap, Falcon, Iron Man, Black Widow, Winter Soldier, Black Panther, and Hulk racing toward a regiment-sized alien swarm. The scope of events in this film appear as epic as anticipated!
The movie opens with the Avengers scattered and broken; Stark still nominally controls the Avengers, but only at partial strength (at best). Thanos arrives and takes down key national defenses. Lacking a sufficient global or planetary response, the UN calls for a full reinstatement of the Avengers, with a mandate to confront and defeat Thanos, which ultimately results in a new world order, with the Avengers validated as Earth’s official champions and protectors. One presumes that they will gain a status not unlike the Vatican — the head(s) of the Avengers reporting to the UN.
One other potential guesstimate is that the UN doesn’t call in the rest of the Avengers, but that Tony Stark himself does so, utilizing the phone he got from Cap at the end of Civil War.
Will There Be Room To Establish Relationships?
One of the best things about the MCU films have been their character dynamics. For many, the best scenes in the Avengers were the post-credits ‘shawarma meal’ and the ‘pick up my hammer’ party-game from The Avengers and Age of Ultron, respectively. However, in a film like Infinity War, with so damned many characters, where will they find time for such crucial, human moments?
Fans care deeply about these characters because we’ve spent a decade understanding who they all are beneathe their masks, so to speak. Now we’re getting this massive, character-dense film wherein Rocket Raccoon plays against Hulk, Captain America aligns with Black Panther, and a one-eyed Thor joins the Guardians (if only for a space-Uber transport back to Midgard). There’s so much to explore, and it’s mind-boggling to imagine how they’ll pull it off.
As a publisher and a studio, Marvel knows that it’s bread-and-butter is based upon everyday people thrust into roles of heroism and sacrifice, but who still reside in a world where the rent is due at the end of the month. Avengers: Infinity War will find sufficient time for humor, pathos, and camaraderie that has marked their 18 films to-date (we’re counting Black Panther).
Based on the Avengers: Infinity War trailer, what are your guesses and expectations for the movie? Let us know in the comments down below!
Avengers: Infinity War hits theaters on May 4, 2018.
Don’t forget to share this post on your Facebook wall and with your Twitter followers! Just hit the buttons on the top of this page.