Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo – Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
A decade of build-up in what has been a feat of movie magic to layer and bring these various characters to the screen and now we are wrapping up a culmination of the decade of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (referred lovingly as the MCU). This film clocks in under three hours and it is most likely another hour plus of film edits that hopefully will get to be seen in extended cuts. This film is meant to be a two part film event that will conclude certain fates of long beloved characters. Coincidentally the contracts for most of these characters are done as well, and should’ve been taken into consideration in the movies climax. Now, compared to most Marvel films, this one will easily break box office records and be ranked high on the MCU list due simply to the things they are starting to get right in the MCU. Yet there are still missteps that can easily be corrected with better writing.
Here come the spoilers.
Following the events of Captain America: Civil War and Thor Ragnarok, the Avengers are still broken apart. We resume with a distress call from the ship that Thor and the Asgardians escaped in at the end of the last Thor film. We get our introduction to the new bad guy in Thanos. He has come to claim one of the infinity stones. Infinity stones are from the creation of the universe and contain singularities that each grant power and control over certain aspects of the universe. The stones are Space, Power, Reality, Time, Mind and Soul. Thanos quickly shows us he is stronger than Hulk, and his Black Order of henchmen are very formidable foes. They have spent years culling the universe planet by planet and now Thanos is on his fast track to gather the stones so he can make quick work of what he believes is the right thing to do to save the universe. This sets him apart from most villains in the MCU as it gives him conviction. The last villain they wrote this aspect into was Killmonger, from the massively successful film Black Panther. Conviction is a far better aspect to a villain than the run of the mill ‘crazy and wants to see the world burn’ villain. He believes in his purpose and cause and is willing to sacrifice everything to fulfill this purpose. Before he can kill the Hulk, an Asgardian opens the bifrost and sends Hulk to Earth. There, he lands right in the Sanctum of Magic where Doctor Strange gets told Thanos is coming. Things start to move rapidly with Tony Stark being brought in quickly and before we can say infinity stones; Thanos’s henchmen have already made it to Earth.
The rest of the film shows the Avengers trying to protect the two stones they have. The Time Stone is with Dr Strange and the Mind Stone is embedded into the forehead of Vision. Now there are many locations to cover and parts of the Avengers team to keep track of, so writing several perspectives and locations must have been a tall order for the two writers. We have to track Tony Stark’s group or Spiderman, Doctor Strange, and eventually half the Guardians of the Galaxy, then there is Thor’s group of Rocket and Groot, and finally the rest of the Avengers with Captain America and crew holding up in Wakanda with Black Panther and his army. Since this is ‘war’ there are casualties and although death is expected for a film like this, here is where I felt they made mistakes. In foreshadowing scenes Doctor Strange sees over 14 million possible outcomes in their fight against Thanos and of course there is only one outcome where they win. Then several minutes in the film later, he willingly gives up the Time Stone to spare Tony Stark’s life when he told Tony in the beginning of the film he would not give up the stone for anyone – much less Tony. So, Tony MUST be key to the ‘endgame’ comment from Doctor Strange. This completely throws off any real risk. Then when Thanos snaps his fingers and half the universe ‘dies’ and disappears to ash; the characters we all know have future films in the works disappear. Black Panther has a billion dollar film success. He is getting a sequel. Why not instead let his guard and sister disappear in front of his eyes and give him an emotional moment. Winter Soldier’s gun stays behind, but not his arm? That actor is signed for several more films in the MCU so we know he will be back. Half of the Guardians of the Galaxy went away and Spiderman too. So it sort of undermines the impact of the culling. I think the writers should’ve taken the real life contracts into consideration in the selection of who disappeared so that it would help fuel the debate over will they come back or won’t they? Even with most of us already assuming these characters will somehow come back. Then, send off Captain America instead of Bucky. Have this scene end with him telling the rest to never give up and keep up the fight. That would have been a better emotional send off. Then, there is the digital turning to ash. Why not have the clothes stay behind as reminders they were just there? This visual would have been more harrowing to see. I think the writers and filmmakers made a terrible visual choice here to capitalize on what could have been a tremendous emotional moment in any MCU film. Missed opportunity there.
Yet there is much to appreciate in this film. It seems Marvel is taking establishment of villains seriously and this bodes well for the future of the MCU. I hope they continue this trend. We have a year till the second half of this story concludes as well as the conclusion of the primary cast’s contracts. Give these characters we have watched for a decade the proper emotional send off they each deserve.
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