Where do I begin?
As usual, spoilers ahead.
This is the culmination of 10 years of world building. Of an incredible number of films and characters in a single franchise. And like everyone else, I can only gape at that ending.
Never have I ever seen a film that dared to let the villain triumph. Every single turn, I wondered if there was going to be a twist. Did Gamora lie and lead Thanos to a trap on Vormir? Did Doctor Strange have a plan when he gave the Time Stone to Thanos? Did Wanda’s efforts to destroy the Mind Stone come to fruition? Did Thor actually manage to stop Thanos in the nick of time? Was the power of the Infinity Gauntlet too much for Thanos to handle and his plan failed?
But at every single one of these flash points, Thanos triumphed. Gamora thought he didn’t care for anyone or anything, but he loved her. Doctor Strange didn’t have any plan when he gave up the Time Stone either, although he did say that it was the only way to Tony Stark, and he did see the one future where they won, so that could mean something in Avengers 4. The emotional moment Wanda had as she destroyed the Mind Stone was totally undercut as Thanos casually revived Vision and then ripped the stone from his head. And even as he was hit by Thor’s new axe, he did what heroes would normally do and used the moment to enact his plan. And even as the Infinity Gauntlet hurt him, he still succeeded in dissolving half of the universe’s population.
And it all ended as Thanos described himself doing; staring at the sunset after a job well done.
In a humongous cast of heroes, it’s almost fitting that the movie was strongly anchored by a brilliant villain. Josh Brolin was impeccable as the Mad Titan, who seemed less mad and more of a world-weary alien with a self-imposed mission to save the universe by ending half of it. The depth shown as Thanos distracts a young Gamora, the tears as he sacrifices the adult Gamora to fulfill his self-proclaimed destiny…it resonates. Villains that crave world domination are a dime a dozen in the MCU. Antagonists such as Thanos and Killmonger are a different breed, almost anti-heroes in their ‘ends justify the means’ attitude towards what is ultimately a noble goal.
And as much as I loved watching all my superheroes coming together, that massive cast also drags down the movie slightly. Without prior knowledge of the preceding MCU films, you’ll be hard-pressed to feel for, or even keep up with all the heroes as they appear and disappear from their scenes. Without the emotional attachments formed before, Avengers: Infinity War would just be a confusing mess as there’s just no time to introduce everyone. And that’s not even considering the fact that every hero only gets a minuscule amount of screentime despite the nearly three hour runtime.
However, if you’re invested in the MCU, then this film is everyBthing we’ve always wanted. Beloved characters from different parts of the shared universe finally coming together, sharing quips and jokes and combining in ultimately futile attempts to stop Thanos. So much credit has to go to the directors and the writers for somehow bringing this huge, bloated cast together with typical Marvel polish.
It was a little cheesy that both Wanda and Peter had to kill their significant other to prevent Thanos from getting the Infinity Stones, and I dearly wished Bruce and Natasha could rekindle something. So many deaths in the final moments also took out some of the sting (which Spider-Man’s passing immediately rectified). But this film was steeped in, even hinged on the emotional.
This was the film about Thanos’ twisted compassion and mercy, about Stark’s paranoia, about Thor’s loss, about Gamora’s fear, about Wanda and Vision’s love. It has the usual massive CGI battles and set-pieces, but that’s just the excessive icing on the cake. None of that would have been possible without the prior MCU films, and this feels like a truly fitting end to such an incredible story.
But as we all know, they’ll be back. They aren’t going to kill off new stars like Black Panther and Spider-Man in a snap of Thanos’ fingers without being able to bring them back. Nick Fury was contacting Captain Marvel before he dissolved, and she will probably play a huge role. As some article I read mentioned, the original Avengers are all alive somehow, and they’ll probably do quite a bit of avenging in Avengers 4.
I hope they don’t cheap out by using the Time Stone somehow, but it’s hard to think of some other way of reviving everyone. With the contracts for the original Avengers cast almost up, their deaths in the next film to revive everyone somehow would be a good new dawn for the MCU, handing the baton to the next series of stars.
But that’s for another day. For the next year, I have to stew in the fact that the villain actually succeeded in his mad plan to kill half the universe, and what a brilliant, emotional, and daring ending for a massive franchise it was…if not for sequels.
P.S. Loved the twist when Red Skull was revealed to be the gatekeeper to the Soul Stone, and the cameo by Peter Dinklage as the giant ‘dwarf’ of Nidavellir.