Ten years and eighteen movies. The success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a long shot, but they did it, somehow those magnificent bastards did it. They created a film universe filled with amazing characters in amazing films. Sure, there were missteps like Incredible Hulk and The Dark World – but there were far more hits than misses.
Even though I’m fairly certain that everyone in the country has seen Infinity War by now, I’m going to keep the review fairly spoiler free…in case you’ve been living in a cave the past few weeks – or Scotland. I managed to make it into the showing without any major spoilers, as did the husband. My son wasn’t so fortunate – 13 year olds are brutal fucking assholes.
A few words about Alamo Drafthouse…I don’t think I’ve seen a film there since…Poultrygeist? That was like 11 years ago! My husband loathes Alamo Drafthouse, because of all the interruptions, but I don’t mind so much. Yeah, it’s pricey, but the food is pretty damn good. The amazing thing about Alamo Drafthouse was that instead of the insipid ads and trivia that other theaters run, they did a whole “Previously on…” synopsis of all previous MCU films – it was great! They were also low on trailers – they just showed Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (A documentary on Mr. Roger’s that will probably make me cry five times), Deadpool 2 and Jurassic World 2. I appreciate the exclusion of trailers I don’t care about – how did they know?
The film itself kicks into high gear immediately – and then DOES NOT STOP. I’m not exaggerating to say that there are no “slow parts” in Infinity War. Every scene advances the plot. This is no small feat – the film wastes no time in setting up who the characters are and what their motivations are…we’ve had eighteen movies to learn about these characters – what their motivations are and relationships with one another. Thanos has been a threat in the background since The Avengers, remember? So now, I get to apply a little of the film theory I learned in college…Viewers are able to jump right into Infinity War’s plot due to ‘”funding”, the building and enriching of aesthetic experience through subsequent encounters with the physical work of art, each instance of which is likely to be different in quality.’¹ While the theory of funding is most often applied to Westerns, it can also apply to film franchises and even pop culture. James Bond movies are another example of a “funded” genre.
While the viewer benefits from the “funded” MCU and doesn’t have to sit through any unnecessary character introductions, we get the distinct joy of these characters being introduced to each other. There are jokes. There is jealousy. There is violence. There’s even awkwardness among estranged characters. Every new intro was pure entertainment – I even cackled at a few.
If “funding” is the mechanism of our enjoyment of Infinity War, “sacrifice” is our punishment for that enjoyment. Over and over, we are forced to watch our beloved characters forced to make sacrifices. Every. Single. Fucking. Character. Some sacrifices are small and some are quite large, but they all hurt. I was an emotional trainwreck the rest of the day after watching. Infinity War should come with a trigger warning.
There are a few characters suspiciously missing from the fray – I suspect that they’ll be back for the next installment, house arrest or not. We also saw the return of a character, long out of our thoughts, imagined to be dead many movies ago. Of course, dead doesn’t mean dead in comic book movies. None of them ever STAY dead…wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
Infinity War was good – as good or maybe even better than my favorite entries: Winter Soldier and Ragnarok. I really want to watch it again, to pick up on any little Easter Eggs I may have missed. I noticed Arrested Development mentioned in the end credits and then read what that was all about – I can’t believe I missed it!
And now we wait…just 361 more days…
1. Stephen C. Pepper, The Basis of Criticism in the Arts (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965), p. 57, quoted by Barry Keith Grant, Film Genre Reader (University of Texas Press, 1986), p. 126