Avengers: Infinity War
Here be spoilers.
(That said, these are more observations than anything, so it won’t be TOO spoilery).
1. Scripting this film must have been a complete nightmare – the number of elements that had to be balanced, the way the plots intertwine, the difficulty of paring it down to anything like a reasonable length – I’m picturing several writers having to support each other through minor nervous breakdowns. That the film is at all coherent is a real tribute to writing/editing skill.
2. A lot of problems could have been avoided if any of the characters had watched the second season of Buffy.
3. I really liked The Winter Soldier as a film, but as they’ve gone on I think the Russo brothers have lost some of the qualities that made that film appealing – especially in how they film the action scenes. There’s a kinetic, grounded quality in the Winter Soldier’s fight scenes that has kind of disappeared a bit.
4. I both love Captain America as a character and am consistently irritated by how the films frame him. In this case, the way he’s been made retrospectively right about Civil War – like, the Secretary of State being a DICK does not actually change the fact that Cap wants to operate his own private army without the oversight of any kind of government. Cap consistently placing himself on the opposite side from democratic government feels like a very strange position for the character to end up in.
5. Speaking of which, the way Steve’s perspective on the possibility of losing innocent lives yoyos between Age of Ulton, Civil War and Infinity War feels rather odd – like his opinion is dictated more by the needs of each film than solid characterisation. His position in Infinity War didn’t irritate me as much as Age of Ulton’s “if we can’t save everyone, we should just let the planet be destroyed” but still, someone should make him watch the Wrath of Khan over and over until he GETS it. (The way the film ends kind of makes this irrelevant, but how many Wakandans died so Cap wouldn’t have to make an uncomfortable decision).
6. The Russo brothers can not construct a credible romance to save their lives. There was the complete misfire of Cap and Sharon Carter in Civil War, and in this film a LOT of weight is put on the Vision-Scarlett Witch romance. They’re not helped by the casting, I must admit, because Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olson have no sexual chemistry that I can see (I wonder if it’s an age thing? Paul Bettany plays Vision as full of admiration for Wanda, but there’s no sense of authentic sexual desire – seventeen years is a big age gap, and I can buy him being uncomfortable with it). When you think of how affecting that plot line would have been with Cap and Peggy, or Tony and Pepper, it really snaps into focus just how unbuilt the romance between Vision and Wanda is. It is because it is, not because we’ve seen them fall in love, and that makes it hard to invest.
7. Spider-Man is now my favourite Avenger. I really was not expecting that, but he’s such a GOOD kid, bless him, such an adorable dork. It’s very easy to see why Tony cares about him, because he’s kind of Tony-but-better, stripped of all the fucked up coping mechanisms, and willing to face the consequences of actions at a much younger age than Tony was. Speaking to my point above, his final scenes with Tony were genuinely upsetting to watch, because their relationship is meaningful. Also, when Spider-Man referenced Aliens I found myself automatically thinking “nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”
8. I feel like I’ve never given Zoe Saldana enough credit for what she does as Gamora, but she was easily the stand-out performance for me. She has such soulful eyes, and it felt like she was filmed to take full advantage of them. The little girl who played Young Gamora was perfectly cast, as well, which was fortunate, because the kid had some heavy lifting to do.
9. For once, I wasn’t wondering what the TV heroes were doing. I can’t see Daredevil or Luke Cage being much help in this situation, or even Jessica Jones, since she’s never been taught to fight. Quake admittedly might have come in handy (particularly in the fight scene on Titan, because I think she could have really helped them take the gauntlet off) but…she has her own problems right now.
10. Outside of Game of Thrones (where it is a necessary evil), I wish people would stop making Peter Dinklage use that faux-English accent. It GRATES. (Game of Thrones I can forgive, because when casting Tyrion they were presumably looking at an unusually limited pool of actors, for a part that DEMANDS huge acting talent, so who cares if the accent is a bit slippy – but there’s no reason a Space-Dwarf or whatever he was supposed to be has to have an English accent to begin with, so just let him use his natural voice).
11. I always try to see these films as close to the release date as possible, and it was worth it for the audience reaction when Thor…arrived. They went MENTAL.
12. I thought the timeline issues between Civil War and Black Panther were confusing…Infinity War would HAVE to ripple out into the shows, and it’ll be interesting to see how they side-step that problem. It’s a lot harder to handwave than something like Civil War or Spider-Man. (I presume Agents of Shield has a plan for this, but I have less faith in the Netflix shows).
13. Regarding the credits scene, it’s very telling about Nick Fury as a person that his first question after a car accident is “Are they all right?”
14. Anthony Mackie has a very nice speaking voice. I can’t place it to a particular region of the US, but it did make me wonder if he’s ever done theatre work.
15. If the Avengers had just listened to Black Widow and Rhodes to begin with, they’d have been in much better shape going into this fight. In fact, I’m choosing to believe the government of the MCU is Veep-level incompetent, because that’s the only way I can buy them allowing the Civil War problem to metastitise in such a STUPID way.
16. Good lord this film was a sausage fest. I love Okoye and Black Widow and Gamora, but a few more female characters would not go amiss (I find Scarlett Witch an impressive achievement in dullness, given everything we know about her). At this point, the population MCU is so male-dominated (with the noble exceptions of Black Panther and Agents of Shield), that you have to wonder how the human population is sustaining itself – how can a population with such a distorted sex ratio survive?