The Avengers vs. Celestial Genocidal Maniac
Marvel has been building up to Infinity War for a decade. The studio did not disappoint when releasing the film. It is the most expensive movie in history, clocking in at over one billion dollars. Avengers: Infinity War is also considered the greatest crossover in movie history. Unknown to some, the film is part one of a two-part release with the sequel due out next May.
Avengers: Infinity War broke records across the globe with ease. The film took the throne for best opening weekend globally, and in numerous countries.
WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War. Do not continue if you have not seen the film.
The Rise of Thanos
Thanos (Josh Brolin) made his first appearance in The Avengers back in 2012 (then, played by Damoin Poitier). Since then, Marvel Studios has been hinting at his rise throughout the timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The Mad Titan looks to fulfill his mission to bring balance to the universe by eliminating half of its inhabitants. He achieves this by harnessing the power of the six infinity stones, searching across the universe for them.
Infinity War opens where Thor: Ragnarok left off in the post-credits scene. Thanos tracks down the fleeing Asgardians in space after the destruction of their home. After a fight with Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thanos holds Thor’s life, quite literally, in his hand demanding they give up the Tesseract. Loki caves to Thanos’ demands before he crushes Thor’s skull, ultimately giving the Titan the Space Stone, which is contained in the Tesseract.
A Jam Packed Death Fest
Viewers experience their first brush with the movie’s George R.R. Martin-esque brutality as Loki tries to trick Thanos. The God of Mischief tells Thanos he is willing to join him and attempts to stab the Titan in the neck. Naturally, Thanos is able to stop Loki with ease, ending his life before his brother’s eyes, telling the God of Thunder that resurrection would not be possible this time around. In an attempt to ensure a tug on some heartstrings, Loki utters his last words to Thor, “I assure you, brother, the sun will shine on us again.”
Death litters this film as numerous significant MCU characters are eliminated in the war to save the universe. Thanos later kills his adopted daughter, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), in order to acquire the Soul Stone.
The audience faces shock at the end of the film as Thanos acquires the final Infinity Stone, the Mind Stone. Thanos reverses time and resurrects Vision (Paul Bettany) in order to rip the stone from his head. The hero was originally killed by his lover, Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) in an act of self sacrifice. Vision is an android, so that relationship is a little creepy to me (He’s clearly sentient, so that’s okay, right?). The Titan snaps his fingers after Thor’s failed attempt to kill him, fulfilling his objective. Shortly after, hero after hero begin to disintegrate, including fan favorites like Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman).
… the most expensive movie in history…
Hinting at the Sequel
Marvel favorite and lead Avenger, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) sits helplessly on Titan at the end of the film. The failed hero watches as the others around him are taken by the fate they have been dealt. Peter Parker hugs Stark in his final moments, telling him, “I don’t want to go.” This quote has quickly gone viral in meme form, along with the disintegration graphics that accompany it.
Earlier on Titan, Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) utilizes the power of the Time Stone (known as The Eye of Agamotto to practitioners of the mystic arts) to look into the future. Strange informs Stark, along with Parker, Starlord (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) that there are over fourteen million scenarios, but they only are victorious in one.
This proves significant as Strange later hands over the Time Stone to Thanos in exchange for sparing Stark’s life. As Tony watches Strange fade from existence later, he says, “It’s the only way”.
An Anguish Filled Finale
Half of existence ends in the snap of a finger. In that moment, Thanos experiences a vision. The young spirit of his adopted daughter appears before him. Gamora asks if he did it and what it cost. Thanos looks upon her and solemnly responds, “Everything” in a moment that humanizes the maniac.
Then Thanos disappears from Thor’s grip. We see him as the film concludes sitting peacefully at the edge of his dwelling. As he said he would, he sits to “… finally rest, and watch the sunrise on a grateful universe.” “Grateful” is subjective here, of course.
Strange lays down his life in order to propel Tony and the living to victory. After all, what’s a superhero story without them winning in the end? Thanos is bound to get what is coming to him. This likely won’t be without consequence. Some of the original Avengers actors did not renew their contracts. I nearly grabbed my friends when Tony almost died. Still, I know it will happen. I just wasn’t ready at that moment. I most certainly will have to be next May.
What did it cost?
Thanos in the Context of the History
Jim Starlin first came to conceive Thanos in his college psychology class. After studying the origins of the character, it is possible to conclude that he is a giant, nihilistic, angsty teenager. Thanos was born a mutant on his home planet. His parents loved him, but he was ostracized by others. He was eventually exiled for his grotesque experiments. He later went on to be a student of Death, becoming obsessed with murder and destruction. Read more about Thanos’ origins on Den of Geek – The History of Thanos: Marvel’s Cosmic Villain of Page and Screen!
The studio takes a slightly different approach in the film. Thanos is much less a nihilist and more of a utopian ideologue. He explains his ideas to Strange on the derelict that was once his home planet of Titan. The speech is laden with sentiments of over population and “greater good” rhetoric often used by modern thinkers of the Marxist variety. He tells Strange that Titan was facing depleting resources. Thanos shares his idea of killing half of the population in order to save his world. Saying it would be random, without class or status involved, because equality or something probably. The villain later expands his ideas to include the entire universe after the fatal end of Titan. His warped idealism seems to inspire his line of watching the sunrise over a “grateful” universe following the snap of his fingers.
A “Benevolent” Maniac
Thanos reveres himself. The character sees benevolence in his motivations. It is disturbing that anyone would empathize with him. His sentiments seem to echo utopian idealism. The result of his actions are comparable to Stalin’s USSR or Mao’s China. During a number of moments in the film, the studio almost mercifully humanizes Thanos. I could be wrong, but this may be what causes some to empathize with the character. Many look at the his situation and mission saying, “It makes sense” in creepy fashion.
It does not “make sense”. I do not find sense in dictates based in preposterous ideas of so-called benevolence. I cannot find a way to empathize with Thanos. In fact, I do not find a shred of sympathy even in his final dialogue with young Gamora. Nor do I find it in his tears before he throws his “beloved” daughter over a cliff. A daughter he “adopted” after committing an act of genocide. All acts he committed in his pursuit for the supposed “salvation” of the universe. The character is a monster and his motivations are unjustifiable. One alias for Thanos is, in fact, “Monster”. To put it simply, he is a villain. In every sense of the word. For the love of God, he’s even known as “The Avatar of Death”!
Empathizing with Dangerous Ideas
In fact, one author seems to state his empathy in the Guardian. Steve Rose writes, “Thanos’s methods are hardly humane, but there is a logic to his argument: climate change and environmental destruction are inarguable threats. Human existence is unsustainable. But Avengers gotta avenge. Rather than debating the validity of Thanos’s arguments and acknowledging that something ought to change, the superheroes once again fight tooth and nail to preserve the status quo.” You can read the full article on The Guardian: What if Superheroes Really Aren’t the Good Guys?
In a world that has felt the toll of many genocides in the name of a common good, the fact that some nod their heads to characters like Thanos is terrifying. The writer later makes a flaccid attempt at redeeming himself. He mentions the uniting of the divided Avengers, saying that it is a message the whole world should hear. This, of course, after justifying the ideas of Thanos, Hela, and Bane. The weak shot at redemption his hardly valiant.
The sentiment forgets that the villains of Earth’s past all had good intentions. We are so often faced with Hitler’s atrocities that we sometimes forget his rise to power. He called for a stronger Germany, he promised for a better world. Most Germans stretched their arms forward in salute to him for this. Hitler was revered shortly before the Holocaust. Stalin promised the USSR a better world. Mao promised China similar things. Though, while disgusted, I’m not surprised after seeing Kaepernick unabashedly dawn a t-shirt revering Fidel Castro. A tyrant that many still see as Cuba’s savior.
The character is a monster and his motivations are unjustifiable.
Thanos on Paper vs. Thanos on the Silver Screen
I am unsure as to why Marvel Studios decided to tweak his motivations. He is a much better villain in the comics. Maybe a nihilistic overgrown mutant with an angsty teenager trapped inside isn’t screen friendly in a post pop-punk society. Thanos’ childhood seems to parallel Hitler’s in the comics. Starlin, as far as I know, never says the dictator was an inspiration. I can’t help but think he’d be less relatable if that facet remained. Then again, I think it would have been a good thing. It also could have ended with images of Trump’s face photoshopped onto the character unironically. So, there’s that.
In the comics, Adam Warlock actually saves the universe. He reverses Thanos’ doing and shows a number of heroes what becomes of the Titan. Thanos is reduced to a farmer on a far off planet. He sits on his porch, contemplating his defeat. In the context of writing, this pokes holes in him being an unwavering nihilist. Thanos’ obsession with death also seems unshakeable. The plot holes would be easily spotted. This would likely break suspension of disbelief.
It is no secret that Avengers: Infinity War has been a smash hit across the globe. The film continues to break box office records left and right. At the time of this writing, the movie moves toward $1 billion at break-neck speed.
The most wonderful part of the film is watching almost every character and storyline in the MCU practically collide. From the Guardians’ run in with Thor, to the interactions between Starlord and Stark, to Captain America (Chris Evans) fighting side by side with Black Panther in Wakanda. Every crossover provides hilarious comic relief, dramatic tension, as well as showing amazing chemistry between the actors. Each moment displays Marvel’s amazing foresight and prowess in the casting department. The studio’s accomplishment here should be lauded without hesitation.
The special effects in the movie are clearly what set the high cost. Reports also say that Robert Downey Jr. received $400 million from the studio to reprise his role one last time. Every dollar that went into the production of this two-part film is worth it, so far, in my opinion. The film was engaging, action packed, fun, and even a little thoughtful to boot. Cheers were heard in the packed theatre at the appearances of Captain America and Black Panther. This is clearly a movie so many anticipated and, to credit Marvel Studios, they made sure to live up to the hype.
My regret is being unwilling to give this film a full five stars. I could not get away from the humanization of Thanos. While the character was able to push through his emotions to achieve his goal, one he was hellbent on in almost every way. I have to take away half a star from the film as these moments took away from the villain.
Rating: (4.5 / 5)
As I stated, Thanos is to be the ultimate representation of evil. Avengers: Infinity War loses half a star for trying to make me feel sorry for him. I admit, I will see this movie more times, whether in theaters or at home. I am anticipating the coming sequel set to hit the box office on May 3rd, 2019. According to the comics, Infinity War is the big reset button, eliminating major players in the end and setting up the newer heroes to lead the MCU. I wait to see if the studio will continue to hold my attention if Tony Stark really is to go away for good. Then again, I’m a pretty big Iron Man fanboy.
Avengers: Infinity War is playing in theaters now.
Want more of The Boozer Review? Check out Robert’s review of Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One.