Yes, Another Infinity Wars Take

Hey there.

Been a hell of a couple of months, hasn’t it? I’ve kept busy, watched some movies, dealt with depression. That I wasn’t writing anything about those movies fed into that depression. So let’s at least kick that frustration to the curb, shall we?

And then I’ll turn right around and invalidate this return to the digital page by merely adding to the noise about the latest Marvel movie, Avengers: Infinity War. Better, more prolific writers than myself have already written thoughtful pieces about it (for instance, check out Rob Dean’s defense of the utter necessity of that downer ending on Daily Grindhouse). You know me: when it comes to cinema, I’m pretty much an autodidact. I don’t have any classes or degrees to back up what I think about movies, I just have personal data to fall back on – so I guess that’s the tack I’m going to take. I’ll try to stay as spoiler-free as possible, especially since my pal Diane won’t get to see it for another couple of weeks and she will murder me. (The “downer ending” referenced above is such a part of the cultural ripples racing out from the movie that I think I’m safe there. Just don’t click on that link, Di)

One of the most surprising things – to me – is that my wife, Lisa, is a big fan of the MCU movies. I have to immediately qualify that, because she hasn’t made it a point to see ALL of them, but she’s been willing to see most. It started when we took my son, Max, to see Iron Man all those years ago, where we taught him the value of sitting through the end credits. She’s expanded her nerd creds a bit past that – my proper schoolmarm wifey laughed out loud many times at the vulgarities of Deadpool and going to see Pacific Rim: Uprising was her idea. (She also enjoyed Wonder Woman, but let’s leave the DCU out of this) As we entered Theater #9 to watch Infinity War, she said, “I’m really looking forward to this.”

Max will be finishing up his sophomore college year next week and coming home, and he’s going to want to see Infinity War. Lisa has informed me that it will be my job to take him, because, unlike Black Panther, she does not want to see it again. Her dismay at the ending was not helped by my explanation of that post-credits scene, either. “Who?”

The conversation after the movie (well, after a trip to the restroom, where there was a line, unusual for the men’s side: if nothing else, Infinity War keeps your butt in that seat for two and a half hours) led to me saying, “You know, this movie and the next were originally called Infinity War Part One and Part Two.” “So they crammed it all into one movie?” (fair assumption. The flick is packed) “No. I think they just changed the titles.”

The tweets I had read comparing it to The Empire Strikes Back were quite appropriate. I was there for that, and the feelings leaving the theater were the same. (At least we don’t have to wait three years for this rendition of Return of the Jedi.) I’ve also seen comparisons to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, but I haven’t seen any of the Potter movies since the first, so I can’t attest to that (yes, I have a box set and will get around to them eventually, don’t @ me).

Maybe read a few thousand of these, eh

I find myself wondering how many people on that record-breaking weekend had my wife’s experience, though: coming to Infinity War with only the past movies to rely on, and without a lifetime being steeped in comics lore and culture. Infinity War is the closest thing to a cinematic realization of a major crossover comics event that we have ever seen, and it probably would have helped to have a few of those under your belt before watching it. The breaking up of the heroes into different teams of disparate characters was done fairly organically, as opposed to Batman making battlefield assignments (so much for keeping DC out of this). The pitched battles against bad guys that can’t have any real victories, because it would cut the major story arc too short, and dispel the dramatic tension. And, of course, the fact that the heroes must be driven into their darkest hour of defeat before they ultimately triumph. That usually takes about twelve issues. In movie terms, about five hours, it seems.

Doing something like that in a movie is outlandishly expensive. Which is good, says I, because the constant crossover events are what eventually led me to drop comics for the umpteenth time (well, that and poverty). I think it was Fear Itself, after Civil War, The Secret Invasion and Dark Reign that finally broke me. I doubt a similar glut will happen in the MCU. It’s just not financially feasible.

So Avengers 4 -whatever title it may take – is likely to be similarly cataclysmic (though, of necessity, with a smaller cast of characters) and then we’re probably going to return to comparatively smaller movies like Ant-Man and the Wasp. More diversity is something to wished for, and I doubt the lesson of Black Panther’s success will be ignored. We seem to be on track to finally getting a Black Widow movie – good, I can only watch Atomic Blonde so many times and pretend Charlize is a redhead – and somebody needs to construct a story that brings together Natasha, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Mantis and Valkyrie. Shuri for tech. Maria Hill as liaison. I’ll volunteer, if need be.

Was it, like, a year or two ago I was whining that the only people that seemed capable of making immersive spectacle movies taking advantage of new technology anymore were the Chinese and the Wachowski sisters? I can’t say that anymore, and that makes me happy. Infinity War had some amazingly sweet mocap performances. Josh Brolin showing through Thanos was exceptional, but The Ebony Maw (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) and Corvus Glaive (Michael James Shaw) were literally comic book characters come to life, and I’m looking forward to my inevitable blu-ray purchase so I can see more of them. There were also some sadly questionable effects… then I remember also those glaringly visible matte lines in the first theatrical run of Empire. 

This may mean I am the one with the problem here, and if so, I will own it. I love the spectacle of these peak visual movies. I was fairly obsessed with League of Gods and Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons for a few months. Jupiter Ascending was a pleasant surprise. But those are balanced out by many others that have no soul to give their fantasies flight: 47 Ronin, Immortals, Seventh Son, Gods of Egypt, the live-action Ghost in the Shell. Artistry untempered by humanity simply does not last.

If I want to end on a more upbeat note, I should point out that Lisa is still pumped to see Deadpool 2, and willing to be talked into Ant-Man and the Wasp, so maybe her nerding wasn’t truncated by disappointment after all.

So… you miss me?

 

 

 

4 Comments

  1. funny, I still haven’t seen Black Panther yet, but it’s on my list for that disc version (as I see it’s coming sooner than later). I guess I’ll get to IW at some point, but my backlog of less blockbusty flicks to see kinda tromps on more modern fare.

    And yeah, Atomic Blonde was pretty fun, wasn’t it?

    • I might as well admit that Charlize just plain owns me and get it over with.

      As solid as your typical Marvel movie is, Black Panther still manages to stand head and shoulders over most. I think you’ll dig it – it’s definitely in my top three of the franchise, and it is going to take a SERIOUSLY excellent movie to unseat it.

  2. Great commentary. Missed you much. Glad to see your return. Keep Writing! You’re Damned Good at it!


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