In the last dozen years or so, there have been 19 Marvel (MCU) movies. More than one a year on average. The pattern seems to be that the second movie in each mini-sequence is a dud – Thor 2 and Iron Man 2 very much spring to mind (although I really wish they didn’t). The good, of course, is that MCU movies have in the main been far far better than the DC superhero (DCU) movies. Thor Ragnarok (Thor 3) was undeniably entertaining and Black Pather was a triumph. There again, MCU movies are very formulaic, relying almost entirely on ‘male bantz’ (macho heroes boasting about their prowess – even Black Panther is ultimately phallocentric) and then a big special FX scrap. It really has to be asked, then: do we need a movie like Avengers Infinity War in which all the different mini-franchises collide and there are more superheroes than minutes in the movie’s actually running time (2hrs40mins!) ? Really? Isn’t it just going to be a horrendous mess without time for genuine characterisation?
Well, Infinity War just about pulls it off, to be honest. The trick, you see, is that the movie follows the baddie’s (Thanos’s) story rather than the story of any do-gooder. We get to understand the baddie’s rationale for his extreme actions and engage with him intellectually even if we cannot identify with his cosmic ambitions. We expect him to lose out ultimately, but that is not necessarily the case in this movie. He is a being of devastating power who actually brings proper jeopardy to the ‘good guys’. Indeed, a host of major heroes end up dead (not gonna spoil who, but it’s a bit shocking).
So, as the audience, we are caught between following Thanos’s quest (almost empathising with him as he makes terrible personal sacrifices) and rooting for the likes of the annoying Iron Man, the overly square Thor and the ridiculously immature Spiderman. At the end of the movie, the audience I was with sat in stunned silence – with no certainty about how to react to what they had just seen. They all hung on to see if there’d be an extra scene after the credits to make everything ‘feel better’. I ain’t gonna tell ya.
So how would I rate the movie? Well, I do rate it. Just not with a score. It’s a movie that is there on its own terms. Very much worth a look… but I’m a Marvel fanboy who knows a lot of the MCU mythos. If you’re not up-to-date, you might end up entirely bewildered by it all.