[Caution - There be spoilers here]
*This is not over.
As much as it doesn't look good for the good guys (and they are the good guys), it's only the battle in Avengers: Infinity War that's over, the war still remains. Before the release there was a lot of confusion over whether this was meant as a standalone film or a 'part one'. While none of these Marvel movies are standalone per se, we can now be sure that Avengers 3 and 4 are inextricably linked. Not just Earth the whole universe needs to be avenged now!
*The Infinity Stones were always going to be the most intriguing aspect of this film. Marvel had given itself the luxury of carefully scattering them. As Thor said, someone's been playing an elaborate game and as of the end of Thor: Ragnarok we knew where the following stones were:
Tesseract (Space) - With Loki, fleeing Asgard
Mind - with Vision on Earth
The Orb (Power) - With the Nova Corps on Xandar
The Aether (Reality, it turns out) - With Taneleer Tivan on Knowhere
The eye of Agamotto (Time) - With Doctor Strange in New York
Missing stone (could be anything) - could be anywhere. Possibilities include - space, Earth, Wakanda (inside the Vibranium comet), inside Mjolnir, with Thanos, Hogwarts' Room of Requirement, etc.
By the end, Thanos tracked them down effortlessly. He'd already 'decimated' Xandar before things kicked off and it all went downhill from there. We didn't really get to see much stone vs stone action, but it's fair to say that Thanos wielded them like a pro! The Power and Space stones were a great start for him, and by the time he got Reality there was no stopping the mad Titan. By the end, the stones and Thanos seem almost symbiotic. Does such power exist in the universe that can compete?
*Nothing kicks off an intergalactic epoch-making event quite like a one-sided assault in deep dark space. To see the two most powerful Avengers and the god who always has at least one last trick up his horned helm so decimated, along with the rest of Asgard's rag-tag bunch, was terrifying!
*A recurring feature in the opening exchanges is the characters' willingness to disperse each other and spread the battle, trying to alert other powers or build hammers or simply escape before the onrushing doom. The Hulk is sent away by Heimdall while Thor is allowed to remain and presumably perish. Doctor Strange spends most of the film making tactical choices while the Guardians of the Galaxy part early. All of it is done with good logic. Thor's been to Doctor Strange's sanctum and so it's a good destination for the Hulk; Cap-Iron Man and Star Lord-Rocket still have 'stuff' to deal with. The Sokovia Accords are still in force. The continuity at play is quite stunning and it's fair to say that Marvel has turned expansionism into an art form.
*Thanos' henchmen should feel let down. They did a stellar job and we know this because it's possible to remember each of them. The skilled facepaint lady, the big guy and the evil assassin each had their qualities while 'the Maw' was a roaring hit, what with his professor-like almost effortless proficiency. It's surprising that more attention wasn't paid to their appearance, apart from that they look evil.
*The attempt to take the Time Stone in New York is vastly more fun than the desperate Vision-hunt over in Cambridge. It's nice that Vision has had a lot of character 'evolution' but really, wasn't he supposed to be stronger? Wanda was strong for the both of them though.
*Iron Man, Spider-man and Doctor Strange heading off into space is the stuff Marvel fans' dreams are made of! Robert Downey Jr and Benedict Cumberbatch were electric and it wouldn't be surprising if we soon find out what happened when that one annoying guy in the writers' team asked "so are we going to make a Sherlock joke or what?"
*An apprehension fans may have had about the Russo brothers directing Infinity War was how they would fare in space. James Gunn did tremendously with it in the Guardians of the Galaxy films while the Thor films largely messed it up. The Russo brothers had helmed two Captain America films which had nothing to do with space, but here, they've excelled! The key is depth, it turns out.
*Aesthetically, space is dark, cold and vast, but that all changes when the Guardians arrive! The events between the word 'Space' appearing emblazoned across half the screen and Drax thinking he's a chameleon are a genuine party. Star Lord's antics after meeting Thor, in Internet-speak, is 'all of us'.
*Thor must think Ragnarok is still going on. The God of Thunder has had a catastrophic few weeks and nothing now stands between him and a suicidal revenge (avenge) mission. The Nidvellir expedition was one of the two fascinating mythological threads of the film, and is likely to make for great repeat viewing. Stormbreaker is biblically menacing and appears to have significantly boosted Thor's power. It'll be exciting to see how its powers differ from Mjolnir (which has been quickly forgotten).
*The second mythological quest also tied in with the most controversial part of the film -- the relationship of Thanos and Gamorra.
Trump Thanos appears to be megalomaniacal enough to genuinely believe in his own benevolence and it is entirely possible that he did, indeed, love Gamorra. On Vormir, surely one of the starkest and most mysterious places we've ever been to in these films; where the magnificent returning Red Skull breathes melancholia, the end of Gamorra is poignant enough to completely solidify Thanos' character.
*Star Lord and Gamorra admit their unspoken thing in no uncertain terms when faced with imminent death. It's heartbreaking when Quill attempts to ascertain the fate of Gamorra. 'Surely, he and Nebula are going to be going Thanos-hunting soon', they all thought before remembering that Peter Quill is now ashes. (sniff)
*It's time to address Iron Man now. Somehow, Tony Stark has managed to gain a significant and understated upgrade. Nanoparticles make Iron Man phenomenally powerful, and by the time of the final battle on Titan, Stark is pulling out weapons and accessories that make you wonder whether Rocket has secretly been sneaking into his lab at night. There had been continuous improvements since the very first film a decade ago, but things got real here. He's getting married, he's making new tech and he and Peter Parker continue to get along! Robert Downey Jr had begun wearing the 'We'll avenge Earth' face early on in the film and you wouldn't bet against him upping his game again.
*The big war on Wakanda is hit-and-miss. It was a great idea to have it in the newly introduced kingdom of the Black Panther as it is both imagination-friendly and expendable. However, the aliens are more horror movie than superhero movie. The demogorgon soldiers of Titan should have scared the life out of the Earth's army. Alternately, Vision's protectors could have blown the invaders to Kingdom Come with their sophisticated weapons and tactical superiority. Nobody did either, which means the only person who enjoyed it at all was Captain America who, let's face it, only likes fighting and clearly wishes he could have a drinking problem. And what were those digging wheels?
In contrast, the ambush of Thanos on Titan (Star Lord's plan) was crafted to perfection, right from the history lesson about the planet -- complete with visual aids -- to the continued use of Naruto-esque techniques for Doctor Strange's fight scenes.
*It's a plucky call to have the Hulk pull a no-show in the war. Surely, they're only saving him up for the next film where, presumably, he'll smash. What about Hawkeye though?
*All things considered, fans are unlikely to get over Infinity War anytime soon. Avengers, Guardians, Wakandans, Asgardians, space dwarves the size of giants, a god-like villain, Rocket wanting Bucky's arm, phenomenal fighting scenes and a shocking finale mean this film has it all and at scale.
It's been 10 years of stylish and explosive superhero action, but Marvel's message at the end of their most engrossing film yet is - we've got you right where we want you!
(post-credits *) Captain Marvel seems like it may be more like Guardians of the Galaxy than Ant-Man or Spider-man: Homecoming! Bring it on!
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