"Let him have his fun..." - Ebony Maw
That has to be the quickest decade of my (so far) fifty-eight years. Ten years ago, we saw the first “proper” Marvel movie, in that films like the successful X-Men and Spider-Man franchises didn’t actually count. Marvel were making their own movies of their own characters – and the first was to be Iron Man.
I remember like it was yesterday, my concern that iron man would be a considerable risk to bring to the screen. He was, back then, kind of a second-tier character. Or maybe that’s too harsh. He had certainly BEEN a second stringer for decades but was finally working his way up. Then, I heard about the casting. Or the sheer genius of casting the nearest person to a living, breathing Tony Stark. Robert Downey Jr gave the film a gravitas that it probably wouldn’t have had otherwise. But I was still worried about the look of Iron man himself, his movement, how credible would he look on screen, blah, blah, blah. The first trailer took care of all that nonsensical fretting.
However, satisfying the film was (and it really hit the sweet spot) what really became the most important scene in the movie was the couple of minutes tagged at the end, with Samuel L.Jackson making a cameo appearance as Nick Fury telling Stark about the Avengers Initiative.
So was born the biggest, boldest undertaking in film history. The Marvel Movie Universe, which would expand, introduce a huge story arc, introduce several new major characters that would not only appear in their own series of films – but be aware of each other, and cross over in to each other’s films and eventually team up to form a superhero team to counter an alien menace.
And that was just the beginning!
We always knew that each film in the series was a step toward one last movie. A payoff movie. But then again, I’m used to Hollywood hyperbole and more often than not, the ensuing crashing disappointment. It’s safe to say though, that Marvel haven’t set a foot wrong in their construction of this movie universe. Even characters that I was never really a big fan of like the Hulk have become integral to the story – and interesting. Characters like the Guardians of the Galaxy, a title I’d previously never heard of, have become vital.
But the notion of the whole ten-year story arc building up to a final conclusive finish and for it to live up to the anticipated level of awesomeness that the audience rightly expects? Madness, surely. Complete madness. Except for one thing. Marvel pulled it off. They actually did it. Boldly, confidently shattering even MY lofty expectations with what has to be the biggest superhero epic that has ever graced a screen.
I realise that sounds like the over enthusiastic ramblings of someone on Marvel’s payroll – but obviously, that’s not the case. Let’s just say that I saw it at the first screening at midnight, then went again. I refrained from writing the review because I wanted to make 1005 certain that the movie was every bit as good as I thought it was at that first screening. And it was. Maybe it was even better, because now knowing the storyline, I was better able to soak in the minor details.
I’ll keep this part of the review spoiler free, just in case you, as a reader, aren’t among those who’ve paid their part of $800 million of the film’s take as yet.
The film picks up shortly after the end of Thor: Ragnarok – remember? The Asgardian survivors were on a spaceship, when a larger, threatening ship loomed into view, blocking their path? Well, the action starts there and just doesn’t stop. The film literally never lets up.
Thanos (Josh Brolin) is setting into motion the plan that he’s been working on since he sending the Chitauri our way in Avengers Assemble. Maybe even longer, seeing that Nick Fury vaguely warned Tony Stark of impending threats in the sting to Iron Man ten years ago.
Thanos has a plan, an insane plan to be sure, but the way he explains it, it sort of makes sense. He’s doing the completely wrong thing, for the right reason. The terrible reality of his scheme is that it actually follows a logic, though the logic has catastrophic consequences. His insane dream is to wipe out half of all life, to give the surviving half a chance at a better life, with no threat of overpopulation and enough resources for all. To achieve this, he needs six Infinity Stones, which are scattered all over the galaxy, which when gathered all together and placed in the Infinity Gauntlet will give him limitless, well…. infinite power. Thus, he can actually carry out his plan. He has been trying to collect these stones, which pretty much form the interconnecting link in the whole arc from Thor’s first movie onwards.
The Guardians of the Galaxy know of Thanos, Gamora and Nebula are his daughters and he killed Drax’s family. But the Avengers – well, they’re in disarray having split up into various factions since the end of Civil War, and in any event, have never heard of Thanos, and are completely unaware of the threat that’s heading our way until his henchmen, The Dark Order (aka The Children of Thanos) attack New York.
Then, all hell breaks loose in an all-out battle fought both off-planet and here on Earth with alliances being formed between the Marvel superheroes across the whole franchise. The beauty is that all the featured characters get a reasonable amount of screen time, so fans of specific characters aren’t short changed, their favourites are all given meaningful roles.
The humour comes thick and fast as the heroes exchange quips, the effects are absolutely outstanding – and there are plenty of shocks and surprises along the way. Unless you read the spoilers, you won’t see them coming until they hit you, and they hit hard. Despite the fact that it’s a summer tentpole film about comic book superheroes, I found the film to be an emotional rollercoaster, and in comparison, to last year’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I would say that it’s easily the more satisfying film. I noticed that the audience for Jedi left the screening feeling a little underwhelmed, and it was only afterward, on reflection, that the film really resonated. With this one, audiences tend to leave the screening stunned at what they’ve seen and overwhelmed by not only the spectacle, but the implications for the next Avengers movie due next year.
Okay, if you haven’t seen the film you need to stop right here. That’s all I have for you, except one final piece of advice: GO AND SEE THE FILM.
We are now about to enter The Spoiler Zone, where I’ll be chatting about some stuff that you don’t need to know just yet. So off you go. It’s bound to be showing somewhere near you.
Countdown to The Spoiler Zone
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
You’re now in The Spoiler Zone, and I’m not responsible if you read anything that spoils the film for you because I’ve repeatedly warned you. Okay?
So, in the words of the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where do we go from here?
Half the Avengers are dead? Gone? Just like that? Turned to dust? The villain wins? Incredible. We knew he was a badass when we saw him beat The Hulk to a pulp that completely shattered the green goliath’s confidence to such a degree that he’s too scared to come out for the rest of the film. And that’s before the opening titles. In fact, not only is Thanos big and bad enough to beat up the Hulk, he’s also powerful enough to kill Loki – The God of Mischief. Yep, Thanos is actually a God-killer. Killed him quite easily, actually. That alone makes him the top screen bad guy of all time.
The death toll in this film alone is staggering, surprising and stunning. Characters that I thought were safe died unexpectedly. Truthfully, I expected maybe a high-profile death or two during the film, particularly at the end – but I didn’t expect some stunning deaths scattered throughout the film with a virtual massacre at the end. My opinion – the worst thing that the Russo Brothers who’ve directed the film and the sequel, which were filmed back to back is to give the characters a magic reset, and somehow make it that the dire and tragic events of this film never happened and everybody lives happily ever after. That would cheapen the whole thing.
So, what the heck was all that about in the post credits sting?
Well, Fury was calling Captain Marvel. That was her logo on the device he was holding. Next April will see the release of the Captain Marvel film, which as I understand will be set in the seventies and shows Fury’s first encounter with the character. She is said to be the most powerful of all the Marvel superheroes and might well be the only one capable of defeating Thanos. (She did in a story I read back in the seventies, when Thanos had control of the Cosmic Cube.) That might well be the way that they reset the movie universe to continue with the characters. We’ll know more next April when we meet her, with the as yet untitled Infinity War sequel the following month.
The other way to bring back the fallen heroes is to set their adventures BEFORE the events of this film.
Up next, we have Ant-Man and the Wasp, released in July. I’ve a feeling that Ant-Man will feature in Infinity War 2, but here’s kind of a “wouldn’t it be cool if…” idea that I have that would bring Ant-Man into the fray. Imagine, after the events of the film, the sting – where Ant-Man and the Wasp are celebrating their victory or whatever. And she turns to dust in front of his eyes. POW!!!! He has his motivation AND the audience are shocked. (Please note, that’s just a little theory of mine and based on nothing I’ve read anywhere – literally just my imagination. But wouldn’t it be cool?)
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