Avengers: Infinity War Failed Us All
In order to fully realize the author's vision, this article contains spoilers.
You have been warned.
After 10 years in the making we finally arrived at the first entry in the two-part beast that was to be the pinnacle of all the hard work Marvel and studio director Kevin Feige had put into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is unfortunate that after years of loyal fans pouring out for every screening, believing each iteration would be better than the last, that Marvel didn’t return that faith. Avengers: Infinity War failed us. Marvel failed us. And how they did can be spelled with one simple name: Peter Parker.
Whether Infinity War is a good movie is up for debate. There are some sincere emotional spots. If you had connected with these characters emotionally in the past, you would have felt your heart strings plucked. Otherwise, all but two of the more emotional scenes in the movie rang a bit hollow for me. They were acted fine, but the pacing and usual marvel quips hindered what could have been good soft moments in what was otherwise an action packed and wryly amusing movie. Up until the very end of the movie the amusement and marvel of a movie that combines actors from so many different sections of the MCU carries you through without any concern with what is actually happening—and the fact that it’s happening so quickly. But in its very final moments Infinity War reveals its largest fault, and completely fails the viewer.
Thanos snaps his fingers, half of the universe disappears, and as it does we lose some of our heroes. This seems, at first, a bold move on the part of Marvel. They’ve eliminated half of their cast. They’ve taken some characters we’ve grown to care for. The Guardians are all gone except for Rocket. Scarlet Witch fades into the wind. Falcon follows her.
But, it is here that Marvel lets us know that they plan to take no risk at all with this movie. That they took the coward’s way out. There are three deaths that make this abundantly clear.
Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, is the first to turn to dust. It’s more shocking than emotional as we are still confused as to what’s happening. The problem is this: we know Bucky will soon be taking the mantle of Captain America. We’ve spent three entire movies building Bucky up, hunting him down, and integrating him into the Avengers’ group. We’ve explored small bits of his past, but we don’t know the full details. We know nothing about his real personality and the person he will become. He is, at the time of Infinity War, still a somewhat broken man. Steve Rogers is the exact opposite of this. We’ve learned his past, his values, his loyalties, his love story, and all the facets of his personality. There is nothing else to explore, no reason to continue to have a story that centers around him. The story of Bucky taking over the role of Captain America offers infinitely more possibilities for interesting and engaging films. His connection to Natasha offers a whole other arena to explore, opening up the opportunity for a Black Widow/Winter Soldier story set in the past or present. It’s easy to tell that Bucky will be around in the future, even if we didn’t know that Sebastian Stan is signed on for three more films and Chris Evans’ last contracted movie is Infinity War 2.
Next up, T’Challa, the Black Panther. We have essentially just met T’Challa. Black Panther released a mere two months before Infinity War. We have just seen him really rise to his position of king of Wakanda, claim his throne, and enter the world at large. The connection between Wakanda and the rest of the world is just beginning. There is a lot of room to see how T’Challa continues to move forward in a political situation he is not used to as well as have more adventures with the rest of his Avengers buddies. Aside from this, let’s talk inside baseball. We know that Black Panther smashed box office records and made a killing, that the positive feedback over Black Panther and its representation of black communities was huge, and that each character within the MCU that had a standalone film has gotten at least one sequel. Marvel won’t leave money on the table and allow a second Black Panther film go unmade, and it’s likely that T’Challa will be in the center of the MCU as we move on to the next phase.
Precious Peter Parker, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, is the last to go. Whereas everyone else faded to death within seconds, Peter gets a dramatic sendoff. He falls into Tony’s chest and gives a heartbreaking performance. He’s just a child, and he’s so afraid of dying. Holland sells it well, and the shock and devastation on Tony’s face as he consoles him is equally heartbreaking. It really serves to show what we’ve lost and send that emotion home. It should be a moment that makes you mourn, except it’s the exact moment that we realize not a single bit of anything that has just happened matters. Peter Parker is fresh faced, widely adored, and a brand-new character to the MCU. He’s just a child. Peter has room to grow, both in exploring his character and future, and literally in age within the universe. We know that we’ve just been introduced to Peter, and that he’ll be around in the future. The end of Spiderman: Homecoming clearly points towards some sort of villain aiming for Peter. He has just now finally gained a spot on the Avengers team as Tony unceremoniously dubs him “an official Avenger now.” Not to mention that there is a second standalone Spiderman film slated for 2019. There is simply no way that he does not return.
What Marvel has done by killing off Bucky Barnes, T’Challa, and most importantly Peter Parker is assured us that all of the characters who have died during Infinity War will have the chance of being brought back to life. They can’t lose these three. At the very least they can’t lose Peter. Since they’ve created a situation where at least one character must return, they’ve opened the door for everyone else as well. They have rendered every death in the movie irrelevant. There is no emotional impact in the end because now, nothing matters. They didn’t take a calculated risk. They didn’t take any risk at all. In the end they decided to take the most cowardly way out possible.
Which stone they use to bring them back, be it the Time Stone which we’ve already seen used to bring Vision back to life, or the Reality or Soul Stones, doesn’t matter. All we know is that some way these characters will be revived, and that just as they’ve done in their comic universe, Marvel has killed death itself.