I know this is an unpopular opinion but I was honestly pretty bored and disappointed with Avengers: Infinity War. Yes, it was an impressive merging of the many styles and tones of the films in the Marvel Universe, but what makes those movies fun and special to me are the beats that happen when the characters slow down, laugh, or just exist. These moments were mostly lost in the focus on action and the need to hit at least one beat for each and every character. There are definitely a few good moments, but coming on the heels of the amazing, character-driven, recent Marvel hits (Thor: Ragnorak, Black Panther), Infinity War felt like a shell for action rather than the clever, funny, engaging films of late.
The climax — or simultaneous climaxes — start about an hour into Infinity War and the non-stop escalation continues through hour 2.5. When the stakes are as high as they can get (world destruction, per usual — or in this case, half-world destruction) I have a hard time engaging in the action because the consequences of losing seem so unlikely. Most of us know they have another Avengers movie in the pike already as well as a scheduled sequels to Black Panther and Spider-Man. I’m not underestimating Marvel’s ability to surprise and re-invent, but I have a hard time suspending my knowledge of upcoming sequels long enough to fully invest the panic and thrill needed to sustain 1.5 hours of non-stop, escalating action.
It doesn’t help that the battle scenes are nondescript and could have come from any movie. Honestly, the battle at Wakanda felt like a Lord of the Rings movie (no disrespect to LOTR which is a master of its craft) with tons of anonymous CGI heroes rushing to meet CGI villains. I guess this goes back to my desire for more personality. I understand they are movies of very different scales, but if I compare the climactic fight scene of Black Panther with that of Infinity War, IW falls so much shorter. T’Challa and Killmonger fought ideologically as well as physically in their final stand-off in Black Panther and their efforts reflected a more universal and deeply complex ideological struggle. The final stand-offs in Infinity War feel regressive and uninspired in comparison.
The other contribution to my apathy is the lack of screen time for female characters (come on Marvel). There are very few moments for the female characters, and they almost exist as vehicles for male characters’ stories. I’m sorry, but Scarlet Witch potentially has the power to save everyone, because apparently her powers are way more badass than I’ve ever realized — do you think she could get more than a few minutes of screen time? Her importance is overshadowed by her relationship with Vision in a very tired, cliche sort of way. Poor Black Widow gets literally one beat in which she looks at her former lover, Bruce Banner, when he re-joins the team, and then she serves as some fighting-lady filler for the remainder of the film. Even the badass ladies of Black Panther are short-changed; the power they exuded in their own film barely registering in Infinity War. The most interesting female relationship is between stepsisters Gamora and Nebula who are both determined to destroy their stepfather, Thanos (aka Head Evil). but their bond is exploited by Thanos and then discarded in a singular, short scene, and with it any chance of Infinity War passing the Bechdel test…
This installment in the Avengers franchise is more than adequate — even fun and exciting at times; but Marvel has spent the past few years building itself up beyond mere entertainment. They have been establishing their films as more than just throw-away action movies and with Black Panther, Marvel confirmed that they can transform blockbusters into cultural sounding boards that transcend quippy retorts and battle scenes. My hopes of seeing more unique and interesting approaches to the superhero film were sadly dashed as I watched Infinity War and I haven’t recovered from that disappointment, long after the credits rolled. I obviously haven’t learned my lesson though, as I’m already shifting my sights to the (hopefully fulfillingly badass) Captain Marvel.