avengers infinity war spoiler review

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Avengers: Infinity War.)

Everything dies, baby that’s a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back.

– Bruce Springsteen, “Atlantic City”

Does Avengers: Infinity War live up to the hype? That depends. If you wanted nothing more than to see the majority of the Marvel Cinematic Universe characters up on the screen together, then yes, Infinity War delivers. If you were hoping for something deeper, you might find yourself wanting more. Ultimately, Infinity War is a magic trick of a movie, full of deception and misdirection. It entertains, sure – but when the smoke clears, we can’t help but see the obvious way the trick was designed.

 

infinity war cast

You Have To Bring It Back

Avengers: Infinity War is here. At last, we know the answer to the question: “Which of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will die?” That answer: a lot of them. And at the same time, maybe none of them at all? As I sat in the theater, watching the end credits roll and feeling slightly stunned at the surprisingly haunting, biblical reckoning the Russo Brothers had unleashed in the final few minutes of their bloated-yet-breezy blockbuster, I heard the chorus of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” running through my head. “Everything dies, baby that’s a fact…but maybe everything that dies someday comes back.

It’s surprisingly difficult to reckon with the downer conclusion of Infinity War. Difficult because, in many ways, the Russos have gone where no previous Marvel movie has gone before. But also difficult because it’s all a magic act, and it’s a magic act that we can see right through. It can be no coincidence that “smoke and mirrors” is the go-to phrase to describe the embellishment of the truth; here, we watch several major character literally evaporate into nothingness; we watch them go up in smoke. In a sense, it’s as if the Russos and the MCU have thrown down a cluster of smoke bombs in front of our eyes while booming loud music to distract us. And while our attention was diverted, they quickly whisked characters off stage, leaving us confounded when the smoke settles.

Here I’m reminded of yet another quote about something thought gone eventually returning: a line from Christopher Nolan’s magician movie The Prestige. “Making something disappear isn’t enough,” says a character in that film, describing a magic show. “You have to bring it back.”

Ultimately, this is Infinity War’s curse. Yes, the film’s ending – in which a large number of our favorite heroes slowly blow out of existence thanks to the genocidal Thanos – is shocking. Yes, it leaves us feeling sad and even a little hollow. Yes, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker painfully whimpering, “I don’t want to go…” as Tony Stark holds onto his increasingly diminishing form is devastating.

But so what? These people will all be back. All of them. (Well, maybe not Loki). Kevin Feige has gone on record saying that the deaths in Infinity War are final – whomever dies will stay dead. But that’s simply not possible. Hell, they’re about to start shooting the Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel. Are they going to do that without Spider-Man? Or will every single Spider-Man sequel Marvel Studios makes be a prequel? And then there’s the Guardians of the Galaxy. We already know that Guardians Vol. 3 has a greenlight, yet all of the Guardians except Rocket meet their end here. Is the third film going to only feature Rocket? Probably not. One could argue that the only Guardian who really dies is Gamora – pushed off a cliff by her father Thanos in a surprisingly emotional scene – while the rest of the characters simply vanish. But I’d be very, very surprised if Gamora stays dead permanently.

The biggest mistake Infinity War makes is tipping its hand right before the big, shocking conclusion. If a good magician never reveals his secrets, then the Russo Brothers aren’t very good magicians. Right before Thanos snaps his fingers and wipes out nearly half the universe’s population, there’s a scene where the Mad Titan makes use of the Time Stone to literally turn back time and undo something drastic that just happened. Here, before our very eyes, the Russos are saying, “Look, see, this is how we’re going to undo everything in the future. Don’t worry too much.”

Before this moment, there’s another wink and nod to let us know that everything is going according to plan. After tussling with Thanos several times, Dr. Stephen Strange decides to do a little bit of meditating and time surfing, in which he looks at millions upon millions of possible outcomes for the Avengers’ battle against Thanos. When Tony Stark asks Strange how many of the alternate timelines resulted in the Avengers winning, Strange says: “One.” There’s only one possible timeline in which things work out for our heroes.

And so what does Strange do next, with this knowledge in mind? He hands over one of the Infinity Stones to Thanos. “Why did you do it?” Tony asks after the fact, shocked. I dunno, Tony – maybe it’s because Strange knows exactly which outcome will result in victory, and he’s making sure that outcome happens? Just a guess.

And then there’s the film’s post-credit scene, which foreshadows the arrival of Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, who will no doubt play a part in Avengers 4 and help restore order to the MCU.

Everything dies, baby that’s a fact. But maybe everything that dies someday comes back.

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About the Author

Chris Evangelista is a staff writer for /Film. He's contributed to CutPrintFilm, RogerEbert.com, Nerdist, Mashable, and more. Follow him on Twitter @cevangelista413 or email him at chris@chrisevangelista.net