It is an understatement to say that Avengers: Infinity War is a monumental and historic achievement. With the movie breaking box office records left and right, it is safe to say that Marvel Studios has another hit on their hands and fans are loving it. The film is not without its share of detractors, though. Most critiques that reviewers and fans alike have shared have some merit, but some hinge on the idea that AIW can be measured or scrutinized under the same gaze you would a traditional film which is not at all the case. This movie cannot be analyzed as a standalone film, but needs to be analyzed as a special event episode in a multi-part serial. It requires previous series knowledge and understanding to truly grasp its magic and see it for the masterpiece I think it is. It is a film with no real comparison due to the amount of material that precedes it and what will follow it. It is under this state-of-mind that I extend you the invitation into the rabbit hole which are my inner ramblings as I share my analysis of certain important plot points of AIW and the Marvel Cinematic Universe that fuel my “fanfantisization” (Copyright The Revengers Podcast) in regards to what we can expect in Avengers 4.
SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN INFINTIY WAR!!!!
LAST CHANCE TO TURN AROUND!!!!!
OK, let’s begin….
Thanos and Tony Stark
Josh Brolin’s performance as the Mad Titan was superb, to say the least. The Russo Brothers’ direction and Brolin’s interpretation make his motivations clear, believable and somewhat reasonable. What I love about it the most is that fact that he is known as the hero of the movie. Worshiped by his followers, to the point of them being willing to sacrifice their lives for him, Thanos sees himself as the hero that the universe needs and as the only one that possesses the power and the will to bring the balance that his universe so desperately needs. It is to this end that Thanos seeks out the infinity stones, but it wasn’t like he wasn’t on this mission long before.
Even though we know from Guardians of The Galaxy that Thanos has been looking for the infinity stones for awhile, even without the stones, AIW reveals to us that he has been going around the universe fulfilling his self-imposed mission one planet by planet. This is seen in Gamorra’s flashback of the moment that Thanos kills half of her people and adopts her and its hinted in GOTG and AIW by Drax’s reminder of what Thanos’ did to his people. This leads me to ask myself the following question: could the Attack on New York in The Avengers have been the first wave of Thanos’ incursion of “salvation” on Earth? Why do I make this point, you might ask? Because the gauntlet for Thanos is simply a means to an end.
But what fuels his mission, why does he see himself as the universe’s necessary destiny? The answer lies in the extinction of his home planet, Titan. The fact that he saw the inevitable destruction of his people in the past and didn’t do what he believed necessary, makes him hold himself responsible for that tragedy. This results in his conviction and his madness. This is why he sees himself- and Brolin’s portrays him- as this tragic hero figure. He must do what’s necessary, even if it seems like genocide. For the greater good, he sacrifices all that he loves and cares for because he is the only one that can get this done.
This is why he reminds me of Tony Stark.
If the MCU has shown us something in the last 10 years is that Tony is a futurist. He is always thinking ahead. Tony is always trying to solve problems before they present themselves, because not being ready equates to utter demise. The PTSD caused by the attack of New York have kept Tony on edge hence the difficulties in his relationship with Pepper, his obsession with building a suit for every and any eventuality and ultimately to the creation of Ultron. Tony is one-step away from becoming Thanos and only his humanity and his relationships keep him at bay. This is why the banter between Thanos and Tony is so interesting.
“You are not the only one burdened with knowledge.”
“I hope they remember you.”
When you hear this conversation you can even sense that Thanos admires Tony to some extent. I argue that Tony is a prototype of Thanos, pre-Titan extinction, and the MCU post-finger snap will really show us a Tony at the edge of Thanos-level madness. Did Pepper turn to ash? We know that his surrogate son, Peter Parker and all his other allies ceased to exist and that he sees himself all alone, save for Nebula being left behind with him.
Captain America and the Avengers
One of the points that Tony Stark tried to make to Banner as he hesitates to call Steve Rogers, is that after the events of Civil War, The Avengers are no more. This statement can’t be farther from the truth and AIW makes it a point to state that. The reveal is made as Steve Rogers appears out of the shadows to the aid of Scarlet Witch and Vision. As soon as he is revealed, the Avengers theme music comes on and continues until the end of the bout. The music not only accentuates Capt. Rogers arrival but also Black Widow and Falcon’s arrival as well. This scene, the musical theme and the team is an Easter Egg to the Captain America-formed team, Secret Avengers. Another interesting nod this motif is the fact that anytime The Avengers theme plays Steve Rogers is either in the scene or in the same scenario. The Avengers didn’t die with the falling out of Tony and Steve, they live on to fight for Earth whenever they are needed; which is the team’s mission as Steve Rogers sees it as expressed in Civil War and reiterated in his conversation with Secretary Ross in AIW.
All this to highlight the fact that Steve Rogers is the quintessential hero figure in the MCU and the heart of The Avengers. He is the First Avenger, the inspiration and the moral compass that even though many of team questioned it during CW, others like Rhodey, now understand why his vision for the team is the one the world needs. That is why the Avengers survived CW and those on Earth were able to rally together to make a stand in Wakanda under the command of Capt. Rogers. Throughout the entire film, he is the unquestionable leader of the team and as an audience we all stand behind him.
Why Thanos Won and The Heroes Failed
We all know that the main protagonist and “hero” of AIW is Brolin’s Thanos. This is a villain or, dare I say, anti-hero driven movie. But what was the big difference that gave Thanos the edge over our heroes? His willingness to sacrifice and pay the price that was necessary to achieve his goal. Some might say that like any other villain, he doesn’t care who needs to die for him to achieve his goals because all of his henchmen/women as pawns; but the movie does a very good job of showing us otherwise. He speaks of the Black Order as his children and they respect as a leader. He truly mourns having to sacrifice his adoptive daughter Gamorra and states how this day has taken an emotional toll on him upon hearing about Ebony Maw’s death. Right after the climatic finger snap as he is momentarily transported to what we believe is the MCU’s version of the Soul World (which is the world within the soul stone), the manifested young Gamorra has the following conversation with him:
Young Gamorra – “Did you do it?”
Thanos – “Yes.”
Young Gamorra- “What did it cost?”
Thanos – “Everything.”
The tragic beauty of it all is the fact that in the midst of that conversation you can see how this ordeal has broken him. The Avengers may have failed to stop Thanos, but his mission has definitely crippled him as a “man.”
The Avengers on the other hand have not paid said price for the sake of the mission, but are found constantly avoiding the possibility of sacrificing some lives for the sake of the mission. This all stems from Capt. Rogers statement in Avengers HQ: “We don’t trade lives.” In this scene Vision argues that his life should not be saved at cost of billions of other lives, which to pragmatist makes sense; but to someone that values life and has suffered an unmeasurable amount of loss as Steve means a lot. Sadly, it is this attempt of saving everyone and not understanding that there are certain decisions that need to be made in impossible situations like these that prove to be the Avengers undoing. Star-Lord hesitates to kill Gamorra which ultimately leads Thanos to the soul stone. The team’s decision to try to save Vision’s life is what gives Thanos’ enough “time” to rip the mind stone of him. If there is one Avenger that understood the importance of sacrifice just like Thanos did, it’s Doctor Strange. After reviewing the 14,000,605 possible outcomes of the Avengers battle with Thanos, he surrenders the time stone and with it 50% of the universes population because he saw beyond the current battle which Tony needed to be a part of. Some might argue that Scarlet Witch pays the price; but this one is easily overridden by Thanos because Scarlet Witch decide too little to late. Though horrible, all this works in favor of Thanos’ storyline to such a satisfying degree which is why I believe that the final scene with Thanos on that planet, sitting down looking at the sunset (which is taken directly from the end of Infinity Gauntlet book) is horrifyingly perfect.
FANFANTISIZATION AND THEORIES FOR AVENGERS 4
THE FINGERSNAP CASUALTIES
If anyone has read comics or has watched a long-running TV show, you know that important characters rarely stay dead forever and if you have had the chance of reading the comic book event, Infinity Gauntlet, you would know that as easy as how 50% of the universe’s population disappeared with a snap, they also all came back with snap. A lot people felt betrayed with the people that they decided to kill off in this movie; but I applaud the Russos because even knowing that everyone and their grandma knows that Spider-Man and Black Panther are coming back for sequels, they stuck to their guns and told the story they wanted to tell. In the same vein, I will also argue that the Fingersnap Casualties (sounds like a punk band name, right?) serve more for setting up the stage for the next Avengers film than shock value, though it gives me the feels all the time nonetheless. I honestly believe that everyone that turned to ash will return. I have no doubt. But the question is not who, but when during Avengers 4 will they return. I believe that it will happen towards the end of the second act. There are three reasons for this. These deaths occurred for the two of these reasons: To reduce the amount of main Avengers characters on screen and to drive the emotional narrative of the heroes that we will be following. AIW was villain-driven and as Avengers 4 has to be hero-driven. Less heroes on screen means more time with heroes we want to focus on and by the end of the second act, we would have spent a great deal of time with the surviving characters which were the original Avengers and others. The third reason is to prepare the stage for those deaths that will be permanent. The Russos stated that Avengers 4 will be bigger and better than AIW; which why permanent deaths will be necessary in the next film.
CAPTAIN MARVEL AND THE WAR SHE BRINGS
We are all excited for Captain Marvel’s debut in the MCU next March, but I believe she will not be the character that we will need to watch out for the most. The characters that we will need to keep an eye out for is the Kree and Skrulls. From the little pieces of information that have been shared about Captain Marvel movie, one of the things that has been confirmed is that the Kree/Skrull War will play a big role in the film and that the Skrulls serve as primary antagonists. In my mind, the debacle of Kree/Skrull War will spill into Avengers 4. This is how I would make it work. After both parties bear witness to what Thanos has done with the gauntlet, both armies attempt to acquire the gauntlet for them selves with the Avengers also trying to acquire it to undo what Thanos has done. It is this debacle that might even have Thanos join the Avengers in the final battle for the sake for the universe. In a war of this magnitude, deaths will occur and there will be no need to prepare the war; because Captain Marvel’s will do that for us.
TONY’S CHOICE, THE END OF THE STONES AND THE AVENGERS REBIRTH
To be honest, I don’t believe at all that Tony is going to die; but he will play a role in the death of a major character. Who you might ask? Steve Rogers. One of the rules in regards to the soul stone that the Russos have set in this universe is that a price need to be payed for the wielder of said stone to be able to wield its power. This leads me to believe that if this price is not paid, the infinity gauntlet will no work and thus all those characters that died will not be able to comeback. Full disclosure: the theory that I am about to share is not entirely my own, but I honestly don’t remember where I probably could have heard it originally. Don’t worry, I will add my own sazon to it! Ok, back to FanFantasization. Out of all Marvel heroes and due to his similarities to Thanos, I postulate that it will non other than Tony Stark with a new armor made of Uru-Nidavellir metal that will wield the gauntlet. But even as amazing as this sounds, we still have the soul stone debacle. Does he sacrifice Pepper? No. He sacrifices Steve Rogers. You might argue that they don’t love each other like some exaggerated, yet steamy fan-fiction; but they have the most highest respect for each other nonetheless. You have the Hero that must succeed for the sake of the universe and the Hero that has been throwing himself on top a grenade to save others even before he had nice chest. It will bring about an evolution in their relationship as well as an epic closure to Capt. Rogers arc. More on the importance of Cap’s death later.
With the final fingersnap and the war for the gauntlet as the MacGuffins for Avengers 4, it is only fitting that the stones come to an end as the credits roll. After ten years of slowly building to this big cataclysm that has used the stones as the MacGuffins, it is important for the MCU’s sake that the stones cease to be, never to be mined for stories for a long time. If this does not occur it will very hard to safely and confidently venture into an entirely new terrain. Thanks to the end of AIW, we know that it is possible to destroy the stones and in Hickman’s Infinity arc, though I do not know why, they all shatter at some point. With how the gauntlet ended up at the AIW, I would say that the stones are one fingersnap away from shattering. They weren’t necessarily created to be handled by the gauntlet in that matter and maybe that’s the reason they shatter. Food for thought.
Earlier, I discussed that AIW took the time to reminds us why Steve Rogers is the heart of the Avengers and his death at the end of Avengers 4 would only cement for future generations. As the First Avenger gives his life to save the universe, his sacrifice will inspire the current team and all heroes to come. That may stand for what they believe in and that they be heroes even though the world is telling them no. This death will also pave the way to another Marvel hero that has been part of the Avengers as a powerful leader figure, Captain Marvel. This is the only way that you efficiently cycle Steve Rogers in a meaningful and brings Tony’s evolution into a full-fledge hero full circle. We might lose other Avengers, but Captain America’s is the only one that has the potential to produce the most impact on the Avengers present and in the future.
This is my FanFantasization about the future of the MCU. What is yours?