By Travis, son of Tom, son of Merlin (yeah - my grandpa's name is Merlin...be jealous)
- 22% Witty banter
- 17% Meaningful dialogue
- 52.75% BOOM! BANG! WHOOSH! Ooh, Ahh... ZAP! POW!
- 8% [wipes eyes] What? No, I’m not crying….
- 0.25% Stan Lee cameo
In short, Infinity War is a celebration of two major pillars on which the MCU was built: strong, entertaining characters, and watching those characters engage in flashy bouts of spectacle. And for the most part, the Russo brothers handled the execution of each with the practiced expertise they exhibited in both Winter Soldier and Civil War. For more specific thoughts on the quality of these components, check out our list of praises and criticisms for Infinity War. And as always, if you like what you read here, please subscribe to our email list and like our page on social media.
That said, let's talk about the purple guy who travels to different worlds collecting gems so he can save the universe. And no, it’s not Spyro the Dragon.
Unlike the Russos’ aforementioned Marvel ventures, everyone’s favorite individualist superhero Captain America isn’t the protagonist grounding the goings-on of Infinity War. Sadly, for Cap fans like myself, Steve plays a relatively minor role in the film, as if the Russos forgot about their Cap toy while playing with other people’s action figures. Rather, recognizing the character work already established for the various teams and franchises, the film focuses largely on its antagonist: Thanos, who - from his inaugural appearance in the Avengers post credits scene made comic book fans wet themselves in giddy anticipation while everyone else muttered to their not-weeping friends, "Um...who's that?"
While he's not as sublimely frightening as the Dark Knight's Joker, nor does he evoke anywhere near the same degree of pathos Black Panther’s Killmonger achieved with a combination of grounded tragedy and social relevance, Thanos works as an ideal villain for this massive cinematic event for one major reason. and, no, it's not the plot-device answer that he's the only threat big enough to unite our heroes. The answer, rather, is arguably much more important: thematic cohesion. His overall goal and the ends by which he peruses that goal provide a dynamic sense of narrative foil by which the film - by contrast and comparison - explores major themes explored throughout the 18 preceding installments.
The primary tactic by which the Russos accomplish this foil is by grounding the film's events with the examination of a central question: do we sacrifice lives for the betterment of the group? Thanos’ motivation derives from his categorical response to that dilemma, and much of the thought-provoking drama this film has to offer derives from our heroes subsequently responding to Thanos. But this is only part of the equation. In attempting to answer this question of moral action, Thanos provides a degree of payoff in the MCU’s ongoing discussion of an arguably larger theme: fatherhood.