Steven graduated Cum Laude from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communications, focusing on film studies, journalism and theatre arts. Dubbed a "prolific" writer by Hollywood icon Kenneth Johnson (The Incredible Hulk, V, The Bionic Woman, Alien Nation), Steven has been honored by the Arkansas College Media Association for his story writing prowess. He has also received recognition for his dramatic writing from the Eerie, Shriekfest and Screamfest horror film festivals. Publications include: Carroll County News, Saline Courier, Forum, Echo and Moroch.
So, let’s begin with the fact this will be a non-spoiler review for the first 10 paragraphs. Some people want to know what happens before they see "Avengers: Infinity War" and some want to be surprised. FYI, you’re going to be surprised either way.
Now, hypothetically, here’s a question: If you knew your favorite character(s) were going to die, would you still plunk down $10 - $20 to see Infinity War? What if Marvel decided to kill off Iron Man, Dr. Strange and/or Spider-Man like Disney offed Han Solo and Luke Skywalker? Would you want to riot? Boycott future films? These are questions fans shouldn’t have to ask, but Marvel has done unthinkable things in Infinity War. Buckle up when you watch this one, folks, and have the Pepto-Bismol close by.
Thanos (Josh Brolin) makes Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) look like a girl scout in pretty, pink pigtails. Remember the season six finale of The Walking Dead: “Last Day on Earth (2016)?” That was mere child’s play compared to what awaits unsuspecting Marvel, movie and comic book fans this coming weekend.
More so, don’t let anyone on social media – legitimate critics or trolling wannabes with their quote-un-quote spoilers – fool you when they say Avengers: Infinity War is a self-contained, standalone movie with a clearly defined ending. They are straight-up lying to you! The end of Avengers: Infinity War is anything but a conclusion. It is the mother of all cliffhangers. And Infinity War’s lack of denouement is going to piss off a lot of loyal MCU fans.
With all that said, Infinity War is still an above average entry in the MCU primarily because of the sheer breadth of likeable characters jammed into the movie's 150-minute runtime. Most of the film is akin to an enjoyable jaunt through the most wicked amusement park of all time. As you go from scene to scene, you are inundated with your favorite characters doing MARVELous things! But the third act of Infinity War takes that carnival, puts it on its ear and transforms the thrill ride into a deleterious haunted house/horror film – a literal death trap.
As we dredge through the following load of feces the Russo brothers would have audiences believe, remember that the Time Gem (Stone) is prominently featured in the Infinity War, as it also played a huge part in Dr. Strange (2016). Marvel fans already know, the Time Gem can drastically alter and fix seemingly irrevocable atrocities as many of the other Infinity Stones can also accomplish. And things are going to need fixing.
One of the best parts of the movie is the villain: Thanos. Indeed, this film could easily be titled Thanos, because it is the Mad Titan’s story. His character arc and development are both broadly epic and deeply rich. Thanos is brought to life exquisitely by actor Josh Brolin whose performance rivals that of Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight (2008). Thanos is not only the most complex villain in the MCU, by far, but he ranks right up there with the best superhero villains of all time. Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor would be so proud.
Thanos honestly thinks he is the good guy. He believes that his madness will bring peace to all life, and in that delusion lies the beauty of his tragically evil character. Thanos is capable of deep love, seemingly insurmountable power and his intelligence is off the charts. Thanos is the heartbeat of Infinity War. Since all the MCU’s characters have already been established through the last 10 years of films, filmmakers were able to devote most of the movie to developing the baddie. Clearly, Thanos has the most screen time of any character. And every moment throughout this madness of a movie is poignantly perverse.
Another standout aspect in the picture is the special effects. No one should be complaining about Infinity War like so many did about Justice League’s FX. A lot was made about the shoddy work the effect’s team did on JL’s CGI villain Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds). No worries here though, because Thanos looks amazing and so do the members of his notorious Black Order. There aren’t any jarring FX faux pas that will yank audience members out of the spectacle. And that’s a good thing because there is so much going on in Infinity War.
Finally, before jumping into spoilers, the character combinations – the team-ups if you will – are so dynamic. Obviously, some work better than others. The Guardians of the Galaxy being in this movie ups the comedic levels tenfold. And one of the most entertaining teams is Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Teen Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper). So, on that note, let’s talk specifics.
MAJOR SPOILERS will follow.
Mad Titan Tames the Trickster: The Death of Loki – Immediately following the events of Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Thanos wastes no time going after the Tesseract in order to acquire the Space Stone. Already armed with the Power Stone, and flanked by The Black Order, Thanos defeats Thor and Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). Loki (Tom Hiddleston) turns over the Tesseract, and then tries to slit the monster’s throat, but Thor watches helplessly as the Mad Titan murders his brother Darth Vader style. Loki tells Thanos he will never be a God, and then Thanos chokes him out. Now, as Marvel fans are well aware, Loki has faked his death in the past. No matter how convincing this might have been executed, it’s hard to know if the Trickster is really vanquished.
Hulk Doesn’t Save the Day – Marvel and the Russo brothers should be ashamed at how easily they allowed Thanos to defeat the Incredible Hulk. It's truly embarrassing and an absolute disservice to the iconic character. If Stan Lee wasn't driving a bus for his brief cameo, the comic book innovator would be rolling over in his grave. Heimdall (Idris Elba) manages to transport Hulk to Earth, before the beloved Asgardian too perishes, during the encounter with Thanos and The Black Order. Banner literally crashes in on Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wong (Benedict Wong). Dr. Strange seeks out Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) as Banner warns Earth’s heroes that Thanos is coming to find the remaining Infinity Stones to complete his deadly gauntlet. However, when The Black Order shows up on Earth and faces off against Dr. Strange, Wong and Iron Man, Dr. Banner is unable to transform into the Incredible Hulk. Hulk is seemingly afraid to reemerge after his demoralizing encounter with Thanos and the Black Order. Without his powers, Banner eventually takes up the Hulkbuster armor to help the Avengers in the Battle of Wakanda.
Iron Man Unveils the Bleeding Edge Armor – In the aforementioned scene, Tony tells Bruce it’s going to be okay as The Black Order converges. Tony steps out in front and touches his chest revealing his famous Bleeding Edge Armor from the comic books. This particular armor is summoned through Nano-technology which creates a suit on top of Tony’s skin. It works very much like T’Challa’s (Chadwick Boseman) armor necklace in Black Panther. The Bleeding Edge armor is one of the most powerful suits Tony has.
Thor Gets His Eye Back! So much for real consequences, Russo brothers. This is too ludicrous to even waste time on, but you’ll see this in the film. Unbelievable.
Ant-Man and Hawkeye Didn’t RSVP to the Party – Despite both actors Jeremy Renner and Paul Rudd originally being listed on IMDb’s credits for the film, neither Hawkeye nor the Ant-Man appear in Infinity War. Even Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) makes an appearance! Really? Why leave out two Avengers? Heck, maybe Ant-Man is in there and fans can’t see him. Maybe he’s hiding in the Infinity Gauntlet, and that’s how Marvel is going to fix all those deaths. Speaking of deaths…
Thanos Murders His Adoptive Daughter, Gamora – While acquiring the Soul Stone, Thanos kills Gamora! Wait, what? Yeah, something fishy is going on here when the Mad Titan must sacrifice someone he loves to gain the Soul Stone. This is where the Russo brothers and Marvel tipped their hand and showed that they all have a tell. Gamora dies in Infinity War, but it won’t last. Zoe Saldana slipped in an interview last year and said that she will return to the set of “Infinity Gauntlet” to complete filming the next Marvel movie. So, we already know that Gamora is in Avengers 4 (2019). This is the first inkling that the Russo brothers’ and Marvel’s “real consequences” might be a steaming pile of BS.
The Red Skull -While Thanos acquires the Soul Stone, the Red Skull is revealed as its guardian. Paraphrasing, he says to Gamora: “Thanos isn’t crying because he has lost, he’s crying because he has lost you!” Thanos apologizes to Gamora before murdering her. Red Skull has an awesome cloak that is sure to remind many Marvel fans of Dr. Doom/the Ghost of Christmas Future.
Enter the Stormbreaker – Rocket, who Thor lovingly refers to as Rabbit, along with Teen Groot (his friend the Tree) visit the weapons maker played by Peter Dinklage. Thor no longer has his hammer Mjölnir after encountering Hela in Ragnarok, so he forges the Stormbreaker. Stormbreaker first appeared in the comic books in 1984, and it is a cross between hammer and axe with all the same powers, if not more than, Mjolnir.
Thor Arrives to Save the Day; Vision Dies Not Once But Twice – Along with Groot and Rocket, Thor arrives in Wakanda and shows off the awesome power of the Stormbreaker. After Captain America (Chris Evans) is brutally beaten by Thanos with one savage haymaker, Thor takes his new weapon and confronts the Mad Titan. Thanos acquires the final Infinity Stone which was once part of Vision (Paul Bettany). Thor has the upper hand momentarily as he impales Thanos. The God of Thunder tells Thanos he’d die for what he did, but the Mad Titan vanishes with the Infinity Gauntlet now at full power. Thanos' use of the Infinity Gauntlet leads him face to face with a very young Gamora in a rather heartbreaking, surreal scene. Thor has failed; Thanos has won thanks to the peculiar powers of the Infinity Gauntlet.
Death of the Winter Soldier/White Wolf – After Thanos vanishes, Captain America and Thor watch helplessly as Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) transforms into ashes. Thanos’ purge of half the universe has begun.
Farewell, Dr. Strange; Peter Quill – Star-Lord turns to dust and disintegrates on Titan right in front of Tony Stark's eyes; Dr. Strange says, “There was no other way.” And then Stephen Strange also turns to dust and blows away. Two of Marvel's most popular mainstays succumb to Thanos' insane plan of purity.
The Countless Dead – Few of the Avengers survive the wrath of Thanos and his plan to perfectly balance humanity. Once Thanos vanishes with the fully-powered Infinity Gauntlet, Marvel’s mightiest heroes start turning into dust. Spider-Man (Tom Holland) evaporates in Tony Stark’s arms as Nebula (Karen Gillan) watches in horror and realizes Thanos got all the Infinity Stones. Other notable on-screen deaths include the Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, Drax, Groot, Mantis, Nick Fury and Maria Hill. It's so sad to see Rocket crying out for Groot as his long-time friend turns to ashes and dies.
The Fate of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk? Ha! Sit through the film and worry like this movie buff had to.
Thanos Wins! As the film comes to an end, audiences will see Thanos alive and well smiling on his good work which is more than the filmmakers can boast. And that’s when the credits come up! It's crazy because Spider-Man himself nearly got the Infinity Gauntlet off Thanos. So close, Spidey! Peter Quill should have asked questions after and not before.
Captain Marvel – There is one end-credits scene in which both Nick Fury and Maria Hill die. They fade away ashes to ashes as do so many other Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy members. But before Fury vanishes he tries to contact someone on his phone. The camera close-up reveals the insignia of Captain Marvel on the screen.
The story, the plot and all the seemingly tragic deaths are all for naught. In interviews, the filmmakers aka the Russo brothers (Anthony and Joe) and producer Kevin Feige promised substantial, REAL consequences within the MCU. But Infinity War is, at the end of the day, a cheap trick – smoke and mirrors. Because NOTHING that happens in this film will likely stick. There’s no reason to panic, because all should be put right in Avengers 4 which is slated to open in May 2019. The only key characters who died without turning to dust, courtesy of the Infinity Gauntlet, were Loki, Gamora and Vision. If you worry about anyone, be concerned for those three.
In conclusion, Avengers: Infinity War is a fantastic thrill ride for approximately two hours. The final act is a complete travesty which quells the other 120 minutes of fun preceding all the misery and murder. There’s no weight in all the deaths Thanos has caused because it will all be undone in the sequel next summer! True fans already know that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, a Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel and Black Panther 2 are all in the works. Come on, Marvel. Enough of the cheap tricks. Take a gamble and do something that will really affect the MCU and resonate (good or bad) with die-hard fans. It’s hard to care about a movie ending when the filmmakers themselves don’t take the time to do it right. See the film, but know the filmmakers' agenda.