Avengers: Infinity War is not a movie. It’s an event. It is a propulsive brand display of a studio that has cultivated its audience for a decade.
The very mention of the film invites ‘no spoilers’ reactions from everyone around, a demonstration of how the studio has turned us into minions, aggressive in our conviction that our capitalist Big Brother can do no wrong. We have turned into those egg-headed bots.
Okay, don’t roll your eyes. I know you’re not here to study the streak of capitalism in your favourite superhero pantheon.
Let’s get back to your geeky joys. If you’re wondering whether the get-together of superheroes is worth the wait, the answer is a gregarious yes and a trifling no.
Yes, because this is the most exhaustive assemble you may have ever dreamt of. It boasts of the usual Marvel ride of witty banter, stunning special effects and a little trick in the end.
The only difference is that unlike the previous Marvel installments, everything is amplified 500-fold and the tease in the end, oh the delicious tease, it will hush fanboys into silence, after a splendid ride.
The end (no, we’re not giving spoilers here) is revolutionary for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because for the first time, it feels as if the superheroes are truly threatened. For a decade, the heroes have always been endangered by a villain whose only aim is total annihilation. The villain also always gets defeated, order gets back to our world, and nothing ever feels at stake. Infinity War blows the status quo to smithereens, with threats, deaths and a disturbing truth looming over the horizon. Our universe is truly in danger.
But the naysayer in me gets a whiff of the cheap trick by the studio. Superhero movies which overplay the supernatural and superficial ways, also don’t go by human logic.
There will be another installment of this mega ensemble, as the end promises, which means things are bound to be reversed, as comic book reality goes, for your popcorn joy. Remember, you’re the minion.
Okay, okay, capitalism is pushing in again.
Let’s get back to the Avengers.
Contrary to your booming expectations, this is not an Avengers movie. This is a Thanos movie. Avengers: Infinity War serves not its multiple superheroes, but its villain. Thanos is both a gift and a curse to the film.
A gift because Marvel has found its most memorable villain in the nihilistic antagonist with an overreaching arc of melancholy. Josh Brolin in a swelled-up purple head swishes emotional gears to dish out the most poignant part of the film in motion capture, in which we learn the shared agony of a father and his adopted daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana).
Thanos is also a curse because he overpowers the narrative so much that the superheroes are shortchanged. The Russo brothers (Anthony Russo and Joe Russo) are clearly aware of an old saying in movie lore: the stronger the villain, the mightier the hero who defeats him.
Everything begins and ends to serve the purple-headed monster, the band of superheroes are left scampering for time, a fact that might rile up fanboys.
Avengers: Infinity War is so overstuffed that the blitzkrieg of battles can leave you exhausted. This is a wet dream for most fans, with so many characters, but it also struggles to give each of them their due. The screenwriting team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely juggles multiple threads and multiple clashes with buoyancy, but still leaves Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), The Collector (Benicio Del Toro), and the entire squad of Wakanda including Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) very little to do. Too much becomes a bugaboo, you see.
The Russo Brothers are competent directors, but Avengers: Infinity War is disparate from their previous ventures. In those, they rolled out a distinct mood and a clear arc. Even when they dealt with multiple characters in Captain America: Civil War (2016), they solved the predicament by making them face off, bringing a striking crisis in the franchise. Avengers: Infinity War can’t repeat the same trait, and is a far bigger beast to tackle, with too many characters to fit in.
They’re highly successful when it comes to the banter.
The repartee is first-rate when two Sherlocks: Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr Strange engage in overconfident sneers, it’s hilarious when one Chris (Pratt’s Star-Lord) is insecure about the other Chris’ masculine beauty (Hemsworth’s Thor), and very worthy when Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) teams up with Thor.
The brothers falter when they evoke grief in the story but disregard the yarn. Perhaps this is the flip-side of handling a behemoth of action figures - it becomes slightly schizophrenic when the anguish gets adopted and abandoned at expediency.
The action is confidently staged spanning galaxies, but after a point, it does feel as if you’re in the ICU of action cinema. Coloured rays, explosions, flying objects, in slow motion or fast forward for two-and-half hours non-stop, all in a bid to stop Thanos who’s out to collect his candy coloured gems aka infinity stones to put on his special edition infinity gauntlet.
This is excess at its excessive extreme, and you’re bound to ask how much is too much?
This film is the culmination of a plan that blossomed for ten years, making its audience a creature of habit. It’s an ambitious film that takes chances, but also displays a certain deluded worldview. Thanos is a genocidal maniac who believes the chief cause of doom is overpopulation. His solution is simple – he wishes to wipe out half of them so as to keep the other half healthy and safe. He is the personification of Thomas Robert Malthus with the power of Winston Churchill, convinced that third world countries deserve extermination because they breed like rabbits. In his mind, he is the savior who will kill to save.
The galaxy’s mightiest heroes fight against him to save our planet, but not one of them contradict his faith, not one of them makes an effort to tell him that the problem is never overpopulation, but resource allocation.
Forget super-brains, do they have normal brains to bust the myth of overpopulation perpetuated by the western civilization?
The heroes programmed to save the world and fight villains do their job, but never question the pitfalls of Thanos’ reckless theory. Devoid of an informed voice, they simply seem to be in agreement. After all, all of them serve Marvel.
See, we’re back to capitalism again.
(The writer is a journalist, a screenwriter, and a content developer who believes in the insanity of words, in print or otherwise. He tweets @RanjibMazumder).
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