Karina Aguilar Guerrero and Jaylin Lugardo of Staten Island, New York, arrived at Auditorium 17 of the AMC Empire 25 in Times Square hours before start time. They created a makeshift bed on the floor between the first row of seats and the enormous screen and cushioned it with blankets, pillows, and a collection of worn and loved stuffed animals. They brought portable phone chargers, bags of Peanut M&Ms, and thermoses filled with coffee and maybe other things. They were there for the 31-hour “Avengers: Infinity War Marathon,” where 11 of the Marvel films were screened in their binge-watching-worthy glory, culminating in the latest (and purportedly the penultimate) installment in the cinematic universe.
If I could have joined them, I would have. I am not only an expert on the entire oeuvre; by going to the theater and watching every film, along with spending on popcorn, I have contributed at least 380 of the 15 billion dollars the franchise has generated over the past decades. So, of course, I saw Avengers: Infinity War the opening weekend, along with tens of thousands of others who flocked to 4,474 theaters across the country. I cannot say I was disappointed, but I was not thrilled, and that in itself is the problem.
Avengers: Infinity War follows Thanos, Marvel’s ultimate supervillain, as he assembles the Infinity Gauntlet—an all-powerful weapon that utilizes six infinity stones. These stones, which have been strategically referenced throughout previous Marvel outings, have unlimited power. Together they can provide Thanos with an existentially destructive weapon. Thanos, who hasn’t been seen since the post-credit scene of Avengers: Age of Ultron made four years ago (a lifetime in the Marvel universe), takes up the majority of the movie with lengthy monologues delivered in a monotonous voice. His goal is to annihilate half of the universe; there aren’t enough resources throughout the galaxy to provide for its growing population, so 50 percent must be eliminated for the rest to prosper (Jonathan Swift would have a field day). But after this motive is established, it’s repeated over and over again, and its recurrence does not make it any more interesting or plausible.
It is as if the showrunners decided they needed to threaten half the world in order to give all of its heroes something to do and then forgot that they actually had those heroes to deploy. There were over 20 superheroes in this movie, but all were divided into different storylines, all with completely different strategies to defeat Thanos and all (spoiler alert!) thwarted. This is frustrating to watch, and while I understand that frustration may be the goal of the moviemakers, it’s heart-wrenching to see heroes powerless, especially in a fight this dire.
Ultimately, the seemingly endless list of plot holes shifts the viewing experience from investment to indifference. Why doesn’t Dr. Strange share their only victorious outcome with his team? Why doesn’t Thanos use the infinity gauntlet to create more resources for the existing population? This big-budget movie lacks the attention to detail that is essential for a worthwhile cinematic experience. The movie races along to its cataclysmic finish, which is just a cliffhanger for the next go-round. They shouldn’t have rushed to the denouement.
Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of 10 years of storylines and character arcs, and therefore it is messy, predictable, overlong, grandiose, and, above all, mediocre. The movie is riddled with illogical transitions, unnecessary monologues, and tedious CGI-driven scenes whose protechniques do not advance the story. I was disappointed by the overall neglect of the protagonists of the film. Not only are these heroes the backbone of the franchise that this movie was supposed to be built on, but they’re the reason that fans come to see the movies in the first place. Steve Rogers (Captain America), the model superhero, received little to no screen time and no storyline at all. His few scenes were as brief as those of T’Challa (Black Panther), who carried that movie to acclaim and over a billion dollars for Marvel.
For its 300-million-dollar budget, is this the best the Marvel Universe can do? For all the effort and expense, is okay good enough? Infinity War unsuccessfully tries to wrangle over 20 beloved characters developed over the last decade into one conflict, predicament, battle royale, and resolution. This isn’t easy, of course, and so the attempt in itself is admirable. But what’s the point of so much buildup for a movie that is just sub-par? Marvel has yet to determine that less is more, and it’s likely that, considering this recent film, they might not ever. When commercial success triumphs over artistic, narrative, and creative merit, the moviegoer is the worse off.
—Charlotte Gifford ’19