“Avengers: Infinity War” was disappointing, but still a fun time. Here’s why.
My relationship with the Marvel Cinematic Universe is casual, at best. I engage with it a couple of times in a given year.
But like most one-night stands, the MCU’s residue has lingered beyond a few hours. The MCU has been the film franchise I could rely on to be consistent in its delivery. Never excelling in poetic ambition, restrained in its technical scope, knowing its place in the market, and always being a fun time.
Unfortunately, like most one-night stands, I got too attached, expecting more from this franchise than it could ever deliver. And that’s why I was disappointed with “Avengers: Infinity War.”
Unlike the first two “Avengers” films, which were exhibitions of masterful visual and verbal storytelling, “Infinity War” is an accumulation. It can’t stand on its own. None of the characters, save one, get enough screen-time to develop personalities, which makes it incredibly hard to care for their stories unless you already know who they are.
But it won’t just be the diffuse character development that makes you question the integrity of this film — even though at times you’ll wish your favorite character had a bit more stuff to do on screen — nor will it be the subpar CGI, nor the cinematographic missteps (including the Russo Brothers’ confused judgment that shaky-cam would make a scene more grounded).
It will be the pretense of weight that bores you.
All the handheld shots in the world can’t give weight to hollow dialogue. Dialogue that is either slow, laborious, and pseudo-foreboding or that jams in quippy-whippies that try to turn every character into Tony Stark.
Like, did anyone believe Star-Lord’s rage when he tried to beat the shit out of Thanos? I didn’t. It’s hard to blame Chris Pratt, who plays Star-Lord, for his lackluster acting. It takes nothing less than a masterful actor to convert passable dialogue into emotion. And the dialogue was just that — passable.
What further dissolves the weight of anticipation is the pacing. There were too many scenes that could have been compressed to half their sizes: the first arrival of Thanos’ ship, the first attempt of Thanos’ minions to intercept Vision, and Thor’s time at Nidavellir, to name a few. This would leave more time to flesh out the most interesting scenes, such as Thanos’ verbal interaction with Iron Man, his dynamics with Gamora, and the surprising ending.
The final factor that compromised the weight of the film was its advertising. Before “Infinity War,” Marvel had generally shown restraint with its promotional material. Their trailers hardly ever represented the best elements of their respective films, usually focusing on humor and action, having shoddy editing, and using songs as background music that weren’t anything close to the film soundtracks.
As a result, the films always turned out to be so much more than we thought they’d be. This peculiar promotional behavior of underselling your product might sound counterintuitive, but it works. Of course, it works only in certain contexts. It works if your promotional material shows viewers enough to make them enter the theater but not enough to reveal the complexity of the film itself.
“Infinity War” broke this trend. The “Infinity War” trailers promoted the film as if it were Marvel’s magnum opus, with emotional voiceovers, gorgeous editing, and musical motifs straight from the soundtrack, cumulatively conveying a sense of weight and finality — neither of which were paid off in the film. In other words, they oversold it.
Having said that, you’ll probably enjoy the film. Most of the fight scenes are really cool, most of the quips land on point, and Thanos, played by Josh Brolin, is a great villain. If character development is something you need to enjoy a film, walk into this film expecting it from the villain. If you do that, you’ll be satisfied. It is because of these merits that you, as well as everyone else, will like the movie despite its flaws. Just remember to watch the other movies first. There are only 18 of them, after all.