Spoiler Discussion: Avengers: Infinity War

The world has had a full week now to ruminate and digest the events of Marvel’s largest movie yet. Avengers: Infinity War is proving to be one of the most fascinating and potentially culturally important films of the past decade. Being the first movie to reach a billion dollars gross in such a short amount of time and with so many people having seen it, dissected it, speculated upon it, and thought about it in the past week there is a case to be made that the movie is rapidly becoming one of the most important films ever in terms of cultural impact.

That certainly says a lot about the state of society. The movie functions a lot like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in that an entire generation of kids grew up with these movies and are now able to join in for this huge event as an adult where the themes and content have evolved with the fans. Here at Geeks Under Grace, we sat down with five of our film reviewers to discuss their thoughts on the film itself and the state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward after Infinity War.

1. Give us your top five MCU movies!

Tyler Hummel: 

Runner-Up: Captain America: The First Avenger

5. Iron Man 3

4. Thor: Ragnarok

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier 

2. The Avengers

1, Guardians of the Galaxy 1+2 (Tie)

Julianna Purnell:

5. Black Panther – Just really love the style and soundtrack. The themes in this movie are the most relevant to our world.

4. Doctor Strange – Introducing magic into the MCU, this film has a different vibe about it, which I enjoyed.

3. Captain America: Civil War – Admittedly I fast forward to the airport fight scene most of the time. But I do love Zemo and how in this movie it’s the villain with the insurmountable odds, despite his plans being rather convoluted.

2. Marvel’s The Avengers – Can’t really beat the first time the band got together. This movie brought me pure glee when watching it in the cinema, even though it does tend to lag in the middle.

1. Thor Ragnarok – I love films that have a strong, distinctive vision. Finally, Marvel reached the stage where it can have a little fun at its own expense. A classic popcorn flick featuring pure entertainment. Can’t help but smile at this one.

Maurice Pogue:

5. Avengers: Infinity War (7.5)

4. Black Panther (8.5)

3. Thor: Ragnarok (8.5)

2. The Avengers (9)

1. Iron Man (9.5)

I have added scores to indicate what I would have rated these movies. What I find to be an objectively superior movie does not necessarily default it to my list of favorites.

Derek Thompson:

5. Spider-Man: Homecoming – So glad they skipped the origin story this time.

4. Black Panther – Original, felt Marvel but also felt like a much-needed movie, culturally.

3. Thor Ragnarok – The complete change of pace from the first two Thor movies was refreshing.

2. Captain America: Civil War – Impressed they made it work.

1. Guardians of the Galaxy – The one that hooked me.

Matt Cronn:

Doctor Strange and Civil War are far and away my favorite MCU movies for knowing how to balance humor and drama. Both had very serious undertones without being too depressing. Doctor Strange’s visual effects also helped elevate it past others in the series. Civil War’s team mechanics did the same for its film. The original Guardians of the Galaxy is also very good in that it managed to introduce a lot of key elements to the MCU, and while very humorous, also knew when to be serious.

2. Here’s the important question, Did you like Infinity War?

Tyler Hummel: 

I wrote the full Geeks Under Grace review last week. In short, it was a tepid success.

Julianna Purnell:

I feel that Infinity War is the Pokémon GO of cinema. It relies heavily on its pre-established fanbase already knowing the surplus of characters, even though its mechanics are horrendously simple once that is stripped away. It was insanely popular, achieved things that nothing else in the medium had accomplished, and yet on release, it was an unfinished product compared to what was unleashed a year later. Now, I love Pokémon GO. I still play it. Just recently got my Mewtwo and Mew. But is it a good game in comparison to other products in the industry? Huuurrrggmmmmmuurrrrffff!!!

Obviously, I can say the same thing about Infinity War. I didn’t mind it, and one can’t take away what Marvel has achieved, as not only is it unique in the world of cinema, but the film wasn’t as flawed as it could have been. However, I can’t classify it as a good film in the traditional sense. In order to do so, one has to make excuses on its behalf as to why it needs to be judged as the exception to the rule. So, long answer short; I liked it, didn’t love it, but definitely didn’t hate it, and it’s a bit of a special case.

Maurice Pogue:

I am pleased that this question reads “like” rather than “adore.” Infinity War is exemplary of what my 9th grade English teacher would call “a good popcorn movie”: highly entertaining, but culturally inconsequential. I once vowed to my brother when we were children that I would make a movie like Hero with no story, only action. He laughed and rejoined that such a thing would be nonsensical. Infinity War is the fruit of such a dream, featuring highlights such as the integration of the picaresque Guardians of the Galaxy into the grave context of the universe facing genocide, Dr. Strange enabling Spider-Man to execute Maximum Spider on Thanos, and Black Panther being put over by Captain America as they simultaneously sprint to the front line during the climactic battle.

Derek Thompson:

Yes. I view this movie the same way I viewed LOST (after finally making peace with it). I don’t believe that a sour ending retroactively “ruins” all the fun you had on the ride. And I loved every second I was in the theater, waiting to see what would happen next. I have minor issues with the ending but it’s not even over yet, so let’s wait and see.

Matt Cronn:

The jury is still out on this one. As of right now, I’d have to say no. I’m thinking when it connects with Avengers 4 in the future, it might work together to make Infinity War better retroactively. But the characters behaved so irrationally and the characters’ level of power fluctuated so wildly that it’s hard to be invested in the conflict when characters will be ridiculously powerful or utterly incompetent depending on what the plot requires. The ending was also awful. There are ways to lead into a sequel that isn’t as unsatisfying as this film’s ending.

3. Which character death(s) surprised you the most?

Tyler Hummel:

Loki and Gamora really surprised me the most. The movie starts by killing nearly all of the Asgardian refugees (apparently Valkyrie survived tho somehow) which didn’t surprise me but I had thought Loki would survive long enough to play the Mephisto role from Infinity Gauntlet so that he could have his full redemption moment. Guess not… The death of Gamora was more bizarre than tragic to me though. James Gunn is already talking about refocusing Guardians of the Galaxy 3 to hone in on her character soooo yeah… She’s probably coming back.

Julianna Purnell:

Honestly? None. I felt that the deaths of most Asgardians including Loki, Thanos’ daughters, and Vision were always on the cards. It was more of a question as to when they were going to be killed–in this film or the next. If anything, I was surprised that Vision lasted so long. From what I had assumed in the trailer, personally, I thought he’d die in the second act, leaving the third act to be about the time stone.

The rest don’t count as deaths for me. I rolled my eyes when Black Panther got dusted, as I knew that was never going to stick. I was surprised that this film contained Thanos’ click as I thought that might be done in Avengers 4. It’s a gutsy move to see the villain succeed. Infinity War practically promised us that this time they’d be playing without the kid gloves equipped. I believed them… for an instant. When I saw who got dusted, it’s like the film took off the kid gloves only to reveal that it was wearing another pair underneath. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the earlier deaths got reversed as well.

Maurice Pogue:

“Disappointed” would be a more accurate term. With Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming 2, Black Panther 2 having already been greenlit, and of course, the knowledge that an Avengers 4 exists, the dramatic irony of all of those characters turning into dust is eye-roll worthy. The deaths of characters relevant to those franchises immediately threw fans into spasmodic fits of theory-crafting as to how they will be brought back, making for the equivalent of a widow/er already making arrangements for their next wedding before their spouse’s funeral date. In hindsight, precisely zero casualties among the heroes from the original core in Avengers leaves me incredulous.

Derek Thompson:

The characters at the end. I just didn’t buy it, logically, because I knew all of those characters had already-announced upcoming movies, so I had a hard time emotionally investing, even though I was shocked. If they had killed the original Avengers here, I might have believed it and still would have been shocked to see them all die at once. Now I’m expecting the original Avengers to die to recover these folk, and if that happens, fine, but I expect it now, which is annoying–the surprise factor is gone.

Matt Cronn:

I wasn’t super shocked by anyone’s death except the fact that the writers actually killed about 2/3rds of the Avengers and then left it that way. I’m more surprised that they thought that was more appropriate than the actual deaths because we know most of those will be immediately undone.

4. What was your favorite scene/quote in the film?

Tyler Hummel:

Three favorite scenes: Doctor Strange vs. Thanos, Thor arriving at Wakanda with Stormbreaker, and the “snap.”

Julianna Purnell:

I wasn’t a huge lover of the following scene as I felt that some of Peter Quill’s and Thor’s interactions were off. But I did love this bit of dialogue, as it delightfully reveals so much about Thor’s character and how little he cares for Earth’s politics. It also raises a big question about Mantis’ worldview!

Peter Quill: The Avengers?

Thor: The Earth’s mightiest heroes.

Mantis: Like Kevin Bacon?

Thor: He may be on the team, I don’t know.

Maurice Pogue:

Without question, Quill steals both showdowns on Titan. While holding Spider-Man hostage (see inconsistent power levels below), Dr. Strange asks him who does he serve, and Chris Pratt breaks the fourth wall with “What am I supposed to say, Jesus?” (Pratt is a known Christian.) We are only one film away from Danai Gurira doing the same with her line about wearing ridiculous wigs in Black Panther—an allusion to her wearing a dreadlocked wig in The Walking Dead, and the fact that IRL she sports short hair if any.   

During the same Titan scene, Quill likens Thanos’ chin to a scrotum. Even when I saw this film the second time, I still fell victim to fits of laughter. Of course, he drops these awesome lines right before behaving like a child while Thanos is subdued.

Derek Thompson:

I thought the emotional impact of Vision’s death was strong. There’s this touching scene where Vision convinces Wanda to kill him, and I liked the way he phrased it, that it doesn’t hurt because he just feels… her… when she uses her power. And then Thanos immediately uses the Time Stone to completely devalue that anguish. I should have seen it coming but I actually gasped. Like, that hurt.

Matt Cronn:

My favorite scene in the movie is when Scarlet Witch starts to destroy the mind stone. It’s an extremely well-acted scene from Elizabeth Olsen, and as someone who is invested in Wanda and Vision’s romance, I found it very effective. It also allows Scarlet Witch to showcase just how powerful she is when both this film and Age of Ultron underpowered her on several occasions.

5. What was your least favorite aspect of the film?

Tyler Hummel:

Ideologically speaking I’m not intrinsically against violence or dark storytelling moments in my superhero movies (It’s the only thing that makes DCEU movies interesting) but it’s super bizarre seeing body horror and people dissolving into ashes in a theater full of twelve-year-old kids… I mean it’s also hilarious in a sociopathic sort of way but it’s still weird…

Julianna Purnell:

I loved Doctor Strange and how he’s an arrogant character, yet I don’t feel he plays well with others. When he is opposite Tony Stark, his resistance to just about everything that is said merely halts the momentum of the scene. It’s not funny, rather it’s frustrating, and I don’t think that’s what the directors intended. I found Peter Quill to also be fairly irritating throughout the movie as well. Loved their action sequence against Thanos, but their dialogue seemed off.

Maurice Pogue:

After hero deaths, Infinity War manages power levels more irresponsibly than Toriyama does power levels in the post-SSJ era of the Dragon Ball franchise. Thanos does not even need to evoke the power gem in order to pound them into unconsciousness (the audience is queued by the purple CGI FX when he uses the gem, such as when he triggers the ship’s destruction). I was willing to accept this plot device of “Hulk afraid,” until I witnessed Thanos punching Tony Stark in the face without crushing his skull inside of the nanosuit like Popeye would a can of spinach. The most egregious offense takes place when Captain America takes a blow right on his naked chin without his cranium exploding like the contents of a grape underfoot.

So I am to believe that the same dude who pounds Hulk into oblivion—the same Hulk who was to be used as a weapon to down the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier and OHKO a leviathan in Avengers, among his other feats throughout the MCU—is not instantly lethal to everyone else? Please….    

Derek Thompson:

I know some characters acted stupidly or were nerfed or whatever, but who died at the end was just too unbelievable, although the scriptwriters said they wrote this before they knew that logical issue would exist (I don’t believe it). I also hate time travel in general and hope the Time Stone gets destroyed in the next one.

Matt Cronn:

As I stated before, it has to be the ending. It’s just so unsatisfying and the post-credits scene doesn’t really do anything to alleviate that. We know that it’s going to be undone because no way does Marvel let Black Panther stay dead after how successful his movie was. Plus, pretty much only the original Avengers are left and they all have one foot out the door at this point.

6. Where does the MCU go from here? What do you think we’re looking at for Avengers 4 and Phase 4? Can you handle another decade of these movies?

Tyler Hummel:

Obvious answers; Black Panther 2, Spiderman 2, Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Doctor Strange 2 (Maybe), Ant-Man 3

Speculative Answers for Former Cast Members: We probably get a Thor 4 with Taika Waitiki, they might do an Iron Man 4 or Captain America 4 with the lead characters replaced by new cast members.

Speculative Post-Fox Deal Answers: Fantastic Four, X-Men, Annihilation, Secret Wars.

Longterm Speculation: There are rumors going around for everything from a Nova film to a Moon Knight film to a Black Widow film to an Eternals film. They’re probably going to try to launch one or two more solo franchises in Phase 4 to fill out the lineup. In terms of future Avengers films, they’re probably going to fall back into other major Marvel crossover comic events like Annihilation, Secret Wars, and such as the basis for their upcoming crossover films. Expect a significant expansion of the Cosmic side of the MCU and likely a greater focus on female and POC characters.

Avengers 4 Speculation: I see two strategies for finishing the current story arc, either they continue the story of Infinity Gauntlet and start bringing in cosmic characters to take on Thanos as part of the huge finale or they pull something out of left field by adding another major cosmic villain to the line up to draw Thanos out of hiding.

I’m all in on getting another decade of Marvel movies! I think they will need to do some changes to the formula to make it fresher but I enjoy these movies with the adolescent joy I had when I first saw Iron Man a decade ago!

Julianna Purnell:

I feel that Avengers 4 will reveal that Hawkeye’s family has been dusted, and therefore he’ll seek revenge, pep-talking the others out of their depression. Some characters, like Captain Marvel and Nebula, will face Thanos head on. Ant-Man will steal the time stone off the gauntlet, letting the original Avengers go back in time to the attack in New York (which is why just about each of the Avengers is currently sporting a different appearance to their past counterpart–it’s so audiences will easily be able to identify which timeline they are in). This will also allow audiences to say a proper farewell to Loki.

With everyone resurrected, there’ll be a big battle, proper deaths, and Strange’s actions in Infinity War will finally make sense as Iron Man (and Cap, who will play a bigger role) will be sacrificed for the safekeeping of the time stone. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if Thanos has an introspective journey with his daughters and just does everything himself… just like he did in Infinity War. Seriously, why does he even bother with having henchmen? Oh, and Rocket will meet a raccoon.

While I experience some level of enjoyment with these films, the thought that there’s another decade’s worth only makes me tired, not excited. Like The Walking Dead, it’s starting to get obvious that it’s just the same stuff over and over again. Avengers 4 will give an ‘out’–it’ll be a neat place to leave, and I don’t think I’ll have much of an investment in the franchise to continue. The cinemas and Marvel Studios are getting uglier in their conduct.

In Sydney, ticket prices were tripled for Infinity War, and its release limited the number of screens that could be offered for other movies. I appreciate what Marvel has done and that there’s a need for superhero films, but I no longer feel the urgency to consume their product. I’ll probably end up watching them, though I’m happy for that to be a few months down the track, and to instead focus on supporting other content creators.

Maurice Pogue:

After theory-crafting among the GUG staff and general lounging around the internet, I loathe the notion that we are headed for alternate universes and time paradoxes. Leaks of Avengers 4 have revealed that Captain America and Thor are in their original costumes. Some have said that we may go as far as to revive Agent Coulson for a cameo. I am bellicose in regards to maintaining canon, but the trajectory of our destination exudes retroactive continuity. If this is true, then I do not look forward to gimmicks and lazy screenwriting.

Disney might be counting on the acquisition of 20th Century Fox. Securing that asset would pave the way for the Fantastic Four franchise, with Galactus serving as the next “big bad” in the MCU. X-Men would require a complete franchise reset, and other teams that would spawn from the end of this saga, such as the New Avengers, could serve as a TV series. Nevertheless, I am among those beginning to feel the effects of “superhero fatigue,” and may find myself waiting on Red Box releases more often.

Derek Thompson:

I’m assuming Avengers 4 will kill the original Avengers and set up Spider-Man, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Guardians, etc. as the new supergroup. I hear a lot of talk about more new characters coming in but come on. If every character/group gets a trilogy, we still have two more Spider-Mans, two more Black Panthers, another Guardians, another Ant-Man, two more Dr. Stranges. That’s already eight more movies, just off the top of my head. And maybe Captain Marvel gets a trilogy too. I’m happy for them to reduce the number of characters here and focus on this new group for a while.

It seems to me that comics and the related movies have so many superpowers going on all at once that you run a danger of ruining them by overanalyzing them. With that in mind, I’m ready for 16-20 or whatever more movies. I’ve loved 90% of these and that’s a really high success rate. And while it might be really easy for us hardcore geeks to start looking down our noses at “Marvel casuals,” that is a completely wrong (and unbecoming of Christians) way to view things. We should be geeking out that we can share what we love with that many more people. How selfish and nonsensical is it to get upset when something you desperately love… succeeds?

Matt Cronn:

From here, I’m hoping for the introduction of the Young Avengers at some point. It’s why I’m so invested in Wanda and Vision’s romance because their kids in the comics are Wiccan and Speed, two of the Young Avengers. It’s not out of the realm of possibility given the casting call for two twin boys (as Wiccan and Speed are) and the casting of a teenage Cassie Lang, who is also a Young Avenger. There are some other things that make me think they will eventually appear, whether in Avengers 4 or beyond. And they’re needed. They are a very diverse group and I think the MCU needs that right now.

I can definitely handle another decade of these movies, but some of the more recent films have been kind of disappointing to me personally. Not that they aren’t good, but they just haven’t hit the highs of Doctor Strange and Civil War for me. So they would need to pick up again. Ultimately though, I honestly can find some enjoyment in pretty much every superhero movie, MCU or not.

Join the discussion! Did you like Infinity War? What are your theories for Avengers 4? What are some of your speculations for the future of the MCU?

Tyler Hummel

Born into the unexplored residential backwater of Chicago, Tyler Hummel is a graduate of Tribeca Flashpoint College where he studied Sound Design for Film and Interactive Media. When he isn't hosting his public access talk show The Fox Valley Film Critics or collecting DragonBall Z figurines, he enjoys writing and directing short films. As with Rick from Casablanca, "he's a man like any other man, just more so!"

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