The biggest crossover event in history (a debatable claim) finally arrived this past weekend. Avengers: Infinity War was a truly gigantic movie, in terms of scope, run time, and cast list. There’s a lot to talk about—and a lot of Thanos jokes to be made—so without further ado, here are the Ringer staff’s thoughts on the MCU’s crowning achievement.
1. What is your tweet-length review of ‘Avengers: Infinity War’?
Chris Ryan: Guardians 3: Ragnarok: The Atonement for Ultron. There are 14 million ways this movie could have gone wrong, but somehow it didn’t!
Michael Baumann: It was really good. It kept more balls in the air at once than I’d have thought possible, and it had that classic MCU quippiness.
Virali Dave: Not enough of the Black Panther cast, to be honest.
Miles Surrey: The most ambitious crossover event in history isn’t all that ambitious, but it’s still a lot of fun to watch Thor and Rocket Raccoon hang out.
The Sentient Population of the Universe:
Andrew Gruttadaro: The Leftovers prequel is wild, man.
Amanda Dobbins: So they raptured the other half of the movie, too?
(I am still sad.)
Alison Herman: The unending tedium of this movie/franchise/culture-swallowing phenomenon finally got a little interesting when it turned into The Leftovers. Coincidence? I THINK NOT.
2. What was the best moment of the movie?
Dave: When Proxima Midnight tells Scarlet Witch she’s going to die alone and Black Widow goes, “But she’s not alone,” and then she and Okoye come out of nowhere to help out Scarlet Witch. Also, when Okoye throws shade at Hulk for rolling around in the grass in an iron suit. Again, I ask: Why wasn’t there more of the Black Panther cast in this film?
Baumann: When Thor meets the Guardians. It’s good to know Chris Hemsworth makes the other Chrises feel as insecure as the rest of us.
Peters: Rocket and Thor’s conversation in the back of the pod on the way to Nidavellir. I’m thinking specifically about the bit where Thor drones on about the thickness of his plot armor as tears well in his eyes. It feels like it exists outside of Infinity War; in an explosion-based movie full of people doing ridiculous things because canon says they can or have to (after this, Thor takes a neutron star to the face to craft an ax), the Russo brothers made time for Thor to quietly feel doubt. I also love the way it started: “So … dead brother, huh? That can be annoying.”
Herman: Marvel’s promise that this would be “the most ambitious crossover event in history” has been rightfully lampooned, but the fun part of a crossover is seeing characters interact and clash with each other in interesting ways. Iron Man and Star Lord! Spider-Man and Doctor Strange! Shuri and The Hulk! It’s cool this movie enables those moments, even though it doesn’t have the space to let them breathe.
Surrey: Chris Pratt sizing himself up to Chris Hemsworth, thereby confirming Pratt is the lesser of these two Chrises, and arguably of all the Marvel Chrises.
Ryan: This movie was way more Joss Whedon than the first two Avengers films. You almost wonder what the MCU would look like if the Russos had made the first two Avengers installments and Whedon had come through for the final chapters. Maybe the brothers would have handled the set pieces in the earlier films a little more deftly? Maybe Whedon would have been better suited for the Fall rather than the Rise? In any case, half the thrill of Infinity ... was seeing these characters interact for the first time or reunite after being apart, but the film had such a pleasant vibe of familiarity among all the players. So my favorite moments were any “shawarma”-type hangout scenes—especially the ones with Strange-Parker-Stark and Guardians-Thor.
Dobbins: Chrises Hemsworth and Pratt doing their joint stand-up routine. My kingdom for an Avengers movie where they all just make jokes while robbing a bank or something.
Yoo: There were plenty of moments throughout this action-packed movie that could be considered the “best,” but the scene that sticks out is when Thor finally arrives in Wakanda. The Norse God is connected with Thanos from the jump and spends a large portion of his arc trying to get a new hammer that could defeat the Mad Titan. The moment when he unleashes the weapon is arguably the most visually jaw-dropping scene and one that provides plenty of optimism in the midst of a generally bleak film. Shout-outs to Stormbreaker and Giant Peter Dinklage.
Gruttadaro: Anytime Vision wore street clothes. Or anytime Wanda called Vision “Vizz.” Or anytime anything with Vision happened. (I’m a big Wimbledon fan.)
3. What was your least favorite part of the film?
Peters: The Hulk, who got his card pulled in the first 10 minutes of the movie and spent the next two and a half hours hiding like a coward.
Dobbins: Everything not on Earth. I don’t need more sci-fi in my life, and also it looked ugly.
Dave: Tony Stark’s stale one-liners.
Gruttadaro: When the Stark-Strange–Spider-Man faction is two seconds away from disarming Thanos and Peter Quill goes rogue because Thanos tells him that he killed Gamora. Dude! Just wait a minute for Spider-Man to get the Infinity Gauntlet and then you can punch the guy! My eyes are just now coming back into place after I rolled them so hard Thursday night.
Herman: The number of times a character, theoretically knowing the stakes—i.e. the indiscriminate evaporation of all life in the known universe—makes the apocalypse that much likelier on account of … a single life that may well be extinguished anyway. I get that the repeated decision to sacrifice an Infinity Stone for someone’s survival is meant to prove their humanity and set up a contrast with Thanos, who does the opposite by killing a loved one for the Soul Stone. But “heroes are heroes because they don’t kill” ceased to be interesting several Batman franchises ago. After a while, it starts to feel like the Avengers are being turned into idiots because the plot needs to move forward.
Baumann: I don’t give even a little bit of a damn about any of the romances, particularly when the only people with any chemistry are Bucky and Steve.
Surrey: Peter Dinklage as a dwarf who’s ironically very large sounds perfect, but I can’t recall an actor in the MCU phoning it in this hard since Christopher Eccleston was covered in elven makeup for Thor: The Dark World.
Yoo: The end, I guess. Even though I had a strong (Spidey) sense that something like that would happen, seeing it on the big screen was not enjoyable.
Ryan: Scarlet Witch and Vision’s romance. This guy was a fucking Windows startup disk two movies ago, but now we’re risking half the universe because these two saw The Notebook on a plane? GTFO. This whole thing could have been avoided if Bon Iver Rogers was just like, “This is a bad beat for you, but I am going to decapitate you now and save all the worlds. Wakanda Forever.”
4. Finish the sentence: “The ending of the movie was …”
Yoo: … SAD AF.
Gruttadaro: … really interesting. On the one hand, it was genuinely sobering to see so many of these characters turn into dust. On the other hand, it was impossible not to think, “Deadline just reported another sequel starring that character two weeks ago, so I’m not sure I need to care that much?”
Peters: … as much of a gut punch as it could have been, knowing full well that a bunch of these people are still under contract.
Baumann: … neutered by the knowledge that there will be future Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man movies. Otherwise it would have been moving.
Herman: … so consequential it went right out the other side into having no consequences. The MCU has waited far, far too long to introduce real life-or-death stakes, so no sudden demise was destined to land with the force it was supposed to. But am I supposed to believe Marvel is signing away the potential for all future sequels to Black Panther, the biggest success story of its entire run? I don’t even believe they’re swearing off any follow-ups to Spider-Man: Homecoming. Annihilating half the cast is overkill that robs the last scene of the believability it needs to have any real impact.
Dave: Right as the screen went black at the end of the movie, one dude all the way in the back of the theater said, “What the fuck?” and I agree with him. Access to information like when actors’ contracts end are proof enough that all those character “deaths” won’t be permanent. Killing off half the cast seemed to be a pointless cliff-hanger. I want more resolution, and I don’t want to have to wait another year to get it.
Ryan: … abrupt! Which is a particularly weird thing to say about a film of this run time. I don’t know how much of “NOOOOOOO” we needed, but I would have liked a little emotional reckoning with everyone turning into last night’s campfire ash. Probably would’ve been hard on the lunch-box set.
Dobbins: … not an ending.
5. Who was the movie’s MVP?
Gruttadaro: Chris Hemsworth by a mile. The moment when he called Groot “my friend, Tree” was perfect. I think Taika Waititi really helped my dude level up!
Peters: If I’m picking with my brain I say Thor; if I’m picking with my heart I say Drax, solely off the strength of the joke about moving so slowly that his movements are imperceptible. I snort-laughed.
Dobbins: Elizabeth Olsen made me (briefly) invest in the stakes of this movie!
Baumann: Thanos. He’s the single unifying factor in bringing together so many discrete movie franchises, and Josh Brolin imbues a CGI character who’s so ridiculous-looking he’s been a meme all winter with surprising humanity.
Yoo: Thanos is technically the MVP, purely because he had the most screen time and ended up winning in the end. But my vote goes to the homie Vision. Even though his sacrifice had no real significance, he was the true heart and soul of the movie.
Ryan: Thor. He was languishing in a backwater series and had the personality of driftwood, and now he’s just gone and put up the best two-movie superhero run, maybe ever?
Surrey: Tom Holland is so good as Spider-Man that even though there’s a 0.001 percent chance he was actually killed off, his “death” scene broke my heart. Just like when he was trapped under rubble in Spider-Man: Homecoming, seeing Peter fear for his life is heartbreaking. He’s just a kid. (Also, his Alien reference was great.)
Herman: Captain America’s beard. I thought the people around me going buck wild for every dramatic entrance were total chumps until it showed up.
6. Was Thanos a good villain?
Peters: Terrifying, unstoppable, sadistic, and yet, for really brief moments, sympathetic; I say yeah.
Baumann: He’s an excellent villain. Scary because of his fanatical devotion to annihilating half the universe’s population, but also more complex than your average genocidal maniac—you almost get where he’s coming from.
Ryan: We talking Smokepurpp?? He’s as good a villain as someone that stupid looking can be. The rendering of Thanos is a perfect example of how many masters this whole franchise serves. His actions can be unfathomable and genocidal and tortured, but he’s basically Barney the Dinosaur with a cool glove. The answer to this question is Brolin is a good villain, but Thanos is a silly character.
Herman: Surprisingly, yes? “Hard-core Malthusian” is not what I was expecting from the all-powerful being who’s bringing Flavortown to the cosmos, but I hope he inspires teens everywhere to get into 19th-century social science! (That said, I’m already dreading the right-wing think piece comparing Thanos to people who think climate change is a thing.)
Surrey: Thanos as a villain is good; all the inevitable think pieces about the ethics of population control are going to be very bad.
Yoo: Thanos is easily the most powerful villain ever shown in the MCU and he might get the trophy for being the most sympathetic villain in any superhero movie. In all honesty, there were times when I was even rooting for Thanos to succeed in gathering Infinity Stones.
Gruttadaro: Can I just say that it was very shocking to realize I was watching Walter from Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom?
7. Which hero are you mourning the most?
Ryan: No one ever really dies.
Yoo: Spider-Man’s death was without a doubt the most heartbreaking. Peter Parker’s confusion and fear of the unknown was the most emotional sequence in the movie and I’m sure there are fans who are still not over it.
Dave: Peter Parker. Hearing that poor boy say, “Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good,” gutted me. Watching him mouth, “I’m sorry,” before evaporating into dust dug that knife in even deeper. He just got to become an Avenger! Let the boy live!
Peters: I thought Spider-Man might die. I knew that Spider-Man could die. A lot of available evidence confirmed that—although it might not mean much in the grand scheme of things—Spider-Man would die.
I was not, however, at all prepared to watch Spider-Man die.
Dobbins: None of them, they’re all still here? Honestly, even Paul Bettany will find a way to come back—he loves being in franchise movies.
Surrey: Just assuming all the heroes that got Leftovers’d at the end are revived, which they probably will be, it has to be Gamora—and she might even come back! She’s not an A-list Avenger, but she’s pretty damn great. As much as I’d like her back, there’s something poignant that can come out of the team soldiering on with a Gamora-sized void. If she does come back, it’s gonna feel pretty cheap.
Baumann: KORG! Where the hell was my man Korg? Didn’t even get to die onscreen after stealing Ragnarok! Korg deserves justice.
8. Where does the MCU go from here?
Dobbins: To the second half of this movie, where all the major players are still in the picture and they’re still battling the same villain?
Peters: Doesn’t the Ant-Man sequel come out in like a month? Speaking of Ant-Man:
fellas..... pic.twitter.com/friNRzmjK7— tom holland (like if u agree) (@spicyshrimps) April 28, 2018
Dave: Hopefully they make the dead characters un-dead ASAP so we can get the Spider-Man sequel we all deserve.
Yoo: [puts on tinfoil hat] So we know Captain Marvel’s role will be of massive importance in the next Avengers film—combine that with Ant-Man and the Wasp exploring the quantum realm, and you can sort of begin to put together the pieces of how these deceased characters will be revived. Doctor Strange knows of one timeline in which the Avengers won the “endgame.” Let’s just hope we’re in that specific timeline.
Ryan: I hope they don’t go too Bad Robot with it. There are theories on Reddit that we’re about to go into multiple timelines. Doctor Strange talked about those many outcomes, after all. And given the power of the Infinity Gauntlet, anything is possible. We could go back in time, forward in time, jump around to different realities. Everything is on the table.
One of the reasons for all of this—and this is being speculated about online as well—is that the scope of the MCU is about to be impacted by the Disney-Fox merger. There are whispers about Galactus getting involved in all of this, which could mean another Fantastic Four reboot (hold your head, Trank), and, who knows, maybe even some mutants. It will be fascinating to see how the corporate concerns—the Fox merger, the contracts of Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr., the popularity of Thor, Spider-Man, and Black Panther as characters—impact the narrative of the Universe.
Gruttadaro: The MCU’s past two movies are two of the most successful in history. Once the studio comes up with an absurd way to revive all of its newer superheroes, the older ones will retire and the MCU will continue making successful movies for the rest of eternity, while the film industry smolders around it.
Baumann: Back in time, to resurrect the stars of its most acclaimed movies, then maybe it kills off Captain America and Iron Man in the Infinity War sequel and turns over the marquee talent a little. The next year’s just going to feel like treading water.
9. WHERE. WAS. HAWKEYE?
Peters: Playing putt-putt with his kids?
Gruttadaro: I’m guessing in Alaska, looking for chems? Or is that a different franchise?
Ryan: He’s got this rad bungalow in Encino that he was converting to an open floor plan.
Yoo: Hawkeye is living his best life. Let the man live in peace.
Baumann: Enjoying his retirement. I mean, for God’s sake, the best part of being a civil servant is the benefits package, right? I really hope they leave him alone. The man deserves a break.
Surrey: An excellent question that demands a comprehensive explanation. The Cavs would never sit LeBron in a Game 7.
Dave: I appreciate his absence! I understand that this is an Avengers film, but too many characters means too many threads to weave together. I’d rather have fewer characters so as to give the best ones more screen time. Hawkeye was not missed.
Herman: I don’t look my gift horses in the mouth.