Cory Woodroof here. So, it’s summer, you’re bored because all there is not that much going on in Falcondom, and television shows are ending for the season.
But, fear not! The cinema is alive and well, and this summer, we’re going to thread together the tapestry of the film season together! If this works, perhaps we’ll continue it into the fall, but y’know, while we’re all banging our heads at the keyboard trying to think of Falcons things to write, we might as well look at the movies that are out, and discuss them together!
We’ll start out with small indie darling Avengers: Infinity War (I’m sorry...that joke has been told on blockbuster films for years, but it might be the first time it’s been told on a Falcons website, so c’est la vie).
The grand Marvel Cinematic Universe team-up has been out for a few weeks now, and just about everyone from Ben Garland to Zsa Zsa the now-fired Buccaneers Parrot has probably seen this giganto box office muncher of epic proportions (and enemy of the bathroom break).
Since, if you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’ve collected all of your Infinity Stones and imposed your will on the universe by purchasing a ticket and seeing this one for yourself, we’ll get into spoilery territory, and discuss that ending, because I have *some thoughts.*
[This is where the spoilers begin, so, uh, leave if you don’t want, uh, spoilers]
So, at the film’s bombastic finale, Thanos (bald purple guy who thinks he will save the universe by getting all the Infinity Stones in his gauntlet and wiping out half of the galaxy’s population; not great with small talk) arrives on Wakanda, just having been nearly defeated by a gaggle of Avengers on Titan but thwarted because STAR LORD COULDN’T WAIT, LIKE, ONE MINUTE TO GET IN HIS SAD REVENGE PUNCH, the purple meanie’s exiled homeworld. He’s got one last McGuffin...er, Infinity Stone...to collect (the gold one smack dab in Vision’s head), and he’s, uh, pretty close to being able to wipe out half the universe. Then, he gets the gold stone in a super sad scene where Scarlet Witch thinks she saves the day by sacrificing her beloved Vision...but Thanos is like...nah, Time Stone. What a jerk.
But! Thor, with his brand-new awesomesauce Stormbreaker axe, manages to strike Thanos in the chest with the axe, seemingly sending Grimace to his celestial resting place, but the Mad Titan wakes up, delivers that chilling “You should have aimed for the head” line, and then, Thanos does the deed — with a flick of his wrist, he wipes out half of existence, and vanishes into the air.
Oh, gosh. Then, we get an idea of what’s to come. Bucky Barnes begins to vanish into thin air. And, then, half the cast does....Black Panther...Star Lord...Mantis...Dr. Strange...Drax...*wipes tear away* Spider-Man and Groot...they become gusts of dust, leaving our heroes up Thanos’ creek without a paddle. Then, we immediately cut to the Purple People Vanisher getting out of his little house on the hill, smiling as the sun rises on a universe with half the people and aliens gone. Credits. Yeech.
I’ve heard different stories about how people have reacted to this ending, just one the other day where a friend saw a grown man quietly sobbing in his theater seat. I saw on Twitter where one person passed out at their showing and had to be taken out on a stretcher. Plenty of stories about people dropping swear words (including a “WTF” from the nice gentleman sitting next to me at my second showing). I’m sure you have your own.
Me? Well, the first time I saw Infinity War, I was with about 20-30 members of the Nashville press on a Tuesday afternoon, and forgive me, once the credits rolled, my reaction was a big “whelp!”
Infinity War has sparked a fascinating conversation in the film world about the definitive nature of sacrifice in a serialized universe. When the hits just keep on coming, and you know the cinematic plan well in advance, can something like Infinity War still resonate like it appears to?
The first time I saw Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther evaporated into thin air, I couldn’t help but feel a bit perplexed. In trying to throw a curve ball in this obviously-historic cinematic event by killing off half the cast...they hand-picked all of the Marvel heroes with sequels on the horizon, and left standing those with expiring contracts. It’s not that, in and of itself, seeing Black Panther disappear isn’t sad, but the guy just made Marvel about a billion dollars on a February movie release, and will probably be the first superhero to get a Best Picture nomination. No, Black Panther isn’t going anywhere; he never was. He’s rightly bound to have two-to-three more sequels, and will be back at the multiplexes next May, when the original Avengers team figures a way to get him back.
Don’t believe me? Well, Peter Parker’s next film starts production this summer, so once the set photos start to surface of his next adventure, you’ll know Spider-Man is good and well.
Part of me feels plagued to know the release schedule since I’m a devout nerd when it comes to these sorts of cinematic dealings, but part of me also wonders if these deaths even deserve to hold emotional weight. If not for Tom Holland’s chilling exit (which, fun fact, he did off the cuff of what was in the script), and Robert Downey Jr.’s acting once it all goes down, I’m not even sure it’d work on a cinematic level outside of just being a bummer of a cliffhanger as far as cliffhangers go.
The film itself doesn’t flow *quite* as well as some of the other mashup movies in the MCU, but it’s still quite excellent when it wants to be, and the ending works much better when you A) know it’s coming and B) can appreciate it for what it is, and not befuddle what it’s not. For this grand of a storyline, it’s not impossible to introduce genuine shock (see the end of Captain America: Civil War) and see genuine sacrifice (see the end of Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2).
Infinity War has the shock, but lacks the sacrifice. You really feel for the characters and what a mucky situation they’re in they’re in, and appreciate that Marvel had the stones to end a major motion picture on such a gloomy note. But, our comic book pages are just sticking together. We don’t know the immediate solution, but we do know how this puppy ends. Contracts are up, sequels are greenlit and a whole new team of superheroes will be out and about come Avengers 5, 6 and 7.
When the wheel in the sky keeps on churning, can one appreciate an ending like Infinity War’s for what it shows, and not what it’ll end up meaning? I think you can, but, more for a lament on how sad it is for heroes left behind, what they might have to lose to bring their friends back, and not for a literal emotional Thanos punch of it actually mattering in the long run for the characters who didn’t make it out this time.
To me, the sacrifice of Infinity War hasn’t yet been made. The ones left standing might be the ones to pay the ultimate price. Now, that one will leave a mark, and will make this installment feel more complete.
So, I’ve rambled on enough, and I want to hear your thoughts. Did the ending work for you? Why or why not? Do you have any fun/crazy stories from your Infinity War screening? Which of our heroes left standing will be called upon to make that ultimate sacrifice next summer? What’s been your favorite “I don’t feel so good” meme?
Let’s discuss in the comments. I’ll be around the watering hole to see what you have to say.
And, next week, we’ll be back to see what the Merc with a Mouth has been up to with Deadpool 2. (Hint: it’s probably something meta!)
But, before we go, I’ll quickly recommend you check out Lynne Ramsay’s new film You Were Never Really Here, starring Joaquin Phoenix. It’s a haunting, white-knuckles thriller that doubles as a beautiful meditation on healing through trauma. It’s, by a mile, the best thing out in a theater right now (unless your local multiplex is still running a show or two of Black Panther), and I can’t recommend it enough.
Thanks for reading our first The Falcoholic Goes to the Movies post, and join in the discussion below.
Save me some popcorn!