Call It A Gift Then!! (Or, Y’know… Let’s Talk BRIEFLY About Avengers: Infinity War!!)

Avengers Infinity War masthead

Wow!!

I mean… we knew it was going to be good.

But WOW!!

So, I have some thoughts. I might ramble a bit, but I want to get this column out so we’re free and clear for some Clix coverage in the immediate future!

[SPOILERS WILL FOLLOW!! BUT IF YOU READ THIS BLOG AND HAVEN’T SEEN THIS MOVIE YET, YOU MUST BE A UNICORN… ]

I wrote before about what the trailer for this movie meant to me (check that piece out here), and now that I’ve seen the whole film, I can say it did not disappoint in any way.

Did it have elements of Thanos Quest? Yep. Did it have characters from Hickman’s Infinity event from a few years ago? Sure.

But make no mistake: This was an adaptation of Infinity Gauntlet (or the first part of Infinity Gauntlet, at least), one of the crown jewels from Marvel’s brilliant history. And it’s something that would have been ABSOLUTELY INCONCEIVABLE just ten years ago.

Some of the Highlights:

Josh Brolin as Thanos: Absolutely delivered one of the best performances of his career. A lot of folks have been talking about Thanos as perhaps the best mo-cap movie character ever created, as if he’s only the result of technological breakthroughs. That’s certainly true, but Brolin truly became this character even though we never seen him physically onscreen.

The creators (specifically the writers and directors) said this would be Thanos’s story, and they were not lying. And a lot of that hangs on Josh Brolin’s shoulders;

Chris Hemsworth as Thor: This character has gone from the forgotten MCU Avenger to everyone’s favorite overnight. No one really missed him in Civil War; Ragnarok seemed like just an obligatory, almost contractual entry on Marvel’s calendar. Then we actually saw the damn thing, and it was terrific.

In some ways, about a third of Infinity War is basically a sequel to Ragnarok. And it was one of the best parts of the movie. Hemsworth has finally found a groove with Thor; on one hand, I’d understand if he decides he’s done with the grind of portraying a superhero; on the other hand… he’s doing his best work right now! Drama! Comedy! Action! Adventure! Thor has become an amazing character, and I really hope he sticks around.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange: Wow! Doctor Strange has come a long way. More than even in his own movie, this is the Doctor Strange that I remember from the comics!

Some of the Lowlights: 

–Really, not much. Some folks have brought up some minor pacing issues; others didn’t like Star-Lord screwing up the plan. But I didn’t notice anything that took me out of the movie.

No, the only thing I would’ve hoped for was actually some more screen time for Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive. The weapons are cool; their backstory is even cooler. In the comics, Corvus Glaive is actually more of an orator about Thanos than Ebony Maw ever was.

It’s a minor quibble, but not having more of Proxima or Corvus robbed us of two things:

First, if we’d spent a little more time with them, they wouldn’t have felt just like cannon fodder during that final battle in Wakanda.

Secondly, Corvus Glaive has one of the best death scenes in comics when he takes on Hyperion in Infinity.

Corvus Death 1

Corvus Glaive Part 2

Even if they had given this sequence to, say, Iron Man dispatching Ebony Maw, this was one great exchange from the comics that I missed in the film.

How Did They Even Make This Movie Without the Silver Surfer Or, Y’know, Adam Warlock… WHO WAS THE MAIN CHARACTER IN THE ORIGINAL COMIC?

–By dividing up their parts among some of the other characters.

Let’s start with the Surfer. His main purpose in Infinity Gauntlet was three-fold.

First, Surfer is extremely powerful, so when Thanos quite easily dispatches him, that tells the audience that Thanos is a badass who is going to be hell to deal with. Then, Surfer is hurtled towards Earth from space to warn the rest of the Marvel heroes that Thanos. Is. Coming! Finally, Surfer was one of the key heavy-hitting combatants that confronts Thanos at the very end of the story.

Hmmm… pretty much every one of those plot points was given to the Hulk in Infinity War. I was actually surprised at how easily the writers were able to slide Hulk into that role.

Adam Warlock’s part was more complicated. I think they actually split his role and gave it to two different characters.

First… I think it’s pretty clear that most of the Soul Stone shenanigans that Warlock gets into in Infinity Gauntlet were given to Gamora (this actually isn’t too far from the comic–Gamora was with Warlock when he emerged from the Soul Stone in the beginning of the story).

I really think Gamora will find her way out of the Soul Stone eventually. She might be the only non-“snap” death that eventually gets reversed. Remember that orange-tinged scene with young Gamora and Thanos at the end of the film, when it seemed like Thanos was having some sort of vision? Yeah, I’m pretty sure that took place in the Soul Stone where Gamora–at least some part of her–still resides.

But there was one other character who got some of Warlock’s lines, I think. As it happens, he also wielded a green Infinity Gem…

Doctor Strange.

In Infinity Gauntlet, Adam Warlock devises what is essentially a long con to wrest control of the Gauntlet from Thanos (who is impossible to defeat in any sort of battle while possessing the gems). At one point, he explains part of his plan to the Silver Surfer, who is horrified to find out that Warlock is interacting with the crisis as if it is some sort of game.

A Game.png

Indeed, gathering Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to face off against Thanos was nothing more than a ploy to distract the Mad Titan, and their subsequent horrific deaths could in fact be attributed to Warlock’s seeming indifference (we find out later that Warlock had no intention of letting their deaths be permanent, but still… ).

Well, I think there’s a lot more going on in the scene between Tony Stark and Doctor Strange on Titan where Strange tells Stark that giving Thanos the Time Gem was “the only way.”

Strange knows something in that scene that we do not. I’m convinced of it! And even if it meant sacrificing half of the galaxy (albeit perhaps temporarily), Strange was willing to do that if it meant ultimate victory in the end.

 

Whew. Alright, that was a little scattered, but I just wanted to get some thoughts down on paper. I loved, loved LOVED this movie, and I hope you all did too!

Back in a few days with some more Clix coverage!

 

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But THIS… Does Put A Smile On My Face!! (Or, Let’s Talk About the Infinity War Trailer!!)

Thanos Infinity Gauntlet

[EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t do many trailer reactions on this site, primarily because we’re mostly about gaming in general, and Heroclix specifically. Also, while some folks manage to publish genuinely entertaining reaction videos on YouTube (The Ecomog #StruggleNation guys and Emergency Awesome are some of my personal faves), most are just schlubby guys staring slightly below the camera while shouting “Wow!” and “Oh S—!!” over and over again.

But while we are assembling our Harley Quinn and the Gotham Girls Top Ten (I’ve heard some people call it “Joker’s Wild” with funner Primes and Chases, but really–no, wait, that’s pretty much it), I thought I’d break from tradition and embark on a little story time about why I wanted to talk about this particular trailer, what exactly seems to be going on with the movie’s story, and maybe even why the Colossal Thanos on the Throne of Death is the default masthead for this blog! 

So, without further ado… on with the show!]

Infinity War poster.jpg

Marvel finally dropped a trailer for Infinity War today. This is the movie I’ve been waiting for ever since I was a little kid, and one that I never thought I’d ever get in my lifetime.

I’ve lived in Michigan my whole life. Grew up just outside of Detroit. For most of my childhood my family would drive up to Lexington, Michigan at least once during every  summer month (after school had let out). Lexington was about 90 minutes away from Detroit, and my grandparents had a small cottage there near Lake Huron.

Now Lexington was (and pretty much still is) the epitome of a small, Midwestern town. It had a Main Street, a few restaurants, a General Store (where, after much petulant badgering, my grandmother would break down and buy me DuckTales stickers and baseball cards) and an indoor bazaar/flea market that, at least in my memory, was always filled to the brim with dusty, undiscovered treasures.

My father was never one to pass up a garage sale or a flea market, so whenever he would head into town, my brother and I always got up early to go with him, particularly because every time we went to that indoor market, someone would be selling… comic books.

In 1992, I was 11 years old, and while I had a general idea who Batman, Superman and Spider-Man were, I was really just discovering the broader range of comic book characters that were out there. That was also the time in my life when I had started earning my own money through delivering newspapers and mowing lawns, so it was not uncommon for me to hit the comic stands with $5, $10 or sometimes even $20 (for our younger readers, you’ll have to trust me–this seemed like a small FORTUNE to 11-year-old me!).

Now I always had to examine the covers of all the comics that were for sale, and my gosh, if I saw a cover advertising a guest appearance by another hero, well, that comic was probably going home with me (I mean, what’s better than getting TWO heroes for the price of one comic?!).

Daredevil 306

I think I still have this issue in my basement somewhere. It came out the same month as Infinity War #1, I think. And it had Daredevil AND Spider-Man!! 11-year-old me was most impressed.

Well, later on in the Summer of 1992, I saw this:

Infinity War 1

A double-sized comic that pretty much had ALL the heroes in the MCU. This blew my mind! I eagerly devoured all six issues of Infinity War; then, the following year, I did it all over again with the sequel, Infinity Crusade.

When I got a little older and I could drive myself to the local comic shop on Wednesdays after high school, I was able to track down bits and pieces of Thanos Quest and Infinity Gauntlet (but, frustratingly, never the whole thing–finding those issues, or even a TPB, became sort of my white whale. Especially because this was before eBay and Amazon).

But the ending of Infinity Gauntlet, where Adam Warlock had to sacrifice his peaceful afterlife in the Soul Gem to literally take on the responsibility of the entire universe while Thanos lost universal omnipotence but gained a mantle of inner peace stuck with me.

Infinity Gauntlet ending

I can still quote the last line of Infinity Gauntlet decades later. “Somehow I feel that, in the long run, Thanos of Titan came out ahead in this particular deal.”

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Starlin does not get nearly enough credit for all the concepts and characters he introduced into the Marvel Universe. He has had a brilliant career, but he’s never mentioned in the same conversations as his contemporaries like Alan Moore and Frank Miller. Watchmen and DKR are brilliant, but Starlin did something arguably harder; he told an all-time great story that took place IN CONTINUITY. This is incredibly difficult to do. How many crossovers have come anywhere close to Infinity Gauntlet’s brilliance? Very few… And while we’re at it, when it comes to drawing Thanos, there’s Ron Lim, and then there’s everyone else. Period.]

It was such a powerful ending; I finally realized that sometimes the good guys don’t completely win, and sometimes the bad guys aren’t gonna get punished. And yet, from there, Thanos develops from a villain into more of an anti-hero who is eventually entrusted with the Reality Gem and actually helps save the universe during future Infinity catastrophes (and Keith Giffen even wrote a marvelously fun and complex Thanos 12-issue series back in 2003-2004 that continued this redemption arc in unexpected ways).

Fast forward to 2012. I can’t believe that Marvel movies that don’t have Spider-Man or an ‘X’ in the title are actually succeeding at the box office. My childhood is coming to life before my eyes. “Avengers” hits and its everything everyone wants it to be. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and nothing like it has ever been attempted at the level on which “Avengers” was executed. It’s a gigantic hit.

Also that year, I met a girl. My third date with her also happened to be my birthday. “Avengers” was our first date, and she’d been madly interrogating my friends in order to figure out what she should get me. Then, in front of a bunch of my family members who she’d only just met that night, my girlfriend handed me a gift bag. This is what was inside:

Infinity Gauntlet TPB

We were married in 2015.

Coincidentally, that was also an “Avengers” year.

I relate all this so that you know that when I hit “Play” on YouTube this morning to watch the “Avengers: Infinity War” trailer, I wasn’t just carrying 10 years of MCU movies with me; I was sitting there with memories of some of the happiest times in my life swimming around my head, waiting with giddy anticipation.

So you can probably guess that I liked it.

It could have been two minutes of a static, black screen and I would have called it “boldly understated” or something. But it wasn’t two minutes of a black screen. It was colorful; vibrant; thrilling; scary; nostalgic; bold; smart; new and surprising and familiar, all at the same time.

In two minutes and twenty-four seconds, this trailer brought together virtually every dangling thread from every Marvel movie in history. Somehow the writers have seamlessly blended the storylines of “Infinity Gauntlet” and “Infinity” (the talented Jonathan Hickman’s magnum opus from 2013) not only with each other but also woven them into the altogether different continuity of the MCU. This is such a complicated structural endeavor that it boggles the mind anyone would even attempt such a thing.

And that’s before you remember that Marvel can’t use the Fantastic Four, Galactus or the Silver Surfer (my God, Surfer was probably the fourth or fifth most important character IN Infinity Gauntlet!!) and that they are CHOOSING not to use Adam Warlock until the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie (or, at least, we assume this to be so).

[EDITOR’S NOTE: I feel like this hasn’t been discussed enough. Again, to make this clear… ADAM WARLOCK IS THE #$&^#(! PROTAGONIST OF INFINITY GAUNTLET!! This would be like a producer going up to Peter Jackson in 1997 and saying, “Look, we’re gonna give you a green light on this Lord of the Rings thing, but only if you lose those weird Hobbit characters. Especially that Frodo guy.“]

This should be an impossible task. But then you watch the trailer, and Black Panther says “Get this man a shield!” and Cap steps out of the shadows to help defend Wakanda against an Outrider invasion, and I’m about frothing at the mouth to find out the earliest date I can pre-order tickets for this movie.

It’s like Kevin Feige and the screenwriters had a workaround for everything.

WRITERS: “Uh, Infinity Gauntlet basically starts with Silver Surfer rushing to warn Earth after a run-in with Thanos and crashing into the Sanctum Sanctorum.

Surfer Crashes

FEIGE: “And?”

WRITERS: “Annnd… we can’t use Silver Surfer.”

Doc and Wong

FEIGE: “Great. So, now the Hulk will be the one to crash into the Sanctum.”

WRITERS: “Uh… he’s not even in space.”

FEIGE: “He will be.”

Hulk Sanctum

Kevin Feige is an absolute stone cold gangster. I’m convinced of this. He saw the possibility for this whole cinematic universe when all anyone else saw was B- and C-list characters with no film potential at all. That’s what I love most about the MCU. Feige and his team just plow ahead.

–Don’t have the rights to Spider-Man or the X-Men? Guess what. We’re focusing exclusively on the Avengers. And we’re gonna do that so well that Sony will be begging us to take over Spidey from them.

–Natalie Portman doesn’t want to come back for Thor 3? Great. We’re not gonna set it on Earth anyway. We’re gonna get Tessa Thompson to play a Valkyrie and it’s going to get the best reviews of any of the Thor movies. Bye Felicia.

–Our original stars are now ten years older and want gobs of money? Great. We’re gonna give it to them for now, but we’re also going to create the next generation of heroes on screen to eventually replace them. And the audience is going to f-ing love every minute of it.

I’m amazed at how many times Marvel has reinvented what a “superhero movie” can be.

For all the reasons I just described, I loved, loved LOVED this trailer, and I can’t wait to take my wife to go and see it in a theater.

Look, I haven’t even really touched on the story of “Infinity” and how it relates to this production, but this probably isn’t going to be the last time I talk about this trailer or this movie, either. But I think I’ll leave it right here for now.

Excelsior.