Avengers Infinity War checked something off my bucket list
I finally saw Avengers Infinity War yesterday. I know, I am a couple of weeks behind most of the world, but it's been a busy month.
I will say this now: if you have still not seen it, then stop reading here. Far from spoiler-free, this post is chock full of spoilers. It's not unfair, you've been warned and I've made my thoughts on spoilers very clear in the past.
Now that is out of the way. I loved Infinity War. It wasn't my favourite Marvel film ever (I think Black Panther still takes that) and it battled against the torrent of enthusiastic reviews which meant it had a mountain to climb to live up to the hype. For what it's worth, S didn't really like it, but I thought they did a great job of pulling it all together and taking a decade of films in the same direction.
But, for me, Infinity War did something I have wanted to see since I was a little kid.
The good guys lost.
When I was at school I used to suggest that they could make the most talked about (and possibly successful) Bond film of all time if there was a final sequence which put an end to the series for ever. James Bond fights through the bad guys, saves the girl and comes face to face with the villain. He steps out into the courtyard to face them and a single shot rings out. Bond collapses to the floor and as the screen fades to black you hear: "So it ends Mr Bond. As you always knew it would."
Then there is a black screen with the words: "James Bond will not return."
Imagine the silence and disbelief in the cinema. I'm pretty sure I got as close to that as I will ever see with the ending of Infinity War. The slow close-up on Captain America looking disconsolate followed by Thanos watching the sun rise over his universe. Half of the Marvel heroes are dead. Thanos attacked, the good guys opposed him - and they failed.
I know there is another film to come, but for that moment the bad guy has won. People often throw The Empire Strikes Back at me at this point. But it's not the same. The middle film of the original Star Wars trilogy doesn't end with desolate failure. Luke has a new hand, Lando is off to find Han; it ends with hope.
Even if you count the Captain Marvel post-credits scene, Infinity War ends with desperation at best.
Now I may seem a bit dark and cynical to enjoy this. Maybe I am. But I think it's a great thing for a film like this to do. Just because the good guys are fighting for something does not mean they will get it. Just because they are 'right' does not mean they win. If victory in films always goes to the just party then did Thanos and his arbitrary, universe-saving genocide just become right?
Of course not. It was a shock factor and a proper cliff edge ending for a film. No doubt we will see the return of many of those who died in the climactic moments and you have to think that next summer's Avengers film will redress the balance of the universe slightly. But not right now.
Marvel spent 10 years building up to this film and they did not end it with a cliff-hanger. They drove the bus right off the cliff and ended with the moment it smashed into the cold, dark ocean below. The question now is: who can swim?
Photos all courtesy of Marvel Studios