Avenges: Infinity War is a cultural phenomenon, I believe that’s self-evident, and I as the majority of the world saw it opening weekend contributing to a record breaking effort for Marvel Studios. Who deserve props because they had every excuse make a safe, predictable ‘normal’ Marvel film to satisfy the endless lines of fanboys and clueless onlookers. Bewilderingly Avengers: Infinity War is great. It was pleasant surprise that this climax of 10 years of well-thought out universe construction would result in a movie that stands out amongst its contemporaries. Infinity War joins the shortlist of Superhero films that transcend their genre and become films to be remember, along with the likes of: The Dark Knight and Captain America Winter Soldier.
All the praise directed at this movie is predominantly because of the standout aspect of this film, Thanos. I would gander to say that Thanos might be one of my favourite cinematic villains in recent memory. The performance given by Josh Brolin and the nuanced writing by Marvel culminate in a villain that like the film itself, standout amongst its contemporaries. Thanos is not a one-dimensional overpowered tyrant bent of needless, senseless destruction but a character who has been through it all and come out with a solution that he knows many consider detestable. Marvel of all studios have created a fantastic villain, when their villains are the one aspect of their films that are nearly universally criticised. Thanos and Tony Stark (Iron Man) are all that matter in this film, they are what make this film great. This is evident in 3 defining scenes from this movie, Tony and Thanos’ post fight conversation, the final scene of the film and the events on Vormir, which all display the nuance and cleverness behind these characters.
These scenes collectively humanise Thanos; the conversation between Tony and the unique tyrant is so effective because it displays the difference between Thanos and the titular ‘big bads’ common in action/Superhero movies. A lesser villain once soundly defeating the heroes would gloat and announce his joy at besting our heroes. This trope is an easy emotional reaction from the audience, an easy heel manoeuvre for cheap heat and is completely overdone. However, Thanos genuinely sympathises with Tony and acknowledges his valency and announces that he hopes the people or Earth remember him for his efforts. This simple exposit from Thanos shows complexity and human characteristics in his personality and character that allow him to standout. The final scene of the film is a grand blend of subtly and vicarious thrill. Once again Thanos doesn’t gloat in his overbearing accomplishment but finds the satisfaction within himself. Ultimately, this allows the audience to understand and respect him for his achievements even if they find them detestable.
The scene on Vormir has had me astonished ever since I saw the film last week. Not only does it continue to humanise and give nuance to a great character in Thanos in all the ways listed above; but also in its similarities to the long running manga series Berserk. Avengers: Infinity War and Berserk would seemingly have nothing in common but there are too many similarities in this scene for it to be a coincidence. Obviously, the solar eclipse ubiquitous in the background of the scene is a parallel, also the sacrificial element is another obvious parallel. But the two other examples that cement this as a reference or homage is Red Skull being presented similarly to Void (dark cloak, knowledgeable key holders) and the imagery in the lake displayed below with the circular object coming to the worthy character in a lake. This scene blew my mind in the theatre, and was one of the strangest, most cereal experiences I’ve ever had watching a film, never did I imagine the biggest film, possibly of all time would reference Berserk…
Overall this movie was a pleasant surprise and a movie I would like to soon revisit. It has shortcomings, like Scarlet Witch and Visions’ unbearably dull scenes and the lack of anything to do with Captain America, Black Panther or Black Widow. But the refreshing quality of Thanos as a villain and his incredible interaction with Iron Man propel this movie to unforeseen heights to someone who thought they fully understood the Superhero genre. I genuinely hope this film becomes the highest grossing movie of all time because it deserves it.