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Does Infinity War Actually Lack Stakes?

Infinity War

So if you’re like most people in the world, you’ve probably already seen Avengers: Infinity War.  Needless to say, shit hits the fan, and the future of the MCU is in flux.

Or is it?

Marvel Studios has proven very calculated as they build their universe, and their shrewd business practices might have bled into their latest film in an unintended manner.

The following graphic says it all.

Once contract disputes became an obvious issue for the MCU, it was clear that the powers that be had to switch things up.  Many to point to Age of Ultron as the instance in which the MCU reached its most stale point, and Ant-Man, while moderately refreshing, wasn’t exactly an tide-changing affair.  But then, Phase 3 happened, and Marvel expanded into new territory.  After seeing everyone punch each other in Civil War, Marvel got weird with Doctor Strange, and it doubled down on the weirdness with the widely strange Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.  After that was Homecoming, Ragnarokand Black Panther.  Not all of these films include completely new characters, but one could argue that they recontextualize important characters at the very least.

And that’s not the only thing that Marvel addressed with these films.  They also created plenty of new avenues for growth in the MCU with interesting, new characters that fans have already glommed onto.  In this regard, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther led the way as clear stand-outs.  Holland is clearly positioned as a cornerstone of the MCU post-Phase-3 as a youngster with a boyish charm and youthful appearance that will allow him to stay believable in the role for quite some time.  Meanwhile, Black Panther is well over the $1.3 billion mark.  Money talks in Hollywood, and a sequel will obviously happen at some point.

In reality, we don’t need Iron Man and Cap anymore, we have plenty of new heroes ready to take the mantle.

infinity war

image via IGN

The Deaths

Now would be the perfect time to bow out of this article if you haven’t seen Infinity War.  Below are all the deaths to hero-types in the film:

  • Hemidall
  • Loki
  • Gamora
  • Vision
  • Black Panther
  • Spider-Man
  • Doctor Strange
  • Winter Soldier
  • Falcon
  • Scarlet Witch
  • Star-Lord
  • Groot
  • Drax
  • Mantis
  • Nick Fury
  • Maria Hill

At first glance, Marvel deserves a lot of credit for having the cojones to pull off such a widespread killing spree of beloved characters.  People have complained for years that Marvel films have lacked stakes, and many were delighted — including myself — and praised Infinity War for an extra layer of stakes and feeling of desperation.  After all, killing sixteen characters is no small endeavor.

And yet, for once, Marvel’s calculated, well-oiled business model has come back to bite them, and it makes these deaths look less like incredibly ballsy narrative decisions and more like one big cop-out.

infinity war

image via QuirkyByte

The Future of the MCU

After Infinity War comes Ant-Man and the Wasp, Captain Marvel, and the untitled Avengers 4.  Those films will end the MCU as we know it and a new age will begin, and that “new age” is precisely where Infinity War breaks down.

In July of 2019, a sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming is already slated for release, and Tom Holland is confirmed to return as Spider-Man.  Even worse, James Gunn has already noted that a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is in development and scheduled for 2020.  And while there’s been no official press release for a sequel to Black Panther, it’s clear that Marvel would want to continue to with that particular titular character after the film overperformed mightily as the box office.

Instead of worrying about the death of a certain character, Marvel has effectively changed the question to “how will these heroes return?”  And when combined with the fact that the contracts of all of the original Avengers are up after Avengers 4 coupled with the fact that RDJ and Chris Evans have stated multiple times that they are done with the MCU after that film, it becomes fairly obvious that there will be some cosmic switcheroo that occurs in Avengers 4 that brings back the new faces of the MCU and tips the cap to the old faces that are ending their run as they are killed off in some sort of valiant gesture that thanks these actors for their hard work over the years.  Realistically, we know where all of this is headed.

infinity war

image via Forbes

Does this Ruin Infinity War?

The above question is up to the individual viewer, but it’s obvious that Marvel Studios‘ insistence on world-building and planting its flags years in advance (not to mention the public manner in which they’ve handled their actors) may have diminished the power of the film for those that are tune with general movie news.  Based solely on the narrative of the film, the carnage that occurs after Thanos’ snap works quite well.  Still, you’d be lying to yourself if your mind didn’t immediately think, “Tom Holland is obviously coming back for another Spider-Man film.”

The prevailing thought leading up to the release of Infinity War was that the film would be a gamechanger for the MCU.  And in many ways, that sentiment is still true.  However, it might also be a gamechanger from the business and PR side of it all, forcing Marvel to reassess how they handle media coverage and flaunt their Phases for everyone to see as they also juggle a quickly-changing, film-to-film narrative full of brand new and newly-resurrected faces.


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Nick Kush

A current young professional, Nick founded MovieBabble in October of 2016 in order to provide insightful film analysis that is meant to educate and entertain. Nick is also a member of the Internet Film Critics Society. You can follow Nick at the official MovieBabble Twitter account @MovieBabble_

19 Responses

  1. Tiffany Lea says:

    Love this post, thank you for sharing! I loved Avengers:IW was so much, its such a great movie! I got the insane opportunity to go to the World Premiere on the 23rd. I was just in front of Tom Holland during the screening at the Dolby Theater, he was with his brothers and they were all so sweet! I got to talk to members of the cast and they were all incredibly nice! I wrote two posts on my blog about it (one about the premiere and another one about after party) if you’d like to check it out!

    https://zimmylifestyle.com/

  2. sirsyzer7 says:

    If there’s any character who’s return we should be worried about, its Gamora. Given that her death was required to obtain the Soul Gem, its questionable whether she can be brought back without giving it back or trading her for another character. Maybe in the next movie the Avengers will end up needing her for something and then one of them will have to choose to sacrifice him/herself. I can see a guilt-wracked Steve Rogers making that choice.

    On another topic, it stands to reason that now that the Soul Gem has been taken, Red Skull is no longer bound to act as its guide. So assuming he can find a way off of Vormir, I suspect we’ll see him again in a later movie.

    And also, shameless plug for my fresh new blog!
    https://challengering.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/how-infinity-war-does-thor-right/

  3. I enjoyed the movie a lot, and for those who didn’t like the ending because the stakes weren’t real, should we criticizing the endings of “Wrath of Khan” and “Empire Strikes Back” for the same reason?

  4. Since this is a spoiler-filled article, I might as well dive in my thoughts. It was shocking that so many characters introduced in Phases 2 & 3 got axed off. From nearly the entirety of the Guardians of the Galaxy to the relative newbies in Black Panther and Spider-Man, it’s safe to say that those who thought Iron Man, Captain America and Black Widow would bite the dust here were WAY off (myself included, at least on Tony & Steve). The only was I see someone like Peter Parker coming back is if Tony manages to nab the Soul Stone and uses it to sacrifice himself so that our favorite web-head can get resurrected. I’m sure we’ll develop loads of fan theories by the time the fourth Avengers film rolls around, but this does succeed in making me wonder how the MCU in gonna push forward from this and how some (if not all) of those that actually got the axe will come back.

    P.S. Did the citizens of Asgard, Korg and Meek get killed off in between “Thor: Ragnarok” and this film?” Dude, that’s dark before we even get out of the starting gate.

    • Nick Kush says:

      The more I think about it, that’s kind of a cheap way to start this film. What about Valkryie? If there’s anything that the MCU needs, it’s more women heroes and to have her die offscreen is akin to something out of Aliens 3. It’s a bit frustrating!

      • I just heard from recent articles that Valkyrie escaped with a small group of Asgardians. I’m assuming that Korg and Meik also went with her, since their bodies weren’t among the slained in the opening scene, especially since Taika Waititi helped make Korg into a breakout character and we’ve only just been introduced to him and his bug buddy. Maybe it was muddled in radio static while the Marvel Studios logo (the 10-year version, by the way) was being shown and we probably just missed it.

      • Nick Kush says:

        That’s a possibility! It would just really bother me if they were killed off immediately! I need more Taika humor in my life lol

      • Don’t we all!

      • Nick Kush says:

        At I least I hope so! Lol

  5. knurly says:

    Well we don’t know which characters they will bring back. Obv Spiderman, that’s pretty much confirmed. They stated that all characters who died wouldn’t come back, but I guess they’re getting around this because most didn’t “die” they just were erased. Nice technicality.

    As someone who didn’t love either avengers, and was very reluctant to watch MCU movies, I DID still like Infinity Wars. I still cried. It was still emotional enough. Of course, shortly after the movie ended this post encompassed exactly what I was thinking: OH BULLSH-

  6. That’s the one issue I had, that they killed off too many Phase 2 and 3 characters and only a handful from Phase 1; it would’ve felt more impactful if we’d have lost at least one of the founding Avengers. Still, despite the Feige and the Russo’s insistence, this was the first half of one story, so it’s entirely possible we’ll lose Tony, Steve or Thor in the second half. My only hope is that the movie won’t be like most Marvel second-halves where they just throw endless one-liners at you that take away all the tension that was set up before. This being the Russo brothers though, I doubt that will be the case.

    • Nick Kush says:

      Perfectly said! Could not agree more!

    • 18cinemalane says:

      I whole-heartedly agree with both of you, Nick and CinemaQualitySupervisor, about this entire topic. The reasons that were stated, from announced sequels to Phase 1 heroes still remaining, are what made me not like this ending, as it felt, to me, like a painfully obvious “set-up” for Avengers 4. I would also like to add that because of IMDB Filmographies, I knew before seeing Avengers: Infinity War that some of the actors in this movie were coming back for the story’s next chapter.

  7. I totally agree that Marvel is going to bring them all back (time travel is what I’m guessing). Here’s the thing I realized about this movie though – you can’t really judge it as a movie. It’s an annual event comics crossover come to life. And what do annual-event comic crossovers do? They put big stakes into the early comics that get undone by the end. You captured it perfectly – the tension isn’t from “are they staying dead” the tension is from “how are they going to write their way out of this one?”

    • Nick Kush says:

      Absolutely! This is like an event in every way imaginable. I wrote about that fact in my review of the film. It just would have been nice if they hadn’t disclosed the fact that more films with dead characters are coming down the road lol!

  8. Nick Kush says:

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