A Universe in the making: A review of Marvel’s ‘Avenger’s: Infinity War’
Marvel’s ‘Avenger’s: Infinity War’ is the 19th instalment in the ‘MCU’ saga, and the third Marvel film to have been directed by Antony and Joseph Russo (aka ‘the Russo Brothers’). This film helps to link the ever-expanding story by directly following on from Taika Waititi’s ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ with Thor’s vessel ‘The Statesmen’ being assaulted by Thanos’ flagship ‘The Sanctuary 2’. The Russo Brothers did a good job at addressing the fact that there are only a few new characters that have not already been introduced, which are ‘Cull Obsidian’, ‘Proxima Midnight’, ‘Ebony Maw’ and ‘Corvus Glaive’ (aka ‘the Black Order’), instead of trying to be intentionally vague (by not developing anyone new) or not updating any existing characters for viewers/fans who may not be caught up yet. In addition to this what the opening act of Infinity War does is set up the over-arching theme for the film, as well as the main protagonist, which breaks the mould for both action and superhero films as it establishes the main villain (Thanos) as the “hero” of his own story. The death of both Loki and Heimdall within the opening act of Infinity War prepares and introduces the audience to the film’s theme of ‘sacrifice,’ and the consequences of taking such risks for the greater good. For example, Cap’s refusal to destroy both Vision and The Mind Stone and the inevitable demise of Vision as a result of wielding The Mind Stone since his creation in ‘Age of Ultron’. To explore the impact of both the clear foreshadowing and dramatic irony of Vision’s death, it is important to focus on not just his journey throughout the ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’, but the journey of the ‘Infinity Stones’ as well.
“The death of both Loki and Heimdall within the opening act of Infinity War prepares and introduces the audience to the film’s theme of ‘sacrifice,’ and the consequences of taking such risks for the greater good”
A different element of Infinity War that helps to keep Marvel’s target audience keen, interested and engaged with what is happening either on an on screen sequence or a ‘mise en scène’ which is development of the character’s personality and the interactions between themselves within the expansive universe that has been growing since Marvel’s ‘Iron Man’ in May 2008. An example of this would be the first proper interaction/conversation between The Avengers (Thor) and The Guardians of the Galaxy. The reason why this particular conversation is important to the over-arching plot (in terms of the Infinity Saga), is that this is the first conversation Thor has with another group of sentient beings (The Guardians), after the final act of ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ and the opening sequence of Infinity War. Here Thor is able to discuss his feelings on tragic and devastating events that have recently transpired, such as the loss of his home, and that his whole family has been killed in one way or another. He is able to grieve and connect with others who have also felt intense pain and suffering, in particular, Peter Quill (Star Lord), Gamora, Drax and Rocket Racoon. He does this by talking to Rocket and by calling him ‘Rabbit’ — therefore making it the fifth running nickname for Rocket within the ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ but ‘The Guardians’ franchise as well.
Another aspect that makes Infinity War a masterpiece of a film, within the pedigree that the ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ has established over the past ten years, is the vastly iconic and beautiful cinematography. For instance each locale is different and designed to match the environment and situation that a particular hero is in. To emphasise this point I will briefly analyse the Wakanda fight scene in the closing act of the film. It is well known that Wakanda’s vast landscape is beautifully designed with the lush green fields for farming and the highly technologically advanced cityscape in the background, as established by 2018’s ‘Black Panther’. But this is quickly contradicted by the impending battle between Cull Obsidian, Proxima Midnight, and their Outriders against The Avengers, Black Panther and his Wakandan forces. Also what makes this sequence one of the best in the film is the fact that the majority of camera shots used to demonstrate the severity of the situation are wide shots that help to connote how The Avengers, despite being greatly outnumbered, are strongly determined to defend the ones they care about the most while under extreme pressure. Also, what makes this sequence interesting and unique for the superhero genre is the injection of humour in-between scenes of peril. An example of this in action is a conversation that takes place between Captain America, Thor (with Stormbreaker) and teenage Groot, in which Cap and Thor talk about their facial hair and Thor introduces Cap to a sixth of the Guardians and Cap gets his own signature “catchphrase” of “I am Steve Rogers”.
“Another aspect that makes Infinity War a masterpiece of a film, within the pedigree that the ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ has established over the past ten years, is the vastly iconic and beautiful cinematography”
Now moving onto one of the more critical parts of the film’s appeal and effectiveness to fans, is the choice of music and the place that it is used within the film, and how the music changes depending on the locale and setting of a certain scene. For example, how the score for Tony and the others leaving Earth for Titian on the Q-ship is sombre in tone, whereas the next establishing scene is in Space and has the Detroit Spinners’ ‘Rubberband Man’ playing in the background, which denotes that the focus is now on the Guardians and gives the film an upbeat vibe when it needs it most. This is especially the case when several key characters have either been killed off or are missing, as a result of off screen circumstances such as Korg, Miek and Valkyrie being absent for the rest of the film. Without knowing what happened to them, this helps to create cohesion by enabling the audience to speculate and craft theories on what could happen next.
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