by Ray Keating
August 23, 2018
DisneyBizJournal.com Movie Rating: 5 stars out of 5
DisneyBizJournal.com Box Office Rating: $$$$ out of $$$$
Last week, Avengers: Infinity Wararrived on DVD/Blu-ray, which gave me another chance to watch this big, magnificent film.
And make no mistake, Infinity Waris big in assorted ways. First, it was monster big at the box office, raking in, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, more than $2 billion.
Second, Infinity Warranks as the big payoff that fanboys, fangirls and general moviegoers have been waiting for after watching the first 18 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Various threads are tied together, even including a key point in how the first Captain America movie – Captain America: The First Avenger(2011) – came to an end.
Third, Infinity Warrates as big in terms of action, which stretches around the globe and across the galaxy, and special effects.
Fourth, the movie is big in terms of directorial achievement, as the Russo brothers, Anthony and Joe, ably and coherently tell a sweeping, compelling story, while managing myriad characters. After all, this is the story to which 18 previous movies were basically pointing. It’s rather amazing that the moviegoer gets to see some quality screen time for so many characters. While Iron Man, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Bruce Banner/Hulk, Vision, Scarlett Witch, Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy carry good chunks of the story (I’m sure someone out there on the internet has tallied up lines and screen time for each character), others – including Captain America, Black Widow, and Black Panther – certainly don’t get lost in any way. In fact, for Captain America fans such as myself, there’s a scene toward the end of the film where Cap briefly squares off against the evil Thanos that captures the importance of Captain America to the MCU without any dialogue.
Fifth, Infinity Warserves up a big wallop regarding relationships between certain characters that Marvel movie fans have come to love, and even among some who perhaps weren’t exactly at the top of our hero lists coming into the movie. That includes the brothers Thor and Loki; the love between Star-Lord and Gamora, as well as between Scarlet Witch and Vision; sisters Nebula and Gamora; and a kind of father-son relationship between Tony Stark/Iron Man and Peter Parker/Spider-Man.
But even given all of this, the sixth way that Infinity Waris a big, magnificent movie comes via its big villain, Thanos. After being teased about Thanos in previous films, one had to wonder if the character could live up to expectations. But Thanos actually surpassed those expectations. In fact, and I know this will stir up an argument amongst aficionados, in my estimation, Thanos ranks as the greatest villain of any superhero story to reach the silver screen. He is anything but the one-dimensional evildoer who often pops up in movies like this.
A big question with the villain of any story is: Why? Why does Thanos do what he does? We find the answer in the work of a long discredited 19thcentury economist. Thomas Robert Malthus basically argued that humanity would only experience misery as population growth would outstrip the production of food. Thanos is Malthus, but with staggering power and a will to “solve” the Malthusian dilemma. Of course, Thanos was as wrong as Malthus was. And if anyone doubts that ideas have consequences, Thanos is the villain who believes that the ends justify murderous means, and that the evil he is perpetrating is necessary to bring about something he deems to be the common good. As Gamora says to him, “You kill and torture, and call it mercy.” In fact, Thanos is even willing to experience his own heartache to carry out his twisted solution.
History unfortunately is familiar with this kind of villain, and in Infinity War, we see how a twisted, yet brilliant mind can rationalize breathtaking evil. Thanos offers the worst example of what happens when human reason, if you will, is unanchored from anything greater, or higher.
At the end of Infinity War, moviegoers are left with two big desires. We long for the still untitled Avengers 4 sequel coming in May 2019. And we wonder will Avengers: Infinity Warget Oscar recognition, given that the Academy Awards will be adding a new category this coming year for the best “popular film”? (See DisneyBizJournal’s analysison this new Oscar.) As it turns out, Infinity Warbecame the big superhero movie in assorted, wondrous and unexpected ways.
Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels, with the two latest books being Reagan Country: A Pastor Stephen Grant Noveland Heroes and Villains: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story. He can be contacted at email@example.com.