Avengers: Infinity War
Comic book superheroes are definitely “a thing” in Hollywood
these days: there is
considerable box office revenue to be made among (mostly younger)
moviegoing fans who cheer out loud during previews.
And the sustained success has attracted many of Hollywood's A-list
actors to play characters patently cartoonish.
And yet its very success has spawned many proliferations---so many
different charcters with varied profiles and a variety of superpowers that
we have trouble keeping them all straight.
To elminate a few of the more “marginal” ones would create
heightened melodrama as well as sharpen the focus for the “main” ones.
So what better method than to enlist yet another comic pulp
anti-hero, a cosmic super-villain to plot their demise?
Thanos (the voice of Josh Brolin, with the torso of a monstrous
body builder) is appropriately named:
the Greek word for “death” decides that the overpopulated world
desperately needs some thinning out, but nobody has the stomach for
it---except him. He claims
he's actually saving the world by planning to destroy half of it.
Kind of like an “intentional burn” in a forest in order to
guarantee long-term viability. Except
that all our “good guys” in spandex tights are appalled at this
threatened genocide of the innocents, and decide they need to band
together to meet this dark threat to the world's very existence.
Yes, it's 160 minutes long, and even longer, if you count having to
sit through all the credits to catch the last couple of follow-up scenes.
And yes, there are some 76 characters in this story, some of whom
will be unfamiliar to all but the most maniacal of comic book hero
superfans. But even for those
of us who are more casual observers of the genre, there's some rapid-fire
repartee that helps lighten the mood considerably.
Yes, there's plenty of friendly rivalry even among the “good
guys,” which include, by the way, a number of females (but not the
recent wildly popular Wonder Woman---that's another playing field
With such a large ensemble cast, there's only so much screen time
to go around, so don't expect anybody to stop and explain who all these
characters are----if you don't already know, you have to figure it out
from the particular superpower they wield.
Or just roll with all the non-introductions.
The story line goes like this:
Thanos is trying to collect all six super-powerful “infinity
stones”, so that he can become the most powerful force in the universe;
enough to fulfill his dream of thinning out the population to leave more
elbow room for the remainder. (We used to fight huge wars and suffer
endemic diseases to accomplish the same thing, but alas, our technological
advances have staved off the spread of disease, and the monstrous
destructive capability of our nuclear weapons has created a holocaust
standoff, because any nation trying to nuke others will also destroy
itself.) Of course Thanos has
to be absolutely loveless in order to attempt such a pyrrhic victory, and
he thinks he is, except that he discovers he has some emotional attachment
to rebellious offspring that surprises even himself.
Even the ultimate bad guy is not evil enough to free himself
completely of all feeling.
Of course in mortal combat all strategy is out the window after the
first shot is fired, and on a bloody killing field, there are many random
combat scenarios, and serial opportunities for unintentional consequences.
By the time we quit quipping and get to really fighting, violence
hangs over the grisly proceedings like a palpable pall.
There's even the “martyr” dynamic of heroes needing to choose
whether to risk sacrificing self to save others, or worse, debating
whether to help comrades with their requests to become martyrs for the
cause. After a while, we
wonder what “the cause” really represents.
But that happens in the aftermath of all wars, however infinite.