19 Questions About Avengers: Infinity War
You might be wondering, why 19 questions? Well Avengers: Infinity War is the 19th movie set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And as you'd expect, it's not simply enough to watch and appreciate the feat of a decade's worth of movies finally coming together. No, rather, we must meticulously dissect everything that happened – and it's been out for three weeks, which means that it's societally acceptable to post spoiler-adjacent content. So let's embark on an exhausting effort to underappreciate a movie which, a decade from now, will be recognized as one of the defining cultural events of its time.
Spoilers ahead. Obviously.
(1) How did Thanos defeat the combined forces of the Hulk, Thor, and Loki at the beginning? At the time, Thanos only had one stone (Power Stone), and even though he had the Black Order by his side, most of them are pretty useless (more on that in a second) as they're beaten handily over the course of the rest of the movie. Loki is a former MCU villain worthy of being the focus of an entire Avengers movie (who was murdered somewhat unceremoniously for a character of his stature), and the writers never let us forget that the Hulk is the one of the strongest Avengers – coincidentally, the one who did most of the work in said first team-up.
(2) How did Cap know exactly where Vision and Scarlet Witch were? Tony makes it a point to say that he doesn't know where they are because Vision turned off his tracking device or something.
(3) Is it time to write the non-superhero characters (as in, characters without superpowers) out of these movies? It's somewhat unbelievable that Black Widow and Hawkeye (despite how much I love Jeremy Renner) can hold their own in these fights. It was epitomized in Ultron when Hawkeye tried to fight Vision and failed horribly. It's not their fault! They're TV show Avengers. Put 'em in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or give them a Legends of Tomorrow-esque show to mess around in. At least Ironman earned his suit – because it was the first one to use the idea, and he actually made the technology. Spiderman definitely did not earn his suit. Antman… I actually couldn't tell you how Antman got his suit, but it feels like he doesn't deserve it.
(4) Did Ironman genuinely think that taking the Time Stone to Thanos was a better idea than simply hiding out on Earth? It's a glossed-over plot driver which invites some serious criticism for Ironman's mental faculties. The main motivation is to prevent Thanos from getting all of the Infinity Stones, so keeping one far away would (logically) make the most sense. Or, they could have just hidden the stone on an uninhabited planet at the top of a scary-looking mountain that no one would dare climb. Oh, wait...
(5) Was it really necessary to kill off Ebony Maw – the member of the Black Order who looks like Voldemort who we're just going to call Voldemort from now on because what kind of name is Ebony Maw – so early? Easily the best somewhat-irrelevant addition to a universe starved for good villains, Voldemort's casual arrogance and impressive vocabulary ("your humble personage") made him a great foil for the Strange/Ironman duo. He flies (like Voldemort), conjures stuff in midair (like Voldemort), and dies in a kind of dumb way (exactly like Voldemort). Actually, the way Voldemort dies in Deathly Hallows Part 2 is exactly the way that half of humanity dies at the end! #fadeaway
(6) Can we collectively agree that Thor is the coolest Avenger? He's now had three movies that are tonally distinct -- an all-too-serious introductory flick, a fun ensemble-driven adventure, and a buddy-cop romp that was more comedy than action. He has the best weapons - formerly a hammer, now an axe, and lightning. Combine that with a cool haircut, incredible chemistry all the way around (See: the hammer scene in Ultron, the interactions with the Guardians, and the entirety of Ragnarok), and a truly otherworldly level of attractiveness, and you have a definitive winner of 'best avenger'.
Quick Note: the Drax bit during the Thor/Gurdians scene had more than just a hint of truth. If you watch Guardians, you can convince yourself that Chris Pratt is pretty attractive, perhaps even something of a sex symbol in today's Hollywood. But juxtaposed with Chris Hemsworth – especially Hemsworth in full scruff and with only one eye – and Pratt is (in Drax's Words) just a "dude".
(7) Why does everyone give away Infinity Stones like they're not the most powerful things in the universe? Thanos' acquisitions were somewhat formulaic – Loki gave away the Tesseract to save Thor, Gamora gave away the location of the Soul Stone to save Nebula, and Dr. Strange gave away the Time Stone to save Ironman (although that might have just been a part of his larger plan).
(8) Why did Captain America not already have his shield? T'challa – in one of ten lines he has in the entire movie – says "get this man a shield." Cap notably left his shield lying on the ground at the end of Civil War, which doesn't make sense because it's a priceless piece of Vibranium. It's not like the Wakandans could have made him a better shield, because they also have… Vibranium.
(9) Why did we go through the whole post-credits scene with The Collector if Thanos was just going to get the Reality Stone off-screen? And can we stop casting Benicio del Toro in these big franchise movies? His characters are infuriating!
(10) Since when did Scarlet Witch get so powerful? Also, what are her actual powers? A quick Wikipedia search indicates that it's "chaos magic" which… yeah, it checks out. There's not really any consistency to how her powers work – she can use them to create a force field (which apparently can contain energy too), to control the mind stone (and render Vision pretty useless), to rip out the heart of Ultron (pity she couldn't do that with Thanos), for general telekinesis, and apparently now for laser blasts? What? Didn't she get her powers because she was experimented on by Hydra? How was she able to hold off Thanos powered by five Infinity stones? How can she destroy the Mind Stone but not any of the other stones? How did Vision know that she could destroy the Mind Stone? If he knew that, why didn't he convince her that finding/breaking the other stones would be a good idea?
(11) On the subject of 'How Powerfully Is This Character Really?', I don't get Ironman. He somehow manages to put up a pretty damn good fight against Thanos – surviving longer than any other character in 1v1 combat – but they want us to believe that the dude with the whips from Ironman 2 was his only real match? Did Tony steal Cap's shield and melt Vibranium down to make another suit?
(12) Continuing the subject of 'How Powerfully Is This Character Really?' (yes, this is important), the overall uselessness of Vision in this movie seems like a very underrated plot point. Injuring him via some Black Order magical weapon seemed pretty hand-wavy for the incapacitation of the (by far) most powerful Avenger. Vision – in his limited screentime – just kind of dicked around by walking through things and blowing things up, including almost murdering War Machine.
(13) What happened to Elizabeth Olson's eastern European accent? Did she spend too much time around Vision? Is that one of her weird powers?
(14) Why didn't Eitri (played by Peter Dinklage, who has wrested the all-dwarf-roles title away from Warwick Davis) have his shit together when they were making Thor's axe? For a master craftsman, having the handle ready and accessible seems at least somewhat important, especially so another character doesn't have to sacrifice a literal arm to make up for your mistake.
(15) Can this please… please be the last movie in which we use time travel as a primary driving construct? No doubt, it was cool when Thanos used it at the end to undo the destruction of the Mind Stone, but it completely kills any stakes built up over the course of ten years and eighteen movies. Of course we know Black Panther isn't dead, because there's going to be a Black Panther 2. Same with Spiderman. And if they're coming back, who else is? Gamora? Loki? Ebony Maw? Please let it be Ebony Maw! There have only been a few movies where time travel has ever really worked as a believable construct, and many more where the sci-fi logic unraveled far too easily (see: Interstellar's bookcase of love). The best case is probably X-Men: Days of Future Past (which for some reason we all accept as a not-stupid name for a movie) where time travel was effectively the entire premise of the movie (a la Edge of Tomorrow, Source Code, Looper) and not just a quick deus ex machina like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (a plot device so broken that JK Rowling had to write a plot that would specifically destroy all Time Turners so they could no longer be used after Order of the Phoenix).
(16) Was Red Skull's appearance really necessary? If we were going to get a relatively boring villain back, couldn't we have gotten some Ultron?
(17) Why was War Machine left alive after everyone faded away? They left all the original Avengers, and for some reason Don Cheadle, who should have died in Civil War.
(18) Did you know that the two characters with the most shared screentime are actually Captain America and… Black Widow? Even more surprisingly, Starlord and Gamora are third on that list, even though they had three fewer movies. God I hate Starlord. I'm not even going to ask the question "why did they go for the painful trope of a hero doing something inexplicably dumb like punching someone in the face, thereby costing the team a win" because that's how little I care about Starlord.
(19) Possibly the most ridiculous thing to happen in the entire movie – how was Nick Fury's shitty ASCII pager capable of showing the Captain Marvel symbol? Why was he even using a pager? And if it's some kind of high-tech 21st century pager, then why is it even a pager? Why wouldn't it be a cell phone? How did Nick Fury have access to Captain Marvel but fail to recruit her for the Avengers? What if it just so happened that she was in the half of people that Thanos wiped out? Would there just not be a next movie? Did Dr. Strange see Captain Marvel in his vision of the one successful outcome?