I have to admit something that is probably going to be unpopular: I thought Infinity War was a hot mess. I, of course, have been told–mostly by offended Marvel fans who are appalled that I dared to speak out against their Holy Bible of the MCU– my opinion is invalid. According to them, I am just upset about certain events that transpired against one of my favorite characters and would totally love the movie if my favorite hadn’t met an untimely end. In all honesty, my issues have nothing to do with the deaths and everything to do with the execution of those deaths (no pun intended).

Listen, I understand that the directors and writers were given gargantuan tasks of making a movie with the most Avengers of any previous film and of making Thanos the most formidable foe in MCU history. They had a lot riding on this movie, and they had certain pieces that needed to make it into the story so they could wrap it up nicely in the sequel. But when you overlook character arcs and glaring plot holes to reach your desired end, you’re doing something wrong as a writer. And I’m not the only one who feels this way. I have spoken to multiple people, interestingly, all writers, who feel the screenwriters Christopher Marcus and Stephen McFeely struck out when it came to getting from point a to point zed. The frustrating part is that mere days after the movie premiered and broke box office records, I had formulated dozen of scenarios that would’ve fixed this clunky writing while maintaining the major premise of “Thanos wins.”

When I stepped into the theater, I was very prepared to be emotionally verklempt after watching the movie. I’d seen enough trailers and interviews with cast members, plus I had knowledge of what happens in the comic book version of Infinity War to know it was going to be a bloodbath. I’d brought a handful of tissues to use during times when my favorite characters kicked the bucket, and I was bracing myself for emotional scenes of death and heartbreak. Imagine my surprise when I left the film feeling underwhelmed. When Loki died, instead of feeling angst and anguish, my thought was “Really? This is how they’re going to kill this character? Why is he not doing something to fight back? This is lame.” Loki in the comics and in the MCU has been shown to have shape-shifting, conjuring, and cloning abilities.  Loki has also been painted as a brilliant strategist, who would more than willingly run away to live and fight another day.

According to the directors and actor Tom Hiddleston, Loki wasn’t going to run because he was redeeming himself. Fine, I get it. You’re going for a redemption arc, but at least do the arc correctly. It would have been much more in-character to have Loki clone himself a dozen times and send all of his clones as decoys as he tried to stab Thanos. Loki would have still ultimately died, but he would have been working in a manner faithful to his characterization. It would have also been more in-character for Thanos to test his newly acquired Tesserect on Loki rather than simply squeeze the life out of the god of mischief. Thanos loves power. Why deny him the pleasure of wielding it?

About halfway through the movie a death I had not predicted occurred, and my thought was, “Oh. Gamora’s going to die? Huh. RIP, I guess.” Once again, I should have been moved, and once again the writers/director left me no time to digest and mourn before switching to another scene. And like before, the sheer stupidity of Gamora left me thinking she basically deserved her demise. This is the woman who warned everyone earlier in the movie that Thanos would kill TRILLIONS in the universe if they let him get all of the Infinity Stones. So what does she do? She leads him straight to an Infinity Stone! And why? Because they were torturing her already mostly machine sister. I’m sorry, Gamora, but it’s your cyborg sister or THE UNIVERSE. Sort out your priorities! 

If Gamora was so determined to save her sister, the least she could have done is taken Thanos to the wrong location. He would have become really angry at her and killed her then, which would have prevented him from being able to acquire the Soul Stone! Gamora still would have been dead, but she wouldn’t have died in vain. But the writers were so hellbent on having Thanos obtain all of the stones, they were willing to write plot points that made no sense. Also, explain to me how Thanos loves Gamora and is therefore capable of killing her in exchange for the Soul Stone? The way he treated Gamora for all those years was not love.

I found the total lack of character development and, in some cases, outright character regression absolutely pandemic. Thor, Loki, and Hulk were perhaps the most victimized by this character assassination, which makes sense when you consider how these writers completely ignored any character development from Thor: Ragnorak. It was as if that movie didn’t exist. Thor was back to playing the big, dumb Himbo for the entire movie, despite the cunning and smarts he displayed in Ragnorak. He also inexplicably spent the movie looking for a hammer, even though his father reminded him in the last film that he was the god of thunder, not hammers, and didn’t need a weapon to kick ass. Loki was just…an idiot who forgot how to use his powers. And Hulk, the most powerful Avenger in the universe, was handily beaten by Thanos, even though in the comics Thanos is absolutely terrified of the green guy.

Once again, this character assassination was unnecessary. Several minutes of battle where it looks like the Hulk is actually going to defeat Thanos would have made Hulk’s ultimate tear-down more plausible. And don’t even get me started on Hulk’s “performance issues.” This was such a cop-out to keep the Avengers from being able to use the Hulk to his full strength in the movie.

Speaking of cop-out, we had Dr. Strange being completely unhelpful. He knows which scenario out of 14,000,000 will let the Avengers win, but he doesn’t think about telling someone else what it is. How hard would it have been for him to take Tony aside and said, “Listen, Stark, things are going to get REAL bad before we can defeat Thanos. You’re going to have to do xyz if you want to win”? But no, instead, he says cryptically, “It was the only way,” before leaving Tony alone with killer cyborg Nebula.

Then we have Captain America and Black Widow, the soldiers of the group. I’m sure in their training they were told the mission outweighs the lives of a few. But in this movie, Cap and Natasha decide to ignore those years of sound advice to save the life of one person, and not just any person, an android who, according to the android himself, could just be rebuilt if needed. 

To add to their stupidity, they take Vision and his Infinity Stone with them into the heart of the battlefield. That would be the equivalent of the U.S. going to war with Iraq and bringing a MOAB into the battlefield for the Iraqis to try to steal. Hey, ignore the powerful weapon in arm’s reach! Just keep fighting us. Nothing to see here! Vision should have been nowhere near the battle. So either he shouldn’t have been in Wakanda, or the main battle should have been held somewhere else. The writers had several ways to correct this mistake but chose to go with the illogical option.

As a writer, it is imperative that while you lead your characters to the conclusion of your  design, you remain faithful to their personalities and write a plot with some semblance of verisimilitude. Infinity War lacked either. The sheer implausibility pulled me out of the story on many occasions, leaving me unmoved and irritated rather than moved and inspired. Perhaps more aggravating is knowing how easy some of these plot holes could have been remedied.

The movie is not a complete waste of time. Some of the jokes made me giggle, but it definitely feels like a placeholder for the ACTUAL main event, which will be Avengers 4. Time will tell if Infinity War holds up better when watched back to back with its sequel. Perhaps all of these inconsistencies will be explained away with the clever use of time travel, and I’ll be able to understand the intricate puzzle the MCU writers had created. Doubtful, but this would be an occasion I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

One thought on “Sacrificing Characterization and Plot for an Ending: An Analysis of Avengers Infinity War

  1. The really sad thing is that Marvel didn’t even have to venture outside their preexisting stories to write a proper ending for Loki. If they had gone with an act of redemption similar to the one in the Siege arc (Loki sacrificing himself to the Void), the character, the fans, and the actor would have received proper closure. Either TPTB didn’t do their research, or they simply didn’t care about giving him a proper sendoff. I’m more inclined to believe the latter.

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