Avengers 3: Infinity War (2018)

I’m thinking I should go see more movies during the opening week or weekend because when I watched Infinity War, I enjoyed people’s reactions to the movie as much as I enjoyed the movie itself. People gasped and laughed and went “WHHHHOOOAAA” in large numbers. One girl in the audience actually screamed when one of the characters got stabbed. At one point I heard the audience collectively go “SHHH***TTT”.

I’m reminded a bit of the time I went to see a WWF match: the audience was really into it, for some of the same reasons: people like to see a champion fight an enemy, and they love it when the champion delivers a particularly cool attack. I was also reminded of what it was like seeing the first Harry Potter movie in a really big, really full theater when it first came out: people loved the characters and felt invested in their world, and couldn’t wait for the chance to enter that world with them. Marvel has built a visually and, yes, emotionally rich alternate reality.

Before I saw the movie, I heard that this Marvel movie was “different”. I assumed that maybe meant it had an even bigger cast of characters than before, or that it was better than Age of Ultron, which people thought was kind of lame. That wasn’t what they meant. They were talking obliquely about the ending, which I will not talk about until you scroll down quite a bit further.

For some reason I thought “Infinity War” referred to the galactic scope of a war, or maybe to a war that gets stuck in some kind of time loop as in Doctor Strange. Nope. The war is named after the stones that the bad guy, Thanos, is looking for. When the movie begins, Thanos has one of the infinity stones already, the power stone (purple). He has attached it to a golden gauntlet on his left fist, which would look ridiculous if he weren’t an immense and very ruthless villain.

Thanos is looking for the remaining five stones. He is missing the space stone (blue), the reality stone (red), the soul stone (orange), the time stone (green), and the mind stone (yellow). If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve seen these stones in other Marvel movies. For the sake of the universe, we hope they stay hidden.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/avengers-infinity-war/id1370224078

See below for a summary with SPOILERS. I’ve done a beat sheet in the style described in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat, but the sequence may be a bit weird. The movie cut back and forth between the different sets of characters more than my summary does, so things are a little out of order.

My Beat Sheet for Avengers 3: Infinity War

Opening Image

The aftermath of a space battle.

Set-Up

Thanos, Henchmen of Thanos, Thor, Loki, Banner/Hulk
The bad guy, Thanos, has used the power stone to attack Thor’s Asgardian refugee ship. He wants the tesseract, i.e., the blue space stone. Thor thinks it’s been destroyed, but in truth Loki has it. Loki gives it up when Thanos starts killing Thor. Loki, turncoat that he is, offers to serve Thanos, but then attacks him, and gets killed for this betrayal. Thor believes that Loki is really, really (no, really) dead this time, though Loki has supposedly been dead several times before. Thor’s friend Heimdall sends the Hulk across the Bifrost back to Earth.

Catalyst

Banner/Hulk, Doctor Strange + Wong, Stark/Iron Man, Parker/Spiderman, Henchmen of Thanos
Banner lands in Doctor Strange’s stronghold and interrupts a conversation about a sandwich with a warning about Thanos. Stark is making dinner plans with his wife, Pepper Potts, but winds up going to Doctor Strange’s stronghold. After some amusing verbal sparring, they all look up to see Thanos’s doughnut ship hovering over New York. Fight scene! Peter Parker escapes the school bus he’s on and joins Stark and Doctor Strange and his sidekick Wong in fighting two henchmen of Thanos who assume they can easily subdue Earth, where they have traced the time stone (which hangs around Doctor Strange’s neck) and the mind stone (which is lodged in Vision’s forehead). One of the henchmen of Thanos immobilizes Doctor Strange and takes him back aboard the spaceship, which goes into space with Stark and Peter aboard it. Peter, using an idea from the “really old” movie Alien, has Stark blow a hole in the ship, whereupon the henchman gets sucked into space. They patch the ship and fly to Titan, Thanos’s home world, a desolate ruin. Back on Earth, Banner phones Steve Rogers.

Debate / Break into Two

Wanda/Scarlet Witch, Vision
+ Henchmen of Thanos
+ Natasha/Black Widow, Wilson/Falcon
+ Rhodes/War Machine, Banner/Hulk, Rogers/Captain America
Wanda and Vision are in love, despite duties that keep them apart. They’re also under attack. Black Widow and Falcon rescue them from three henchmen of Thanos. At an Avengers stronghold, the group decides to take Steve’s suggestion to go to Wakanda to do surgery on Vision to remove the mind stone and then destroy it.

Fun and Games

Quill/Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Mantis, Rocket, Groot, Thor
The Guardians of the Galaxy answer a distress call from Thor’s ship, but they are too late to help anyone apart from Thor himself. Star-Lord is hilariously envious of Thor’s looks and voice, but before long, Thor, Groot, and Rocket go off to get Thor a new weapon. Star-Lord, Mantis, Drax, and Gamora go to Knowhere to find out if the reality stone stashed there is still safe with the Collector. Gamora makes Star-Lord promise to kill her if Thanos, her adoptive father, captures her; she hates him and she knows something she doesn’t want him to find out.

B Story

Quill/Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Mantis, Thanos
Arriving at Knowhere, they see Thanos threatening the Collector. Gamora attacks Thanos and begins to cry as he dies on the ground. His voice addresses her, saying he is surprised she is crying. It turns out that Thanos already had the reality stone and was using it to create an illusion of Knowhere, the Collector, and his own death. He takes Gamora with him after Star-Lord tries and fails to kill Gamora as promised: Thanos has turned his weapon into a bubble gun.

Midpoint

Thanos, Gamora, Nebula
We see a flashback in which Thanos kills off half the people on Gamora’s homeworld, including her mother. Thanos takes Gamora in because she shows admirable spunk. He gives her a double-ended spike dagger and teaches her to balance it on her finger. He wants to achieve balance everywhere. He’s killing people because there are too many living beings sharing the same finite universe. His homeworld was destroyed by overpopulation. Thus, although his killings are ruthless, they are also, in his eyes, merciful, because the remaining lives are happier as a result of the random deaths. (This is the same kind of “logic” that the villain in Dan Brown’s Inferno uses.) Thanos wants the full set of infinity stones so he can balance the universe all in one go, by remotely, painlessly terminating the lives of half of everyone.

Bad Guy Closes In

Thanos, Gamora, Nebula
Thanos, who seems to honestly care for Gamora, is a bit sad that Gamora hates him, since he saved her and all, and made her such a strong woman. He expected her to find the soul stone. She says she is sorry she has disappointed him: She has not found it. He says he too is sorry that she has disappointed him: She has lied. He has extracted a memory from Gamora’s sister Nebula in which Gamora confesses she knows where the soul stone is but intends to keep its whereabouts secret. Thanos tortures Nebula until Gamora changes her mind and tells him.

All Is Lost

Thanos, Gamora
They go to Vormir, the planet where Gamora says the soul stone is. Red Skull warns Thanos that the stone exacts a heavy price. He says yeah, whatever. Red Skull says, well, now you’ve been warned. It turns out the price is a soul, the person the seeker loves the most. Gamora rejoices, thinking that Thanos loves no one and thus has no one to offer in exchange, but of course she’s wrong: Thanos loves her. (Duh!) Still, he is so intent on fulfilling his purpose that he resolves to kill the daughter he loves. He promptly drops her off a cliff and receives the soul stone in exchange.

Dark Night of the Soul

Doctor Strange, Stark/Iron Man, Parker/Spiderman (Avengers)
+ Quill/Star-Lord, Drax, Mantis (Guardians)
+ Thanos, Nebula
On Titan, the Avengers and the Guardians have attacked each other, each group thinking the others are allied to Thanos. Stark and Star-Lord have matched wits. Doctor Strange looks into the future and sees that they have one chance in over fourteen million of successfully stopping Thanos. Then Thanos shows up on Titan and tries to justify his universe-balancing plan. Unconvinced, the Avengers and Guardians attack, keeping him so busy that they almost manage to get the gauntlet off his hand. However, Star-Lord asks where Gamora (the love of his life) is, and Nebula, arriving on the scene, explains that since Thanos now has the soul stone, he must have killed her. Star-Lord reacts impulsively, inadvertently freeing Thanos from the others’ grip. Thanos overcomes them all and stabs Iron Man pretty badly. Doctor Strange agrees to give Thanos the green time stone if he spares Stark. Nobody quite understands why he does that, but I’m sure Stark is part of whatever he saw in that “one in fourteen million” scenario.

Break into Three

Thor, Rocket, Groot, Eitri
Thor, Groot and Rocket have gone to a giant star forge. Eitri, a dwarf king and weapon smith, is the only person left alive there. Even the star that powered the forge is dead. The smith is despondent because his hands have been turned to solid fists; he can no longer practice his craft. Thor tells him it doesn’t matter, because he already made a mold for the design he needs. Thor reignites the star. The mechanism that sends the star’s power to the forge is broken, though, and Thor has to hold it open. The smith tells him the star will kill him; Thor says Yes, but only if I die. Eitri says, Yes, that’s what ‘it will kill you’ means. Thor of course does it anyway, and doesn’t quite die. The ax is forged, but the two pieces urgently need a handle. Teen Groot looks up from his handheld video game and does the needful: he grows an arm towards the ax, effectively binding the two burning-hot pieces together, and then lops off that arm using his other one. (Ow.)

Finale

Everybody who’s already been mentioned but not killed, plus Bucky/The Winter Soldier/White Wolf, M’Baku the Wakandan mountain clan chief, General Okoye, King T’Challa/Black Panther, and Shuri
Alien ships land in Wakanda and start releasing scary animals and machines against the capital’s defensive dome, and Wakandans mass to defend the tower where Shuri is trying to extract the mind stone from Vision’s forehead so that Scarlet Witch can destroy it. During the fight, however, the allies are defeated, and even Scarlet Witch can’t save Vision, much as she’d like to. She agrees to destroy the mind stone, even though it means killing him, and she succeeds, though Thanos is standing right in front of her.

However, Thanos has the time stone, so he just winds back to when the stone wasn’t destroyed and Vision wasn’t dead, and cruelly claws the stone from Vision’s fragile skull. That’s really disturbing, but it only takes a second, and pretty soon we’re more worried about the implications: that was the last stone Thanos needed. Luckily, Thor arrives on the scene with a lightning ax and, like the awesomest hero ever, heroically strikes Thanos in the chest with his shiny new weapon.

Thanos looks down at the ax and tells Thor he should have aimed for his head. Embedding the ax in his chest doesn’t stop him from snapping his fingers and achieving his goal: the annihilation of half the people in the universe.

That’s where the movie gets really weird. This isn’t one of those victories where you think the villain has won and then the good guys turn the tables on him. Thanos has already turned the tables, and he is the one who wins.

The whole rest of the movie, which doesn’t have a lot left, is just us watching a whole ton of major characters dissolve into little brown flakes (see below for a list).

Final Image

Thanos is staring out at some peaceful scenery. He has achieved his purpose and can now relax, but probably he’s thinking of Gamora and the price he paid.

Post-Credits Scene

After a comprehensive multitude of names has disappeared upwards, we get to see Nick Fury send some kind of message… just before he, too, turns to little brown flakes.

Okay but I still have questions!

Who did Nick Fury contact at the end of Infinity War?

The internet says the logo that’s visible on the device belongs to Captain Marvel, a female superhero with as-yet unknown powers.

What does all this mean?!?

Normally in Hollywood you wouldn’t see so many main characters permanently die. Whenever the protagonist “dies”, you know you’ll see him or her come back again.

It’s interesting to wonder if maybe we won’t see all those disintegrated people come back. Maybe Marvel was clearing the decks to tell stories about a whole new batch of heroes. Maybe Thanos had a point: The superhero space was getting too crowded.

On the other hand, movie industry insiders say there are several upcoming Marvel projects that would seem to involve many if not all of the disintegrated characters, so my bet is that the survivors will resurrect them somehow. After all, someone has a magic stone that can reverse time, plus five other ones that can do basically anything. Anyway, Doctor Strange had a plan, right?

Infinity War: Who dies? Who disintegrates? Who’s left?

These characters were killed during the movie:

  • Loki
  • Heimdall (Asgardian who operates the Bifrost)
  • Gamora
  • Vision

These characters turn to dust at the end:

  • King T’Challa / Black Panther
  • Peter Parker / Spiderman
  • Doctor Strange
  • Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier
  • Sam Wilson / Falcon
  • Wanda / Scarlet Witch
  • Quill / Star-Lord
  • Groot
  • Drax
  • Mantis
  • Nick Fury
  • Maria Hill (a SHIELD agent)

We’ve still got:

  • Stark / Iron Man
  • Rogers / Captain America
  • Thor
  • Banner / Hulk
  • Natasha / Black Widow
  • Rhodes /War Machine
  • Rocket
  • Nebula
  • General Okoye
  • M’Baku (Wakandan mountain clan chief)

Characters not in the movie at all:

  • Barton / Hawkeye
  • Lang / Ant Man (in his own sequel movie very soon)

Interesting Reviews of Avengers 3: Infinity War

Hollywood Reporter says the writers chose “to acknowledge the traffic jam of egos and play it for laughs”. Meanwhile, the villain “brings a philosophical intelligence” to the story, thus avoiding being a “stick figure of a supervillain”.

Forbes says this movie was conceived as the first of two parts of the last in a series, just like the final installments of Twilight and Divergent. That explains a lot!

Den of Geek has a lot of clever things to say about the undeniable, enviable success of the movie and the franchise to which it belongs. It reminded me of a question that arises in the movie: what is one individual’s life worth when numerous lives are at stake?

Slashfilm describes Thanos, the star of the movie, as a bad guy who thinks he’s a good guy, that being the best kind of villain.

The Guardian compares Avengers 3 to the penultimate episode of a long-running show: successful because of what went before, but serving mainly to prepare us for what’s to come.

The New Yorker didn’t love it, apparently because in order to make sense the movie needed viewers to have seen all the other Marvel movies. The reviewer didn’t even try to see the movie’s inherent sequelhood as a good thing like the Guardian did.

Laugh-Out-Loud Moments in Infinity War

Here are some funny moments I loved, not necessarily verbatim or in order:

“Hi, I’m Peter.”
“I’m Doctor Strange.”
“Oh, we’re using our made-up names? I’m Spider-Man.”

General Okoye tells her king: “When you said you wanted to open Wakanda, this is not what I pictured… I pictured the Olympics, or maybe a Starbucks.”

She also asks “Why has she been up there all this time?” after Scarlet Witch lifts like five giant wheel things into the air and throws them at a herd of alien beasts.

Star-Lord describes Thor: “Tall guy, not that good-looking…”

“I am Groot!”
“I am Steve Rogers.”
(This was the best line in the film, according to a lukewarm review in The Telegraph.)