The fifth highest grossing movie ever, Avengers: Infinity War, hit theaters late last month. I waited quite some time to share my thoughts as this movie had a lot I would not want to spoil. My assumption is that if you have not yet seen it, you’re not going to be upset by spoilers. Given that, there are spoilers ahead. Here is my review of the movie, here is the good, the bad, and the ugly.
One of the positive aspects of the movie was the cinematography. I am personally sick of movies which seem almost completely computer generated. I feel like I am watching a video game I cannot play. I very much prefer make up and costumes and sets to CGI. Movies like the Lord of the Rings trilogy are great examples of how to approach visual effects. Lord of the Rings mastered an appropriate blend of CGI, make-up, and real sets.
That being said, Avengers was simply visually breathtaking. I think it could have used more costume, but overall, the CGI in the film surprised me, pleasantly. It was a visual masterpiece. There were times where I was unable to tell if Thanos even was CGI. The characters and action sequences were a true joy to watch.
Another great aspect of the movie is comedic relief. This is something Marvel has been doing well since making these movies. In a day and age where humor has degraded into crass, crude, filthy topics, put forward with foul language, appealing to our most base immaturity, the marvel humor is a breath of fresh air. The humor is clean, appropriate, but genuinely funny. Chris Pratt (Peter Quill) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor) lived up to their expectations. They were hysterical together. Robert Downey Jr.’s (Ironman) vintage comedic approach was amplified by Tom Holland (Spiderman) Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Strange). He was a funny father figure wrestling with an immature, hyperactive superhero sidekick, and also dealt with Dr. Strange who had a very similar personality, one in which Ironman really has never interacted with before. Along with other characters and iconic humorous moments, this movie is genuinely very funny.
Overall the acting is really superb in the marvel movies; the casting choices have been excellent for these iconic superheros.
Because these movies are attempting to appeal to both adult and adolescent audiences, it is also nice to view a movie guaranteed to have no nudity, sex scenes, and clean language. That is unfortunately rare, and is certainly something that needs to be recognized.
Overall, from a cinematic standpoint, the movie was exciting, entertaining, and humorous.
When approaching the movie at the worldview level, there was some good takeaways, although they seem to be entirely incidental.
The first thing I noticed was that Thanos, the movie’s villain, truly represented the evils of communism. Thanos’ general goal was to purposely kill half of the universe’s population due to limited resources. This would then make those left more comfortable and happy.
At one point in the film, Thanos mentions how one of the planets, of which he murdered half the population, transitioned from being impoverished to both flourishing and happy. The concept of an evil, singular force, promising blessing and prosperity at the end of horrific, selfish, means is clearly a portrayal of communist promises. It was a true critique on the evil of communist regimes.
More incidentally demonstrated was a subtle abortion critique. When Thanos first introduced his desire to kill half the population as a means of population control, it was difficult to not immediately think about abortion, since many have made the same claim to justify murdering children in the womb.
Along with that, Thanos bought into the illogical spiral of abortion thinking. For example, Thanos was worried about the fact that the universe has limited resources. Why is that a problem? Is it a problem because some people won’t get what they need, and that they then might….die? Limited resources is a problem because people might die. So what is Thanos’ solution? To kill people. He brings about the very consequences he wants to avoid and calls it a solution.
That is akin to slashing your own tires because you don’t want the hoodlums in your neighborhood to be tempted to slash your tires. And this insane logic from Thanos is reflective of much of the pro-abortive rhetoric. Often times, women will kill their children because “they are poor and cannot give them a good quality of life.” What’s wrong with bad life quality? What happens to children who aren’t fed and aren’t provided with shelter? Might they get sick and….die? How is killing our children the solution to the problem of our children having dangerous or difficult lives? We kill them to avoid death essentially.
The fact that the movie’s horrific, evil villain is essentially spewing abortion logic, whether incidental or not, was a good thing in my mind.
Now is the time to lose my Marvel fans. There was much to not like in this movie. I have saved the cinematic complaints I have for the bad, and my worldview issues will be reserved for the ugly.
The movie missed the mark for me theatrically in many ways. First of all, a movie with this many beloved characters cannot be pulled off, at least not in any film of a reasonable length. All of these characters have so much to be drawn to, but in a movie like this, with so many vying for screen time, every character is flattened. They all become static. There is essentially no difference between them. They are simply good guys fighting bad guys. There is no one to love, to follow, to be moved by. They are just superheros. This many heroes in one single film truly makes them static.
That is why I am not at all surprised with what has bothered so many people: Thanos’ screen time. The movie clearly is about Thanos; he dominates the screen and the story. But as the new character and villain, he is the one with a unique story line. Without a showcasing of Thanos, the movie would have been nothing more than a fight.
Along with that, I was completely discouraged by the ending of the film.
I love sad movies. Unlike most, I want a movie to rip my heart out and stir my affections. One would think that a movie with this ending would be tragic and engaging. Why? As you likely know, half of the Avengers are killed. However, nothing about that ending was moving or heartbreaking.
The ending is either predictable or lazy. I consider it predictable. It is clear these characters are not permanently dead. Everyone knows by the end Dr. Strange has something up his sleeve to bring these people back. Everyone knows they will return. That made it impossible to care when they were lost.
However, let’s say that just on the off chance they truly are dead, then that was a lazy way to kill these beloved heroes who deserve better deaths than that. Nothing says “Many of our actor’s contracts are up, and we need a bunch of new superheroes, so we must kill the others off quickly” like the ending of Avengers, provided those heroes are intended to remain dead.
The ending was surprising, that is for sure, but it was still lacking.
By far the most important issue for me was that Marvel certainly seemed to bash religion in this movie, specifically, Christianity.
Thanos is clearly portrayed as a God. In his opening scene, he even has a preacher, heralding the “good news” of “salvation.” Thanos, as a god, has disciples, and preachers, who herald salvation and demand obedience. It is clearly a critique on religion.
Along with that, the evil of Thanos certainly resembles some of the secular culture’s classic arguments and grievances against God. Thanos has this twisted irony where he can be merciless and violent, yet is still praised by his disciples as being merciful, and good. This is a common caricature of God and His people.
The icing on the cake for me was an early line in the film where Thanos identifies as the “I AM.”
“Destiny arrives all the same. And now it’s here. Or should I say, I am.”
I understand, contextually, Thanos is self-identifying as destiny itself. However, the way the I AM statement was said, and spared for the end of the sentence, it seemed to be a bit on the nose. I certainly does not seem to be a stretch to believe the writers wanted to draw attention to this evil, god-like religious villain claiming to be I AM.
On top of a passing statement made by Chris Pratt, mocking the idea of following Jesus as our Master, this movie seemed to mock and attack the Christian faith.
I recently re-watched Dr. Strange on Netflix. That movie too was a clear apology against the Christian worldview. The evil monster in that worldview promised “eternal life.” Sound familiar? On top of that, one of the big worldview messages in the movie is that life is only valuable when we discover it is not eternal.
I may be overreacting. Perhaps I am missing important context as I have no affiliation or familiarity with the comics, the background to these story lines and characters. But from my vantage point, Marvel seems to be no friend of Christianity. The writers and directors at Marvel are taking their cues from the rest of Hollywood and are using their platform to promote a worldview contrary to the Christian faith.