Thoughts on “Infinity War”

So, I watched “Infinity War” recently, and after a spate of disappointing sequels, Infinity War is, in fact, actually a very good Avengers movie. I think it’s better than Age of Ultron but maybe not quite as good as Avengers.

The best thing about it is how it manages to take pretty much every hero in the MCU and divide them into groups that work well together, provide lots of time for each hero or heroine to get enough attention, and also have something to do that matters to the overall storyline. That being said, the grouping of Stark, Starlord and Strange ended up with jerk overload. I found myself thinking that Tony Stark was the reasonable one compared to the other jerks in that group, and when someone whose entire character is defined as being an arrogant jerk is being upstaged in that department you might have done something wrong.

There’s a lot of controversy on the boards over a few aspects of Thanos’ character. First, can someone who was as abusive towards Gamora actually in fact love her. I think that he can. Remember, Thanos is supposed to be pretty insane, and especially in the comics had a rather distorted view of love (he was in love with Lady Death, which is what drove him to acquire the Infinity Gauntlet in the comics). In this universe, it’s clear that he’s far more of an extremist, and extreme survivalist to boot. So it’s quite possible that he doesn’t see what he did to Gamora as abuse, but rather as doing what’s necessary to bring her up right and give her the tools she needs to survive. I will say that I think the movie really does want us to believe that he actually loves her, since both he and the Soul Stone explicitly seem to accept that, but as they are unreliable the big confirmation comes from Gamora herself, who mocks him that since he doesn’t love anything he can’t get the stone … and then trails off in horror when she comes to realize that he just might love something after all: herself. So the movie seems to think that he does love her, and while it’s a distorted and potentially even perverted love, it does seem to meet the criteria, by which I mean he actually feels that emotion for her.

And that’s what I think most people miss here. They are looking at the actions that he takes wrt that purported love and saying that no person who actually loved Gamora to do those things to her. Except what they would really mean there is “No SANE person could do those things”. But Thanos is clearly not sane, and this is one of the things in the movie that confirms that for us. Not able to imagine how someone who feels love like you do could act that way doesn’t mean that he doesn’t feel the emotion, and the Soul Stone is judging it entirely on the feeling of the emotion. I think it quite reasonable that he feels the emotion but that his distorted beliefs mean that he acts incredibly badly on that emotion.

The second aspect is whether or not his plan will work, or whether that will matter. No one in the movie says that his plan to solve overpopulation by killing a random half of the entire population won’t work, despite it having obvious crucial problems. However, I think it’s actually a good move to not do that. If characters started arguing that Thanos’ plan was impractical, then it could imply an interpretation where they are opposing it because it’s impractical, and not because it’s morally wrong. Thus, they’d move from arguing that it would be wrong even if it wouldn’t work to arguing that it’s wrong because it wouldn’t work, and all of the relevant heroes benefit from standing on principle rather than on pragmatics. Cap and Vision, of course, have that as character traits, while it’s far too easy to think that Stark might himself do something like that if he thought it would work, so we probably don’t want to remind the audience of that. As for Strange, he’s new and a bit of a selfish jerk, so again we don’t really want him hinting that he only opposes the plan because it wouldn’t work but would be fine with it otherwise. At the end of the day, the heroes opposing it even if it would work is the stronger play, so having them not debate if it would work is a better way to get that across without getting into distractions.

Some have said that not bringing that up hurts Thanos as a more nuanced villain, since it seems like the movie is saying that his plan would work which means that he’s not a typical sadistic, evil villain. However, it doesn’t have to be the case that Thanos’ plan will work in order to give him that nuance. All that is required is that Thanos believes that it will work. I suspect that a big part of the next movie will be demonstrating that this isn’t going to work, which will likely be shattering for him. We’ll likely see just how much he is deluding himself over how well his plan will work, and the cause for his developing his warped worldview.

At the end of the day, it’s a very enjoyable movie. I will definitely watch it again and am actually looking forward to the second part.

2 Responses to “Thoughts on “Infinity War””

  1. Thoughts on “Ant-Man and the Wasp” | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] some trepidation, I bought and sat down to watch “Ant-Man and the Wasp”. Putting aside “Infinity War” the last four MCU movies disappointed me, and I actually fell asleep for at least part of all of […]

  2. Thoughts on the “Infinity War” Comic … | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] War”. I read it right after “Infinity Gauntlet” around the time the movie came out (or, rather, that I watched the movie) and … was disappointed in it. On re-reading […]

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