A Darkness Falls – The MCU & The Avengers: Infinity War 3/4

Ok, one more on the subject of Infinity War, then later this week I want to talk about how the MCU as a whole has changed cinema for the worse, and better. For today there is a Spoiler Warning in effect, but it’s coming up two weeks since release, and there’s only another week to Deadpool which will be a very different movie-going experience.

Today I want to cover villains, events, and the two characters I never covered: Hulk and Gamora. Let’s start with one of my favourite parts:

The Black Order

Newcomers to the field, I absolutely loved Thanos’ expendable minions and finest generals, the Black Order. While Thanos has been built and built in terms of impending threat over the course of six years since Avengers: Assemble, these guys are almost built to be disposable, but they do also serve to make the Titan seem all the more imposing. Prepare for me to melt over some quality villainy for just a moment.

The Ebon Maw: Here is the perfect henchman. The Maw is a simpering yes-man, reverent and subservient, but no small threat in his own right, he preaches the might of Thanos as if it were religious, even as he steps over the bodies of his victims. His telekinetic powers are immensely powerful if lacking a certain finesse, and watching him face down against the Marvel Illuminati was a wild ride of twisting stone, metal, and reality, far more dynamic than the typical fist-fights or light-show that’s a little more common in the MCU.

Cull Obsidian: More commonly known in the comic by the name Black Dwarf, but Obsidian is a far older name for the same character. A bit of brutish muscle who still manages to outclass the new Class L Iron Man suit, practically indestructible, rather handy with his multi-purpose chain-hammer, but low on conversation. Best death award, very well done, moving on.

Corvus Glaive: The blade carried by the weird goblin-elf Corvus is quite terrifying in its ability to prevent vision from phasing, one of his most potent abilities… although how the Mind Stone might offer such a power… question for another time. Perhaps the most skilled combatant in the group, he’s remarkably agile for sure, but I can’t say I was blown away by him. I think his wonderfully sinister attitude might have been more interesting had we seen him once or twice before. Point of interest, the motion capture actor was also behind Rocket in the Planet of the Apes prequels.

Proxima Midnight: I think that horned face was by far the most expressive, even if the dominant expression was resolute irritation. Rarely without Corvus, unsurprising as the two are married, and both have very similar skills, but her solo fight against Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, and head of the King’s Guard Okoye, was something really impressive as an action intensive fight in the middle of an ongoing war.

Hulk Sad

It’s a story we’ve seen a few times in various interpretations of The Hulk, be it the 70’s TV series, or cartoons old and new. The Hulk gets beaten so bad he goes into hiding, and refuses to reemerge even when he’s most needed, in this case by Thanos, who meets Hulk on the level of a mere competing pugilist rather than an indomitable giant. It’s an incredible scene that impresses upon you the power of the Titan, moreso than a ship filled with slain Asgardians.

Consider the notion that Hulk matures only when he’s out in the world, meaning that he’s maybe around the age of three at this point. So fear in the face of a fight that he not only lost, but stood no chance in would drive him to ground, so would the humiliation of a fight he couldn’t win after so many years of revelling in victory. Not only that but in Wakanda, Banner traps him inside a monument of his own defeat, the “Veronica” armour – on the subject of which, that was a misdirect I wasn’t expecting from the trailer – and while Banner fights well in it, it seems a little insulting to the poor kid.

I am loving more and more the dynamic between Hulk and Banner, and I’d like to believe that there’s now room for another Hulk standalone film but it’s pretty unlikely. Since Age of Ultron it seems like Hulk is becoming more and more comedic which is something of a comedown from the incredibly heartfelt moments against Ultron that led to his leaving earth.

Biggest grievance with Infinity War as a whole is that Banner in the Hulk Buster looks painfully edited in when he’s got the helmet down. How, with all of these incredibly special effects, was that the one thing that stood out so badly?

The Stones Gathered

So, last week I discussed three of the stones as they centre around various characters: Time with Doctor Strange, Mind in the head of Vision, and Reality in Knowhere.

The Power Stone is the first in the gauntlet, a mere casual mention is made of how Xandar has already fallen prey to Thanos. It’s enough to make him destructive, as he is able to simply destroy, or to empower himself to feats of immense strength. Xandar stood up to a former servant of Thanos, Ronan the Accuser, so it stands to reason that he’d have visited them first, and possibly overwhelmed the Nova Corps with Chitauri forces. Knowing only the Titan’s reputation, and catching a glimpse of his might in Gamora’s flashbacks, we can understand the nightmare that Xandar faced, we don’t need to see it, we can understand.

The Space Stone in the Tesseract is the best known stone of all, with multiple appearances across the MCU (eight films, almost as many as Stark) so we’ve followed its progress over the years. We finally get to see exactly what it’s capable of, with Thanos hopping across a galaxy without much of a fanfare.

And the biggest question, as it has always been, the unseen Soul Stone. What a heartbreaking saga!

There’s been some speculation that Heimdal had the Soul Stone, incredibly well reasoned stuff but it was never going to be true in the wake of the events of Ragnarok. Starting Thanos off with three stones would have killed a lot of the action, but having the act of retrieving the stone so intimately tied to Thanos and Gamora’s history, a narrative that began for us in Guardians of the Galaxy. So much work has been done to involve us emotionally with their relationship, especially building the sibling rivalry with Nebula into it, that the moment of “sacrifice” was made so much more potent, if a little predictable.

Additional notes on the gathering of the stones. I was disappointed to learn that Hugo Weaving did not reprise his role as Red Skull, guardian of the Soul Stone, but it was an ingenious bit of fan service and not wholly irrational. The weaponised version of the Space Stone may not have been killing people, instead teleporting them at random into space, or into the middle of stars or equally unpleasant things. Being immolated by the Tesseract, it’s possible that the head of H.Y.D.R.A was “selected” by the stone to undertake the unpleasant duty.

The use of bubbles I found to be a wonderfully softening thing to Thanos, playing into his lack of malice, and it’s an interesting and almost sarcastic use of the Reality Stone’s power.

Death And Speculation

That’s an album title… “Death and Speculation”…

We all know how it ended, the spoilers are starting to flow thick and fast and the memes have been kind of mean. The common theory I have heard moving forward has been fairly obvious, anyone slain by the “finger snap” moment will ultimately be brought back, but the others are almost certainly done for, Gamora, Loki and the rest of Asgard, perhaps even Vision, are almost certainly gone altogether. Most of those who fell to ashes already have sequels in the contract, so they’re fated to be brought back to life one way or another.

I think it fair to say – given the happy news – that Tony is doomed. The announcement of his marriage to Pepper is practically a death sentence, we already saw Gamora fall prey to the exact same thing, deeply in love with Quill, reunited with her sister, frankly I feel bad that I didn’t see this coming sooner.

Additionally, we can all say without question that people are being brought back, but must I hear so many people announce the fact so smugly? Yes it’s obvious, and death in comics is rarely permanent, but we have to ask a bigger question:

Who will wield the Infinity Gauntlet?

The Time Stone might be able to undo the actions on it’s own, but Strange is currently dead. The Soul Stone might prevent the Time Stone alone from fixing the issue, and without Space, Reality and Power, our “saviour” would have to go planet by planet fixing things, and the stones are immensely powerful in their own right. We’d need someone capable of uniting the power of the Stones, and using them effectively together. Hulk is too dim, Tony is too mortal, Thor and Scarlet Witch might be able to bear the weight between them, but they’re undergoing some pretty heavy emotional trauma right now. And what about Captain Marvel? Is it fair to put that burden on the new girl? Without the emotional investment in the character I don’t think the moment would have the same amount of meaning.

I think… now bear with me here… I think Captain America will take up the duty, and I think it’ll kill him too.

Share your thoughts in the comments below, let’s try and minimise spoilers on social media, but I’d love to spend some time spinning theories with you all.