THE DAILY GRINDHOUSE AVENGERS ROUNDTABLE: INFINITY WAR!

 

 

Okay guys, so by now we’ve all seen AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. At least once. So let’s talk about it.

 

 

What do we think?

Where does it all go from here?

What would you most like to see from upcoming Marvel movies that we haven’t seen yet?

 

 

Daily Grindhouse… ASSEMBLE! To the rest of the world, enjoy, but beware — spoilers ahead!

 

And just in case you need to see those red words bigger and emboldened…

 

BEWARE

OF 

SPOILERS

 

Seriously, this is your last chance to turn back, foolhardy mortals…

 

JON ABRAMS:

 

1.What do we think?

When I was growing up, the best comic-book movies were DC movies (SUPERMAN and BATMAN), but at heart I’ve always been a Marvel guy, comic-book-wise, so the fact that we’re talking about a movie called AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR is already well beyond my wildest expectations. The fact we got a BLACK PANTHER movie at all, and the fact that it was as good as it was, is more than a pimply scrawny little Jon-Godzooky could have dreamed. If this movie had happened when I was 17, I’d be in a state of constant euphoria. So what’s happening now — in addition to everything else significant about it — is kind of a long-overdue victory for the kid I once was. I’m positive I’m not the only one who feels that way. Not that it matters to anyone else, but it’s a validation, as much as it’s a fun time at the multiplex.

 

It might be true that these days, I get more excited about the idea of a new Michael Mann movie or a Paul Thomas Anderson or a Nic Refn or a Spike Lee, but that essential adolescent lizard-brain is irrepressible. There are a couple shots in this movie of Black Panther fighting alien monsters alongside Captain America, with the Falcon swooping around not too far away, and that’s just so specifically what I would have always wanted to see in an Avengers movie that I still can’t quite believe I saw it on screen. Much as I love Spider-Man, I wouldn’t have ever expected Spider-Man to be in an Avengers movie, so that’s just ice cream on top of pancakes.

 

Of course there’s a less rosy spin for those who are intent on spinning it in that direction; for one thing, the movie is a real bladder-burster — I had to pee 45 minutes before the end and I’m not convinced the “chaser” scene at the end of the credits was worth holding it in that long. (Much as a comic-book freak as I am, I still couldn’t figure out who Nick Fury was paging until I Googled it later that night.) But overall, I’m more than satisfied. I can and will go back and look at it with a more critical eye, but I’m not in that space yet. The world is such a dark place right now, I’m choosing to live in the joy.

 

2.Where does it all go from here?

Quick hopes/ predictions: Hawkeye shows up in a big way in the next movie. It would carry the most weight if the one guy with no powers shows up amidst all the intergalactic mega-drama and manages to wreck some shit. Maybe he can get him some purple armor, so that (hope hope) he gets a suit a little bit more like the one he had in the vintage Avengers comics.

 

And Thanos shouldn’t look so pleased with himself. He’s going to get his purple ass kicked in. Remember how the Avengers jacked Loki up for what he did to Agent Coulson? And that guy was just a government employee; it’s not like he was Spider-Man or anything.

 

Lastly, we know full well a fair amount of prominent characters will defy the fate handed them in the film’s climax. Still, I think a few won’t be back though. My money would be on whatever characters are played by actors who have to wear tons of makeup for their roles. From my time working on TV and movie sets, I know how much time that takes every morning. I would bet anybody who’s got to put on full bodypaint to play a superhero is probably getting real tired of doing that by now. Especially, say, somebody who might be gearing up to film for sequels in a different franchise requiring tons of makeup. Maybe an actor who has to be painted blue in a bunch of upcoming movies isn’t too jazzed about being painted green much longer.

 

Gamora, folks. I’m talking mainly about Gamora. She was the dramatic crux of INFINITY WAR and bringing her back for the next movie after everything her death meant in this one would be like if Sir Alec Guinness showed up in freshly-pressed robes for EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, or like if Agent Coulson were to magically recover just to anchor a TV series… uh, moving on.

 

 

3.What would you most like to see from upcoming Marvel movies that we haven’t seen yet?
I’m partial to the goofier characters in the Marvel Universe, the scrubs and the losers. I’m not talking about the weirdos or the assholes — GUARDIANS has them covered. I’m talking about the real shitheads. But I don’t think the arc of reality will ever curve so far my way that I’d get to see Frog-Man or The Beetle or (yup) The Eel. (Then again, Batroc and Arnim Zola and The Owl have made it to screen already, and Mysterio’s on the way, so the sky really is the limit.) But barring a super-team of supreme fuck-ups, I’ll say I’d like to see a real equivalent super-villain team to the Avengers in the future. I always liked that Masters Of Evil storyline from the 1980s.

 

 

It’d be tough to do as far as casting goes, but I’d love to see a good eight-to-ten bad guys who have distinct personalities and powers, the way the movie-Avengers do. Nothing against Thanos’ entourage in INFINITY WAR, they were effective enough I guess, but I’d love to see a movie build up a group of villains who are all as fun to hate as Big Purple himself was. Okay, enough from me — you guys are up.

 

 

1.What do we think?
I liked AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR a lot. That may change depending on if Marvel sticks the landing in AVENGERS 4, but, as is evident in my review of the film and in my post about its ending, for right now I found it to be a great representation of the chills and thrills readers get from crossover event comics that dealt with some heady stuff.

 

2.Where does it all go from here?
I’m guessing that Ant-Man’s quantum realm explorations and Captain Marvel’s enhanced power set will be the major factors in undoing the Snap in AVENGERS 4. I also think Captain America will end up sacrificing himself in some way (maybe a similar ending as The Thanos Imperative where a hero is stuck with the mad titan in another dimension?). But it will all end with Stark’s grand wedding with every surviving cast member getting a chance to enjoy the bittersweet victory. I really want the last shot to be a RUSHMORE-style slow mo image of people dancing to some pop song, but I know that’s just a dream. Oh — and I really want Quill to visit his mother’s grave and give a hug to Gregg Henry (in old age makeup).

 

3.What would you most like to see from upcoming Marvel movies that we haven’t seen yet?
Much like Jon, I also really want to see Masters of Evil (maybe in the Under Siege story arc). I think it would be a good way to re-center everything after the giant stakes of INFINITY WAR and also make villains interesting and threatening on a different level. My favorite Avengers storyline, The Collection Obsession, will probably never make it to screen, and I’ve made my peace with that. I’m also guessing that, if the Fox deal goes through, there will be a pivot towards highlighting the Fantastic Four, and the next big event movie (in 10 years or so) may be based on Annihilation. Personally I just hope they avoid Kang the Conqueror, because I never liked him and it’s really hard to effectively pull off time travel stories.

 

 

 

JAMIE RIGHETTI:

 

1. What do we think?

1. The 360-degree shot of everyone in AVENGERS, the slow-motion charge at the beginning of AGE OF ULTRON, the airport scene in CIVIL WAR. With every movie, Marvel keeps upping the ante and taking my breath away with moments that feel lifted right out of the pages of comics, moments I never dreamed I would see on the big screen. With INFINITY WAR, that feeling of wonder, amazement, and joy was something that lasted throughout the film, even despite the bleaker moments. To see Thor and the Guardians team up, to see Doctor Strange and Iron Man having a smug battle of the wits, to see Iron Spider and Scarlet Witch finally being badass in battle, it truly is the culmination of all of the films I’ve loved over the past ten years.

Is it perfect? No, but INFINITY WAR has so many of the beats we look for in blockbusters. There’s action, romance, heartbreak, shocking twists, epic battles. It truly does feel like a sprawling crossover comic book event come to life. I also can’t think of a nearly three-hour movie going by that quickly. It engages you from the very (bleak) start, and doesn’t let go until the very end, and when it does, you’re breathless — for a number of reasons.

 

2.Where does it all go from here?
This is the million-dollar question, and one that I suspect we might get some answers to with July’s ANT-MAN AND THE WASP. It’s no big secret that Marvel is moving into a new phase after AVENGERS 4, and Kevin Feige has spoken about the importance of Marvel films being reflective of reality, and being full of diversity and inclusion. For the LGBTQ community, we’re still waiting for this to show up on screen. But I do think going forward, the MCU will put heroes that look like the rest of us on the big screen. This isn’t just Captain Marvel, as important as she is. It’s heroes we know like Black Panther and Shuri, but also ones we deserve to meet, like Kamala Khan. As for me? I’m ready to see The A-Force take over — give me my all-female Avengers team!

 

 

3.What would you most like to see from upcoming Marvel movies that we haven’t seen yet?
More diversity behind the camera. We’ve gotten Taika Waititi and Ryan Coogler, and look at what massive success they brought to the MCU. I know a lot of directors aren’t interested in taking on a huge tentpole, but I hope going forward we see someone like Dee Rees taking on a Marvel film. And not just directors, but screenwriters as well. The more we include marginalized voices, the better we are. The X-Men comics were all about showing the beauty, power, and humanity of “the other,” let’s put that philosophy into play.

 

 

 

TYLER CASALINI:

 

 

1.What do we think?

1. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR is a remarkable cinematic feat. The film finally cashes in on the single narrative thread that has been woven through the eighteen previous MCU installments, resulting in a (mostly) satisfying experience. Yes, it absolutely capitalizes on the blockbuster qualities we expect from a movie like this, and no, INFINITY WAR never really feels challenging, but I think the success of this film comes from its organization. While previous relationships and the high stakes have been established in previous films, directors Anthony and Joe Russo compose INFINITY WAR in way in which the narrative feels fluid and natural, rather than re-teaching what audiences (should) already know. I think Alan Silvestri’s score plays a heavy hand into this fluidity: even when the film is peppered with comedic character moments and a fluctuating pace, the dark score hammers home the dreadful tone and the high stakes, while at the same time incorporating familiar music cues with our favorite characters. My mere admiration for the successful completion of this movie outweighs my longing to be challenged or surprised. Is it perfect? Not at all. Besides the lore of the Infinity Stones, the film doesn’t really have much else to say. To me, I feel the MCU has earned it, but I also understand other’s criticism that the film feels hollow.

2. Where does it all go from here?
As someone who was never familiar with the comic books growing up, I have no educated answer to this question. However, what I can say is that I hope Marvel uses ANT-MAN AND THE WASP and CAPTAIN MARVEL to incorporate new technologies and ideas that directly feed into AVENGERS 4. I think it’s a given, but those two films playing a direct hand into the continuation of the INFINITY WAR ‘cliffhanger’ is just clean, smart storytelling.

 

3.What would you most like to see from upcoming Marvel movies that we haven’t seen yet?
Like Jamie said, I think it would be very refreshing to see some diverse perspectives in front of and behind the camera. I would be so on board with a super auteur MCU movie that deals with time and magic (now that we know those two things play heavily into the AVENGERS storyline — thanks a lot Dr. Strange!). Both RAGNAROK and BLACK PANTHER are very stylized and authored, and I’d love to see them continue to take artistic risks (in place of taking narrative risks, I guess).

 

 

 

JONATHAN HOLUBIAK:

 

1.What do we think?

First, I couldn’t agree more with Rob and his piece on the ending. Fantastic, and incredibly on point.

I am in awe of what Marvel and the Russo Brothers were able to do with INFINITY WAR. My emotions were all over the place during the film — I truly felt like I was a 10-year old reading a comic book. I was, and still am, a huge fan of crossover events, and while I was skeptical a few years ago of how this would turn out, the Marvel movies have only gotten better and better (there are a couple of outliers) since CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER. Seeing it all weave together, all of these characters and individual films, like they do in the comics was very impressive. My expectations were met and greatly exceeded. At first, I was disappointed and frustrated with the ending, as it’s obvious the characters who appear lost are not dead — the scheduled sequels disprove that right away. But after a night’s sleep, I was over that, and was excited at the possibilities of “one last ride” with the six original Avengers, presuming Hawkeye is alive… (he is — he will take the Ronin mantle after his family is erased by Thanos).

 

I rewatch movies a lot, especially comic-book movies, because of the feeling I get from them and the very real, human, emotions they can (at times) pull out of me. I’m incredibly emotionally invested in these characters, and Marvel put those emotions through the ringer with INFINITY WAR. I didn’t love everything, but I loved it, and it made me appreciate the previous 18 films even more. Plus, I walked out of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY in 2014 with one simple wish — that Rocket asks for Bucky’s arm when they inevitably meet. I’m glad I didn’t have to wait another year.

 

2.Where does it all go from here?
I fully expect Ant-Man and The Wasp to be HUGE factors in AVENGERS 4. Obviously, Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) will play a key role, but I think Ant-Man/The Wasp/Hank Pym/Janet Van Dyne are going to be just as important, or at least I hope so. I expect Cap to make a big sacrifice (thought he would here), I think Thor might not make it (I’m hoping he does, as I love Hemsworth and desperately want more Thor after this and RAGNAROK). I really want a huge curveball, like Tony Stark sacrificing himself, but I think Rob’s “happily ever after” wedding prediction might just be a route they go. What if Silver Surfer showed up??? He won’t, but the fact that Marvel may be able to use him, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men in the future excites me.

 

And while I was skeptical a few years back about how this would all play out, I have complete faith in Kevin Feige and Marvel at this point. It will be hard to top what they’ve accomplished here, but the bar has been set high for a few years now.

 

3.What would you most like to see from upcoming Marvel movies that we haven’t seen yet?
I will agree with Jamie here as well. My favorite Marvel films have been directed by relative “unknowns” with small, but excellent track records — and I’m sure most people will agree the same films are the cream of the crop in the MCU. I want nothing more than that to continue — comics are written and illustrated by so many different people with different perspectives, that it only makes sense to continue doing the same in the films. They have been better off because of it. These characters are all vastly different, with different abilities/powers/personalities, and the films have been reflective of this thus far, especially once we hit Phase 2. In concordance, I’d like to see Bucky or The Falcon take on the Captain America mantle, preferably The Falcon. And while I don’t particularly see Anthony Mackie’s version of the character becoming “New Cap” (seems like that will go to the stoic, reborn Bucky, although the White Wolf mantle may suggest otherwise — plus he has a similar serum to Cap in him already), I think a black Captain America would be a huge, awesome move on Marvel’s part, and it’s true to the comics (even though Bucky took on the mantle first). Perhaps Tessa Thompson becomes the female Thor as well??

 

I’ll stop now.

 

 

1.What do we think?

I still can hardly believe I loved INFINITY WAR as much as I did, though I’m absolutely glad it turned out to be so incredible. I’ll admit, I was particularly skeptical when we first heard about this for the same reasons most people were. I thought it was bordering on too ambitious and that it would be a hodge podge that wouldn’t allow for time with any of the characters since it involved so many (then again, we’ve had so much time with the characters already in previous movies). Isn’t it weird that despite my expectations, I was still really excited when the day finally came? I agree with Jonathan in that my emotions were everywhere and I felt like they were changing so often, and so quickly that by the end of the movie I was exhausted in the best way. INFINITY WAR worked unbelievably well for me because of that, I think. I’ve always generally loved Marvel movies, but it wasn’t until GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY that I felt an intimately close relationship with many of the characters. To see so many of my favorites interact with each other and be a witness to their banter was so much fun and only made me feel even closer to them. As a Guardians fan, I thought that their scenes would be my favorite but it turns out everything with Tony, Stephen and Peter was my favorite. Actually, scratch that, the whole thing was my favorite. 
 
2.Where does it all go from here?
So, I definitely am not as well-versed with the comics as some of you are (looking at you, Rob), but I agree with Tyler in that I definitely want to see Ant-Man and The Wasp involved some how. And not just because my Paul Rudd bias is strong. I mean, we all know the deaths are likely not to stick, but that was never a problem I had because I’m extremely curious to see how they bring everyone back and how they come to be victorious… if they do, to begin with. 
 
3.What would you most like to see from upcoming Marvel movies that we haven’t seen yet?
I’m going to also agree with what Jamie said. I love that BLACK PANTHER did so well because it proved what we all knew — diverse perspectives will never be something detrimental or harmful. I definitely don’t want to discredit what Marvel has already done in terms of diversifying, but I also think there’s so much room for improvement. I just know that INFINITY WAR made me excited about whatever is next, which is something I never really experienced with Marvel until BLACK PANTHER and am glad to be feeling again.

 

 

MIKE DUNAKEY:

 

1.What do we think?

Awesome — I thought they nailed it. I did like that Peter Dinklage was a giant dwarf. The visual of it on screen was a definite nod to Kirby. While I do not expect these consequences to stand, I believe it sets the table for a greater and more tragic sacrifice(s) next film.

 

I want to specifically address what worked for me: the relationship between Peter and Tony.  The groundwork was laid in CIVIL WAR and explored more deeply in HOMECOMING. I like this dynamic for a number of reasons, the first being they moved away from the “Uncle Ben” arc. This origin route would have felt entirely played out as the past two franchises have explored this. I like that Tony Stark has been essentially substituted for Uncle Ben, and that we actually get to see Peter get shaped and molded by his mentor.

 

As we see characters turn to ash on the screen, none realize what is happening until it is too late. I don’t know if any of you picked up on this, but Peter was the only character who got any sort of long played-out death. It took me a minute to realize it, but Peter knew of his impending death due to his Spider senses.  The more I think about it, the more heart-breaking it is. Peter is the youngest and most pure of all the heroes, and he is faced with the knowledge of his impending doom. This would not have worked with any other character — they were all adults and some had done horrible things (Bucky, Black Widow) in their past. As the scene plays out, Peter is scarred, but still regrets that he let Mr. Stark down.

 

2.Where does it all go from here?
I am not particularly interested with the immediate aftermath, so I hope there is a time jump of a few years. After that somber of an ending, the next film needs to open with the most gangbusters ensemble set pieces Marvel has ever done. After that, I expect a breakneck pace with a little more character focus (especially on Steve Rogers) before the big emotional ending. I have a feeling the big four could have a huge romp in the opening scene, possibly biting off more than they can chew, leading to Captain Marvel arriving to save the day.

 

The one reason I could see this sort of opening not happening is because Tony and Steve haven’t reunited yet, and we NEED that scene.

 

In the end, I think we could see the end/retirement of Iron Man, Captain America, and the Hulk. I think Thor is on too much of a hot streak to say goodbye to yet.

 

3.What would you most like to see from upcoming Marvel movies that we haven’t seen yet?
At the end of the movie, with a heel Thanos sitting content I thought to myself: “I wonder what is on that guy’s Netflix queue?” I want a Thanos movie that’s nothing but him sitting around enjoying the fruits of his labors. As ridiculous as it sounds, I would watch it.

 

At the end of this I would like to see a shift back to some normalcy before building towards the next big event. If Marvel is able to secure the X-Men and the FF, I would like to see them build towards introducing the Fantastic Four, while holding off on tackling the X-Men (a huge can of worms to open). I would like to see Dr. Doom as the next big bad in the MCU, with a shift towards having to deal with Galactus. However they are able to get there, I think it would be cool if majority of life in the universe being restored at the conclusion of AVENGERS 4 serves as a dinner bell being rang for Galactus. This could bring about Silver Surfer being sent as a herald for mayhem and destruction.

 

 

 

1.What do we think?

I guess, all things considered, I came away from INFINITY WAR a little lukewarm. Mostly because I thought it was a bit too successful in embodying a big crossover comic event, and all the grandeur and frustration those things bring with them. But I have to admit that when it works, it works as any piece of pop art filmmaking I could imagine. I think we can all agree that depending on your affection for certain characters, you’re going to be a bit more emotionally invested in some than others, and for me, seeing the continuation of the Guardians of the Galaxy storyline was both thrilling and heartbreaking, but I was kind of indifferent to Captain America’s earthbound Avengers plot. That being said, the Russo brothers managed to make me care about characters I hadn’t put any thought towards (Vision and Scarlet Witch) and fixed some issues with characters I had actively disliked (Doctor Strange). And of course, there’s the relationship between Tony Stark and Peter Parker, which continues to be one of Marvel’s masterstrokes of narrative world-building, and when Thanos — a character whose near decade of development Marvel definitely took time to shape, with Josh Brolin making possibly their most nuanced villain — achieves his endgame, I was straight-up shook. Hardly perfect, but for the first salvo of the end of this iteration of the MCU, the movie achieves pretty much everything it set out to do.

2.Where does it all go from here?
My favorite MCU movie is ANT-MAN, so I’m looking forward to ANT-MAN & THE WASP‘s pallet cleanser of a caper film, and Captain Marvel is going to be fascinating to see, given its time period and set-up. I’m not going to speculate as to what INFINITY WAR Part Deux is going to involve, but personally, I’m hoping for some kind of intergalactic epic — maybe bringing in the Celestials and the trinity of Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man tracking Thanos down for a fight that will hopefully one-up this flick’s Titan fight.

 

3.What would you most like to see from upcoming Marvel movies that we haven’t seen yet?
As stated by others, I hope that the success of BLACK PANTHER encourages Marvel to expand its scope of diversity both in front of and behind the camera, just as the success of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY encouraged them to crack a few more jokes. But I also want to see them get a bit more experimental. I want a bone-crunching surrealist action epic in Moon Knight, and to maybe see them take advantage of their horror characters like Elsa Bloodstone and the Legion of Monsters, or shit, maybe I’ll allow myself to dream and hold out hope for a super-fucking metal version of Ghost Rider.

 

Also NEXTWAVE. Definitely want some version of NEXTWAVE.

 

 

JON ABRAMS:

 

Well folks, I think we managed to cover just about everything. So much to agree about; so many killer ideas. In particular, the idea of seeing those horror characters on screen has set my imagination spinning. The idea of a Moon Knight movie, or a good Ghost Rider movie, holy crap — I’m a guy who will tell you, when pressed, that his favorite comic ever is TOMB OF DRACULA. So just imagine if somehow, someway, Wesley as Blade found his way back into these movies, especially since he really kicked it off, let’s face it. Of course, I’d worry a little about a Dark Universe kind of mishap if Marvel started putting together supernatural superhero movies, but like pretty much everyone said, there’s a reservoir of trust these guys have earned at this point.

 

A word about diversity, because like Jamie and Ale said, that’s the direction the world is heading, and it’s the morally correct direction in my opinion. Marvel should be commended not just for making these movies slowly and surely more diverse (arguably too slowly in regards to a female lead), but almost as importantly, for doing it in a way that feels organic. It’s the difference between Cyborg being in a JUSTICE LEAGUE movie mainly because he’s the most recognizable DC character of color, and of Black Panther getting his own movie because he’s just plain a great fucking character — both regardless of his color and precisely because of that reason. Diversity and inclusion shouldn’t be obligatory. They only work in tandem with sincerity. I’m a bleeding-heart progressive who strives towards tolerance not because anybody ordered me to be, but because I know that living is richer and more rewarding for me personally when I’m surrounded by interesting people of any gender or ethnicity or orientation. Even apart from the question of right and wrong, there’s the simple fact: A monochromatic life is fucking boredom. Open up your vision and the story possibilities are endless. How can we keep superhero movies (and life) from being the same old shit over and over again? It’s easy: Do the right thing.

 

Oh, and just one more thing, as the detective said:

 

For sentimental reasons, Rob Dean, I have to stick up for my man Kang The Conqueror, as I nurture a soft spot for any character who was a Secret Wars figure. Look at that adorable punim! Don’t you just want to kiss that little evil blue face?

 

KANG!

 

Jon Abrams

Editor-In-Chief at Daily Grindhouse
Jon Abrams is a New York-based writer, cartoonist, and committed cinemaniac whose complete work and credits can be found at his site, Demon’s Resume. You can contact him on Twitter as @JonZilla___.
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