Last Wednesday, Marvel Studios released the first public trailer of 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. What can be summarized as a grand celebration and crowning moment for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) which began in 2008 with the release of Iron Man…Infinity War has already proven ahead of its release, it will come to define a generation.
If you think about comic books specifically the superhero genre, the worlds are intertwined, crossovers happen often. Universes collide. Characters interact. But in the world of film adaptations, characters are confined to their own worlds, universes do not overlap. A concept that is the complete antithesis of the comic books. So when Marvel chose to embark on this odyssey, we as viewers and fans could only (no pun intended) marvel at what would come. Just how the solo films would interact and weave together to create this living, breathing world complete with our favorite characters. To embark on a character dynamic arc that features peaks and valleys unlike solo films where aspects are left uncovered or hardly touched at all…the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the truest embodiment to what the comic books originally depicted.
To bring such a perilous vision to fruition not only do you need to check the boxes of character development, story arc, but you need the intangibles, the most important being a dynamic cast selection. Upon watching 2008’s Iron Man, I found myself forgetting Robert Downey, Jr. was actually portraying Tony Stark and that Stark was merely a character brought fully to life by Downey’s performance. Casting choices that do not carry bias but aim to respect the craft that is theater notably with Tessa Thompson’s casting as Valkyrie in Thor Ragnarok rather than settling to cast an actress simply to stay consistent to Valkyrie’s skin tone from the comic books. It is that casting that has made seamless transitions from Terrence Howard to Don Cheadle or Edward Norton to Mark Ruffalo. When watching a Marvel film, it is imperative to the success of the project that the viewer sees the actor as that character he or she is portraying.
Doubling back to the headline; why Avengers: Infinity War will define a generation…the film comes as the capstone of a decade long odyssey that comes in an age where society’s attention span is rather short. Eighteen films, 10-years…that is quite a span especially when questions arose not too long ago; “are we experiencing superhero fatigue?”. Well we certainly have not yet as the Marvel Cinematic Universe films have still garnered critical acclaim and box office records. The public is responding, and responding in a resounding fashion. And the anticipation for Infinity War has always been palpable, most certainly since 2012’s The Avengers where we have our first mention and glimpse of the “Mad Titan” Thanos.
— Marvel Studios (@MarvelStudios) November 30, 2017
“To challenge them is to court Death”
This line from the mid-credit scene from The Avengers is prevalent because it sets the plot in motion for the remainder of the arc. The mystery that shrouds Thanos’ character from a personable standpoint will be front-and-center. Thanos’ ambition to rule the universe and shape it is not for his own selfish gain…it is to impress Lady Death. The path of destruction in his wake is all for a woman, an entity. But it presents a scenario where the antagonist is not just selfishly looking to rule the universe, but Thanos is pretty much using the universe and Infinity Stones as a proverbial engagement ring. However, from the trailer we hear Thanos’ narration which gives us a window into his character. Further showcasing Marvel’s ability to develop characters through compelling storytelling.
“Fun isn’t something one considers when balancing the universe. But this does put a smile on my face,” – Thanos
To an earlier point; historically superhero films are usually standalone, and that goes for the antagonist. Each antagonist is unique to the hero but there has been not a single overarching antagonist…and with the character development, story arc, and the sheer brilliance on screen; the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become the most important piece of cinema in the last decade. Thus making Infinity War, the single most important piece of cinema within the series to date. One that will come to define a generation. And will be the measuring stick for not only the superhero genre but film as a whole; the importance of storytelling, dynamic characters and character development, casting, shooting, editing. Each of these metrics will be analyzed, cited and sourced throughout media and film as the benchmark of cinema.
Like you, I’m eager for May 2018.