Okay, given the large amounts of words spent last week on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it seemed weird to not discuss part one of its ten-year culmination. I outlined my thesis in Part 1, talked about what I liked about the MCU in Part 2, and threw some non-critical caveats around in Part 3. How does it all stack up against this movie?
Kudos to Marvel Studios for totally psyching us out with the trailer, too. I love that many of the key images used to sell the film are absent from the movie entirely, and some of which, for good plot-pointy reasons. The movie was helped by us knowing that the Hulk was going to be around, but we didn't know until we were hip-deep in the first big fight that he wasn't at his best. So simple, and yet so smart.
As entertaining as the Guardians of the Galaxy are, they continue to be, at least for me, the most atonal note in the MCU. I still can't decide if that's good or bad. But their pairing with Thor was particularly inspired, and fits well with the shift in Thor's overall character. See, I think they got Thor right. His new lighter tone doesn't take anything away from his status as the God of Thunder. He's still the heavy-hitting Odinson, as we saw in the third act. Also, in the second act, as he's helping to forge his new hammer-axe-thingie, Stormbreaker. For what it's worth, I could have watched an entire movie with Thor, Tree and Rabbit alone.
I was pleased to see that this movie falls squarely within my thesis, especially where Gamora is concerned. There are no bigger daddy issues than the motivations Thanos provides for Gamora and Nebula. Thanos is the epitome of an abusive parent with a warped and twisted take on what constitutes love. The fact that Gamora has conflicted feelings for Thanos, despite what her head tells her, makes those scenes play out like classic abuse scenarios and that dysfunctional dynamic of mad conquorer who collects "his children" from the worlds he "saves" is right in the middle of it all.
What's not to love about Thanos, eh? Best Marvel movie villain, even if he's not chasing after Death. In fact, having him just be psychotically mad works better and is less to explain. I was hoping to see Kate Blanchett in the Kirby headgear once more, but this isn't really a complaint nor a detraction. Even his "children" were appropriately scaled up so as to be a real challenge for Earth's Mightiest Heroes. His war dogs, too, were formidable, and between the slugfest in New York City and the mass battle in Wakanda, it makes me wonder where Warner Brothers is going to go with Darkseid and the Justice League movies that won't look like pale imitation.
There can be only one conclusion from this: the comic book experience has been successfully transferred over to the medium of film. Marvel did this, painstakingly and deliberately, over ten years and 19 movies. And in doing so, they may have sealed the fate of the comic book in the coming years. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. But comics are no longer special in what they can offer a casual reader. The Marvel movies have stolen fire from the gods and instead of punishment, we have chosen to reward them. Maybe this is what they had in mind all along, but I suspect it was instead an unintended consequence. In the meantime, I'm counting the weeks until Untitled Avengers Movie 5 premieres in 2019. And I bet you are, too.