You quite clearly should not be reading this if you haven’t watched Infinity War, but here’s the cat anyway.
Ever since Thanos flashed that menacing grin at the end of Avengers in 2012, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been waiting for the day he would finally show up to throw down with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. And now that Avengers: Infinity War is in cinemas, he has finally arrived.
While the film may be incomprehensible to those who haven’t been keeping up with the now nineteen film strong series, the movie plays out like a celebration of the franchise for those who have, rewarding them for their loyalty with references, shocking twists and fantastic new character interactions that remind you why this series has done so well.
With the universe all shook up in Thanos’ wake, we’re going to count down the best moments from the colossal new movie. With lots of laugh-out-loud gags, such as the interplay between Thor and Star-Lord or Drax’s certainty that he has mastered the art of invisibility; lots of fun action beats, such as the opening showdown outside the Sanctum Sanctorum; or even just some fun little variations on long cemented tropes, such as Rocket’s desire to obtain Bucky’s arm or Captain America’s solemn misunderstanding of how Groot talks – whittling down the top moments is no small feat.
There’s so much to unpack in this film, but after a few watches, we think we’ve found the best of the best.
‘Infinity gems’, if you will.
6. The Red Skull’s Return
Although it’s never necessary, throwing in a little something for the hardcore fans of both the comic books and the movies alike is something these films do in abundance. Whether that be confirming fan theories, giving nods to iconic comic book panels or just wrapping up long-running mysteries in a surprising yet satisfying way, it’s a great way of reminding fans that the people making the films are fans too.
And so, the biggest surprise of the whole movie wasn’t necessarily its ending, but the fact that it finally answered the question, “What ever happened to Red Skull?”
This mystery goes back seven whole years, to Marvel’s Phase One, when Captain America: The First Avenger ended the fight between Cap and the Skull by seeing him overwhelmed by the power of the Tesseract, and disappearing in a beam of light. While the characters in-story seemed to shrug it off as if he’d been killed-in-action, audiences became desperate to know what was going down, especially after it was revealed that the Tesseract wasn’t just a power source, but the Space Stone, capable of granting its bearer teleportation.
And while Hugo Weaving has moved on to do other things, bringing in The Walking Dead star and impressionist extraordinaire Ross Marquand to return the Skull to the MCU was perhaps the most surprising facet of the whole movie. Was it intrinsic to the plot? Not necessarily. But it was a lovely little inclusion for the fans.
Although, in turn, it does bring up another question: If Hydra’s weapons were made from the Space Stone, does that mean there’s a load of displaced World War II soldiers also hanging around on Vormir?
5. The Mad Titan Triumphant
While fans of the comic books could probably see it coming, ending the film in the way the Russo Brothers did cements the fact that Disney owning Marvel really has no bearing on what kind of stories they plan to tell.
In both screenings I attended, after the heroes finally seemed to win only for Thanos to mock Thor with “You should have gone for the head” and snap his fingers leading to a flash of bright light, all audience members went deadly silent. “What did he do?” was indeed a question shared by both those onscreen and those watching, as the hard-hitting reality came to pass that the heroes, for all their noble intentions…lost. Ten years of Marvel movies, all leading to this one moment, and the bad guy wins. Even if it will inevitably be reversed, that’s a bold statement, and one that will no doubt keep fans guessing as to how things will be resolved until Avengers 4 comes out next year.
What came next was the morbid sight of half the population disappearing. There’s no music. Just silence, as Star-Lord realises he’s cost half the universe their lives. As Rocket loses Groot again. As Iron Man cradles a desperate, dying Spider-Man, and realises that everything he’s feared since the Avengers assembled has come to pass.
And yet, elsewhere in the universe, we get a contrasting view of events, as our protagonist – as this really is Thanos’ story – finally gets to rest, sitting down in his hut and smiling, as he looks out over his new, ‘perfect’ reality.
But to add another layer of intrigue, this was the point where things really got interesting. A little while back, we made predictions as to who would die (we got a lot of them wrong – this time around, anyway), but with the snap of his fingers, Thanos hasn’t shown us who’s leaving this universe forever, so much as who is really in danger.
With the new guard gone, only the original Avengers (plus some others like Rocket, Nebula, Ant-Man and Captain Marvel) have survived, meaning that when Avengers 4 comes around next year, they’re the ones who really need to watch their backs.
4. The Time Stone Trio
We’ve seen shocks, we’ve seen fan service, but what about character service? Something this movie does in abundance is display the heroes and villains (well, Thanos and Ebony Maw, at least) as capable characters. They each have their own unique methods, but they are the best of the best at what they do, which is what makes them Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. We’ll get to Thor later, but first, what about that final showdown on Titan?
While the team-up between the Guardians and the Avengers is a lot of fun, the best bits come towards the end, as Doctor Strange and Iron Man take on Thanos one-by-one.
Fans of comic book Doctor Strange may have been a little disappointed by his 2016 outing, what with the fact that his magical powers were dialled back substantially, but here he really cuts loose.
Invoking classic comic book spells like transmutation, the ‘Crimson Bands of Cyttorak’ and the ‘Images of Ikonn’, Strange finally shows himself to be one of Marvel’s most powerful characters. Although he eventually loses, his attack makes way for Iron Man to step up, disabling the Gauntlet and busting out a host of new tricks, which are, frankly, awesome.
The Russo’s Marvel movies have always been reliable in that they can delivery some solid action choreography, and while in Infinity War the fights have upgraded from gritty hand-to-hand to bombastic laser blasting, that same style and eye for detail is still prevalent in the more personal battles.
But of course, the Iron Man vs Thanos fight isn’t necessarily notable for what goes on during, but what happens at the end. From the moment Doctor Strange steps up, to the moment Thanos beats Iron Man down – that’s just build-up for the main event, wherein Thanos brutally stabs Iron Man through the gut, and in response, leads Strange to give up the Time Stone.
In just a couple of beats, we cycle through a load of emotions. Despite the fact there are set photos online that show Iron Man is in Avengers 4, it was almost impossible not to cry out for Tony Stark, as he truly appeared to be on death’s doorstep. He survives, but only through what seems like betrayal, as Strange gives up the thing they were fighting for – and the look of hurt in Robert Downey Jr.’s eyes is tragic.
The whole sequence is a testament to both the love the creators have for these characters, and the fantastic performances by Downey and his co-stars that have kept this franchise going strong for ten years.
It’s a reminder of the fact that we don’t love these films for the stories they tell, but for the people who tell them.
3. The Secret Avengers Assemble
Seeing characters work well on their own is great, but another obvious victory for Marvel is getting these characters to work well together.
Some of the best action pieces in the series are the ones that involve multiple heroes working as a team. The Avengers uniting to take on the Chitauri in Avengers, the start and end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, and, of course, the famous airport scene in Captain America: Civil War.
So of course, when Captain America and his ‘Secret Avengers’ show up to save Vision and Scarlet Witch from Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight, there’s a lot of things to cheer about. Steve Rogers appearing from the shadows, before catching a spear – that alone was truly awesome. But to follow it up with an excellent team effort, where he, Falcon and Black Widow all work as one well-functioning machine to bring down the bad guys; well that? That’s truly amazing.
They’re outpowered, they’re outgunned, but they still take out the threats. Sure, the villains had just been in a scuffle with two of the most powerful Avengers, but that’s not the point. The point is how these underdogs, through force of will and experience, can take on any problem and look brilliant doing it.
While this is hardly the best fight in the movie, it is perhaps the best constructed, as it brings that Russo fighting style back to ground level. There’s no superpowers, just excellent choreography, quick reflexes and hard-hitting punches.
2. The Soul Stone Sacrifice
This movie had a lot of poignant, emotional scenes that you may not expect from an action blockbuster of this size, and one of the most brutal was undoubtedly the events revolving around Thanos getting the Soul Stone.
The mystery of the Soul Stone is one that has plagued fans for several years, with some early fan theories expecting Infinity War to revolve around Thanos getting the five stones we know about, and Avengers 4 detailing a race for the characters to get the final stone. As we now know, that is not the case, and the issue of the Soul Stone’s location is rather quickly resolved in the story, through a quick side quest made by Thanos and Gamora to the hitherto unseen planet of Vormir.
This scene has already made our list once, what with Vormir being the domain of the Red Skull, but it is notable for several other reasons. Firstly, some of the shots seen here are some of the best in the film, as the landscape and eclipsed sky are excellently conceptualised and truly beautiful in their depiction.
But this moment doesn’t make the list for beauty alone, so much as it does the way it concludes the relationship between Thanos and Gamora. One of the greatest challenges standing against this film wasn’t bringing together its mass of heroes, so much as it was developing Thanos as a stand-out villain.
For anyone in doubt, this scene achieves that, as Thanos’ relationship with Gamora humanises him, even if he does subsequently go on to do some monstrous things. The way the tables are turned from Gamora believing Thanos has lost, to the revelation that she is in fact the one thing he loves is bittersweet, and even those who aren’t all that fussed about Gamora can’t deny that her death is one of the most touching and heartbreaking moments of the film, as Thanos calls her his ‘little one’ for the final time, before dragging her to her demise.
It’s this one scene that really makes us believe Thanos when he states that his journey cost him everything.
Bonus points for the way it mirrors an earlier scene on Knowhere, where Gamora believes she’s killed her adoptive father and similarly breaks down in tears.
1. The Thor Force
However, while the events on Vormir are truly powerful, the strongest through-line of the film, rivalling Thanos’ narrative, is the journey of Thor.
Avengers: Infinity War is as much a sequel to Thor: Ragnarok as it is to The Avengers, in that it follows through directly from Thor’s last adventure, and really upsets the balance of his newfound peace. With his best friend and brother both murdered in front of him, this film sees Thor broken down like never before, and his journey to reclaim both his power and his sense of purpose is a great one.
While references to Thor’s prior adventures are used occasionally for comedic effect, like Thor concluding that having your father die, your sister cut out your eye, killing said sister and watching your brother be murdered is ‘just life’, throughout the film, underneath everything Thor says, you can see that he is perhaps more emotionally wrecked than any other character. It speaks volumes about Chris Hemsworth’s performance that he can be the standout in such a crowded film, and so when he makes his triumphant return to Earth with his new friends ‘Rabbit’ and ‘Tree’ (better known as Rocket and Groot), and the Avengers theme starts blaring out, it truly is the best moment of the movie, and perhaps the ultimate bit of fan-service. By itself, it’s very cool, but coupled with the events that have led up to it, it becomes so much more powerful.
And, equally importantly, seeing Thor unleash the full power of an angry God, seemingly capable of ending the threat of invasion by himself, is particularly crucial to making audiences believe the Avengers can turn the tables and win the day, eventually setting us up for the biggest of all falls.
Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures contains affiliate links, which provide us with small commissions based on purchases made from visiting our site. We cover gaming news, movie reviews, wrestling and much more.
Gamezeen is a Zeen theme demo site. Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.