Okay, just in case the title of this post didn’t get through to you–
If there is anyone who has still not seen Avengers: Infinity War and wants to remain unspoiled, STOP READING NOW!!!
Okay, for here on out it’s your own fault if you get spoiled. Totally.
So, massive numbers of people have seen the film, and a significant subset of those are freaked out by the ending– about how the good guys lost, how Thanos won, how could they kill off so many characters, on and on. Come on, guys, what did you think was going to happen?
Despite certain claims to the contrary, I totally disbelieve the idea that Avengers 4 is going to be a “completely different” film. The Russos are very good story-tellers and they laid a cunning trap for us. Infinity War is, in truth, Part One of a two-part epic. As such, it ended exactly as it should have— with the heroes at their uttermost lowest point, defeated, on their backs, not knowing what to do next. The story required it. Anything else would have been tantamount to cheating, or, worse, cowardice as story-tellers. I don’t think you can accuse the Russos of cowardice. The stunned, weeping fans stumbling out of movie theaters around the world are evidence to the contrary.
Okay, so how do the good guys claw their way out of this hole? The original comic is no sure guide to where the Russos intend to go. But there are clues in the movie. What follows is pure speculation based on my viewing of the film. I could be way, way off-base, but I think there are points of light in the darkness.
First, Dr. Strange saw 14-million-plus possible futures, out of which there was only one– one— in which the good guys win. From the moment he ran through those futures, he had to be working overtime to set that one possibility up. This is the context in which everything that came after has to be understood.
While on the way to Thanos’ homeworld of Titan, Dr. Strange explicitly tells Tony that Strange would let Tony and Peter Parker both die before he gave up the Time Stone. At the critical point of the battle with Thanos, however, when Tony has been stabbed and appears to be dying, Strange suddenly reverses course and hands the Time Stone over, ostensibly in exchange for Tony’s life.
Most people commenting on this assume that means that Tony Stark is critical to ultimate victory for the good guys, and I would not argue with that. After Thanos’ departure with the Time Stone, Tony asks Strange “why”. Strange effectively answers the question in two parts. He first tells Tony that they are “in the end-game now”. Then, just before he dissolves, he tells Stark that “this is the only way this could have played out.” In other words, the one path to victory is in place. It remains to be seen if the surviving heroes can walk it.
Well and good. But I think there’s more to that scene than meets the eye. Watching Strange as he surrenders the Time Stone, the way the scene is cut, and the looks Strange gives Thanos, suggest to me that Strange has jiggered the Time Stone with a hidden spell. There may be some sort of temporal time-bomb ticking away in it. Its exact nature, I can’t guess, but I suspect Thanos will not like it.
Another moment in the fight on Titan was also suggestive of something bigger. At one point Tony manages to scratch Thanos, who laughs it off by saying something to the effect, “All that effort for one drop of blood?”
Hmm. The very fact that the film calls out what would otherwise be a insignificant injury suggests to me that Tony Stark, armed with one drop of Thanos’ blood, may be a formidable foe, indeed. A drop of blood means that Tony now has Thanos’ DNA– and Bruce Banner, world-renown biochemist (along with all his other degrees) yet lives. Tailored bio-weapon, anyone?
Finally, there’s Captain Marvel. The sight of her emblem was the one thing that seemed to lift people’s spirits in the showings I attended. Some have compared her to Superman, and, by the rood, we could use a little of that OP sledgehammeriness right now. Or a lot. Lots and lots. Seeing Captain Marvel open a really big can of whup-ass on Thanos will probably make my year.
How this all plays out in Avengers 4 is anybody’s guess. We won’t have a clue until we see a trailer– hell, at the moment I would settle for the movie’s fracking title— except that there will surely be intense battles, further losses, and probably a bittersweet ending. It would another kind of cheat if the good guys won, and dialed everything back to exactly as it was before Thanos attacked the Asgardian refugee ship. The lesson of Infinity War seems to be that, when confronting ultimate evil, losses are inevitable. It may be that some of the surviving heroes will pay the ultimate price, even as they– possibly– rescue some of those who were lost. We’ll just have to see.
It’s going to be a long year…..