Peter Parker recalling "that old movie Aliens" becomes a cute plot point in Infinity War, but nobody mentions the more relevant entry in that film franchise. See, in the slightly-newer Alien 3, almost everyone who survived the previous movie is unceremoniously killed off in the opening minutes. Sound familiar? Yeah, that's exactly what happens in Infinity War. When we first arrive on the ship that escaped descruction at the end of Thor: Ragnarok, almost everyone is dead. Heimdall is clutching a fatal injury, just waiting for his contract to expire. Valkyrie, Korg and Miek are nowhere to be found.
For the most part, Thanos and the Black Order have nullified the stakes of Thor: Ragnarok, offscreen, before Infinity War even begins.
Isn't this... kind of a rip-off? Not only for everyone who survived the destruction of Asgard, but for audiences who were invested in the outcome of a fun movie. It'd be like watching Batman save the city in one flick only to find out Gotham was destroyed in the events of the next Justice League movie. Why should we care about anyone or any place in a Marvel movie if they can so easily be obliterated to set up drama for the next big thing (which itself will be invalidated by the following movie, etc).
We'll get into this a bit later, but we can safely assume not all of the Infinity War casualties are permanent. But what isn't clear is whether characters killed before "the snap" are also candidates for ressurection. If all the Asgardians stay dead, then it makes the delightful Ragnarok much less rewatchable.
Infinity War goes to great lengths to show us how the Soul Stone is obtained, but we never really see it in action. Sure, there's a moment with a young Gamora seemingly "inside" the stone the moment after the snap, but Thanos himself never really puts it to work in his battle against the Avengers. It's easy to tell when the Power, Time, Space and Reality Stones are being used because they all have corresponding colors, and they each glow individually when activated. But at no point does the orange bit on Thanos' gauntlet light up.
So what does Thanos need it for, exactly? Was it to locate everyone in the universe so he could snap accordingly? What would it look like if Thanos used the Soul Stone on one of his enemies? We never get answers to these questions, so we're left wondering what the heck was so important about one of the most prominent plot points of the movie. As of now, I'm just going to assume it's the equivalent of the power of "Heart" on a team of Planeteers.
Seriously, Wanda was sporting a heavy (but vague) Eastern European accent in Age of Ultron and then Civil War, but it's pretty much non-existent in Infinity War. What happened there?
The plan almost works. Spider-Man, Mantis, Drax, Doctor Strange and Iron Man have Thanos on the ropes, inches away from removing the gauntlet and saving the universe. Then Star-Lord finds out that Thanos sacrificed Gamora to obtain the Soul Stone, and everything goes to shit. If only we could have seen this coming.
Oh, but someone did. After using the Time Stone, Doctor Strange is very clear that he has seen millions of outcomes of multiple different plans. Judging by how close they came to success, wouldn't they be better off if Doc had given Quill a heads-up on the whole "dead lover" thing? Did Strange really already see that version of events beforehand and decide that Star-Lord flying into a rage and ruining everyone's plans was the best path forward?
That's the other thing. Strange has seen so many potential sequences of events unfold, but it feels like he's still missing some possibilities.
The scheme to save the universe would have been pretty smart if it didn't fail and doom half of existence. Really, you'd think that someone like Doctor Strange would have come up with a better plan of attack besides "everybody hide and then jump Thanos." Even without Wong (who is chilling back at the sanctum while reality itself is in peril), a master of the mystic arts has got to have more up his sleeve than some shiny whips and laser beams.
We've already seen Strange use his powers in creative ways. For instance, enemies are teleported to far-off places in Doctor Strange, Thor: Ragnarok and even during the events of Infinity War.
There are innumerous ways to solve the Thanos situation. When the big bad arrives on Titan, Doctor Strange could do any of the following:
That last one is vital, because it's exactly how Doctor Strange ended his own movie -- by trapping the interdimensional hellbeast Dormammu in a timeloop so excruciating that there was no other choice but to give in to the sorcerer's demands.
All in all it was a pretty clever way to deal with a cosmic threat on an unbelievable scale, so wouldn't this be the first thing Strange would try when confronting someone with a stacked Infinity Gauntlet? "Thanos of Titan, I've come to bargain" seems like it would make a pretty nice callback.
Marvel has made themselves a tidy little backdoor to all of these problems by essentially implying that Doctor Strange has looked into all these possible futures and none of them worked out. If that's the case, I would have still liked to see a glimpse of a timeline where Thanos somehow avoids dying when teleported into a star, or breaks a timeloop not even Dormammu could escape. But really, with Shuri and Bruce Banner, Infinity War already showed us that it's easy to overlook something important when you're only looking at it from one person's perspective. If he had say, consulted the internet, I'm sure Strange would have a few billion more potential scenarios to play out.
Thor's big arrival in Wakanda is a blast. Dude basically plays Dynasty Warriors with the mobs of creeps everywhere on the battlefield. The moment feels great because we've been building up to it so long and he charges in at the exact right moment. But uh, why did Thor know exactly where to point the Bifrost teleporter? He didn't know about Wakanda's existence any more than Bruce Banner, right? Even if he did, there wasn't really a great way for him to know exactly where the action was.
Thor's near-psychic abilities wouldn't be a huge problem if he didn't show such terrible awareness of his surroundings just minutes later.
We can forgive Thor for not immediately murdering the Black Order when he arrives at Wakanda. He seems to be busy with the dropships and hordes of vicious aliens. But when the Avengers assemble to collectively fight Thanos (and get their asses kicked in the process), the flying God of Thunder doesn't show up until it's far too late.
Normies like Black Widow and Falcon get wiped out as Thor is off doing something far less important (which at this time is anything, at all). How does someone have acute knowledge of where a battle is taking place and then totally flake out at the most important moment? Battling Thanos is the entire reason for Thor's journey in this movie, and the idea that everything goes down while Thor's back is turned kind of invalidates his whole arc. Funny how that keeps happening to him.
If you managed to sit through like seventy minutes of credits, you saw the scene where Nick Fury activated a special pager just before the effects of the snap distintegrated his body. The alien-like modifications and the graphic on the display screen tell us this is something akin to an emergency button to call Captain Marvel in a time of crisis.
Boy, I can imagine a couple of times where summoning a Superman-level hero would have come in handy, can't you?
What was Fury waiting for, exactly? A big gun like Captain Marvel would be pretty dang useful when fighting aliens teleporting in from the sky, much less an endless horde of evil robots. Was there a moment where Fury thought about using the pager and then said "Eh nah, New York is under siege from an extraterrestrial threat but we're probably fine"?
This seems like a question that could (hopefully) be answered in the Captain Marvel movie -- I just hope we don't have to wait all the way through the credits.
Infinity War is a hell of an act to follow up. The movie literally ends with the villain wiping out half the universe and smiling in satisfaction. After the reality-shaking events that just ocurred... how are we supposed to care about the adventures of a plucky ex-con and his gang of underdogs? Releasing in July 2018, everything we've seen from Ant-Man and the Wasp so far suggests that the movie takes place after Civil War, but before Infinity War. So, pre-snap, as it were. Meaning that none of the movie will really "matter," so to speak, since we all know what's coming after.
If Marvel is pulling one over on us and the Ant-Man sequel secretly centers on a Leftovers-style post-snap world, that would be pretty neat. But you might also run into a problem where the movie could suffer because it mostly exists as worldbuilding for a larger universe at the cost of a satisfying story. Hopefully Marvel has learned their lesson from Iron Man 2.
Let's be real: Black Panther is not dead. Spider-Man is not dead. Doctor Strange, the Guardians of the Galaxy -- none of these heroes are going anywhere. In most of these cases, we know about the characters appearing in future movies. Disney will not throw away a character like T'Challa when his movie just became the biggest cultural phenomenon of recent memory. Literally billions of dollars are on the table here, and to elminate these characters at this stage would be like throwing bags full of money into a volcano.
Peter Parker's last moments were heart-wrenching to be sure... until you realize Spider-Man: Homecoming 2 is scheduled for a 2019 release. It doesn't seem like a stretch to say that the next Avengers movie will center on the heroes attempting to reverse the snap and return these very profitable characters to life. Some have already speculated the story could involve time-travel, since the Time Stone is still around (just in the wrong hands). If this comes to pass, and the post-snap deaths are undone, the dramatic ending will feel muted and inconsequential.
Ah well. The important thing is Squidward got what was coming to him.