***SPOILERAMA*** We’re talking major plot points for Infinity War here guys, so don’t read unless you’ve seen the film already and/or aren’t fussed by having things ruined for you.
“The one thing they love more than a hero is to see a hero fail. Fall. Die trying.” – Spider-Man (2002)
2002 was an important year for superhero movies. After the disaster of Batman & Robin all but killed the genre back in the late 1990s, things were kicked back into gear with Spider-Man; the movie that launched a thousand memes and brought superheroes back into pop culture with a bang. 16 years later and you can’t move for origin stories, teamups and/or sequels of the two.
It’s a landscape that has changed drastically over the decade and a half since Tobey Maguire put on the spandex suit. However, one thing that hasn’t shifted is the risk of seeing a major tentpole superhero die. With the exception of Wolverine in Logan (admittedly they basically told us to expect it before release) and Superman in Dawn of Justice (quickly rectified in Justice League), there’s not really been a point where audiences are faced with seeing a superhero fall, fail, die trying.
Then along comes Infinity War.
Now, the cynical among you will quickly cite the release schedules for movies post-IW (forgive the abbreviation) as a counterpoint to any finality to the deaths throughout this latest ensemble piece. Of course Disney/Marvel (not to mention Sony) would be foolish to end the affected franchises then and there; impactful an end as that would dare to be. However, given the safety that the MCU’s heroes have enjoyed in the 18 or so movies up to now, it’s fair to say that the scale and ruthlessness with which the movie embraced the bad guy’s victory is something movie audiences simply haven’t seen before.
It’s a move that has earned major dividends as a result; the packed screening I attended on opening weekend had people reduced to loud, tearful sobbing as Thanos finally did what Thanos was always going to do. I myself was left at a bit of a loss as the credits rolled, wondering just how these things were going to resolve themselves by the end of next year’s end part to this current storyline. Whether some, most or all of the deaths in Infinity War will be a permanent event in the series’ continuity remains to be seen.
For now I’m very happy to give kudos to Marvel Studios for having the conviction to make a near 3 hour summer blockbuster where the good guys actually lose. Roll on 2019 then, when we’ll find out for sure if they have the courage to make that L stick for this battle, even if the non-purple-Titan contingent win the war overall.