Avengers: Infinity War - are we reaching the end of an era?
Do you remember when the first Avengers movie came out in 2012? This was a big moment in both cinematic and comic book history, and was really the first litmus test on whether or not a cinematic universe could work. The film obviously passed that test with flying colours, and even though other studios have attempted to replicate this kind of creative and financial success, their efforts have fallen quite far from the tree that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). There's no question that the MCU is a prime example of lightning in a bottle, and the failures of other studio efforts (including the DC Extended Universe) is ample proof of this. No one has been able to do what Marvel has done, and I doubt that anyone will be able to even come close in the future. And by anyone, I'm including Marvel itself.
With Infinity War finally set to wreck havoc on the world later this month, I sense that we are approaching the end of an era. An era where the release of a Marvel film can be more than just a film, and instead, an unequivocally momentous point in popular culture that overshadows everything else at arms length. In recent times, the only other similar example I can think of (which, coincidentally also comes from the house of Mickey) was the release of Star Wars Episode VII. This first post-Lucas behemoth of a cinematic event isn't something that Lucasfilm will be able to replicate ever again. These moments where nothing else in the world - cinema, or otherwise - seems to matter for anyone who even has a remote interest in popular culture, are hard to come by. Even though the MCU has been trucking along for a full decade now and getting stronger every year, its 'moment' is actually just about to arrive.
My claim here might seem premature as the fourth Avengers movie next year probably falls on the same continuum as what Infinity War is aiming to achieve. It might even be a bigger cinematic event than Infinity War, but either way, this is certainly the beginning of the end. I doubt there will ever be a bigger moment in the MCU after Phase 3 is completed, and that's perfectly fine by me because all signs point to Marvel doing right by the cinematic universe they so patiently built. I've written about my thoughts on the MCU before, and am about to eat my own words to a certain extent because I am pumped for Infinity War. I'm still of the opinion that the MCU can feel like a television series at times, and that the first two Avengers movies were pretty weak. To be more accurate, the first Avengers was terrible, and Age of Ultron was okay. If you haven't heard, I'm not the biggest fan of Joss Whedon as a filmmaker. Barring a future Buffy remake - which I hope is highly unlikely - I'll be steering clear of whatever Mr. Whedon plans to do next with his career.
But something's different about Infinity War, because this seems to be what Marvel has been building towards over the past 10 years. The way I see it, the first two Avengers only existed because of the other MCU films. These individual entries were the reason why a team-up film needed to be made, and the motion of an Avengers movie was bred from this very concept. With Infinity War, the tables have turned and it becomes clear that the individual Marvel films only exist because of the Avengers. Their existence serves the purpose of creating a moment and experience more important than their individual efforts. This is something Marvel certainly thought they were doing with the first two Avengers, and they probably were on a smaller scale, but it was nothing compared to what they're about to do in a few short weeks.
Watching the trailer for Infinity War, there's an equal amount of nostalgia and excitement. The stakes for our beloved superheroes are higher than ever, and for the first time, they also feel real. There are going to be some big character deaths, and when these moments hit, they are sure to hit pretty damn hard. With Winter Solider, the Russo Brothers created what I consider to be the best film within the MCU (Civil War was solid as well), and it's a blessing that they are quarterbacking Infinity War. Hell, even the music from the trailer seems promising. With Winter Solider being an exception, the MCU has notoriously produced awfully forgettable soundtracks, but Alan Silvestri's Avengers theme is used perfectly here. For once, there seems to be a notable theme for the MCU and the fact that Silvestri is actually coming back to score Infinity War can only mean good things. Although Danny Elfman didn't do too much damage on Age of Ultron, I'll refer to one of my previous posts as a primer for why I'm happy he's not coming back for this next Avengers entry.
The long and short of it is that in less than 2 weeks, Infinity War will finally set foot onto the silver screen and there is no question that it will rain down on box office numbers. If its pre-sale numbers are any indication, Disney stockholders are going to be very happy this summer. But numbers aside, Infinity War is much bigger than dollar signs and statistics. A lot of Marvel films have been marketed as the 'biggest MCU event ever', but with Infinity War, it's actually true. This is a pivotal moment in popular culture, and even if the next Avengers film is truly the final nail in this beautiful coffin of success, Infinity War is the beginning of what is sure to be a perfect ending for Marvel's pinnacle in cinematic achievement. Much like Star Wars, the MCU will live on and continue to succeed, but its moment in history as something more than a film or franchise is coming to an end. I have a good feeling it's going to be perfect. April 27th can't come soon enough.