INFINITY WAR : Storytelling beneath the spectacle

In Wakanda, a portion of Earth’s mightiest superheroes are fighting a massive army of gigantic aliens let loose by the Black Order. Outnumbered, out-strength-ed and without existence of new strategies, the avengers seemed to be on the verge of losing. Hopes were lost.

And that’s when Thor makes a thundering entry (Yes, intentional reference), with a new suit and 2 guardians, wiping away almost all of those creatures within seconds.

thor

This scene is the best example to explain how Avengers : Infinity War – part one of the grand cinematic event brought together by Marvel – manages  to achieve a seemingly impossible task. The said scene comes at a juncture between two plot points . At one hand, it was made clear that the bad guys cannot be defeated with only few of the superheroes thrown around. At the other, it was a major showreel for Thor’s hammer, the magnitude of its strength, and a justification of why the entire plot revolving Thor was necessary.

But it’s not just the screenwriting excellence, which is written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, that elevated our goosebumps at that moment. It was watching Thor emitting thunder from all possible directions and giving that one smash on the ground, which made the moment worth a thousand hoots. This, of course, should be credited to Joe and Anthony Russo, the brain and might behind the making of this movie.

As I thought more and more about the film, the Game Of Thrones fan in me couldn’t stop drawing parallels between the show and this film. Both these entities are not just products of entertainments, but they are also magnum opuses in their respective mediums and heavily influence our pop culture. And they both have to deal with adapting a respected literature while keeping a large audience in mind, majority of whom won’t be related to the literature. With uncountable characters, multiple storylines and one massive vision, it’s a seemingly daunting and impossible task that the creators had in their hands.

gaunt

I imagine that when producer Kevin Feige decided to make these comic book adaptations early on, they exactly knew what they are getting into. If they are going down in this road, they have to take big, unconventional, risky decisions and continue to keep their audiences invested in this brand, so as to keep making more. We have always seen certain genre of films minting gold in one period, and stumbling just as quickly with another. In the year of 2008, audiences were seemingly done with the crowd-pleasing, end-of-the-world superhero films and wholly embraced the gritty realism of The Dark Knight. It was right in the same year when the MCU was born with Iron Man, with the intention of keeping the crowd-pleasing superheroes alive, only with a dash of humor.

mcu

The years went by, the films kept on coming. There were a few miss, but lots of hits. Along the way, Feigi and Co. never shied away or showed haste in making unconventional decisions and strong choices. We saw Guardians Of the Galaxy rocking at the Box Office even as people refused to believe that the audience would buy that world. We also saw a New Zealand documentary maker directing Thor : Ragnarok and laughing all the way to the bank. We got the first ever film in the history of Hollywood to have an all-black cast and crew made on the budget every big Hollywood film enjoys. The result? Black Panther, which is currently the highest grossing Marvel film of all time.

All of this is what it took the team to finally make a conclusion like the infinity war. All the risks being talked about will fall short when you consider this idea alone. They not only have to juggle a mammoth ensemble, but they also have to deal with their individuality and the unique tone each of them brings to the table. And then, when all of that is sorted, you are also required to fit in a character who might just be the mightiest comic book villain ever created.

thanos

Thanos, the 12 ft long purple-colored villain of our story, is a result of the studio finally working on that one criticism MCU movies were constantly getting over the years – lack of a strong villain. The best way you can build a great villain is for them to assume that they aren’t evil in the first place. Sure the motion-capture rendering of Josh Brolin and his performance – all scream out loud to the viewers that he’s the villain. But all that Thanos sees is he’s doing a favour to the universe by wiping half of the population. He is not there to end the world, but to make the world a better place. His theory, at some point, might even make more sense. Why not have lesser people using the limited resources rather than everyone fighting for it? His scarily logical ideologies combined with the prowess of the 6 infinity stones sets the danger level that our favorite superheros are dealing with.

Thanos was strong, but also vulnerable. When he said Gamora is his favourite daughter, he meant it. You are emotionally invested in the heroes and the villain! The film was all about Thanos, right till the very end where he actually gets what he sets out for.

climax

A lot has been talked about the unsettling climax. Some found it too constructed and forced, while few still cannot recover from it. I, for one, couldn’t think of a better way to end the film. The villain had to win, even if momentarily. The stakes had to be raised, to pose a real threat for the Avengers. Yes, many of the heroes that died have their sequels lined up which means they should be returning. The real question is how, with half of the heroes gone and Thanos roaming with all the stones.

A while ago when I wrote my appreciation piece for another spectacle called Baahubali, I described the film as –

a magic that captures the essence of what we call as “Entertainment”

The same words can be applied to this film as well.

It rejoices me to see when makers wade through the factory-like and studio-influenced approach to movie-making and treat them as a large canvas to tell your story effectively. The path couldn’t have been more difficult for the Russo’s and Co. But they still managed to create this. They don’t just cash in on the fanbase, but set out to increase it.

May such visionary spectacle be always blessed with the numbers it’s getting!

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