Anghus Houvouras on Thanos’ role in Avengers: Infinity War…
My ambivalence with Marvel movies has been well documented. As I state in all my Marvel related rants, I may be the most consistently critical columnist writing about the mediocrity of Marvel movies online. If we lived in a world where business cards were still a thing, it would probably be printed on mine.
I’m not one of these people who takes pride in being the vocal minority of fans who find much of the recent Marvel output to be sub par. I wish I left the theater with the same level of unbridled joy so many film fans experience when watching one of Marvel’s two yearly offerings.
But I’m not. I’m the guy that started noticing glaring similarities in so many of the Marvel movies, marvelled at their inability to create a villain that was more than a one-dimensional moustache twirling plot device, and got kind of tired of watching the same basic story being told over and over again.
The Avengers: Infinity War promotional video came out this week from Marvel and lit the internet ablaze with excitement [watch it here]. Seeing Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr., and Chris Pratt talk about the epic story that’s about to start filming set off an eruption of erections online that could easily rival the most popular porn sites. I watched the promotional piece with some interest until I realized it was Kevin Feige jerking himself a solid three minutes. I can’t begrudge the man’s epic level of success with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the guy spends so much time patting himself on the back I’m afraid he’s going to dislocate his shoulder.
Infinity War is such an anticipated cinematic experience and the culmination of years of hard work. Yes, the MCU was groundbreaking. Yes, they have changed the way movies are made. But none of that matters if the movie is going to be nothing but Avengers: Infinite Fan Service.
While patrolling the internet today I saw a lot of discussions around the anticipation for Infinity War. A solid 90% of them were love letters of pure electric fandom over the idea of Doctor Strange riffing with Star-Lord. Or seeing Tony Stark hitting on Gamora. Or watching Rocket and Hank Pym discuss technology. It seems like so much of Infinity War’s appeal for fans comes from the same basic paradigm that made both Avengers films and the latest Captain America movie such an unmitigated success: The Team Up.
The massive team up of Infinity War is the exact reason for my flaccid state. 60+ characters trying to each have their moment over three hours of screen time? That is not a formula that screams ‘Great character building moments’ to me. There was however another piece of Infinity War news that did manage to generate some genuine excitement on my end.
Kevin Feige said: “Thanos in Infinity War is, you know, in a movie that has a lot of characters, you could almost go so far as to say he is the main character, and that’s a bit of a departure from what we’ve done before, but that was appropriate for a movie called Infinity War.”
Yes. Dear God yes. This. After reading this comment I was immediately struck with a level of interest I haven’t had with most Marvel movies. Thanos is potentially an amazing villain. One that could easily surpass 90% of the lackluster antagonists of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The only two Marvel villains worth a damn have been Tom Hiddleston’s scene stealing Loki and Daniel Bruhl’s underrated everyman Zemo. Thanos is a character with so much breakout potential if given the opportunity to be developed in a movie.
And by ‘development’, I’m not talking about the previous half-dozen appearances where he sits menacingly in a chair and grinning. That is not character development my friends. Grimacing cameos do not a three-dimensional character make.
If this little development is true, than add me to the ‘excited’ column for Infinity War. It would be a move that requires massive faith in the Marvel movie audience to watch a movie that makes the villain role something other than a perfunctory part of the experience. To give Thanos a movie that not only dives into his quest for the Infinity Gems, but the reason he is driven to such madness. One of the things that made the original Infinity Gauntlet comic series so engaging was how much of the story was told from Thanos’ perspective. If the movie can achieve that same level of character commitment, I’m officially in the ‘Infinity War – Fuck Yeah’ camp.
If Thanos is just another two-bit, underdeveloped villain, I’ll be majorly disappointed. And honestly, it won’t matter. Everyone else will be doing cartwheels in the aisles because they’ll get to see Groot team up with Hulk while Thor flies Drax into battle with the Mad Titan. It’ll make two billion dollars and the toys will fly off the shelf. It’s a movie that only needs to deliver 60+ superheroes in the movie to justify its existence.
To everyone but me and anyone else desperate to see one of Marvel’s great villains given as much care as Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor.