‘Avengers: Infinity War’: Did Marvel Trade the Lives Of Its Beloved Superheroes?

It seemed pretty obvious that multiple lives would be on the line in Avengers: Infinity War, and fans even began guessing which of their favorite superheroes wouldn’t survive it. In order to answer that question, many turned to Marvel’s future plans for movies focusing on specific characters. Which characters could the company lose because they essentially finished their arc in their solo movies?

In a way, Avengers: Infinity War subverted expectations and made that very question explicit to the movie’s story. Thanos is on the hunt for all the Infinity Stones with the goal of wiping out half the universe’s population, which he thinks will save the world.

It’s the classic philosophical question: Do you kill one to save many more lives? Or is each life too precious to sacrifice for what can be called “the greater good?” Here is how the movie flails as it answers this question. Warning: light spoilers ahead!

1. Thanos’ stance on trading lives never gets the explanation it needs

Thanos looking straight ahead.
Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War | Marvel

The good news is that the movie does a good job of catching viewers up if they don’t exactly know what Thanos plans to do. But the biggest issue is that there isn’t a lot of explaining as to why he’s doing it.

For example, it is stated multiple times in the first few minutes of the movie that Thanos plans to capture all six of the Infinity Stones and then wipe out many lives. After that, he seemingly just wants to rest. We do get a sense that he thinks what he is doing is for the greater good, but there is no real explanation of what problem he is trying to solve in the first place.

Is it overpopulation? Is it to rectify some imbalance in the universe? It’s possible the answer came up in another movie, but if you have been selective about which Marvel movies you’ve watched, you could be out of the loop. Either way, Thanos believes killing one person or half of the universe is worth it — which puts our heroes in an interesting position.

Next: These two characters’ relationship wasn’t well built.

2. Thanos and Gamora’s connection isn’t served well

Close up of Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Zoe Saldana as Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 | Marvel

Thanos’ motivations aren’t the only thing that is lacking from the movie. The film also tries to make the character more complex via his relationship with adopted daughter, Gamora. We see how he took her in after murdering her people in a flashback,  and then we flash forward to the present time in which she is trying to stop him.

Although the movie certainly tried to build this relationship and juggle all of its other threads, it doesn’t emotionally pay off like it should. At one point, Thanos reveals that she is the one person he loves. When she looks at him in disbelief, so did I.

There just wasn’t enough time from this movie alone to truly believe that he loved her and therefore was emotionally conflicted about what he is doing.

Next: These are the characters who pay the most.

3. The characters who agree with Thanos pay the most

The Black Panther looking concerned as he stares straight ahead.
Characters will have to make some difficult decisions. | Marvel

Marvel decides to pick a side on the question of do you sacrifice one to save many. Although multiple characters disagree throughout the movie, many decide no one should be sacrificed and they have to find another way.

But those who agree with Thanos end up paying the most by showing the sacrifice of their life actually means nothing in the end. It’s actually a pretty bleak consequence that makes the movie a little darker than the latest Marvel movies.

Next: This minor character takes more of a leading role.

4. Scarlet Witch has one of the best arcs of the movie

Scarlett Witch stands in a red jacket.
Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch | Marvel

Although villains tend to take front and center, Scarlet Witch was surprisingly interesting and a force to be reckoned with in this movie. This character isn’t a fan favorite, but in this movie, she was one of the most motivated due to her love for Vision.

Every character has to wrestle with the morality of sacrifice, but somehow her conflict was one of the most believable ones and it also has the biggest consequence.

Next: This is how the movie is inconsistent.

5. The movie is visually inconsistent

Black Panther standing with his army.
Watch out for those small inconsistencies. | Marvel

The movie is the biggest when it comes to scale. There are multiple stories happening in different countries and planets at the same time. Because of this, it is also visually inconsistent.

There are some scenes with a beautiful landscape, like the ones in Wakanda. Then there are scenes in which you can tell everything in the scene is fake, and it might as well be a video game. Luckily, there is overall much less of the latter than the former.

Next: This is how the Marvel characters work and don’t work with each other.

6. Marvel passes the test on the writing of its individual characters (somewhat)

Tony Stark sitting in a dark room.
Each character has an interesting story. | Marvel

It’s pretty exciting to see all the worlds of Marvel collide in this one movie. Although some just want to see the heroes interactions with each other, it was also interesting to see them together in order to gauge how truly unique the characters are or if they just rely on cliches and Marvel’s voice.

Some characters, like Tony Stark and Dr. Strange, do rely on bravado and their leaderships, so they end up sounding very similar. But overall, a lot of the characters clash due to their different cultures, ages, and perspectives.

The movie also plays with their different movie styles with music cues.

Next: This is how Marvel answers the question it poses.

7. Marvel wants to fight for the lives of its characters … for now

Chris Evans as Captain America in 'Avengers: Infinity Wars'.
Marvel seems to be holding on to their most popular characters. | Marvel

Although some may have assumed this movie was the opportunity for Marvel to be out with old and go forward with the new by killing its older characters, it went another direction. In a way, it took a meta approach: Marvel answered the philosophical question by keeping its older characters and actually focusing on more glossed over ones, like Scarlet Witch, instead of trading them in for newer characters.

But this certainly could just be a fakeout. This most likely means the fight isn’t over just yet — and we will be seeing those who we lost again and potentially losing others who seemingly survived in the future.

Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice.

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