You may recall that we began this project after Bernard and I had been to see Endgame, and realised that not only were we missing a bit of background, but that other people in the cinema genuinely cared about the fates of these characters. It was fine as a bit of standalone school holiday entertainment, but apparently we could get more out of it if we tried harder; and here we are. Nobody can say we haven’t been trying.
So, do we care? We are nearing the end, and the Event that has been hinted at in post-credit sequences and accidental podcast spoilers is approaching. For those who are following this with as little attention as I have, here is what I have gleaned about what is going on in this movie:
The Infinity Stones are powerful devices giving the owner control over time, reality, life, death etc etc. Thanos is a supersized bad guy who plans to collect them all in order to cull half the population of the universe, in order to make better use of resources.He explains this with such deep sincerity that we understand that, like a Tory Prime Minister, he genuinely and inexplicably believes that he is doing good.
The Avengers are a motley collection of heroes whose superpowers come from such varied sources as deity, mysticism, and exposure to radiation or similar. Their role is to protect the planet/universe, but because they are all such mavericks and largely without military training, they often cause as much chaos as they resolve, and hence are largely outlawed and unwanted by the authorities. Male Avengers vie with each other to be the Alpha ((with the adorable exception of your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman)) and female Avengers kick ass in super-tight outfits, with never a complaint about chafing.
This movie is a series of action sequences in which various members of the crew meet other members with whom they have not interacted before, most notably any scene with Peter Quill and Peter Parker, or Thor (“Pirate Angel”) and Rocket (“Rabbit”). These are the moments where the best of previous movies is paid forward, making it worth the bother of sitting through all the earnest exposition and endless fighty bits. ((I particularly enjoyed the fight scene in Edinburgh’s Waverley Station, when they destroyed a Costa Coffee where I once had a very nice hot chocolate while waiting for the sleeper train.)) At one point, Dr Strange advises Tony Stark that, “it’s not overselling it to say that the fate of the universe is at stake.” But the thing is, it is overselling it. These movies are at their best when we can enjoy the journey, knowing that the destination is the prevention of an outcome so immensely catastrophic as to be meaningless. In most cases, the outcome is inevitably prevented in the end; but not in all cases. And the journey is most enjoyable when it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Various lives are traded for various infinity stones, as the Avengers repeatedly fail to grasp the trolley problem. This theme is repeated so frequently as to become tedious, unless you’re emotionally invested in all these relationships, which I’m just not, as you may have figured by now. I could go on, but not without spoiling the ending, in which, gasp, something totally unexpected happens.
Special mentions should be made of Steve Rogers’ very nicely trimmed beard; and Tyrion the Giant. I wouldn’t say you should watch it just for those things, but they helped.