When Avengers Became Game of Thrones

You may have noticed this, but I love Marvel movies.

In fact, usually, I’m such a nut for them that I go to see them at least within a week of opening night.

Avengers: Infinity War was the exception to the rule, for a few reasons.

It was a little bit because it wasn’t quite in the budget when the movie came out, but it was mostly because emotionally, I didn’t think I was quite ready to see it.

Marvel has been touting Infinity War as the ultimate conclusion to the entire MCU as we know it for almost 10 years, ever since Iron Man first hit the big screen in 2008. I was a little late to the party, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t become a huge part of my life since then.

Was I ready to see what was purportedly the end to everything I had come to know and love?

Was I ready to see if those fan theories were true about Tony Stark pulling an Obi Wan Kenobi and dying off so his pupil Spider-Man could thrive?

Was I ready to see who else died?

For weeks, the answer was no. But as the spoilers started to come out, it got harder and harder to avoid them. Eventually, my curiosity got the better of me, and Shane and I went to see Avengers: Infinity War.

Warning: There be spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen it yet and have somehow miraculously avoided all the spoilers already out there, stop reading here, go see it, and then pick up here again.

 

A masterpiece of Marvel storytelling

Now, before I dive too deep into everything that happened, I just want to say that I loved the movie.

Marvel is known for making beautifully crafted and witty movies, and this one was no different. It also did an amazing job of putting so many of its popular characters in the limelight without really favouring anyone, which is not an easy thing to do.

But the thing about this movie is that although it was gratifying to its fans for being exactly what we’ve come to expect from the studio, it was also surprisingly unsatisfying. Usually, I can come away from a superhero movie with the sense that although i just watched things get very, very real, there was a concrete, cathartic conclusion that meant everything would be okay.

That was not the case.

 

The rising toll

I went into the movie with the expectation that I would see a few people die. After all, it’s called Infinity War, right? Not like it’s the Infinity Tickle Fight or something. Although that would be pretty funny.

What I did not expect, though, was to see the Marvel Studios version of the notoriously bloodthirsty Game of Thrones, condensed from seven seasons into two hours.

I mean, we pick up where Ragnarok left off. The first plot point you see is Loki—the instigator that necessitated the Avengers coming together in the first place—taking an alien spear through the chest in the first five minutes of the movie.

It was a bit of a shock, and in hindsight, it feels a little like a subliminal message from Marvel that everything will be different now.

From there, the movie slowed down a bit, but not a whole lot.

 

How Starlord screwed the universe

Usually, when things go sideways in Marvel movies, it’s difficult to pin it on one specific thing. It’s an accumulation of little triggers that cause the one horribly sticky situation.

That was different in this movie. There was one thing that Shane and I could definitively point to after we’d watched the movie; if one person had done one thing differently, the movie would have had an entirely different outcome.

That person was Starlord, legendary outlaw.

I was pretty upset by it, actually. He’s been one of my favourite characters ever since the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and I pick him in the Lego game every chance I get.

As much as I love him, though, he’s a passionate and occasionally volatile character; although he pretends not to care about anything, he loses his mind whenever anyone talks poorly about his deceased mother. I’m not saying I blame him, but it is a noticeable characteristic.

He had his first chance to be the absolute hero of the entire universe, not just the galaxy, when he faced Thanos chez the Collector. Earlier in the movie, Gamora had mysteriously demanded that if Thanos got his hands on her, Starlord would kill her. He reluctantly agreed, but when the time came, he choked.

He hesitated just long enough for Thanos to figure out what was going on, and to use his recently acquired Reality Stone to turn Starlord’s previously lethal weapon into an ineffective bubble wand.

If Peter hadn’t hesitated to do as Gamora asked, Thanos would have been completely out of luck. He would have had nothing to trade for the Soul Stone. He would never have been able to complete his psychotic treasure hunt, and he would never have been able to erase half the inhabitants of the universe.

But Peter hesitated, and Thanos escaped with Gamora.

 

How Starlord totally missed his redemption

It’s pretty common in Marvel movies for characters to get a chance to redeem themselves after they screw up royally. For the most part, they capitalize on that opportunity, and their true heroism shines through.

Starlord did the opposite of that. As far opposite as you could possibly go.

Remember how I was saying earlier that he was sometimes volatile?

When he next encounters Thanos on Titan and as part of a scheme between himself, Mantis, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Dr. Strange, his first question—which doesn’t actually happen until the scheme to steal Thanos’ gauntlet is almost finished—is where Gamora went.

Mantis says that Thanos is anguished at that question, although she doesn’t know why. We can literally see the pieces come together on Peter’s face, and so does Iron Man, who quickly tells Peter to stand down.

But Starlord isn’t good with instruction.

Instead of listening to Tony, and waiting for them to take Thanos’ ultimate weapon away from him, Peter lashes out in completely selfish and single-minded anger—which dislodges Mantis, who loses control over the Titan overlord, who gets his glove back and deals out some serious damage to the gathered Avengers.

This then leads to him successfully getting the Time Stone from Dr. Strange, who sees no other way.

So, not once, but twice, Starlord cost half the universe its lives.

 

What’s next for the MCU?

Now, with half its heroes dead, it’s hard to imagine what comes next for Marvel. I was both happy and surprised that I got to keep Iron Man, but it was heartbreaking to watch half of my favourite characters, like all the remaining Guardians and the only recently introduced Black Panther, literally turn to dust and vanish before my eyes.

Part of me had spent the entire movie hoping that at the last moment, the Avengers would band together (led by Thor, who can apparently survive standing in a star’s core and who now has a badass new axe) to destroy the Gauntlet and save everyone from a horrible demise.

As it turns out, not even plot armour can protect you from Thanos. I spent hours after the movie coming up with theories about how Wong, the sassy librarian from Dr. Strange, was hiding out in the Hong Kong sanctuary and knew how to use the Time Stone, so he’d get his hands on it and turn back time to save everyone.

It wasn’t until I accidentally read that the deal between Sony and Marvel included another movie with Tom Holland’s Spider-Man that I began to have any hope that those heroes would come back, but even still, I’m skeptical.

All I can do at this point is hope that comic movie deaths aren’t as final as Game of Thrones—or all the people that Thanos killed in an instant will stay dead forever.

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