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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

A little something for the weekend...

Public Service Announcement • “Avengers: Infinity War,” by Bruce Bethke •

This is not a movie review. It’s a warning. If you’re determined to see this movie without any preconceptions, stop reading right now—but don’t say you weren’t forewarned.

Right. You’ve elected to continue. Very good. I promise this post will include only one tiny and inconsequential spoiler, and it will be at the very end and clearly marked as such. But there are things you need to know before you put down your money and watch this movie.

Let’s begin with the title. If Disneymarvel had any respect for their audience, the title would be Infinity Wars, Part 2. The events of this movie are a direct continuation from the events of Thor: Ragnarok, with a heaping helping of backstory gleaned from Guardians of the Galaxy, and if you haven’t watched those movies and paid very close attention to all the little bits of side- and background business in them, there will be a lot of moments during Infinity War when you will be saying, “Huh?” and asking the person sitting next to you to explain what just happened.

While we’re on the subject of Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy: be advised that everything that made those movies fun and exciting to watch has been gutted from this one. This is the Marvel universe’s The Last Jedi. It’s as if the filmmakers saw the audience reaction to Guardians, Ragnarok, and Black Panther, and then clapped and rubbed their hands together in glee, let out suitably villainous evil cackles, and said, “Okay, we’ve got them hooked. Now let’s pull the rug out from under them!

In a larger sense, the whole movie works that way: one long series of rug-pullings. Pretty much everything you’ve ever liked about the Marvel cinematic universe thus far is undercut, overturned, or made ironic and meaningless in some way. It’s not Terminator Genisys-level bad: at least Tony Stark doesn’t turn out to be the psychotic evil mastermind behind everything. But it does feel like they decided it was time to tip the whole Marvel universe over into a great big vat of nihilism.

Then there’s the matter of the ending. You may have heard that this movie ends in a cliffhanger. We need a new word, to describe something orders of magnitude beyond a mere cliffhanger. This movie is not by any means complete: there is clearly at least one more movie needed to wrap up everything that’s left hanging at the end of this movie. Imagine if you’d gone to see The Empire Strikes Back or The Two Towers without knowing that it was the second movie in a trilogy. That’s how you’ll feel at the end of this one.

And frankly, by the end of this movie, the filmmakers have painted themselves into such a tight corner that I can’t imagine how they’re going to get out of it, except by executing a colossal deus ex machina or performing the sort of galaxy-wide timey-wimey “it never really happened” reset that makes some Doctor Who stories so very bad. It’s one of the worst narrative cheats in the business: the science fiction equivalent of the “it was all just a dream” ending, and I’m really afraid that that’s where this story ultimately is going.

Finally, as promised, the spoiler. Ready for it?

By now, we’ve all become accustomed to sitting all the way through the end credits of a Marvel film, eagerly waiting for the Easter egg. Sometimes they’re great. Sometimes they’re hilarious.

This time, the sole lonely little Easter egg at the end of a very long end credit crawl is—

Meanwhile, back in the USA, Nick Fury realizes something has gone terribly wrong, and he pages—not calls, pages—Captain Marvel.

Mind you, this is Marvel’s Captain Marvel, not the Captain Marvel of “Shazam!” fame, and the story of how Fawcett and DC lost control of the trademark and Marvel ended up owning it is a fascinating tale of lawyers, court cases, and IP rights ownership. But that’s a story for another time...

1 comment:

Sean said...

Interesting. Agreed you needed to see past movies to be familiar with a lot of what happens, but unlike Last Jedi I felt these filmmakers stayed true to the characters as they had been established in earlier movies.

The tone was much darker, but I was ok with it because I know part 2 is right around the corner.