Commentary: Avengers: Infinity War has way too many jaw-dropping moments for a definitive best-of list, but we'll give it a shot.
Hear me and rejoice: In the following article, you have the privilege of reading a metric ton of Avengers: Infinity War spoilers. I will not hold back on details. You have been warned.
Artistically and technically, Avengers: Infinity War is completely unlike any movie that's come before it, inside or outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It truly feels like the culmination of 10 years of serialized storytelling -- well, along with next year's Avengers 4, anyway.
Infinity War currently ranks right behind Black Panther for the No. 2 spot in my top MCU movies ranking. If I could see it on a weekly basis, I would. It's that good. There are so many awesome, revealing and fist-pumping moments in the film, this list could have easily ballooned to 50.
I'm going with 9 though, since I need to devote some time to the five years worth of Captain Marvel comics silently judging me from the Marvel app on my iPad -- those books ain't gonna read themselves. On with the countdown:
As Thanos faced an agonising choice in his quest to win the Soul Stone, I realized he isn't only the most realistic CG character ever in a film -- as realistic as a 10-foot-tall purple alien can be -- but also one of the best movie villains ever. After he tosses Gamora off the cliff, actor Josh Brolin and the visual effects artists sell the look on his face of pure horror and shock at what he's done.
The first time I saw the movie, I wasn't thinking about CG at all. I was just watching a fully realized character display a bunch of heart-wrenching emotions on his face and I completely bought it.
When I watched the first Infinity War trailer, I thought there better be a moment where Black Panther and Cap -- and possibly Bucky -- break out from everyone else and lead the pack with their faster-than-human speed. In the film, it's only Chris Evans as Cap and Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa, but it's such a fist-pumping moment! It's one of three or four moments that had me wanting to punch the person next to me in excitement.
This awesome level of detail is further proof that the people at Marvel Studios are just as dialed into this stuff as I am.
Criticism of this moment reminds me of the criticism of Tony Stark attacking Bucky in Captain America: Civil War. Both these decisions by the characters were logically wrong, but emotionally right. Here, Star-Lord's emotionally driven decision worked for me.
First, it's Quill's plan that allows them to get that close to getting the gauntlet away from Thanos. Second, before he clearly makes a huge mistake by attacking Thanos, let's remember the last time he saw the purple tyrant. Thanos literally made him kill Gamora. She didn't die, of course, thanks to the Reality Stone, but Quill still had to go through the agony of having to kill the one woman he loves. It's a terrible choice and yes, Gamora is the one who put it on him, but it's Thanos who really sadistically toys with him.
So you bring Quill face-to-face with a weakened Thanos and then reveal that he actually had killed Gamora, and it's inevitable what Quill will do.
There's even precedent from previous movies: in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Quill's father, Ego, gives him cosmic consciousness right before revealing he murdered Quill's mom. Does Quill pause to make a thoughtful tactical decision? No. He reacts as emotionally as anyone would.
Even in the first Guardians of the Galaxy, when he finds a prison guard listening with the headphones his mother gave him, Quill again reacts completely emotionally. Quill's an impulsive, emotional dude. And this moment in Infinity War fits his character to a tee.
Infinity War may have served Doctor Strange almost as well as his own solo movie did -- maybe even better. And no moment demonstrates how cool and powerful Strange is as his one-on-one clash with Thanos. If, like me, you've been a Marvel-head since the '80s, you know how powerful Doctor Strange is -- and thanks to this movie everyone else finally knows as well.
The big moment was when the magic medic pushed the mirror realm toward Thanos and Thanos smashed it into shards and sent the shards flying back, only to have Strange transform the shards into butterflies. This was the reason I was so excited for this movie going in. Then there's the bit when Strange splits himself and Michael Giacchino's score comes in -- what an exceptional few seconds among a bunch of other exceptional few seconds.
I mean, come on. Tom Holland is a gift to the MCU. So. Many. Tears.
When Thanos arrives on Titan, Doctor Strange is there to greet him in the most snarkily awesome way possible. I just love how relaxed Benedict Cumberbatch plays this scene. With the types of weird shit Strange has been through in his life, especially at the end of his solo movie, his calm confident demeanor makes complete sense. Strange totally disarms Thanos, and it made me love Doctor Strange even more.
In a movie full of heart-wrenching scenes this one moves higher and higher in the rankings the more I see it (five times as of this writing!). Everything that starts with Vision telling Wanda it's time to kill him up until the snap is incredibly compelling, surprising and tragic. The music, the heroes' futile attacks, and Wanda having to both destroy her lover and hold off Thanos at the same time.
My favorite detail, however, is Vision mouthing, "I'm sorry... I love you." The filmmaker's choice to make those words barely audible is fantastic. Of course, right after this moment, Thanos does his thing with the Time Stone, but it doesn't take away from this scene's power and artistry.
Wow. They actually did it. When I first read the Infinity Gauntlet saga as a teenager, the Thanos SNAP was one of the scenes I longed to see captured in a movie. I figured we'd see it in Infinity War or the next Avengers movie, but when Thanos actually does it, it completely took me off guard. This shocking and disorienting moment leads directly to the best ending of any MCU movie to date.
For the last month before the movie opened I'd been thinking about how Thor would arrive in Wakanda. There weren't even hints in the trailers that he would, but Thor's battles with Thanos in the Infinity Gauntlet comic are some of the most iconic and memorable for me, so I just hoped he would appear.
And boy, what an entrance! The buildup is perfectly done on Nidavellir. And just as our heroes in Wakanda are completely overrun, the Bifrost comes blasting in, followed by Stormbreaker. Cue the glorious Alan Silvestri Avengers theme and Thor going full-on god mode with glowing eyes and lightning crackling all around him.
And man, that low hum sound effect as he takes off into the air and delivers a huge crater-making blow to Thanos' forces. This is the kind of stuff I've been waiting years for Thor to do in these movies -- and the sheer visceral power of it went way beyond my expectations!
How to watch every MCU property in the perfect order: From Marvel films to the shows on Netflix, here's the best order to experience the MCU.
With Avengers: Infinity War, the MCU adds insult to DC's injury: Simple differences explain why Avengers: Infinity War soars where the DCEU has yet to succeed.