It is tempting to wonder quite how the bigwigs at Disney must have reacted when the ending of Avengers: Infinity War was first revealed to them. “So let me get this straight,” they might have said, visions of billions of dollars in lost merchandise revenue whirling in front of their eyes. “You’re going to kill off half of all the superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including the only guy – Doctor Strange – capable of bringing them back?”
In terms of far-out creative decisions, this one is right up there with Luke Skywalker’s declaration in Star Wars: The Last Jedi that he wanted nothing to do with laser sword-wielding space monks. Except that this time, we have to wait a whole year – until the sequel to Infinity War – to see if there’s any way of reversing it.
At least there were clues, hidden in the architecture of the Russo Brothers’ epic narrative, as to how we might get our MCU back. Here’s your chance to give a verdict on the movie’s key talking points, and perhaps offer up your own theories as to how Marvel are going to get out of this one.
The body count
Wow. Spider-Man gone, Star Lord gone, Black Panther gone. Doctor Strange, Nick Fury, Teenage Groot. The list goes on, and that’s just the superheroes who were destroyed with a click of Thanos’ fingers in that astonishing final scene on Wakanda as the mad Titan made good on his promise to destroy half of all life in the galaxy. We also lost Loki and Gamora earlier in the film.
The competing superclans
Would you agree that the Russos did a decent job of uniting the MCU’s myriad tribes? There was something a little off about Chris Hemsworth’s Thor during those early scenes with the Guardians of the Galaxy, but generally the worlds knitted together well. The Wakanda scenes seemed to me to be the most tonally on point, perhaps because Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther had presented it as such a well-rounded vision earlier this year.
Old favourites such as Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner played their part in helping to iron out the kinks between competing super clans. Is Scarlett Johansson still getting $20m (£14.3m) to appear in these movies? If so, you might have thought Marvel would give the criminally underused Black Widow a few more lines.
It was in those early scenes on board the ruined Asgardian ship that Gamora’s evil stepdad was established as a fully rounded CGI supervillain rather than the second-rate baddies we’ve seen so many times before in comic-book flicks. There in the shadows Josh Brolin’s intergalactic despot emerged for the first time as a living, breathing character capable of sharing the stage with high-calibre actors. It’s testament to Marvel’s work here that we already want to see more of him in part two.
Doctor Strange’s vision of the future
Surely herein lies our best hope of a reversal of those deaths. Strange reveals to Tony Stark at one point that he has travelled forward in time to scope out millions of possible futures, and that only one of these scenarios sees Thanos defeated. If the sorcerer supreme knows his mystic onions, we have to assume his decision to exchange the Time Stone for Iron Man’s life is based on his belief that Stark will play a vital part in ridding the galaxy of the oversized space meanie. But perhaps you have different theory?
A Strange death
The biggest issue here is that Benedict Cumberbatch’s reality-warping wizard is among those flicked into the void by Thanos. If we are to assume that the Time Stone is the only vehicle by which our favourite superheroes might be brought back from the dead, Strange would appear to be the most likely candidate to pull off the feat. We don’t yet know if Benedict Wong’s Wong made it, or whether he has the powers to wield the stone. Moreover, there’s the small matter of all six infinity stones remaining in Thanos’s possession.
In Infinity War’s only post-credit scene, moments before his death the former SHIELD supremo sends what appears to be a message to Brie Larson’s as-yet-unseen superhero. We know we’re going to meet Carol Danvers in next year’s Captain Marvel origins story. But where has she been, and why didn’t Fury call on her during the events of Age of Ultron?
Marvel Studios supremo Kevin Feige has said that Danvers may be the most powerful superhero yet seen in the MCU. Might she be capable of defeating Thanos and wielding the Time Stone to bring back all those lost heroes? This, of course, would have the effect of sending Captain Marvel back to wherever she came from, as Fury would never have sent that signal. Would we only get the superheroes back who died as Thanos clicked his fingers, or might Gamora and Loki also breathe again?
And that’s not the only mystery that will have to remain veiled in secrecy until part two rolls around. Can anyone out there explain what the Red Skull was doing on the planet of the Soul Stone?