I never used to go to movies on opening weekend. I'd rather wait a few weeks to see a movie in a quieter theater. Social media has changed that: Now it's all about seeing the movie before spoilers ruin the surprise. Yesterday, I sat in the second row of a packed theater to see Avengers: Infinity War.
I wish I'd read those spoilers and done some yardwork instead.
Through a lot of the movie, I was engaged and often happy. The dialogue was funny. There was a lot going on, but all the juggling plot-balls stayed in the air. Lots of great characters appeared, and despite their number, most of them wedged in a few good lines and a fabulous display of superpowers. Sure, there was more Thanos than I wanted, but I was looking forward to seeing Thor and Nebula and Drax and all the many, many surviving persons he'd wronged defeat him and keeping him from hurting anyone again.
Then the movie ended, neatly erasing many beloved characters. Many, many very deeply beloved characters. Erased right out of the ravaged and burning Wakandan landscape. There were gasps of "no!" and some of them were mine.
There's obviously going to be another movie, because we saw Captain Marvel's symbol on an outdated pager. We know there are more movies scheduled with some of the many missing characters. In case anybody missed that, though, we also got the words on a black screen: THANOS WILL RETURN.
"And so will everybody else! Marvel is famous for killing heroes and bringing them back!" I said in a deliberately bright and over-loud voice, hoping it would give some comfort to the sobbing child one seat over.
It bugs me a lot, though, that for the next Avengers movie, we're back down to the original Marvel Cinematic Universe Avengers, which consists of a bunch of white guys and Scarlett Johansson. That team literally has as many space aliens as it does women, and literally has more of either than it has people of color. I like a lot of those characters, but I don't like them more than Black Panther and Groot and Mantis. Even adding Wasp doesn't make me excited for this movie. Characters don't balance out through simple addition and subtraction.
I had been griping that this wasn't a real end, that it's just a fraction of a movie, and then ran across the argument that the arc of this movie is complete if you accept that Thanos is the protagonist. And that's true. I can sometimes accept a movie that changes my idea of who the protagonist is partway through. In the first Pitch Black movie, I really enjoyed it. So part of the problem for me is just that the movie was really Thanos: Infinity War, Starring the Avengers and a Lot of Other Interesting Characters.
I like looking at characters different ways. I have been known to launch into Defying Gravity (never in public, not to worry). Although anti-heroes aren't really my thing, I thought after seeing the trailers for Venom and Deadpool 2 that I'd probably watch both of those movies. But Thanos isn't an anti-hero. He's a villain. He kills literally half the sentient life in the universe. He has an interesting reason, and I'm all for well-developed villains, but I'm tired of being asked to sympathize with them.
It comes down to timing. The news has been full of "The Golden State Killer's Sad Heartbreak" and "How a Lonely Man Decided It Was a Good Idea to Drive a Vehicle on a Crowded Sidewalk." I've had my fill of being told how sad the backstory of someone who did something horrible is. Getting a cinematic I Was Sad to Kill My Daughter, But It Helped My Noble Goal of Killing Trillions More People bothers me more now than it would have a few weeks ago.
As a character, Thanos neither ennobles nor entertains. He's not a type of protagonist I want to see, either in fiction or in life. I do not want Thanos to return.
So...uh...I said a long time ago that this blog would always be about my writing, and I just proved myself wrong. Not sure I'm sorry.