By Bru-Hed (with help from Mike Pascale)
All original written content is (c) 2018 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed art is ©2012 and a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE (again)! The long-anticipated (partial) conclusion to the “Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 3” is finally here! Earth’s Mightiest Heroes™, The Guardians Of The Galaxy™, the Master Of The Mystic Arts™ and other ™s all eventually meet and team-up to stop big purple meanie Thanos from acquiring all six Infinity Stones and thus gaining the power to wipe out half of all life in the universe (apparently not including plants, but hopefully including roaches and rats).
Screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. Directed by brothers Anthony & Joe Russo. Based on characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, plus Jim Starlin (and many others).
- Same cast from all their individual and group movies (in no particular order): Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Tom Holland, Mark Ruffalo, Chadwick Boseman, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Paul Bautista, Sean Gunn/Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel’s voice, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bethany, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Guria, Letitia Wright, Tom Hiddleston, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff and Benedict Wong, plus “mo-cap” Josh Brolin as the “mad Titan from Titan” (who also plays Cable in DEADPOOL 2 in a couple weeks, which may be a first for the same actor playing two different Marvel villains in the same year!) Plus a few old friends/supporting characters from past films.
- Shock alert: Acres of action, excellent explosions, power-packed punches, furious fighting and decimating destruction. Everything you expected, just more of it.
- Special effects? Mostly awesome. Loved Strange’s magic and Stark’s Iron suit. Major props for Rocket’s subtle facial expressions, which sometimes said more than the dialog. (But oddly, something “easy” like Thanos walking up a couple steps and sitting in a chair looked computer-fake. Go figure.) The variety of weapons, rays, tech and other super-stuff was mostly cool, fun and, well, effective.
- Dialog was my favorite part. The banter between the different personalities was spot-on and everyone pretty much spoke true to the their characters. Some definitely funny lines. Standouts were the confrontations between Stark and Strange, Stark and Star Lord, Star Lord and Thor, and the pop-culture chat between Iron Man and Spider-Man. Drax has his usual funny taking-things-too-literal, Groot is a slacker teen and Bruce Banner did his customary whine and wavering. Not a lot of room left for Rocket’s wisecracks, but he got in a few good ones.
- Story picks up minutes after the end-credits scene in THOR: RAGNAROK (where the Asgardian ship meets Thanos’s.) The plot bounced around to different locations around earth and the cosmos but was pretty easy to follow if you kept track of who went where to do or get what. Thankfully only two (short) flashbacks.
- Stan Lee’s cameo came early—watch for the bus. Plus a building-sized Peter Dinklage to boot!
- Barely one shot apiece for Black Widow’s buns or Scarlet Witch’s cleavage. A couple close-shots of the Dora Milaje’s headlights.
- Thanos was more “humanized” as the story went on. As crazy-horrible as his goal, there’s actually a twisted logic and sense to it, and you believe that he believes he’s doing the right thing, rather than just being the Big Bad Baddie he’s been both in previous end scenes and in the beginning here.
- A tiny tie-in with the AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show. And a bunch of comics old and new.
- It could not have been easy to give proper screen time to every deserving Avenger (and supporting character), even as long as this flick is. Some fans will be disappointed (see “Cons” below) but fans of Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Thor, Spidey and Star Lord should be mostly pleased. Olsen’s Scarlet Witch has one of the most emotional.
- The button after the full credits (none after the main titles) teases an upcoming film. (Sorry, no spoilers!)
- FROM MIKE: As usual, lots of great artists and writers are credited at the end. But blink and you’ll miss ‘em. (See photo, courtesy of @CoolComicArt on Twitter.)
- Fans of The Hulk will be majorly disappointed (unless you prefer Banner); a completely missed opportunity to take advantage of the most powerful human on earth! My guess is that 1) he had a big part already in THOR: RAGNAROK and the filmmakers didn’t want to overuse him, or 2) they already had their CG hands, budgets and/or time filled with Rocket plus Thanos and his three stooges (Corvus Glave, Proxima Midnight and Cull Obsidian). Or maybe it’s a bit of both. (Note: the famous last scene in the trailers of the characters running toward the camera is NOT in the actual film!)
- For having two screenwriters of all three Captain America films and the directors of the last two, the First Avenger doesn’t get nearly the same film time as Thor and Iron Man. (I guess we know who really won that Civil War.) Similar limited screen-showing for the Black Panther, whose film just blew away everyone else’s. (But the filmmakers had no idea while this was being made, of course.)–No Hawkeye, Valkyrie, Deadpool/X-Force or Ant-Man, even though the latter two’s films are due later this May and July (respectively). Mantis, for the most part, is a dumb-as-a-bug waste of space. [MIKE: especially when compared to the comic-book version who’s much better. Also, Thanos has no relationship with Death like he did in the comics.]
- Cap apparently traded his mask for a beard, the red-white-and-blue for charcoal gray (with a “WTF” black star!?) and his shield for stupid mini-shield gloves (which he can’t throw at or use to protect anyone). Thor still has his “other side of Nick Fury’s” eye-patch, dated hairdo and no Mjolnir hammer (although he at least gets one or two additions).
- Thanos wears his iconic headgear for a couple minutes and that’s it—he’s mainly a bald, beady-eyed wrestler with a “ball-sack chin” (as Pratt’s Peter Quill brilliantly calls it). His lieutenant Ebony Maw is annoying.
- At 2.5 hours, I had to pee during the film and missed a couple funny lines. Once things get going, there’s really no ideal time to go! Don’t drink a lot.
- SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF DEPT.: Remember, one of the Infinity Stones can manipulate time, so it brings with it all kinds of silly paradoxes, like being able to avoid half the battles in the film. So try not to think about it.
- No one mentions that Titan is the largest moon of Saturn. Here it’s a planet.
- Several cool characters bite it, as you’d expect, and a few of them early. Some may not come back.
- Remember this is part one of two, so even though it has an “ending,” the story doesn’t, and you’ll have to wait a year (May of 2019) to find out WTH happens! That’s the biggest bummer of all.
As I said with AGE OF ULTRON, I still like the first AVENGERS (and the two GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXYs) better than INFINITY WAR, but you’ll want to see this if you’ve invested any time in the last few Marvel films. I didn’t see it in IMAX or 3D but there really didn’t seem like much that would be worth 3D, which darkens the overall look, especially since a good part of the movie is in dark environments. However, because of the non-ending, you’ll want to either 1) wait for cable and watch this a week or two before part 2 comes out, or enjoy it in the theater now and then re-watch it later (the DVD should have a ton of cool extras and behind-the-scenes stuff for those into it, but this looks great on the giant screen). Avengers disassembled and re-assembled!
P.S.: Pascale has drawn many of the team at one time or the other. You’ll want him to create one for you! Or how about you or a pal/loved one as one of the characters? Time for a commission…Just ask Craig here!