If you happened to stumble upon this post by accident, this will be the last spoiler warning before I start my rant… I will not apologize to anyone that knowingly reads beyond this point and gets spoiled for Infinity War, that’s on you boo.\
So I joined droves of moviegoers in seeing one of the most anticipated superhero films to come out this year, Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War. Ten years of planning and 19 films have lead to this sort of final act in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved Infinity War, it had everything I could ask for in a superhero film: all the heroes (minus Hawkeye and AntMan, they got put on the bus for this one), action, suspense, witty banter, and one of the biggest emotional sucker punches so far this year. It was an almost perfect film and I applaud Marvel (read: Disney) for pulling it off, if you’d asked me back in 2004 if I thought Marvel would have the monopoly on superhero films, I’d have probably laughed in your face and bopped you on the head with my homemade wand and pulled off on the Hogwarts Express back to Harry Potter-ville.
But, here we are and I am much happier for it, however, Infinity War, as great a movie as it was left me feeling uncomfortable. When the film was done and the credits rolled I was left with this deeply unsettling feeling, yeah, I know this is only part one of a two-part final act, and they’ll probably fix it all in part two, but damn that was a way to go out… they killed everybody…
Is it just me or did Infinity War kill off an awful lot of black folks? I know they practically killed everyone in the Avengers lineup, but after my second viewing of the film, I realized something… Infinity War killed off a LOT of non-white characters (and for the purposes of this rant, yes, I am including Gamora because Zoe Saldana is a woman of color underneath all that green makeup).
First they kill off Heimdall (played by Idris Elba) a mere five minutes into the film’s run time. It was a pretty heroic death, but still, the first onscreen death in the film is a character played by an actor of color, a black man… let that sink in. Right on the heels of Black Panther, a film that is unapologetic about it’s reverence for African culture and it’s acknowledgement of the continual struggles of the the African Diaspora, comes a film that knowingly kills off a black character LITERALLY FIVE MINUTES IN! But, wait, it gets better, they completely undermine the significance of Heimdall’s death by immediately following it up with the death of everyone’s favorite trickster, Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston). I love Loki, don’t get me wrong, he is my boy, but by juxtaposing his death so soon after Himedall’s death, the film negates any emotional impact the audience is supposed to feel for the former, because “OH NO THEY KILLED LOKI! HOW DARE THEY!?” Not only does this undermine my man Himedall’s sacrifice which in and of itself is a big fucking deal, because without him summoning the Bifröst and sending Bruce Banner/Hulk to warn Dr. Strange, how the hell else were the Avengers going to know that Thanos was finally out there in the cosmos making moves? That’s right, they wouldn’t!
The film then takes a break from killing off folks, as we follow the various MCU heroes as they attempt to prepare for the incoming onslaught from Thanos and Funky Bunch. All those end credit scenes and breadcrumbs Marvel has been dropping for the past 10 years are finally coming together and we get to see some phenomenal interplay between the various heroes we’ve spent so much time getting to know over the years. But, then here comes Thanos with his savior complex making the ultimate sacrifice, by tossing the only person he ever loved off a cliff to her death… Spoiler Alert: It’s Gamora.
The film has been building Thanos up as this sympathetic villain, yes, his ideologies are a bit extreme, but they are sound and for the most part not as overtly evil as those of some of the other MCU villains we have seen in the past, in fact, I thought he actually made a very valid point (but then again I’ve always been one of those moral grey area sort of folks when it comes to ethics…). But, I digress, in order to realize his dream, Thanos must sacrifice something he loves, because of course, no dream is without some sacrifice. So, he does what needs to be done and chucks poor Gamora off a cliff in arguably one of the most emotional scenes we see in the film. Here we have Gamora, who up until this point has been slowly transitioning from the cold, emotionless Daughter of Thanos we met back in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy into a rather complex and sympathetic character, and yet upon being faced with death she doesn’t go willingly, she cries, she begs, she struggles. And before you say her actions are her attempts to stop Thanos from obtaining the Soul Stone, let me stop you right now, because the only thing on her mind as she is literally being dragged to her death is that ‘she is not ready to die’ not because her living is for the greater good, but because she, Gamora, the individual, doesn’t want to die. It’s a very human reaction and I am not saying it is wrong for her to want to live, but, I don’t know, I wanted to see her do more, maybe get a genuine hit or attack in before she pulls a Gwen Stacy, but, alas that was not to be.
But, my biggest gripe is the fact that the final battle takes place in Wakanda, not New York or some unknown foreign country, but, MOTHER FUCKIN WAKANDA! If Age of Ultron taught us anything, it’s that when the Avengers roll into town population sizes decrease significantly, so when Cap and the rest of the Brady Bunch rolled up on Wakanda, I knew my people were about spill a lot of blood, I just wasn’t aware how great the death toll was going to be. So, the so called, “Infinity War” takes place on Wakandan soil with Wakandans and the Avengers waging battle against the Children of Thanos and their hordes of Orc-like CGI abominations. There are losses on both sides, but, I couldn’t help but notice there were a lot of Wakandans being mowed down left and right, while Steve and his Jolly Band of Pirates were catching a lot of lucky breaks. It looks like they’re going to be overrun, but then blonde haired, blue eyed, Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth) swoops in to singlehandedly oneshot 95% of Thanos’s forces. First… I’m not even going to start on the whole “white savior” argument, because that is exactly what happened throughout the entirety of that Wakanda fight scene, but, just know, we all saw it and I am shaking my head at both Disney and Marvel.
Then, because there’s still at least 10 more minutes of movie left, Thanos shows up takes the Mind Stone and snaps his fingers and promptly erases half of the Universe’s population, fulfilling his benevolent genocide. Heroes and civilians alike start fading to dust left and right as the Avengers (what’s left of them anyway) commence licking their wounds and mourning their dead… I’m of course an emotional wreck as I watch characters I have come to love quite literally fade from existence and then it hits me… wait… Thanos just killed off half of the universe’s population, so that means he is essentually killing off half of Wakanda’s population as well. A population of people that have already been decimated by the aforementioned “Infinity War” that just took place, which means one of the greatest nations in the MCU, an African nation, was just reduced to just a handful of people. On top of that THEY KILLED MY MAN, MY KING T’CHALLA LIKE HE WAS SOME SECOND RATE EXTRA AND NOT THE MOTHER LOVING KING OF A PROUD AFRICAN NATION! SERIOUSLY?! You mean to tell me, the execs down at Marvel were dragging their feet on a Black Panther film just so they could kill him off in the next MCU film?! And then they do the exact same thing they did with Heimdall at the start of the film and hit us with a much more emotionally charged Peter Parker death scene… NO. JUST NO!
And let’s not forget the deaths of Sam Wilson and Nick Fury, which literally happen within the blink of an eye. The first, see’s Sam (played by Anthony Mackie) dying alone in the middle of the jungle while Rhodes (played by Don Cheadle) searches for him. The latter takes place as part of an after credits scene that is only in the movie to setup Captain Marvel, there is no real emotional impact, it just happens because the execs need to push out another box office hit. Which begs the question, do these black lives really matter or were they just a means to an end? A gimmick used to get people in seats?
Only time will tell, and with the as of yet unnamed Avengers sequel coming in 2019, perhaps there is some hope that there may be a reversal of some of these deaths… mostly, I just care about T’Challa…
I also feel like I should clarify that I absolutely loved Infinity War, it was a great film, I just had a bit of an issue with the ridiculously high number of onscreen deaths of people of color.