This isn’t a cynical 10-reasons-Avengers-will-suck type post, despite the clickbait-y title (sorry). I don’t know any more than the next person whether Infinity War will crush or not, nor am I interested in making any predictions. What I do know is that with all this hype, expectations for Avengers: Infinity War are on the moon, and if we’re too hyped up that moon might get thrown right at us.
That’s a thing that Thanos does, right? Throws moons.
Anyway, before the lunar weight of expectations crushes us all, I’d like to present an argument to you, and that argument is: screen writing is FUCKING hard.
I’m no screen writer myself, but back when I wrote a weekly comic strip I liked introducing long story arcs. I had three characters to keep track of—three!—and that was enough to give me a tough time maintaining a cohesive narrative. I can’t imagine writing Infinity War, which, without looking it up, has somewhere in the neighbourhood of 7000 characters.
Remember that before Marvel Studios came along the super hero genre had a rough history with large casts. The Joel Schumacher’s Batmans, Ben Affleck’s Daredevil and, perhaps the greatest let down of them all, Spider-man 3, all collapsed under the weight of the characters they carried.
Screen time is precious, the more characters you divide it amongst the tougher it becomes to give each one a satisfying arc. Of course that’s just half the battle because all those little arcs must also be balanced with the overall plot and its themes.
At this point you might be saying “okay, but Marvel has a really good track record with ensemble casts” and you’re totally right. Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and particularly Civil War all proved the studio could handle films with big casts and a lot of moving parts. It’s especially impressive when you think of the all the star power in front of the camera and what a herculean feat it must have been just to wrangle and schedule Chris Evans, Scarlett Johanson and company.
But remember that Avengers: Infinity War is unprecedented, even for Marvel. When this monstrosity hits theatres on April 27th it will be the largest cast of movies stars at the absolute top of their game ever collected on screen at one time. Beloved MCU characters will be packed tighter than Robert Downey Jr.’s wallet. There’s just never been anything like this and there’s really no way to know whether it will work.
All I’m saying is there’s every reason to trust Marvel to deliver, based on their history, but given the monumental task in front of them, I think we as movie lovers should cut them some slack if they don’t deliver the moon. The creative team at the studio are attempting to give us something previously only a distant “what if” in the casting call pages of Wizard Magazine. There’s honour just in the attempt.
If we’re prepared live with a few flaws, perhaps the moon won’t get thrown at us.