Rarely has the ending to a movie packed the emotional punch that the concluding five minutes of Avengers: Infinity War smashes home into its audience. As Thanos coolly and causally circumvents Wanda’s concerted efforts to destroy the Mind Stone, and then goes on to save himself from being killed by a vengeful Thor, it’s clear that the Avengers aren’t going to win this fight. But the manner of their defeat and the full nature of the Mad Titan’s victory are on a scale of tragedy that literally nobody can have been expecting.
You see, Thanos has a theory. The universe is in chaos, and the only way to ultimately save it is to halve it’s population. That way food and resources will stretch further, and there will be less need for people to fight with each other. So once the Mind Stone completes the full set of Infinity Stones, granting him the power to annihilate 50% of all life in the galaxy, that’s exactly what he chooses to do. Which is bad news for Earth’s mightiest heroes….
No sooner has that tragic and confused cry escaped from Bucky’s lips, than half of our heroes are gone, swept away from reality in a cataclysmic intergalactic cull. It’s a horrific plot twist that sets up a maddening and frustrating year-long wait until any continuation of the storyline. This divisive ending raises no end of questions that Avengers 4 will ultimately go on to answer in April 2019.
With the emotional wounds still raw from these events, here are the biggest questions that we want answering:
1. Where the hell are Clint and Scott?
Marvel fans are a perceptive bunch, and when it became clear that there was a distinct lack of Hawkeye in the movie’s promotional material, the fans wanted to know why. So significant was the outcry about the missing Avenger, that Kevin Feige was forced to address the issue, hinting that Clint Barton had gone off on a solo mission to safeguard one of the Infinity Stones from what was coming.
Well, for the moment at least, it looks that that was some sweet old bullshit, as Clint is nowhere to be seen during the events of Infinity War. It’s possible he may well be off in a story that’s waiting to be told in Avengers 4 or maybe even Agents Of SHIELD. It’s equally as possible he’s busy trying to protect his wife and kids; but right now we have no fucking idea where he is. And he’s not the only one missing in action.
The other member of Team Captain America who was conspicuously absent from the events in Wakanda was Scott Lang, which is a shame; because a gigantic Avenger could have come in really handy. It’s likely we’ll find out a lot quicker where Scott has been, with the upcoming Ant-Man & The Wasp movie likely to be set before Infinity War.
2. Are there ANY Asgardians left alive?
Whilst events take their toll on the residents of New York, Edinburgh and Wakanda, spare a thought for the Asgardians who managed to escape Surtur’s fiery destruction of their homeland. With Thanos and the Black Order having cut a bloody swathe through their vessel en route to Thor and Loki, it’s never fully explained how many (if any) have survived.
The number of bodies seen spread about the decks as Loki gets dispatched would indicate not very many. And the fact Thanos then disintegrates their ship as he makes his exit would further suggest that Thor is the sole survivor. But then the Odinson is subsequently overhead telling the Guardians that Thanos murdered ‘half his people’, so it’s possible that the survivors were taken aboard the tyrant’s vessel in line with his ‘50/50 Conquest Policy’.
Despite Loki and Heimdall having been killed performing noble acts of sacrifice, the fates of at least two other Asgardians have yet to be confirmed. For starters, where was Valkyrie whilst the ship was being attacked. And why has Lady Sif’s ongoing absence still not been addressed?
3. What’s the deal with Red Skull?
Whatever fleeting excitement that the brief appearance of William Hurt as General Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross bought to the party, it was almost immediately eclipsed by the totally unexpected return of a very different franchise-founding character.
Often teased, but having stubbornly remained unseen since his last appearance back in 2011, Red Skull suddenly materialized on the planet Vormir, to guide Thanos to the Soul Stone. And whilst its genuinely great to see him once again back in the MCU, what exactly is going on here?
Not only has Herr Schmidt apparently lost a little bit of weight since that last time we saw him, but he also seems to have mellowed. A lot. Rather than tying to gain supreme power, or find a way to again enslave Earth, his years of exile seem to have made him a lot more helpful and philosophical. Is he a ghost? Is he some form of echo of a past self? Or has his DNA been altered by the Cosmic Cube, rendering him immortal? We have no idea.
4. What about Shuri and The Collector?
The closing two minutes of Infinity War go into great length and detail to emphasize just how many characters fall victim to the indiscriminate cull carried out by the Infinity Gauntlet. As hero after hero is disintegrated (including Nick Fury and Maria Hill) it seems that pretty much everybody’s fate has been addressed. Or has it?
Shuri spends the majority of the Battle For Wakanda away from the action whilst she tries to separate the Mind Stone from Vision. It’s not until she’s rudely interrupted by a marauding Corvus Glaive that she gets dragged into the fight. But whilst T’Challa is removed from existence, she isn’t featured at any point, leaving her fate left up in the air.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the cosmos and a little earlier on on the story, The Collector has his ass handed to him by Thanos. When the Gaurdians arrived on the scene and intervened to save him, it transpired the whole tableau was an illusion generated by Thanos, designed to draw them in. It seemed on the surface that The Collector survived the assault on Knowhere, and was forced to watch whilst Gamora was taken by her adoptive father, or was that just part of the overall illusion?
5. Was that Gamora in Thanos’s vision?
One of the most emotional sequences in the movie sees Thanos forced to kill his daughter, in order to attain the Soul Stone. With Red Skull handily pointing out that the jewel required a soul to be sacrificed for the trade to take place, the purple giant is temporarily reduced to tears, before Gamora is unceremoniously shoved off a cliff and into the abyss.
From the looks of her twisted and bloodied corpse, it certainly seems that this is the end of the road for Gamora. And when Mantis scans Thanos for his emotions a short time later, his unhidden grief certainly suggests that he had no plans or hopes to bring her back to life.
So at the end of the film, when a wearied Thanos encounters what appears to be a young Gamora in a vision, who exactly is he talking to? Has he gone back through time to a happier past occasion for nostalgic reasons? Has he reincarnated his dead daughter using the Gauntlet’s powers? Or is he just seeing things?
Hopefully, all of these questions and more will be addressed in Avengers 4, due out next year.