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Infinity Wors

‘Wors’ is a kind of South African Sausage that is not formed into links.  And thus it can be any length you please.  It’s sold in coils, like rope. If you’re planning to see ‘Infinity War’ this contains spoilers.

I went to see a movie while I was visiting my son and daughter-in-law. Part of that was they wanted to see it, and part of it was that I make some small effort to know what is going on in the world of entertainment, outside of my little world on a remote island. People have been talking about the whole superheroes thing, and comics in the last while, so I thought I’d better at least understand it.

I think I’m more puzzled after than I was before. Why is the ‘villain’ and his evil plot every Urban Green’s and all of Hollywood’s wet dream?  Kill 50% of the population for the environment!  Or is this so they can enjoy the ‘good guy’ winning?  Or is he villain because he was supposedly killing them at random? The normal Green wet dream somehow has all the ‘bad’ people in the 50% being killed. Mysteriously, all the ‘good’ people (the ones who care for the environment even if that means genocide of all the ‘bad’ people) will then live happily ever after in harmony with nature. Kinda like Thanos desires.

Of course, in a state of ‘nature’ the Earth could support very few humans, also in a state of ‘nature’, naked and joyously supping of fruits and berries and quaffing the sap of the wild soy latte tree.

They forget that most of the predators out there, even the little ones (let alone the human ones) think hairless monkey meat is tasty. And the hairless monkeys don’t run away very fast and their teeth and claws are pretty feeble for defense. It’s only that men – and yes, it was always almost entirely men, being bigger, stronger and more aggressive — who stopped humans from being prey, and made us apex predators to be feared and avoided.

Beside the grave shortage of soy latte trees… Without the infrastructure (that doesn’t just maintain itself) that allows us to have our vast population, supplying food, shelter, thermal control and medicine as well as such things as the internet, Vegan leather, and hamster-wheels, humans, especially city ones are going to die. And unless Thanos screws up the Green wet dream completely – and just takes out Douglas Adams’s Ark B people (Which I suspect would include almost all of the wet-dreamers, and many of the commenters on Vile 770, which is sort of my ‘go-to’ example of Ark B.) suddenly destroying 50% of the population is going to mean a lot of essential infrastructure is going to lose key personnel and fall apart. It may well recover as people scramble to fix and fill holes– but not instantly. Within 48 hours most of the cities will be… a great place to be well-armed, prepped, and hunkered down. I guess that about wraps it up for the remaining Ark B people (as they think firearms wicked and preppers mad)…

I doubt Ark B (people who, if they vanished en masse, would have no real impact on the way the world runs, and indeed whose absence be largely un-noticed, except that the rest would then live happy, fulfilled lives until wiped out by a disease from an un-sanitized telephone) makes Douglas Adams’s 1/3 of the population. I’m optimistic enough about humans to assume it doesn’t get to Thanos’s half (IMO they’re a very loud, very vocal 12-25% of any society, for reasons I have not yet understood. It may have something to do with the mice.). So: 50% killed is probably rapidly going to become a lot more because humans are very urbanized.

And even so it’s got to be one of the dumbest ‘motives’ I’ve ever come across. A supremely powerful being, commanding vast armies and terrorizing the universe (Which, we might just mention is… large for any one terrorizer, no matter how deeply craggy and ridged his chin (how does shave? Why does he shave?) kills 50% the population to save the environment and make enough resources for everyone.

So: does he sterilize the other half? Was Maths and History too hard for the writers? Or is Thanos going to rinse and repeat every 20 years or so? Every war tells the same story: a baby boom.

It’s fair to admit, by the time I got to the villain’s motive my willing suspension of disbelief had been battered to pulp by falling from plot-hole to plot-hole. The various casts of characters, backstories, just didn’t feel as if they should go together.  I suppose it’s my lack of superhero experience. Also… I guess if your evil villain is wielding a gun or a knife… you try to kill him or knock him down or whatever superhero-y thing you do… you don’t hit the arm with the weapon? Attempt to disarm them of whatever it is that can’t just hurt you, but kill you? No, that would obviously be wrong. Must be in the superhero code of conduct AKA ‘being a dumb as rocks because otherwise you might make the story really short’. So if you can burn up people zip-zap flump, or wield the ultimate axe… you don’t chop the arm off, but hit the baddy in chest so he can infinity stone himself better and zap you?

And let’s not go onto spaceships and superweapons… spare me the irrational superweapons and powers and playing Zulu warriors. Tactically and strategically… uh. Yeah well. If you’re writing an advanced secret civilization naturally they would know nothing of these… I know, very nice and politically correct. But strategically as sound as launching a hot air balloon in a hurricane. Mind you having them all shout ‘F*ck’ in Zulu (Unless my hearing betrays me) was a good touch. It was all a terrible misunderstanding, and the nasties were just eagerly responding, as they didn’t get a lot of invitation of that kind. They’re really nice girls, you shouldn’t judge by appearances. They have needs too. The Wakandians were being speciest, and should have pretended their advances were welcome. I’m surprised Thanos’s monsters didn’t need a safe space and some play-do after that!

Ok so as you might gather, I was not precisely enchanted by the movie. There were occasional touches of humor that retrieved it from utter bleah. That’s about all I can say. Spiderman was a good touch for laughs. Groot and the video-game and the trash-panda had moments. It’s not so much that I don’t like the genre – my son I watched the first one with Groot, and I enjoyed that. It was space opera, I knew the science was crud and story line implausible, but it was just fun, with more than touch of humor, and, uh, I liked the music.

But – and this is point of this post – while I didn’t like the movie and found a lot of fault with it… millions of people went to see it. Quite a lot of people liked it, despite some complaints. So the big question is: why?

My own opinions: for what they’re worth 1) There were some appealing characters. 2) It’s light entertainment. Only a few jerks like me want to even have a nod in the direction of coherence, plausibility or even basic physics or math. 3) There are a few funny bits of dialogue. 4)  The wonders of Wakanda ( Is it racist to make them the strategical thinking equivalent of Foum-the-beltholes – the ancient Briton credited with inventing a way of keeping one’s britches up when running away from battle?) 5)There’s lots wizzes and bangs. (sex and magic!).

So what do you take away from the experience that I missed? I’d like to know.

26 Comments
  1. I have been watching a few of the MCU movies. There’s a few that I haven’t seen yet and I am not really going out of my way to watch them. They are eye candy and pure escapism. That’s it. I am not expecting anything profound or enlightening. They’re all based on comic books, and that’s all I need to know and expect.

    May 8, 2018
    • Draven #

      Then, quite simply, you are losing out.

      May 8, 2018
  2. Eh … I give this kind of thing a miss, generally. Just not interested.

    May 8, 2018
  3. Actually a villain who hasn’t thought through his entire grandiose plan seems very accurate to me.

    My biggest problem was with Black panther’s little sister. It was Wesley Crusher all over again. Man I hate child geniuses in fiction.

    May 8, 2018
  4. Unrealistic escapism is a very old tradition. How realistic were the adventures of Herakles, or Gilgamesh? It may not make very good Science Fiction, but it’s good entertainment.

    May 8, 2018
  5. “So what do you take away from the experience that I missed? I’d like to know.”

    First, and most interesting about the movie (and all the Marvel movies), is the -bad- guy is the one with the Green Dream. Normally, the one trying to reduce the population or form the Utopia is the good guy. People are being drawn to the Marvel stories because they’re the ones from 1980’s comic books, the pre-SJW era where super heroes were A) Heroes and B) Super. These guys are making a miraculous, gigantic shit-locker full of money by -bucking- the SJW world view. They do it subtly, but they really do it. This indicates to me that a majority of Western (and Eastern!) civilization is utterly sick of the SJWs and their bullshit, and there’s money to be made mocking them.

    Second, in comic books nobody cares about plot holes. Yes, the obvious thing to do is shoot the guy’s arm off. Yes, in real life you’d take the raccoon’s blaster off him and do it yourself, very first thing. But no, nobody cares. Because it’s a comic book. Shooting the guy’s arm off is against the Super Hero Code of Conduct. So is chopping his head off with the fancy axe. This is assumed by the viewer as part of being a comic book nerd.

    The hero pummels the villain into submission in a fair fight, then chucks him in jail, and nobody ever dies in a superhero fight because they are just that good. That’s the deal in any proper comic book. The villain is the one who lies, cheats, steals, takes head shots and cuts off limbs. The hero is Heroic and acts accordingly.

    This is because the comic book is supposed to act as an example for young boys and girls, to teach them how to grow up properly. Every kid wants to be Captain America or Black Panther or Spider Man. Zero kids want to be Thanos. That’s the point of the story. Thanos is a dick, don’t be that guy.

    Third, and this is marketing genius, you need to see eleven other movies for Infinity War to make any sense whatsoever. Three Iron Man flicks, the first two Avengers, Spider Man, three Captain Americas, two Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther. That’s where the backstory is hiding. The characters enter the stage fully formed and fully explained, with their origins all laid out etc. But it was done somewhere else, not in Infinity War. Which is how comics work. You can’t only read Thor, you also have to read Iron Man and Spider Man. Otherwise the side characters and the villains don’t make any sense.

    Overall, Marvel movie makers have distilled the essence of what the comics do best and used it to make movies the same way. What you’re looking at is The Compact: the unstated trust between Author and Reader, that the story will follow the established moral pathway. The hero’s journey will unfold as it should. The hero will be Heroic, the villain will be Villainous, the girl will be Virtuous, there will be Great Deeds and Noble Sacrifice, High Drama and Low Comedy, and the good guys will win. Not only that, they will win because they’re good. “Cheaters never prosper” is another fundamental of comic book stories.

    Interesting to note that all these rules and codes of conduct have been thrown out the window by comic book companies Marvel and DC since about 1992. I’ve been on here whinging about this before. Since ’92 and the last ten years particularly, the focus on comics is LGBT themes, social justice, anti-heroes, and the inevitable victory of socialism. Since ’92, their sales are in the crapper too. Nobody wants to read this horseshit. At all. Because they are breaking the Compact.

    As genre SF/F authors, we have a Compact too. Ours is a little different, but similar. Our stories are supposed to uphold morality, but our heroes are allowed to be smart and shoot the super villain’s arm off. That makes life harder for us as authors, we have to think of it. ~:D

    May 8, 2018
    • Zsuzsa #

      I’ve often thought that one reason that the superhero movies are successful is because they’re about, well, heroes. Good guys (and occasionally gals) who put themselves on the line to protect others and defeat the bad guys. Much like Bonnie Tyler, I’m holding out for a hero, and I know I’m not going to get one if I watch a “high quality, adult-oriented” film.

      May 8, 2018
      • Or a kid’s film either.

        Disney’s “A Wrinkle In Time” which most of us read as kids bombed like a B-52, and the only reason they aren’t out of business right now is that Black Panther was so successful.

        http://phantomsoapbox.blogspot.ca/2018/05/wrinkle-in-time-loses-100-million-bucks.html

        If you compare what they did on Wrinkle to what they did on Black Panther, I think it shows they knew better. They knew that the SJW Wrinkle was going to bomb, and they did it anyway.

        If John Carter of Mars proved anything to Disney, it was that big budget CGI can fail. They know what happens when you screw with a classic. Chopping and channeling look good on a Model T, but not on a 1956 DeSoto. They lost $200 million bucks on that movie because they messed with the classic and got it spectacularly wrong.

        That means Disney went into this thing knowing they were making a propaganda film that was never going to earn-out. Makes you go “Hmmm…” right?

        May 9, 2018
        • Robin Munn #

          And also, in the case of John Carter, because they put basically ZERO effort into marketing it. I went to see it because I recognized the name “John Carter” and knew what it was from, but while plenty of people have heard of Tarzan, how many people have heard of Barsoom*? So that movie desperately needed a big marketing effort in order for people to know what the heck it was… and as far as I heard, it got diddly-squat for marketing.

          * Seriously: try handing out a survey question that asks “What do Tarzan and Barsoom have in common?” and gives five answers: “A) I don’t know who or what Tarzan is, and I also don’t know who or what Barsoom is. B) I know about Tarzan but don’t know about Barsoom. C) I know about Barsoom but don’t know about Tarzan. D) I know about both Tarzan and Barsoom, but I can’t figure out what they have in common. E) I know about both Tarzan and Barsoom, and what they have in common is ______ (fill in the blank).” I bet that you’d get an overwhelming majority, say 80%, of B answers to that survey.

          May 9, 2018
        • My son asked me if Wrinkle was worth watching, I said no. They removed a lot of the book.

          May 9, 2018
        • I don’t think they did, actually. My suspicion is that, with Wrinkle, Disney was counting on name recognition more than anything else–and also wanted to keep the Twitter hordes off of them.

          May 10, 2018
  6. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

    Well, one thing I can clear up.

    In the comics, Thanos is literally in love with Death (ie the personification of Death).

    He wants to kill off half the population of the universe to impress Her.

    The movie-makers apparently didn’t want to show THAT ASPECT of Thanos. 😈

    May 8, 2018
    • No, because then someone would get all Freudian on them… (look up Thanatos and Eros, for those not pummeled with Freud in grad school [historians went through a phase of psychoanalyzing history. It was not a happy phase.])

      May 8, 2018
    • ravenshrike #

      That’s for after the universe gets rearranged in Part 4. 🙂 Personally my bet is that the little girl at the end was not who she looked like and instead was Death. It will end up with Thanos being unable to die after Part 4 and thus in “love” with her and attempting to meet her again.

      May 12, 2018
  7. BobtheRegisterredFool #

    Yeah. 1) Thanos is in love with Death. 2) Infinity Wars is one out of a series of episodes. Apparently part of the deal with the MCU is that it is actually working fairly well. As in good comic book movies that tie together as a series. Infinity Wars is supposed to finish with another movie next year. Frankly, the noise has been getting me interested. I’m planning to attempt to watch Iron Man in a week or so. 3) The previous movie to come out was #OreoPanther. Which attempted to claim that someone can be authentically black without being committed to Race War. It also confirmed that Helmut Zemo was the true hero of Captain America: Civil War, and that Team Iron Man was completely in the wrong. If Infinity Wars didn’t feature those characters, it would have been seen as disavowing the Black Panther movie. 4) I read a number of columns on American conservative political websites reviewing #OreoPanther. Considering the Black Panthers were political extremists who advocated racial violence, and that similar activism is occurring now in the United States, the movie wasn’t very inflammatory. Considering the racial/SJW marketing, this is surprising. There is an interesting amount of support for what can be understood as conservative flavors of political thinking. Furthermore, what Trumpkin could have a problem with a xenophobic isolationist country that will happily live in (improbable) high tech luxury while Africa suffers?

    May 8, 2018
  8. Uncle Lar #

    Killing off all the “deplorables” seems to be a recurring theme. Straight out of a SJW porn script. Tom Clancy used the concept in one of his books. It was the motivation for the Big Bad in the first Kingsman movie. Something of that nature was even hinted at by a certain US presidential candidate a while back.
    But Dave’s fisking of the ill formed idea is a great lecture on be careful what you wish for.

    May 8, 2018
  9. Brett Baker #

    But Dave, the B ship people were “the most valuable citizens”. That’s why they were evacuated first, remember?;-)

    May 8, 2018
  10. Terry Sanders #

    On another blog, someone said something about videogames that I suspect also applies to modern movies and TV.

    A large part of the audience no longer cares about story. They’re looking for *immersion.*

    They don’t care whether or not the plot makes any sense. They’re there to *experience.* As long as they get the right visceral thrills in roughly the right order, they’re happy.

    And Hollywood does know how to immerse you.

    As long as the production values are good enough, they have an audience. And that’s easy, nowadays. So who needs a story?

    Silly Deplorable. Plots are for throwbacks.

    May 8, 2018
  11. I went and saw Black Panther with Sib and Sib-in-Law. We enjoyed it because 1) we wanted a superhero movie, 2) effects eye-candy, 3) the writers hit the heroes’ journey beats beautifully. I suspect Infinity Wars does the same thing (have not seen it yet.)

    May 8, 2018
  12. wolfwalker #

    regarding the holes in the Big Bad’s plan (and there are many) — they don’t call Thanos the Mad Titan for nothing. 🙂

    That being said, I find myself in entire agreement with what others have said above: the Marvel Cinematic Universe is old-fashioned superheroes doing what old-fashioned superheroes do. As with John Wayne movies and Godzilla movies, no one watches superhero movies for deep plots or characterization. People watch them for entertainment. In that department, the difference between the MCU and the much darker, more “modern” DC Extended Universe (that’s the recent Superman films plus “Batman v. Superman” and “Justice League”) is striking; so, by no coincidence, is how much better the MCU is doing at the box office.

    As a dedicated fan of Ray Harryhausen, I’ve often wondered whatever happen to the kind of movies he used to make — silly plots, hammy acting, hugely anachronistic settings, but lor’ha’mercy were they ever fun to watch. Marvel/Disney has rediscovered that capability. The MCU movies have silly plots, hammy acting, settings that are riddled with anachronisms and other absurdities … but lor’ha’mercy they are fun to watch.

    May 8, 2018
    • Robin Munn #

      Speaking of “silly plots, hammy acting, settings that are riddled with anachronisms and other absurdities,” I have two words to say:

      Buckaroo Banzai.

      Now THAT was a movie that put fun first and foremost.

      May 9, 2018
      • Ooohhhh yeah!

        May 10, 2018
  13. Evenstar #

    Well, one of the reasons I watch is Chris Hemsworth playing Thor. And also it’s just fun escapism, a good popcorn movie. I haven’t rewatched any of the Marvel movies but they are fun to watch once.

    May 8, 2018
  14. I usually wait to get a library copy these days.

    May 8, 2018
  15. I’m a huge fan of all the movies. Infinity War was not the one to start with – that would be like watching the very final battle of Lord of the Rings without knowing who any of the characters are or what they’ve gone through (actually, it would be more like watching just the first half of the final battle, and ending where things look darkest, and you still wouldn’t know or care about anyone).

    And yeah, as said above, you’d have to watch all the previous movies to get invested in the characters.

    Yes, there are plot holes in MCU movies, but there are plot holes in Star Wars, and I love those (well, at least the original trilogy. We shall not speak of the movies that have followed). It’s about characters and action and fairy tale heroics. Like grand opera (the MCU is very Wagner, especially the Thor-Loki cycle).

    As for the green dream, reading between the lines, the MCU comes across as very anti-SJW (the opposite of the comics these days).

    May 8, 2018
  16. ravenshrike #

    Thanos is a psychopathic, super-powered Malthus. One who watched(or helped cause in some way, impossible to know given his status as the last Titan) his planet fall into ruin after they REFUSED TO LISTEN to his completely rational and in no way flawed plan. He then assumes that everyone else will go the same way and so sets out to solve the obvious problem.

    May 12, 2018

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