The end of Infinity War was pointless and stupid, but it really didn’t have to be.
There’s a lot to like about Avengers: Infinity War.
It’s really funny, for one thing, and showcases the MCU’s talent for crafting likable characters and highlighting genuine character relationships. It reminded me how much I like Thor and Tony Stark, and there’s no denying how fun it is to see all these characters interact with one another.
In fact, I even liked Dr. Strange in it so much that I went back and re-watched his solo film just to see if it was better than I remembered (spoiler alert: it was not).
And really, let’s be honest — any movie that includes Shuri (even as a glorified cameo) is always gonna rank high up on the list for me.
But despite all this, there is one major thing that really, really sucked — most of all because it could’ve been the most easily fixed: That ending.
Spoilers for ‘Infinity War’ ahead
My feelings about the end of Infinity War can basically be summed up in my fellow Hypable writer Andrew Sims’ article: the Avengers: Infinity War ending meant nothing, and I’m still rolling my eyes.
Up until the ending, I was having a pretty damn good time. In fact, I was actually really impressed by how genuinely intimidating and menacing of a villain Thanos actually was.
When he snapped his fingers and people began turning into dust, I thought — this is it! After 10 years and 20 films, the MCU is finally going to take a risk! It’s going to do something truly unexpected and awe-inspiring and meaningful.
Then Black Panther disappeared and I immediately thought — nope, never mind. Looks like I just paid full-price to watch half a movie which ended up having no stakes and zero consequences (I might be more than a little bitter).
But it really didn’t have to be this way.
That very same ending could’ve been amazing and had us all hyped and excited for the next movie and the future of the MCU if, instead of snapping his fingers and watching Black Panther, Dr. Strange, and Spiderman (all characters with confirmed movie sequels in the works), we instead watched the original Avengers — Tony, Steve, Thor, Nat, and Bruce — disintegrate and drift away.
Killing the original Avengers would’ve made Infinity War feel like an actual movie with real stakes rather than a meaningless manipulation of the audience’s brand loyalty.
Tony, Bruce, Steve, Nat and Thor are the characters who have been with us the longest, the ones who we are all the most concerned about anyway and don’t have confirmed movies set in the future. The ending would have actual tension because we’d genuinely be left wondering if they were actually really gone. We’d be left feeling uncertain and excited about what the next movie might give to us.
Not only would this be genuinely shocking and completely different direction for the MCU, the next film could then act as a sort of backdoor pilot for the next generation of Avengers — Rhodey, Sam, Bucky, Wanda, T’Challa, Dr. Strange, and Peter Parker.
You’d still have similar power dynamics — magic/supernatural, brute strength, strong leadership, military/spy experience and government ties — but with a new and interesting mix of personalities. You’d also get far fewer white dudes rolling around.
Just imagine the possibilities! Peter marveling at Wakandan technology and low-key (probably high-key) crushing on Shuri. That amusingly antagonistic relationship between Sam and Bucky that I enjoyed so much from Captain America: Civil War.
Likewise, by including T’Challa — and what I’d assume a base of operations in Wakanda — you’d be able to get plenty of Shuri and Okoye, thus also making it somewhat of a soft sequel to Black Panther (and setting up Shuri as the future Iron Man aka MY DREAM).
It would’ve been so freaking cool to watch that unfold on screen.
The MCU has made over 14 billion dollars worldwide. Prior to Infinity War, they’ve made 18 movies over the past 10 years, which have all been anywhere from moderate to insanely high levels of both critical and box office success. Taking a risk and actually upping the stakes with Infinity War, their 19th film — a film that was always going to be review- and criticism-proof no matter what — would’ve shown an exciting new direction and a real growth for the universe.
But it looks like we’ll have to keep waiting on both of those things.
And while we may not know the title of the next Avengers movie, given this one — and the franchise’s 10-year history — we all know what to expect: a little story and a lot of snark; the same inflated stakes with no real tension and the same easy choices without any lasting consequences.