1:15 pm EDT, May 4, 2018

Why the ending of ‘Infinity War’ has a whole lot of meaning

Infinity War has taken over the world. I saw it twice opening weekend. And I’m still not over it. Infinity War is not a perfect movie, but the fact that the filmmakers pulled off something so huge and made it work is a testament unto itself.

A lot has been said about the ending of the movie. Some didn’t like it and thought it was pointless. I’m here to disagree.

Infinity War, while billed as an Avengers movie, is really all about Thanos. Throughout the movie, he travels the universe to collect the six infinity stones. And he succeeds. The end of the film sees Thanos’ infamous snap wiping out half of life in the universe. The audience and the Avengers watch in horror as our faves disappear into dust. The moment progresses with shock, horror and sadness.

To the savvy audience member, the second you watch Black Panther, Spider-Man and most of the Guardians disappear, you know this isn’t final. Black Panther was a cultural phenomenon and made all the money in the world. Plus, Spider-Man and the Guardians already have confirmed sequels in the works. So the audience knows they’ll come back. But that doesn’t cheapen the impact of Infinity War.

The remaining Avengers don’t know about sequels. And that’s what makes the end of Infinity War so powerful and heartbreaking. The stakes are real for them. We watch Steve lose Bucky yet again. We see Okoye’s look of horror as she watches her king disappear. We hear Rocket’s voice break as he watches Groot be taken. And don’t even get me started on Tony and Peter.

So the question going into Avengers 4 is not “will they come back,” but “how do they come back?” How do our original Avengers deal with the fallout? Earth’s mightiest heroes have lost. They don’t know if there even is a way to bring everyone back.

Tony doesn’t even know who all is still alive on Earth, and the rest of the team doesn’t know Tony’s alive on Titan. How will their anger and rage push them to avenge those they’ve lost? How will Captain Marvel come into play? What will Hawkeye and Ant-Man do? Will they end up killing Thanos and keep the infinity stones protected, or will they destroy the stones as well? These are the questions we’ll obsess over for the next year.

I believe Avengers 4 will be the “last ride” or “final mission” for our original team. I know most of us were fully expecting Cap or Tony (or both) to die in Infinity War. I think we’ll lose both of them in Avengers 4, either through death or by finally walking away from being a hero (even though however Cap leaves will destroy me).

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We may even lose more than that. We don’t know what sacrifices they’ll have to make to truly defeat Thanos. But to see the core team, the characters we’ve known and loved for the past decade, in action together again, will be exciting to see.

My only issue with the ending of Infinity War is not so much about how it ended, but how the movie was marketed. In a lot of ways, Infinity War is the end of the MCU as we know it. But it also very much felt like a “part one.” The Russos explicitly said they would change the title of Avengers 4 because the two movies would be separate stories, but still connected.

In reality, Infinity War felt a lot like the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. The villain wins and our heroes are broken. That doesn’t mean Infinity War is inconsequential. It just means there’s more to the story. And Marvel has never been secretive about there always being more story to tell. But until Marvel announces the title of Avengers 4 and the story plays out next year, I’ll consider it “Infinity War: Part 2.”

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