Is it that time of year already? For those of us no longer in school or working in education (and, living in San Francisco, perennially devoid of any true seasonal awareness), summer doesn’t start until Marvel officially rolls out its big annual event series. In 2018, unsurprisingly, the focus is on the company’s cosmic canon, with the Guardians, Avengers, and this new breed of Infinity Stones taking center stage. We have borne witness, in recent years, to the way Marvel Studios has dictated the central cast and plot points of these crossovers. Whether by editorial mandate, or merely a concerted effort to boost sales with cross-media awareness, the hyped-up books on the shelves vary depending on whichever Hollywood blockbuster is currently stuffing the company’s coffers.
That may be a cynical stance on the inception of these events, but it doesn’t necessarily take away from the quality of the stories themselves. Marvel crossover events in recent years have run the gamut between convoluted, uninspired slogs (Civil War II) and engaging surprise-filled epics (Infinity). How these stories will pan out is not always apparent going in, which is why we examine, with particular interest, the first volume of any given core title. And this week we get the first official chapter of Infinity Wars, courtesy of Gerry Duggan and Mike Deodato.
Like most of the world, I saw Avengers: Infinity War on opening weekend, in a crowded theater with an audience energized by expectations, curiosity, and love of a spectacle. And as much as I wanted to stay up into the wee hours of the morning discussing it with my own assembled group of friends, we all realized that there’d be time enough for that later, particularly after sleeping off maybe one Widow’s Sting too many.
Let’s talk about John Brolin! And did the #nospoilers pleas make us expect an ending different from the comics? What about that Gamora arc? And Thor & Rabbit! Ultimately, most opinions and observations were met with the concession that, well, we’re going to have to see it again.
My girlfriend was a bit surprised (despite being among at least two people who had already seen it a second time, this being Friday and all) and confirmed with me, “You really want to see it again?” When I responded in the affirmative, and asked if she’d be down, her response was, “Okay, but not until we watch all the movies in order first.”
Prior to getting together four years ago, my girlfriend says that she “thinks” she “probably saw” one or two of those Marvel movies when they came out. In the time since, of course, she has been a willing and eager student in my mildly exhausting course on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At this point she had seen all eighteen movies leading up to Infinity War, but likely not in order, certainly not close together, and with an admittedly limited amount of attention paid to certain installments. That was all about to change.
We did this over a two-and-a-half week span, but the idea was inspired by one of our friends who sat in the theater for a 28-hour stretch during Alamo’s continuously running MCU marathon. By now maybe you’ve seen one or more viewing diaries from pretentious film critics who have self-righteously subjected themselves to these types of marathons despite professing to abhor the genre. Oh what witty observations about farty upholstery and snoring men in Deadpool shirts do abound! If anything, it proves that being an obnoxious dick on the Internet isn’t limited to comment posts and Twitter feeds.
Anyway… this is not that kind of viewing log. And as much as I would have loved to take a day off work to join one my pals for the overnight marathon, I relished the opportunity to take this in at a more managed pace, allowing my girlfriend to watch Kevin Feige’s ten-year epic unfold from the comfort of our couch. And because I had already seen each of these movies several times (many several, in the case of Avengers), I was curious as to whether or not I would pick up on anything new while watching them in succession over a short period of time. Plus, as soon as we were done, I would get to see Infinity War again.
So what follows are some truly inane bits of trivia, digressions, and realizations. Take it for what it’s worth.
Iron Man (2008) No revelations in this repeat viewing, other than being ordinarily put off by the number of times Jeff Bridges smacks his lips before speaking. For that I blame djlazybear, who drew my attention to that cottonmouthed fucker’s penchant for puckering a few years ago. Also… RDJ sure does look young! Ten years is an impressive stretch, yeah?
The Incredible Hulk (2008) This still isn’t good. I’d forgotten that Marvel tried setting up The Leader (I’ll wager Marvel was counting on us forgetting this) for some future sequel or tie-in. Best revelation: during the climactic brawl in Harlem, there’s a Michael K. Williams (Omar from The Wire) cameo! Apparently he had a minor part that included some lines, but none of that made the final cut.