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Following his cameo in The Stinger of The Avengers, the Marvel Cinematic Universe spent six years building up Thanos as the ultimate threat.
Now, it's time to see the Mad Titan unleashed, and fittingly, this film is way, way, way darker and contains way more Nightmare Fuel than all of the previous MCU films.
- Right off the bat, the movie starts with a black screen... in complete silence. After a few seconds, the Marvel Studios logo begins, but its usual fanfare is also silent. Then, ominous music becomes audible, followed soon after by a distorted voice. It's a distress call from an Asgardian (voiced by the director of Thor, Kenneth Branagh) as everyone else is being slaughtered by the Black Order."This is the Asgardian refugee vessel, Statesman! We are under assault, I repeat, we are under assault! The engines are dead, life support's failing. Requesting aid from any vessel within range. We are twenty-two jump points out of Asgard. Our crew is made up of Asgardian families, we have very few soldiers here. This is not a war craft, I repeat, this is not a war craft!"
- The way the first shots of the movie are filmed and the whole situation is revealed to the viewer bit by bit is also quite tense. We see the Asgardian ship getting fired at with its shields failing, and then we cut to someone's feet walking over Asgardian bodies while an ominous voice praises Thanos and declares that the dead should be grateful, until Ebony Maw's face is revealed. The only Asgardian left standing is Loki, who stares petrified at someone in front of him, who is then revealed to be Thanos, reciting his sympathetic monologue. And then you realize that one of the bodies lying at Thanos' feet is a beaten up Thor, who Thanos picks up by his collar and carries as if he's a small child.
- During Thanos' massacres of the Zehoberei and the Asgardians, Ebony Maw can be heard speaking over the carnage, giving grand speeches about how the victims should be grateful that they were privileged enough to be chosen to be "saved" by the Great Titan and that even in death, they are all Children of Thanos. One of these speeches, as Maw walks among dozens of murdered Asgardians, is the very first line spoken in the film after the "Marvel Studios" title card. It comes off almost like something out of Jonestown, and makes Thanos's ideology seem much like the death-worship it was in the comics.
- Loki's death is horrifying. Thanos effortlessly lifts Loki up by his throat with the hand that's wearing the Infinity Gauntlet and squeezes, with Loki struggling against the grip, until his eyes start to become bloodshot and bulge out. And then he snaps his neck with a Sickening "Crunch!", causing blood to drip from his mouth, nose and eyes. The strangulation before the neck snap is drawn out, with a good look at his kicking legs and his bloated face before it's over. It truly looks like an execution and might be the most realistically graphic and brutal death in the MCU so far. It's actually surprising that the death itself didn't give the film an R rating.Thanos: No resurrections this time.
- When Tony and Bruce are at the Sanctum in New York, commotion stirs outside, people panicking over something large, an aircraft, hovering over the city causing destruction. People were uncomfortable in theaters thinking back on 9/11 and the eerie parallels. In-universe, it's even worse, people in New York are reminded of 9/11 and the attack of 2012.
- Vision getting impaled from behind by Corvus Glaive, with no warning whatsoever. You can also hear what sounds like bones breaking.
- The attack on Gamora's homeworld. Not only is it immensely destructive and brutally indiscriminate, half of the remaining population afterwards is separated from the rest and then gunned down on-screen by Chitauri, while the remaining half is Forced to Watch from across the aisle. In the background, you can hear Ebony Maw giving a demented "sermon", similar to the one he gave the Asgardians earlier on in the film, to the captive Zehoberei, demanding acceptance and even gratitude for the impending slaughter. Meanwhile, the Zehoberei cry heartbreaking screams as they watch their friends and family die before them.
- Though the effects are temporary, Thanos uses the Reality Stone to petrify and dice up Drax (who was attacking him) and turn Mantis (who was just standing there) into spools of fleshy (and still alive) threads.
- After thwarting her attempt on his life, Thanos has been keeping Nebula in a special magnetic torture chamber which simultaneously pulls all the cybernetic parts of herself (read: most of her) in different directions, causing her tremendous amounts of pain. To add to the existing Body Horror, if you look hard enough, you can even see her exposed brain. note In order to make Gamora tell him where the Soul Stone is located, Thanos then increases the force that's ripping Nebula apart at the seams, as Gamora weeps and her sister shrieks in agony.
- Ebony Maw attempts to coerce Strange into releasing the spell he has on the Time Stone by drilling a number of crystal needles into his flesh, one at a time, slowly. The needles start to glow as they pierce his skin, giving the audience a nice, back-lit view of Strange's veins and arteries as he visibly tries not to scream. It becomes a case of Dramatic Irony when you realize that Strange used to be a neurosurgeon and he is now on the opposite end of what he used to excel at while he's still conscious.
- Gamora's death. She knows it's coming and tries to kill herself to avoid a worse fate, but Thanos prevents it from happening just so he can kill her himself to get the Soul Stone. Audiences can feel the dread alongside her once she realizes Thanos does love her and therefore is ready to kill her, and there's nothing she can do about it.
- Then there's this line from Thanos as he tries to rationalize it. His chillingly calm delivery makes it more frightening, like he's blaming Gamora for what he's about to do.Thanos: I ignored my destiny once. I cannot do that again... Even for you.
- Then there's this line from Thanos as he tries to rationalize it. His chillingly calm delivery makes it more frightening, like he's blaming Gamora for what he's about to do.
- Tony's fight with Thanos ends with Tony being stabbed through the abdomen with his own nanobot-sword, so deep that it visibly sticks out of his back. And as if that image wasn't enough, blood starts dripping from his mouth as he gasps and whimpers in pain and fear, and the look of horror never leaves his face.
- The Outriders are somewhat nightmarical; an army of mindless alien monsters driven only to kill, heedless of the cost in their own lives (Okoye looks disgusted and horrified when she sees them flinging themselves at the energy barrier, heedless of it burning them, severing limbs and bodies). When they join the battle, they just keep coming, smashing their enemies down through sheer weight of numbers, before clawing, biting and flinging them around like rag dolls. Bruce's situation is particularly terrifying as the Outriders drag him down and start trying to bite and claw their way through the Hulkbuster suit to get at the human inside.
- While the deaths of the Black Order are rightfully deserved and downright satisfying to watch, they're still rather grisly in their own right:
- Ebony Maw is sucked into space and literally freezes into a cracking corpse.
- Cull Obsidian is grinded across the inside of Wakanda's energy dome (partially incinerating the left-hand portion of his body) until he's blown up.
- Proxima Midnight ends up sawed to bits by her own army's death wheels, with a Freeze-Frame Bonus showing that she was bisected by the wheels.
- Corvus Glaive is painfully impaled by his own weapon.
- Despite being villains with minor roles, the Black Order are the film's supporting protagonists as Thanos is the MVP. Audience members usually applauded their deaths, essentially cheering when the Avengers murdered the film's "good guys". Infinity War actually got the audience to cheer for the "bad guys".
- At the end of the film, the Avengers are mostly in the forest beyond the Wakandan battlefield after their final fight with the Black Order. Then Vision has a painful lurch caused by the Mind Stone, and he can only whisper to Wanda hes here. The wind starts blowing a little. The Avengers look up in confusion, and Steve orders everyone to rally at his position. Then the Space Stone-induced portal opens. After over twenty movies and a decade of build-up, the moment arrives like the fated meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs - Thanos arrives on Earth.
- The Avengers briefly have a standoff with Thanos, who calmly, but sternly, turns his attention right towards Vision. The Avengers are looking an extinction event in the eyes. And the worst part? Theyre just about completely helpless against him. Steve tried once again to rally the team, but none of them do anything more than slow him down. And Thanos simply walks slowly towards his mark, an almost remorseful, placid look on his face, knowing what hes on the verge of doing. And he barely exerts any effort to defeat the attacking Avengers. The Avengers can do nothing but delay the inevitable extinction.
- Thanos taking the Mind Stone from Vision also takes out part of Vision's skull, leaving him with a gaping hole in his forehead through which circuits and wires are clearly visible. The audience is essentially looking at the remains of Vision's brain after a lobotomy. Thanos reversing the process is also quite horrifying to watch. You can observe Vision's explosion in reverse, basically how the pieces of him that are shattered around assemble. All in slow-motion. And of course playing this in reverse shows exactly how he died. The only reason Disney could get away with it is because Vision is a robot.
- From Thanos' perspective, the events of the film are rather foreboding. He knows he's marching into probably his most dangerous mission and initially opted to avoid Earth, likely to avoid Iron Man, whom he feared. While not really afraid of his opposition, his almost loss of the battle on Titan visibly scared him. He also was forced to sacrifice the one thing he loved (aside himself), Gamora, thus confronting a terrifying truth he would be alone and unloved forever. Additionally, in his warped, obsessed mind, the entire universe will become a barren wasteland like Titan unless he succeeds. Return to his devastated homeworld clearly unnerved the Mad Titan. Nonetheless, Thanos proved brave enough to push past these insecurities, but still ended up alone.
- Thanos wins. Defying any and all expectations, he was able to collect all six Stones, defeat both halves of the Avengers and snap the Gauntlet's fingers, cause the deaths of billions - just on Earth alone. Anyone who was expecting The Good Guys Always Win to apply were absolutely speechless, and this ending opened up an absolutely enormous can of Fridge Horror.
- The utter lack of music following the Snap creates a chilling atmosphere as characters audiences have come to love visibly fall apart in front of their eyes, and what little remains of them is carried away by the wind. From the moment Bucky disintegrates to Steve mourning, most of the theaters are so silent, you could hear a pin drop.note