Avengers: Infinity War will be the first movie to feature all of six Infinity Stones as its villain Thanos attempts to collect them all. It's this heist aspect that provides the structure of the film as explained to us by directors Joe and Anthony Russo on the set of the third Avengers epic.
The third Avengers film will bring an end to a decade's worth of stories, with Thanos heading to Earth in pursuit of the Infinity Stones. The Mad Titan's goal is to "rebalance the universe," and he intends to eradicate literally half the life in the universe. The stakes are higher than ever before - but they're also far more personal. If Thanos is to achieve his objective and gather the Infinity Stones, beloved Avengers will die.
On a set visit last year, Screen Rant had a chance to speak to the Russo brothers about these personal stakes. According to Joe Russo, the pursuit of the Infinity Stones is "the bedrock of the film, a key driver of the film." Clarifying further, he explained that this is partly because of the personal nature of the threat.
"I think that traditionally in movies there's a MacGuffin, sometimes the MacGuffin is a person, sometimes it's a thing. I tend to find that it's much more emotional when a person is involved. So we have quite a few MacGuffins in this movie that have different relationships with two different people; Doctor Strange is a bearer of an Infinity Stone and he has been charged with protecting that Infinity Stone. So there are a lot of characters that will come into direct conflict with Thanos."
Russo has a point. When the Infinity Stones were first introduced to the MCU, they were objects that the heroes stumbled upon. The Tesseract, the Power Stone, and even Loki's scepter were objects that passed from person to person. It's true that the stakes were high, but they were also more than a little remote. Phases 2 and 3 began to switch this up, though. The Mind Stone was implanted within Vision's forehead, while Doctor Strange became bearer of the Eye of Agamotto. Both characters have a deeply personal stake in keeping an Infinity Stone out of Thanos's hands. Meanwhile, Thor: Ragnarok left Loki in possession of the Tesseract once again - and closed with Thanos's ship confronting the surviving Asgardians.
This changes the nature of the conflict. As much as Infinity War will involve the clash of armies of heroes and aliens, it will fundamentally be a story in which the Avengers battle to keep their friends safe. The trailer has already shown Vision in agony, as Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight attempt to tear the Mind Stone from his forehead. Meanwhile, set photos have shown Doctor Strange defeated by a gleeful Ebony Maw, who attempts to take the Time Stone. It's clear that these two Avengers are in desperate danger.
It's a smart move on Marvel's part, because it personalizes the stakes. The idea of Thanos erasing half the life in the universe may be grand and cosmic, but because of its very scale it feels abstract and distant. In contrast, this means Thanos is coming after the Avengers personally, and his triumph would involve the deaths of characters fans know and love. There's a degree of emotional investment that simply wouldn't be there otherwise.
The question, of course, is simply who will survive? Both Vision and Doctor Strange are in Thanos's direct line of fire, and the Mad Titan is preparing to pull the trigger on his invasion.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019