If you’re a Marvel movie fan, it’s a really good time right now. Not only have Spider-Man and Black Panther recently debuted to great success, but we have the prospect of Captain Marvel incoming and another Ant-Man movie that will surely be another charming hit. Longer term, we’ve got Phase 4 on its way, a belated Black Widow stand-alone and most excitingly of all, the impending arrival of the Fantastic Four and the X-Men to the MCU.
But before all that, there’s the small matter of Avengers: Infinity War (swiftly followed by its as-yet-untitled sequel in 2019), which has a very good chance of being the highest-grossing comic book movie of all time (Marvel will certainly be banking on that) and which promises to be the culmination of ten years of seeded story-telling from the very beginning of the MCU with 2008’s Iron Man.
The hype in the last few weeks before release has risen to white hot levels – to the point, in fact, where Marvel were able to screen just 24 minutes of footage to the press and a select group of fans and it was still met with a tidal wave of hyperbole. And while it might well be an amazing entertainment experience, there are some fundamental, disturbing truths we have to face going in. Not to be a buzzkill or anything, it’s just important to know all of the facts and ramifications.
Regardless of the fact that Infinity War uses one of Marvel’s most famous comic book arcs for its title (the Infinity Saga as a whole, rather than the Infinity Gauntlet, which it seems to be most closely adapting), there’s no way we are going to get anything like a pure adaptation of the equivalent story in the comics.
If Captain America: Civil War proved anything, it’s that Marvel Studios can appropriate titles from their source material, cherry-pick out details (in that case only superhero regulation and a clash of heroes) and still make a bundle of money. They don’t need to make pure adaptations, which is handy because they’re currently in a situation where they COULDN’T make a pure Infinity Gauntlet movie even if they wanted to.
Thanks to a combination of their own writing (partly to address issues with rights limitations, partly to avoid sillier story elements) and a lack of opportunities, there’s no way to follow that story closely. That’s why we’re being told it will draw from various comics (as Thor: Ragnarok did), even though the reality is that Infinity War will cherry-pick from some and bring in its own innovation.
Should there not be more resistance to how easily Marvel can mess with their own source stories? Isn’t using recognizable brand names – only to fail to deliver on expectations a little manipulative? Sure, they’re adding an element of innovation and originality by developing their own stories, but we’re now 10 years into the MCU and using those seminal arc titles to sell movies to comics fans is a little disingenuous.
The films don’t need the marketing boost, the fanbase doesn’t need the false advertising and Marvel doesn’t need the criticisms associated with not delivering on something they appear to be promising. It’s baffling that they continue to borrow those titles.