May 3, 2018

The Sequelest Sequel Ever

Richard Brody of The New Yorker complains that the new Avengers movie is a sequel:
In "Avengers: Infinity War," characters aren’t introduced; they just show up, and their behavior is entirely defined by the template set for them in other movies.
After much thought I realized his gripes are true, but invalid. In fact, making this complaint about this movie could not be less appropriate. Why is this a dumb complaint?

There are 19 Marvel movies, aka the "Marvel Cinematic Universe" (MCU):
  • Over the course of a decade, the MCU introduced most of the characters featured in Avengers Infinity War. Many characters appeared over and over again. I consider Captain America: Civil War to be a de facto third "Avengers" movie, as it features all of the Avengers, minus Thor and Hulk, plus Black Panther, Spider-Man, and Ant Man.
  • At least five of these 19 movies are pure "origin stories".
  • These 19 movies have been wildly popular: all but one of the MCU feature films were in the Top 15 Domestic Box Office the year they came out (thanks Box Office Mojo)
So the characters that just "show up" in Infinity War have been exhaustively introduced to audiences via 19 movies spanning 10 years that caught the attention of the entire cultural universe. You could argue that these characters need less introduction than any sequel in the history of movies.