Every time a new Marvel or superhero film comes out, we all jump up and say ‘right, will THIS one finally get the genre its long overdue Best Picture nod?’ Sometimes, the films we argue for genuinely deserve it – “Black Panther,” “Civil War,” “The Dark Knight” would all be worthy Best Picture nominees.
Other times, we are shouting over nothing. Ultimately, however, we know our arguments are falling on deaf ears. It is still, sadly, highly unlikely that a superhero movie will be nominated for Best Picture anytime soon. “Infinity War” included, as good as it is and as deserving as it is, in this writer’s opinion. But that’s okay. Because the Oscar that “Avengers: Infinity War” deserves the most is not Best Picture. It’s Best Adapted Screenplay.
As a hopeful screenwriter myself, I may be biased. But it’s the consistently clever writing of Marvel movies that is consistently underrated. Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus (who also wrote “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Thor: The Dark World,” “Winter Soldier” and “Civil War”) had quite the challenge on their hands to adapt already-excellent source material into the biggest (discuss) movie ever made.
The duo had to weave so many major characters all played by movie stars dripping with charisma – charisma that demanded screen time. They had to check in on each character, ensure they had a pivotal role in the story, satisfy each character’s fan base and continue some pretty major story arcs.
They, somehow, managed to do that – leaving no one out and ensure every superhero (and villain) left their memorable mark on a film packed full of memorable marks. They also had to choose which characters to pair/group up and work out how they’d react to one another. The scenes between Tony Stark and Doctor Strange, Thor and Peter Quill, Banner and, well, everyone, all played out so naturally and were a series of delights to watch.
They also the unenviable challenge of delivering a much-hyped and built-up Thanos – promised to be the biggest, baddest villain of the MCU. Marvel have long had problems with their villains, with too many bad guys following the formula of ‘name-the-ominous description: Malekith the Accursed, Ronan the Accusor and Jacob the Meta-writer. Okay, I made that last one up. But you get the point. Generic.
The fact that they’ve not only lived up to their drawn out hype of Thanos but beat it, and presented us with THE best MCU villain to date, is evidence of some pretty damn good writing. Thanos is a complete psychopath, of course, but the way McFeely and Markus present us him gives him a villainous edge we’ve not seen before.
He’s got a heart (somewhere) and shows genuine remorse at some of his actions, while still remaining rigidly committed to his ploy. He’s almost the main character of “Infinity War,” which shows what a great impact the mad titan has had.
McFeely and Markus nailed the plot, too, taking us through Thanos’ collection of the Infinity Stones with humour, dazzling set-pieces, emotional punches that don’t hold back, a cheer-inducing Red Skull cameo and specific moments of huge importance we’re still pondering and theorising over to this day – and still will until April next year. Great.
But it’s the ending which marks the duo’s script as a real triumph – bold, unexpected, mind-blowing, full of hurt. It was ballsy and promises a new side of the MCU we haven’t seen before. They’ve crafted a brilliant culmination of 10 years of the MCU while setting up the next ten years and then some. Thanos demands your Oscar nomination.