Daryn Steed contributed to this column.
Remember us? Last time, we gave you some first impressions on “Crimes of Grindelwald” after that bomb dropped. This time, in the wake of Chadwick Boseman’s sudden passing, we’re here to offer our thoughts and opinions on some of the primary members of “Avengers: Infinity War”’s bloated cast.
We’re ranking the five best characters and the five worst characters from “Infinity War.” You might be thinking, “that movie is two years old and irrelevant,” but we know you’ve watched it at least once this year. Since we agree on hardly anything, this seemed like a good idea.
To begin, the five best characters from “Infinity War:”
1. Black Panther
Daryn: There is no final battle sequence without the Black Panther. My man sacrificed his country for the chance to defeat Thanos. Without Wakanda, this final battle is just Captain America, Black Widow and a very delayed Thor against 500 undead werewolves.
Nic: Excuse me. A very delayed Thor, Groot and Rocket.
D: So… like I said, a very delayed Thor against 500 undead werewolves.
N: But seriously, Black Panther carries the final fight. He realizes he has to let the zombie space dogs in so that his people can sacrifice themselves in order to give the Avengers the smallest of chances to stop an omnipotent purple guy. All this after Captain America asks the Black Panther to house the Russian killbot who murdered his father.
D: Let’s not jump the gun in talking about how terrible Captain America is. His time is coming.
There’s really no overstating how much Chadwick Boseman brought to this role. He was the first Black superhero in the MCU and inspired an entire generation. He created the Wakandan accent, thought of that brilliant ancestral line from Killmonger and nailed every scene. The Avengers are worse for him being gone, and so are we all.
2. Scarlet Witch
D: If we’re ranking based on skill alone, Wanda is clearly the superior Avenger. She is the only one who could fight Thanos alone — and not only did she fight him, she beat him. In “Endgame,” Thanos was forced to rain fire on his own troops to save himself. But since she didn’t have an army at her disposal, Black Panther is more helpful to this cause.
N: Top five, maybe, but Wanda is not the superior Avenger. Yes, she stalls Thanos in “Infintiy War” long enough to destroy the mind stone, and yes, she technically 1v1s Thanos in “Endgame,” forcing him to blow up his own army. But Captain Marvel also 1v1s Thanos. Currently, Wanda is Dr. Strange-lite: almost as powerful, and with about as much screen time.
D: Wanda saves Vision at the beginning of this film, and deals with mansplaining on all sides about what she should do with him next. Never mind that Wanda is the only one who cares about Vision as a person. Let’s let Captain America and his crew of nincompoops decide the best path forward.
N: In the words of Okoye, why was she up there all this time? If the good guys had deployed Wanda earlier in “Infinity War’s” final battle, maybe they could have better fought off the space dogs and given Captain America and the ex-Avengers more time to come up with a better plan when Thanos arrived than “on me.”
N: Thanos is the greatest Marvel villain to date. His rationale — that the universe’s finite resources are stretched too thin — is a real-world concern scaled up for cinematic effect.
D: Thanos is not the best Marvel villain. I like a villain that makes sense. Take Killmonger in Black Panther for example. He was genocidal, but with reasonable limits. He had specific targets in mind for understandable reasons. Thanos murdered trillions, and we’re supposed to think that’s theoretically rational?
N: His solution addresses the problem of overconsumption efficiently, if brutally. Thanos is no sneering, gloating villain bent on world domination; he sees a problem destroy his homeworld and sets out to correct the problem on a universal scale. That fans have debates about whether or not Thanos was correct points to the intricacy of the character, as does his willingness to give up the stones and lose his omnipotence.
D: My biggest bone to pick with Thanos is over the Soul Stone. I’m sorry, but someone prepared to murder trillions is not capable of love. And certainly not someone he has tortured for her entire life. Thanos did not love Gamora. There is not a plausible explanation for how he earned the Soul Stone. This was writing for the plot.
Thanos is not funny, he’s ridiculously overpowered, and I don’t believe his intentions. Don’t get me wrong, he’s fine as a villain, but he’s nowhere near the best. I want to feel something for the villain, and I never felt anything for Thanos except annoyed that he got the Soul Stone.
N: The character isn’t without flaws. That he sacrifices Gamora to obtain the Soul Stone does feel like a point where the plot simply had to move independent of fully-realized logic — although, I think we’re supposed to believe Thanos only tortured Nebula?
He hates Ronan partly because Ronan, quote, “estranges (his) favorite daughter, Gamora” in “Guardians of the Galaxy” and Nebula only describes the hellish process Thanos subjected her to in “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. II” with no mention of the same for Gamora.
D: He forced his two “daughters” to fight each other over and over. This would be like arguing that forcing your two dogs to fight is only torturing the dog who loses.
N: Great, now I’m the asshole.
Also, it takes him years to locate the Power Stone after “Guardians of the Galaxy” and then he obtains all the other five in a matter of days? Hours? (does anyone have a timeline for this movie?)
D: The timeline is like: oh, Thanos is here and he’s killing everyone and now he has five of the Stones, so maybe we should do something about this? Oops, too late.
N: Still, Thanos provokes thought and discussion. I don’t hear anyone talking about Ultron or Dormammu, other megalomaniacal villains lacking the same depth as Thanos’ character. Plus, in “Endgame” he takes on the three principal Avengers without the Infinity Gauntlet and wins the fight, so that’s pretty cool. Actually, maybe he is just overpowered.
D: There is absolutely no reason Thanos should have won that Endgame fight. Why are all of the Avengers able to kill hundreds of people in fights (i.e. Thor wiping out the revenant wolves in “Infinity War”) but unable to fight 1v1? This is my biggest Marvel pet peeve.
4. Captain America
D: Let the record show that I am writing about Cap in protest. He is not one of the best characters in “Infinity War.” He is barely even a character in “Infinity War.” He has a beard. That’s it.
This is not “Endgame” Cap, who can hold Mjolnir and has the weight of the world on his shoulders. His “Infinity War” rendition is lackluster at best. He is self-righteous as ever, and don’t even get me started on his “we don’t trade lives” business. We don’t? What if the one life could be traded for TRILLIONS? I swear these people need to take three seconds to think over their decisions.
N: I find it hard to argue that Cap is self-righteous as ever when he has the same amount of speaking lines in “Infinity War” as Pepper Potts. I will concede that he is nowhere near “Endgame” Cap. “Infinity War” Cap doesn’t have his shield and has seemingly dyed his suit black for edginess points.
D: He manages to be self-righteous even when he’s not speaking. It’s a gift. Like, get a haircut.
N: Yes, he argues for not trading lives, which is probably the reason the Avengers lose. Because they refuse to trade lives but Thanos sacrifices all his children, including Gamora, in order to realize his vision, Thanos completes a hero’s journey and wins; however, the Avengers need to learn this lesson in order to, ultimately, defeat Thanos in the future.
D: I want to have a counter to this great point. I … think he needs a haircut.
N: He’s still involved in many of the best moments in the film — when the ex-Avengers arrive to save Wanda and Vision and he catches Proxima Midnight’s spear, when T’Challa and he lead the charge against the space dogs in Wakanda, and when he catches Thanos’ hand and struggles against the Mad Titan to buy Wanda more time.
D: Do those alien monkeys have an actual name, or should we just keep coming up with synonyms? Also, maybe I’m remembering this wrong, but I thought Thanos literally picked Cap up and tossed him to the side in that final scene. I suppose that bought Wanda more time, if you consider 1.5 seconds to be significant enough to count.
N: Maybe if Wanda had started trying to destroy the mind stone earlier.
5. Ebony Maw
D: No one has better lines in “Endgame” than Squidward.
N: Literally a bad guy who has like 12 lines total and then dies. For you comic nerds out there, he doesn’t even have the Maw’s correct powerset; he’s more Supergiant than Ebony Maw.
D: He might only have 12 lines, but he uses one of them to wax poetic about how meaningless Dr. Strange and Iron Man’s lives are. The man was truly the Shakespeare of his time.
And now for the five worst “Infinity War” characters:
D: Star-Lord is a waste of space. He is the sole reason the Avengers lost this war. He had three opportunities to defeat Thanos and squandered them all. Like, I understand he’s lonely on the ship without Gamora, but was it really worth punching Thanos in the face over it? What joy could that have possibly given him? Wouldn’t killing Thanos be much more fulfilling? Make it make sense.
Thanos has three Infinity Stones and it takes 37 seconds for Star-Lord to decide to shoot Gamora. Like, he just watched Drax get turned into a pile of blocks, and now we’re going to try to reason with this terrorist? CLEARLY HE IS NOT JUST GOING TO LET GAMORA GO. SHOOT HER BEFORE HE CAN SEE YOU STANDING WITH THE GUN.
Better yet, just shoot Thanos! Why is everyone so hesitant about killing this genocidal maniac and his psychopathic minions? THEY WANT TO DESTROY THE UNIVERSE.
N: To be fair, Gamora and Thor both try to kill Thanos and he waves his Infinity Gauntlet and changes the rules.
D: Well, Thor’s a moron and uses all of his effort to hit Thanos in a non-kill zone, but that’s a story for another day.
N: Star-Lord is a waste of space. He’s the leader of a team of loser, B-List superheroes, which is never where you want to be.
D: The Guardians suck. None of them are good characters. The soundtracks have carried those standalone films.
N: He throws the Avengers’ chance to defeat Thanos down the drain when he punches the Mad Titan in the face (although, Strange only saw one reality where the good guys win, so maybe Quill had to do it?)
N: He spends half the movie jealous of Thor and the other half arguing with Iron Man and helping Thanos destroy the universe. Thank God his only role in “Endgame” is getting kicked in the dick by Gamora. We all wanted to do it.
D: Imagine caring whether Bucky got his arm back or not. “Civil War” turned me against this guy forever, and now I’ll have to care about him for an entire television show? Count me out.
Characters need one of three things to be compelling: humor, gripping backstory or a rootable personality. Bucky has none of those things. He is as boring as spending five months in quarantine. Marvel really wanted us to care that this man was tortured and turned into a killing machine, but I could honestly not care less.
N: I agree completely. Bucky is uninteresting, unsympathetic and, let’s face it, not that hot. Come at me, Sebastian Stans.
D: My main issue with Gamora is that she’s not a fleshed-out character. She exists to be the object of Star-Lord’s affection and the only person Thanos pretends to love. She was mercifully killed in “Infinity War,” but I’m sure screenwriters are going to defy all logic and reason and find a way to bring her back to live in the next installment of Guardians. We can’t have Star-Lord spending time on his own, doing some self-examination, identifying his weaknesses and flaws, can we? What would a Marvel film be without a useless love story intertwined unnecessarily?
N: Another uninteresting character. Post her introduction in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” we were supposed to care about the most dangerous woman in the galaxy, but she never … did … anything. Zoe Saldana’s Gamora might be the second-worst use of a great actor, only beat out by Idris Elba’s Heimdall.
D: I forgot how great Gamora’s introduction was. How did she get sidelined into the role of Star-Lord’s girlfriend? Let me at these screenwriters. I just want to talk.
N: But oh yeah, she’s coming back, since the 2014 version of her is now stuck in the present.
D: Which makes no sense, considering Iron Man snapped all of the past people back to their timelines. So like, she’s dead.
N: Oh is that a thing? I didn’t know that was a thing. Is it a thing? If it’s not, maybe Marvel can finally flesh out this character. Give her something to do other than die, please.
D: Also, how come Black Widow died for the Soul Stone, and they’re like, “THERE’S NOTHING WE CAN DO,” but when Gamora dies it’s easily reversible? Why didn’t they just go back to 2018 and grab a past version of Nat? That was her prime hair year, anyway.
D: Once again, Nebula’s here because she’s just not being utilized correctly by Marvel. She could have one of the most riveting backstories on the entire cast. She was tortured by Thanos, forced to fight Gamora so many times that she is now entirely made of metal, and she has never really felt love. But instead of really exploring that, the screenwriters put a band-aid over her trauma, forced her to make nice with Gamora, and never gave her the chance to defeat Thanos. Hot take: Nebula sacrificing herself with the Infinity Gauntlet would have been just as compelling as Iron Man.
N: In the original “Infinity Gauntlet” arc, Nebula actually does gain control of the gauntlet and uses it to destroy Thanos, and I really hoped after “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. II” fleshed out her character more that we would get Nebula killing Thanos. Unfortunately, she just mostly stays an angry blue lady, and the only person she takes out is herself. Nebula is like Bucky: lot of trauma, not a lot of substance derived from the trauma.
5. Dr. Strange — Let the record show that Nic thinks Dr. Strange is a bad character. I actually think he’s one of the strongest Avengers.
N: Strange’s arc confuses me. His standalone movie sees him go from narcissistic tool to the Sorcerer Supreme in an extremely brief period of time (months? Days? Again, anyone with a timeline would be appreciated). I think we’re supposed to sympathize with him, but he was kind of a jerk to Rachel McAdams, which wasn’t cool. I also don’t like a guy who knows everything and withholds all the information, which is exactly what Strange does.
D: So Strange is just Dumbledore if Dumbledore was younger, educated, and equipped with a powerful sidekick.
My gripe with him is that he never utilized the strongest weapon in his arsenal — the Time Stone. The final battle scene of his standalone film featured Dr. Strange reversing time over and over until he was able to defeat the villain. Where was that energy when we needed it? Just spin the clock until you’re able to unite this group of nitwits into something workable. They were one punch away from defeating Thanos on Titan, after all. Just rewind, throw Star-Lord off the edge of the planet, and give it another go.
N: I love this plan.
Yes, the moment where Tony looks at him during the final battle and Strange raises a finger is a powerful moment because Tony realizes he has to die. But really? Just use the Time Stone, like Daryn said, and beat Thanos on Titan. Or, somehow, is that one of the billion freaking realities where the good guys lose?
… the end?