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Captain America’s Beard and Other Important Things

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kenyon chapter.

(Major spoiler alert! Please turn back if you haven’t seen the latest Marvel behemoth.)


Let it never be said again that Marvel movies are predictable.


I thought I knew what was going to happen in Avengers: Infinity War. While I also realized that the movie was going to rock the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), I never could have predicted the scale on which it did so. I left the theater with puffy, bloodshot eyes, still reeling over what I just witnessed.


Ten years ago, way back in 2008, I remember derisively mocking the trailers for Iron Man because 9-year-old me thought it looked dumb. Four years later, I was unwilling dragged to Avengers by my (half-)sister, and, as they say, the rest is history. I was immediately sucked into this world, despite having never seen any of the previous movies. I quickly watched the preceding films, starting with Thor, which remains one of my favorite MCU movies today. I cried at the end (this is a recurring theme with me and movies) and quickly realized I was tumbling head first down a very long rabbit hole.


Cut to now. The MCU spans ten years and nineteen movies, as well as multiple TV shows, one-shots, and even a YouTube miniseries. This is not simply a franchise filled with sequels (and prequels) but a whole universe with disparate plots and characters that have now impossibly joined together, united by their intricate shared mythos. These films have been painstakingly crafted, leading up to Infinity War and beyond. Marvel has created a living, breathing thing, unlike anything that has come before and unlike anything that will come after. Star Wars, Harry Potter, and DC Comics are among the franchises that are looking to utilize Marvel’s formula for their own profit, and while I adore two out of the three franchises that I just mentioned (guess which two), their new obsession with creating a cinematic universe originates, in my opinion, from Marvel. (I will say, though, that there are some certain franchises that would benefit from Marvel’s patient, long-range thinking. That’s all.)


Hard to imagine now, but there was a point in time when casting Robert Downey Jr. was a risk and Iron Man was considered a dangerous, possibly stupid gamble. Look at RDJ now. Even if you’ve never seen a Marvel movie, you still know Iron Man. You know the Hulk. You know Captain America. You know all those hot guys named Chris. (Not you, Pine. Sorry. I still love you.)

So, here we are. It’s Marvel’s world, and we’re just living in it.


Now that I’ve waxed (hopefully) poetic about Marvel’s genius, let’s take a journey on the rollercoaster ride that was Infinity War, and hopefully, I can process some of my own emotions regarding the movie.


The movie opens with a chilling distress signal from the wreckage of Thor’s ship. The sight of Thanos and his “children” stepping around the dead Asgardians (and, later, said Asgardian bodies floating in space) really shook me. Random civilians have always been a casualty of Marvel movies, so I don’t know why the Asgardians affected me more. Maybe because their bodies seemed so small and inconsequential in space. Maybe because they were all that remained of Asgard. Maybe because the hopeful note that Thor: Ragnarok ended on was completely obliterated. I’m not sure, but I knew that this movie was only going to get sadder, and boy did it ever.


I knew Loki was going to die. I knew he would likely die in the first scene. I still cried like a baby. Part of me (absurdly) hoped that, after getting somewhat redeemed in Thor: Ragnarok, Loki would impossibly survive and his bizarre, ever-shifting relationship with Thor could be explored even more. But, at least he died giving the metaphorical finger to Thanos and proudly saying he was the son of Odin. Tom Hiddleston reportedly has a six-film contract and he’s only done five, so that means Loki has room to come back. However, as much as I love Loki, I don’t want him to be resurrected or to have faked his demise—he’s already done that once, and to do so again would be to cheapen his redemptive death.


That being said, I would not say no to him somehow reappearing with the help of the Soul and/or the Reality Stone. He wouldn’t be alive, per se, but he could somehow appear to Thor and they could have a little bit more closure than they did in the movie. (As it stands, Thor’s last words to Loki were, “You are the worst brother,” and that really hurts my heart. I love my piece of trash.)

You know who I don’t love? Thanos. That guy sucks.


Anyway, luckily for my internal organs, directors Joe and Anthony Russo also injected a whole lot of humor into the movie. Drax’s deadpan “Why is Gamora?” drew the biggest laughs in the theater. Both Peters are delightful as ever. Doctor Strange and Tony have some wonderful banter. Thor exists. Okoye gives major side-eye to all the pathetic white men around her and Shuri drags Bruce Banner. Bucky picks up Rocket and spins the “sweet rabbit” in a circle while mowing down some weird alien dog things. There were quietly powerful moments, too: Wanda and Vision in Scotland, Bucky receiving a new metal arm and immediately realizing that he has to go fight again, Peter and Gamora’s conversation about the Soul Stone.


But I spent most of the movie in some sort of shock. The hits kept coming, one after the other. I was constantly elbowing my patient friend Lindsey and clutching the edge of my seat in anticipation. When Red Skull appeared, the audience audibly gasped. I cried when Wanda killed Vision and then again when Thanos killed Vision. I clapped my hands over my mouth and cried some more when Thanos stabbed Tony. But two of the most unexpected parts in the movie were also the best and most beautiful scenes: Gamora’s death and, of course, that last moment.


This brings us back around to my opening statement: let it never be said again that Marvel movies are predictable.


In some of the darker corners of Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and the like, you can find hoards of people railing against Marvel. They complain it’s too jokey and not dark enough; Marvel doesn’t have the guts to do anything drastic; all the movies follow the same basic, repetitive formula; it doesn’t deserve to be as popular as it is.


I hope they’re eating their words now.

I had walked into the movie confidently believing in Gamora’s safety. I had thought Nebula would die, but Gamora would be safe. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 had been announced, after all, and there was still so much of her character to explore—not to mention that her “unspoken thing” with Peter had now become acknowledged, which opened up a whole lot of other possibilities. So when Thanos tossed her like a rag doll over that cliff, barely halfway through the movie, I cried. Again. I didn’t believe it was real until I saw the green blood pooling around her head. I’m not sure if her death will be permanent, but I don’t think any of us saw it coming. I certainly didn’t. And Peter’s heartbreaking, visceral reaction only made it more gut-wrenching.


And then, of course, there’s that ending.


I didn’t realize what was happening until Bucky started to disintegrate. (If anyone wants to talk about how the last thing he said was “Steve,” please contact me. Thanks for your support in this trying time.) Even then, I didn’t fully register until more and more of our heroes started vanishing: Sam, Bucky, Wanda, Groot, Drax, Mantis, Doctor Strange, T’Challa, Peter (both Quill and Parker). I know that these heroes probably aren’t gone for good. There’s no way they’re offing T’Challa after the runaway success of Black Panther, and a second Spider-Man movie has already been announced. Bucky is going to be the next Captain America (don’t @ me). Doctor Strange was just introduced, and the Guardians wouldn’t lose four of their members in one foul swoop. Sam didn’t get enough screen time in this movie for his death to land, and I have a feeling Wanda will play a key role in the next installment.


That doesn’t make the scene any less powerful. Okoye’s look of horror as T’Challa disappears speaks volumes. When Steve—who already saw Bucky die once and then come back as a brainwashed assassin hell-bent on killing him—numbly collapses by his best friend’s ashes, I lost it. When Peter Parker, just a kid, stumbles up to Tony, saying, “Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good” and “I don’t want to go,” I honest-to-God think my heart shattered. Tony watches the child he so desperately wanted literally turn to dust in his arms.


“My God,” Steve says, utterly broken.


Thanos wins.


Bold move, Marvel. Bold move.


(I really didn’t have to go into detail about the aforementioned scenes, but I just wanted to share my feelings with the world/small number of people who will actually read this, so there they are. It’s been cathartic. Therapeutic, even.)

Of course, in the next movie, there will be some good ole time travel and our heroes will eventually save the day. But nothing will be the same (especially since Steve is going to bite it). Infinity War irrevocably changed the Marvel universe, raised the stakes, and set a new standard for movie worldbuilding. Scratch that: Infinity War irrevocably changed the world.


Okay, that might be an overstatement. (It’s definitely an overstatement.) But you can’t deny that Marvel has permeated almost every fiber of our culture in a way that no pop culture phenomenon ever has. You could argue for Star Wars, and I could believe you, but I don’t believe that their sequels would exist without the MCU. Marvel’s playing the long game, folks. Kevin Feige recently said that he’s had meetings about the MCU through 2025, and I’ll be first in line to see those movies.


But it’s not just that Marvel is patient, it’s that Marvel creates damn good stories. They manage to make us (or at least me) cry over a talking tree, for crying out loud. The amount of heart that goes into these movies is staggering. Every costume is designed with care, every line honed and refined. The people making these movies care, and it shows when the movies are able to leap off the screen and take on a life of their own. I’m always a sucker for a good story. I get sucked in, transported away from my relatively mundane, safe, day-to-day life—suddenly I’m off punching Hitler in the face or saving the galaxy (again). I feel at ease in these stories even as they continually subvert my expectations. Marvel deftly keeps us coming back for more and more.


No one could have predicted the success of Iron Man. No one could have predicted Infinity War. No one can predict how it goes from here. But I, for one, am ready.


(Also, I’d just like to say that Captain America with a beard is the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen. That’s all.)

Image Credit: Feature, 1, 2, 3, 4


Anna is a freshman at Kenyon College who has no idea what her major will be. She's a proud Atlantan who likes to ride her horses and talk incessantly about movies, and can be found eating chocolate in her spare time.
Jenna is a writer and Campus Correspondent for Her Campus Kenyon. She is currently a senior chemistry major at Kenyon College, and she can often be found geeking out in the lab while working on her polymer research. Jenna is an avid sharer of cute animal videos, and she never turns down an opportunity to pet a furry friend. She enjoys doing service work, and her second home is in the mountains of Appalachia.