Infinity War – 5 Ways It Sticks To Marvel’s Formula (& 5 Ways It Diverges From It)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is often accused of following the familiar cookie-cutter formula, but that’s not always the case. While this may apply to the MCU archetypal solo film, the ensemble team has explored a new kind of franchise crossover and, with it, pioneered a new type of blockbuster story.

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The first film to fully exploit the potential of the MCU crossover is Avengers: Infinity War, bringing together heroes from every phase of the franchise to take on a common enemy: Thanos, the Mad Titan. In many ways, Infinity War is typical Marvel actioner, but Avengers threequel also breaks some conventions.


2 Sticking to the Marvel Formula

Huge Super Hero Ensemble

Battle Titan Thanos in Avengers Infinity War

The superhero team is the bread and butter of the MCU. Avenger is a film that unites the entire franchise and Spider-Man: No Way Home combines three versions of the same superhero from its cinematic history.

Combining almost all the main heroes from the Infinity Saga (except Ant-Man and Hawkeye, who returned in End game), Infinity War is the ultimate superhero team.

Secondary Villain

MCU movies rarely have just one villain. guardian of the galaxyRonan the Accuser is supported by Nebula, Iron Man 2Justin Hammer is powered by Whiplash, and Shang-ChiWenwu was supported by the Death Dealer.

In Infinity War, the Mad Titan is supported by a group of sycophants – the Black Order – whose presence completes the runtime. These side villains build a mystique around their cult leader, Thanos.

Magical MacGuffin

Infinity War Doctor Strange Time Stone

MCU films often feature the classic MacGuffin that heroes (or villains) seek. In Infinity WarThanos is searching the universe for a total of six magical MacGuffins: the Infinity Stones.

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Some of these MacGuffins have been MacGuffins in previous MCU films: The Space Stone is “The Tesseract” in AvengerThe Reality Stone is “The Aether” in Thor: Dark Worldand the Strength Stone is “The Orb” in guardian of the galaxy.

Faceless Thug Soldiers

The final battle of the Marvel epic is often criticized for their army of inhuman henchmen who create spectacle without adding substance. When the Black Order invaded Wakanda, they brought with them foot soldiers of a mindless species called the “Outriders.”

Much like the Chitauri or Ultron cyborg squad, the Outriders are faceless thugs who escalate the final battle without making an emotional connection to the audience.

Post-Credit Scene

Nick Fury turns to dust in Avengers Infinity War

Whenever Marvel Studios releases a new blockbuster superhero film, audiences sit patiently through the names of countless VFX artists to see the stinger post-credits the filmmakers have.

After closing credits from Infinity War, Nick Fury and Maria Hill turned to dust after Thanos’ finger snap. In his final moments, Fury unlocks his final Avengers recruit: Captain Marvel.

1 Deviating From The Marvel Formula

The Villain Is The Main Protagonist

Thanos Caught in Avengers Infinity War

Tell about Infinity War jump from hero to hero, from Iron Man to Doctor Strange to Spider-Man to the Guardians of the Galaxy to the post-Sokovia Accords vigilante group dubbed the “Secret Avengers.”

Marvel usually tells its stories straight from the heroes’ point of view, but in Infinity War, Thanos is in the spotlight as heroes go on and off his radar. It’s rare for MCU stories to be told from a villain’s point of view, but Josh Brolin’s performance made Infinity WarThanos is a very sympathetic character.

Avoiding the Usual Team-Up

The MCU doesn’t usually pass up opportunities to work together, but the franchise is avoiding them Infinity War to break into the house after the explosion of the Avengers explosion in captain america civil war.

Even as a cosmic lord threatens the entire universe, Tony Stark can’t bring himself to call on Steve Rogers for help. So, both sides tried to stop the Mad Titan on their own, and since they didn’t cooperate, they failed miserably.

Nonlinear Storytelling

Thanos holds out knife for young Gamora in Infinity War

Since Quentin Tarantino never made a Marvel movie, the MCU tends to tell the story in a linear fashion (this happened, then this happened, then this happened, then this ended).

RELATED: Why Infinity War Is The Best Avengers Movie (& Why Endgame Is A Close Second)

Infinity War marks one of the rare times Marvel Studios has explored nonlinear narrative structures. The film maps out Thanos’ life story with key events such as Gamora’s adoption (after wiping out everyone on her planet) revealed in flashbacks.

The Last Two Battles

Like most movies in the MCU, Infinity War culminates in a major climactic battle sequence. But while Marvel movies usually only have one final battle, Infinity War shakes up the formula by cross-cutting between the last two battles: the Battle of Titan and the Battle of Wakanda.

Steve Rogers leads a group of Avengers into battle with the Black Order, while Tony Stark leads another group of Avengers into battle with Thanos himself among the ruins of the Mad Titan’s home planet.

Evil triumphs over good

The biggest way Infinity War subverting expectations of a Marvel movie is the lower end. The MCU usually tells stories where good triumphs over evil and the heroes defeat the bad.

In Infinity War, the Avengers lost. The villain executes his evil plan, carries out the final stages of the plan, and disappears through a portal to keep Earth’s Mightiest Heroes trapped in the dire consequences of their failure. This gloomy final has been compared to Kingdom strikes back.

NEXT: 5 Ways Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness Sticks To The Marvel Formula (& 5 Ways These Diverge From It)

Separate images showing the Red Witch at MoM and Xialing at Shang-Chi.

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