Recently it was revealed by Disney that The Avengers: Infinity War had been shifted from a two-part saga to now just a one-off, and that the release date set for part two was now a placeholder for an "Untitled Avengers Project." I felt this was huge news at the time — earth-shattering, epic, all that.
I sit here, weeks later, both bewildered and dismayed at how very few of you out there, it seems, happen to agree with me on this. So please indulge me for a moment as I enumerate all the reasons why there should be so much more anticipation and speculation about this, specifically of the pseudo-freaking-out variety.
1. The Guarantee of No Hobbit-Style Padding
Renowned nerd lord Peter Jackson's diminished enthusiasm and commitment for this Middle-Earth project was apparent in every frame — after Guillermo Del Toro left the project — and the decision to turn the single short book into a trio of feature-length films made them each exhausting watches (i.e. so much of what didn't need to be there was always there and drawn out, it felt, to the longest possible degree). And while I understand that Jackson's own WingNut Films was on the line with these movies, which meant at least a couple more years of work for those employed there with each movie added, asking the audience to slog through three separate snail-paced and bloated acts of a brief story made for a tall order — especially when the films themselves were nowhere near as inspired and/or compelling as their previous counterparts.
Now, I'm not saying a two-part Infinity War would've automatically suffered a similar fate or anything, mind you; Marvel has demonstrated a habit for not wasting their audience's time in the past. But I would've most definitely said that exact same thing about Peter Jackson a few years back too, before all that turned out how all that turned out. And now we needn't worry at all. (Also, with so much of the legwork already established by previous MCU films, in terms of setting up the characters, their dynamic, the villain, the stakes, et cetera, the odds of the now one part Infinity War feeling rushed without a second film strike me as extremely low.)
2. Two Movies That Are Actually One Movie Split In Half Have A Dicey Track Record
Look, in our most recent cases, making the third installment of a trilogy a two-parter has been pretty much exposed for what it is: a straight up cash grab — i.e. a way for studios to stretch out the profits by capitalizing on fan interest. Both The Hunger Games and Twilight sagas followed this pattern to a tee with their third (and fourth) efforts, with most people outside the diehard fanbase agreeing this significantly brought down the quality of these finales (ESPECIALLY in the case of Twilight).
But even if we give Marvel Studios the benefit of the doubt here by assuming they really did feel like they needed two movies to properly pull off the culmination — a la Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (although the pacing of those two resulting films was still more than somewhat disjointed) — those don't always come out so well. And this cannot be any better exemplified than with The Matrix sequels.
Say what you will about the Wachowskis' work in recent years, one thing that cannot be argued is their deep commitment to their creative visions — i.e. audiences can always trust them to have a pure artistic intent, regardless of how it may come out. Moreover, when they hatched their idea to film The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions simultaneously, as one narrative that would then be presented in two offerings, those films were the second and third installments of the franchise, instead of the third and fourth — there was no sign of them stretching things out.
But the films themselves suffered from this set up nonetheless, in my opinion, as did our ability to enjoy them. By making one giant movie split in half, audiences didn't really know what to make of Reloaded on its own, because nothing in it felt completed and, by the time we got around to Revolutions, the setups from its predecessor were difficult to recall and/or carry over. With no sense of closure ever occurring between them then, the two films blended and bled into each other, and eventually came to feel like just a big hazy pile of stuff. I still believe this is, in large part, why these movies ultimately failed to really resonate.
(By the way, everything I just laid out here also applies to the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean movies — they too were both just jumbled messes of stuff happening by the end since there was never any sense of closure between them.)
3. The Re-Incorporation Of Mystery At The Perfect Time
That's something we haven't gotten to experience since this whole once upon a time unfathomable undertaking commenced. We've been told from almost the beginning where this was going; we've always known Thanos's Infinity Gem-laden global assault was the end game. And this was absolutely prudent (and even necessary) when the project began all those years ago, because they needed to assuage the fears of those who understandably assumed it would end up as a massively foolish overreach. Back when a live-action comic cinematic universe was considered unbelievable in its ambition, Marvel needed to assure everyone that they had a plan and knew what they were doing.
But that's now — by a few touchdowns — something no longer required, because we all know how much this enterprise has worked out, becoming the most successful venture in Hollywood history. And in this much more secure light, the inevitable march to Thanos actually became a bit of a quiet problem for Marvel. See, in a cinematic universe that we know both works and how it ends, there's no longer any intrigue to draw us in. But with this announcement, what was inevitable is now open-ended; we don't know how this all ends anymore; the intrigue is back.
So here's one resulting possibility: Since the "Untitled Avengers Project" is still — for the moment — intended to come out a year after Infinity War, then maybe one epic two-movie shoot remains on the table. And if it's still a two movie shoot, maybe they keep a lot of the pieces in place for the now unknown final chapter, which means maybe the 2019 offering will see 2018's Thanos and raise it a mother-flippin' Galactus (if Marvel has indeed re-secured the rights to The Fantastic Four and the other affiliated properties, that is).
Or here's possibility two: Maybe they're just saying it'll be another Avengers movie for now in order to keep their vice grip on that date. Maybe if — oh, I don't know — Spider-Man: Homecoming is the wild success we all can see coming a mile away, then that date will be where its eminently predictable sequel lands, meaning the fourth Avengers movie will happen later, and so shoot later, and thus get to be a totally different thing complete with who knows what?
Now I don't know any of this, of course. But then, neither do you. And that's the point I'm making here: We now no longer know what precisely this final chapter will be, or how it will work, or what it all means. And that, my friends, is pretty freaking awesome.