Better version of this is here.
SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS
First I’m a huge superhero geek, a mega-fan of both the comics growing up and the last ten years of movies. Guys, Avengers: Infinity War was…so close to greatness. It’s a terrific Guardians of the Galaxy movie. It’s a worthy Thor follow-up to Ragnarok. It’s a mostly splendid Iron Man-Doctor Strange-Spider-Man team-up (I would have given Spidey one or two more exuberant wisecracks in his scenes with Thanos, but that’s a minor quibble). And Thanos easily joins Loki and Killmonger on the Mount Rushmore of MCU villains. As a general thing, Marvel proved that more is often more. They came so close, like almost getting a gauntlet off a hand.
But…somebody got a little lost in the third Avengers movie, and I’m afraid it was the Avengers, especially Captain America. I almost wondered if the directors Joe and Anthony Russo, having cut their teeth on the second and third Captain America movies, felt they didn’t want to show favoritism by focusing too much on Steve Rogers. But that’s like ignoring your kid at his own birthday party. Cap is Cap, the Avengers’ leader. He needed more than a few smoldering looks.
Even in a movie this over-stuffed, or perhaps especially in one that gave this much motivation to Thanos, Quill, Thor, Stark, and Strange, Captain America needed a real arc, and so did the Blacks: Widow and Panther. A related problem is that Rogers and T’Challa and Natasha were saddled with the least plausible storyline of the film: of course they would have destroyed that overgrown toaster (called the Vision) rather than risk the lives of trillions! And…the balance of the movie needed just a little more time on Earth, especially in a large planning room, before Act Three; I realize the Guardians and Thor have established cosmic-ness, but I was getting spacesick-ness. And…yes, the Russos couldn’t have realized Black Panther would make $700 million domestic, but they needed to respect Wakanda and its main characters just a little bit more.
The thing is, they could have solved everything with one more little scene. Yes, I realize the movie was already 17 hours long. But one more scene could have taken this film from Batman Begins to The Dark Knight. It would have been worth it. Honestly, they ought to shoot it for the DVD. (I realize one reason it may not exist is because it would need 12 of the single-card-credited actors, and maybe they never got that many in one place at one time, a feat that would be even harder now. Still, they should.) One tiny little Wakanda War Room Scene. You know, filmed with a lot of dollying cameras swirling around heads.
First a very minor set-up: after those two aliens attack Vision and Scarlet Witch, after they’re thwarted by other Avengers, just before they leave, they say words to the effect of “We’ll be back with an army.”
Later in the film, Black Panther and Okoye and Bucky greet the Avengers who have flown into Wakanda.
WAKANDA WAR PLANNING ROOM. Assembled and seated around a massive table: T’CHALLA, CAPTAIN AMERICA, BLACK WIDOW, BRUCE BANNER, FALCON, RHODEY, OKOYE, M’BAKU, SHURI, VISION, SCARLET WITCH, BUCKY, and high-ranking Wakandans.
Scene begins with closeup of a hologram projection of the City of Wakanda, including the force field that surrounds it.
Their army is likely to mount this flank.
In that case, I want the Avengers lined up like this…
A hand wipes away the hologram projection. Camera reveals the hand to belong to Shuri.
Wait a minute. The most powerful and murderous monster in the universe is looking for this stone, and you brought it here?
Finally we see the entire room, which sits stunned for a moment.
We know it’s a big ask.
This is not our fight.
(eyes indicating Vision)
He doesn’t belong here. He has to go. Now.
(to Captain America) Do you not command your own regiment, Captain?
The title is more of an honorific.
Surely you command your own battalion, Colonel Rhodes?
I’m actually AWOL right now.
Colonel Rhodes? Yet you take orders from this captain?
He’s pretty good at what he does.
We’re technically fugitives as much as Bucky. Any army that helps us risks isolation from the international community.
(on Shuri’s look)
What else is new?
This is not the issue. You say this Vision is a robot, yes?
He started that way, but…
He’s a living being.
He’s an A.I. that has achieved consciousness?
He’s much more!
We must destroy the stone.
(standing, her hands set aglow)
Don’t even think about it.
Stand down, M’Baku.
Stand down, Wanda. And turn your hands, uh, off.
M’Baku, you could destroy Vision and still not destroy the stone.
We only know one way to destroy it.
And what is that?
M’Baku looks as the Avengers all look at Wanda. He frowns.
T’Challa, let me try.
The stone is bait, brother.
Right, it brings Thanos here, potentially leads him to make mistakes. And also, the Vision with his stone is pretty good in a fight.
Thanos would come to Earth anyway, we just wouldn’t know where.
He was destroying half the populations of other worlds even before he had any stones.
(He reaches for Black Widow’s hand as he speaks; she pulls it away.)
He used those creatures we saw in New York six years ago. The stones just make it easier.
On T’Challa’s look, M’Baku warily sits.
Stone or not, someone, somewhere has to defend the Earth from genocide.
The Scarlet Witch sits.
Someone has to be the tip of the spear.
Not us. Not this city.
Could we maybe move the Vision to Antarctica or something? Away from this amazing city?
You’ve been in Wakanda for thirty minutes!
Long enough to not want it to end up like Sokovia.
Black Widow looks hard at Falcon. Her eyes flit accusingly between him and Shuri.
I cannot move my troops that quickly. And we cannot move the force field, or build another one in time.
T’Challa, this is your final decision?
I need you, brother.
We’re not brothers.
M’Baku leaves with two lieutenants.
Since when did you defend the outside world?
Someone has to be the tip of the spear.
You just want a fight.
I don’t. But I’m asking you not to walk away from this one.
T’Challa, brother, you have only recently inherited a throne, a position that I might have taken, a regency that kept our home safe for centuries. You want to throw that home away?
I do not think we will, sister. I have seen this man in battle. (A look at Captain America.) I trust him.
Shuri leaves. Falcon stands and leaves, to Avengers’ astonished looks.
Everyone kind of looks at everyone.
(stiffening his spine)
Can you bring back the hologram?
Later, the battle goes similarly, but with these differences:
Vision and Scarlet Witch are on the field, kicking ass. No scene with Shuri trying to escavate stone from Vision.
At some point, Shuri (controlling drones) and Falcon show up out of nowhere.
Perhaps on radios:
What did you tell her?
You mean what did we tell each other? I’ll tell you later.
At some desperate moment (post-force-field, pre-Thor), in a vignette reminiscent of scenes from Lord of the Rings, M’Baku’s battalion shows up.
Everything seems much more poignant because stakes are higher for both the city and for Captain America. The final shot of Cap near Natasha and Thor, realizing that his choices have lost half the universe, hits us with a far fuller force.
Just a thought.