Evil Acupuncture and Other Things We Saw in the New Avengers: Infinity War Trailer

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Can you imagine making nearly $3 billion in a single year? If your answer is yes, you are either a soulless corporate suit, an astoundingly gifted thief, or Kevin Feige. With Black Panther continuing to annihilate at the box office, 2018 is off to a good start for the Marvel Studios megaproducer, and he can pretty safely assume that his next outing, May’s Avengers: Infinity War, will be a similar performer. Oh, and then there’s Ant-Man and the Wasp in July, too. Jesus, the Marvel Cinematic Universe generates enough revenue to qualify as a small independent nation. A significant part of their strategy is generating mouth-frothing anticipation among moviegoers, which the Marvel crew aims to do with the latest Infinity War trailer. Let’s see how the money-making magic happens this time, eh?

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Gaah! Turn that camera around, cinematographer Trent Opaloch! What, are you trying to make my vertigo act up?

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Wait, maybe you should stop at this angle and reveal that the whole movie was actually shot for the Snapchat aspect ratio. That’s probably the future of movies, anyway, so you might as well get ahead of the curve.

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Well, okay, I guess I can tolerate a Dutch angle. Say, what’s that orange thing in the sky?

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Do you know, Natasha? How about you, Bruce? Rhodey, any clues? (Oh, and congratulations on overcoming your partial paralysis from Captain America: Civil War, Rhodey! You’re an inspiration to us all, even though you probably just used, like, a bunch of sci-fi mishegoss to do it.)

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Maybe Doctor Strange, sitting pretty in his Greenwich Village abode, knows what’s going on. Does it have to do with the voice-over about how somebody used to hang out with a mysterious “him” and “he” was obsessed with “one goal: to wipe out half the universe”? Who’s talking, and who is the subject of their sentences? Answer my questions, trailer.

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Just kidding, I get exactly what all of this is about because I’m a pop-culture writer who hasn’t been living under a vibranium rock for the past year. I already know more about this movie than I do about most members of my own family. The dude being spoken of is Thanos, whose ham-like hands these are. He’s the Josh Brolin–played villain of the piece; an extraterrestrial whose home planet, Titan, was wiped out by, uh, something (Feige hasn’t told us what, yet) and who thinks he can prevent similar disasters by killing half of all life in the universe, for some damn reason. He aims to carry out this confusing plan with the Infinity Gauntlet, a metal glove that can hold the five Infinity Stones, which are magic rocks that have appeared in past MCU movies. This moment would suggest that Thanos has obtained the blue one, the Space Stone, which can manipulate, well, space. But who’s yammering on about this guy? Why, it’s none other than …

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… Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, a.k.a. the green lady from Guardians of the Galaxy! In case you forgot, she’s Thanos’s daughter, which is why she’s recounting what he used to say about the whole mass-murder thing. Apparently, “the Talk” is quite different in the Thanos household.

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Marvel has come close to conquering the Uncanny Valley, but I simply cannot visually accept Josh Brolin’s baldness. Begone, foul abomination.

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Meanwhile, in Queens, wee Peter Parker opts for an extremely lo-fi take on his Steve Ditko–designed costume, presumably after seeing that light in the sky. He has a shirt that says something or other about lettuce. Do high schools allow shirts with stupid “ironic” jokes now? Ugh, civilization has become a catastrophe.

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The light in the sky above midtown was this giant ring … thing … that Thanos uses for … reasons … Look, I don’t know, maybe it’s a portal?

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Wait, does the ring thing leave Manhattan? We see it flying upward (I think) here, pursued by Tony Stark, who has a new kind of rocket that he fires up by bringing his feet together. What model of Iron Man suit are we on at this point, Mark LCMXVII? Is that even a Roman numeral?

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This sucker is the Time Stone, possessed by Bendledorp Cumbledyboo’s Doctor Strange, which controls — dun dun dunnnn — time.

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Hey, it’s Wanda, the Scarlet Witch! Her hair seems to have absorbed all the gingerness that Natasha left behind. What’s she so worried about?

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Her robot boyfriend Vision, that’s what! Her concern is warranted, given that he has the Mind Stone, which does stuff with brains and also made Vizh into a reasonable facsimile of a human. Thanos wants said stone. The two of them are likely in Wakanda, which is where, according to reports, our heroes try to hide Vision. Hey, it managed to stay unconquered for millennia, so it’s not the worst idea. Or is it?

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Also in Wakanda are Bruce, Rhodey, Natasha, Sam (a.k.a. Falcon), and Steve, whose beard remains more delicious than a finely marinated rib eye. Hey, y’know who else lives in Wakanda?

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Shuri does! Vision is in trouble and, according to this little palm hologram, she’s on the case. If Shuri can’t solve a problem, then we’re well and truly boned.

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A bit of half-assed comic relief comes in the form of Peter Quill of the Guardians telling Tony that Tony’s plan sucks and that he, Peter, should be in charge. I say “half-assed” because, as a colleague of mine pointed out, the entire punch line consists of Tony saying, “Wow.” Look, screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, you can do better than that.

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Steve and T’Challa ride around in a troop transport full of Dora Milaje. Look at the way that beard rustles in the wind.

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The last stand in Wakanda features the reappearance of Avengers: Age of Ultron’s Iron Man Mark XLIV (I’m not making a number up this time), a.k.a. Hulkbuster, a.k.a. Veronica. But who’s inside? We can’t be 100 percent sure, but LEGO appears to have inadvertently confirmed that it’s not Tony — it’s Bruce! Why would the Hulk need to be in Hulkbuster armor? Could it be that he’s lost his powers? Gamma-rectile dysfunction is a serious problem, guys.

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While Rocket looks on, Thor summons the power of the lightning, sans hammer. Hela destroyed it in Thor: Ragnarok, remember? Come on, get on my level, folks.

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Another witness to this moment is teenage Groot. But it’s not the Groot you fell in love with in the first Guardians. No, as director James Gunn pointed out a little while ago, Groot died in the climax of that flick and the creature we’ve seen since then is his plant offspring. Sorry to shatter your dreams.

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I’m virtually certain this isn’t Earth, but rather is the dead world of Titan, where Thanos comes from. My evidence is the fact that humans have yet to get into starfish-flavored architecture.

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It’s flashback time! We see a helmeted Thanos (whew, I don’t have to look at the baldness) walking around with li’l toddler Gamora on Take Your Daughter to Work Day. The soldiers on either side are looking away from him for some reason. Maybe one of his superpowers is he smells terrible?

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If you’ll recall, Thor also lost an eye in Ragnarok. And at the end of the movie, he became the first Avenger to encounter the baddie, when his ship of Asgardians was intercepted by Thanos’s Sanctuary II vessel. Mayhap this is the beginning of the flick, when our nasty man boards the Thor-mobile?

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Okay, now we’re getting into the good stuff. You’ll recognize Thor’s brother Loki, but the rest of these folks are probably new to you. They are Thanos’s lieutenants, the Black Order. From the left, they are: Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw, Corvus Glaive, and Cull Obsidian. Loki appears to be working alongside them, although the fact that Proxima’s spear is pointed in his general direction might mean he’s under duress? Either way, shout-out to comics writer Jonathan Hickman for coming up with all of those names when he introduced the characters a few years back. He truly brought the GWAR aesthetic to the Marvel universe.

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Meanwhile, back in Wakanda, Bucky — who has been chilling in that country since the end of Civil War and who is known to the Wakandans as the White Wolf — gets ready to go into battle. Another great beard!

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Thanos’s army of minions, the Outriders, attempt to breach a Wakandan force field. In the wake of the brilliance that was Black Panther’s Erik Killmonger, any Marvel villainy that’s just “a bunch of nameless evil soldiers run into battle” feels like a big step down, but whatever.

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Strange teams up with Quill on Titan. You might even say theirs is an … attack on Titan.

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In what is easily the best/goofiest shot in the whole trailer, we find Strange becoming the victim of some evil acupuncture at the hands of …

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… Ebony Maw, who shushes Strange’s screams. Yes, yes, he looks like Voldemort; get over it.

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The Hulkbuster doesn’t seem to be supereffective against the Outriders. Also: This is me dealing with my cats whenever I try to take a nap.

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It seems that, by the third act, Thanos only has the purple Power Stone (which we last saw in the possession of space cops the Nova Corps in Guardians) and the blue Space Stone (which Loki had most recently). Hey, you gotta save some powder for the next Avengers movie, which Feige has actually taken to referring to as “Untitled Avengers.” How great would it be if that ended up being the legit name?

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Wielding the new, rhombus-shaped Wakandan shield that (presumably) Shuri builds for him, Cap somehow is strong enough to resist a punch from Thanos’s Gauntleted fist. The only thing I could think when I saw this shot was, Is Cap gonna eat that thing?

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Peter Parker and Stephen Strange meet and Peter more or less repeats the joke from Doctor Strange about “Strange” not sounding like an actual last name. Come on, Markus and McFeely.

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And finally, young Peter swings into battle using his Stark-tech battle suit. Will it sprout arms? Shell out $16.75 for an advance ticket to find out!

Breaking Down the New Avengers: Infinity War Trailer