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Things Only Adults Notice In Avengers: Infinity War

If you suggest there's more than meets the eye about a blockbuster movie in casual conversation, you'll likely hear, "you're reading too much into it," or "you think too much." You're expected to enjoy everything at the level of the same children the Avengers and Justice League were originally written for, never questioning the logic of a particular characters' actions but just enjoying the explosions and the pew-pew.

But the truth is of course there's more to these movies than meets the eye. Studios spend the budgets of small nations on these things. There better be more than meets the eye, or what are they paying for? Avengers: Infinity War is a perfect example. While kids probably just waited for their favorites to show up, older fans could keep their eyes peeled for hidden layers, and ask some bigger questions. Here are of the moments in Avengers: Infinity War that you probably only noticed if you were an adult.

A smorgasbord of references

The most obvious aspect of Avengers: Infinity War that only adults are likely to understand is the list of pop culture references that appear throughout. Tony Stark, Peter Quill, and Peter Parker in the same movie? Forget it. If you're under 30, unless you happen to appreciate "the classics," you'll probably need at least a few Google searches to keep up. 

Of course, if you already looked up Footloose after it was mentioned in Guardians of the Galaxy and its sequel, you might've been ready for its return in Infinity War. Parker mentions another "really old movie" in the middle of a fight, just as he did in Captain America: Civil War. During the tussle on Ebony Maw's ship, Parker references Alien, specifically when the hero Ripley escaped that first Xenomorph by breaching the hull of her ship and blowing the alien into space. When Stark explains to Bruce Banner that the Avengers split since Avengers: Age of Ultron, Banner says, "Like the Beatles?" It's a funny line, and it highlights just how petty and ridiculous the split in the Avengers seems from an outside perspective. Teen Angst Groot is playing the classic '80s video game Defender on his handheld device, and the Blue-Man-Group-Audition version of Arrested Development's Tobias Funke appears in the Collector's menagerie. 

One reference you probably got no matter what your age? When Stark compares Ebony Maw to Squidward from SpongeBob Squarepants.

Civil War set the stage for a Thanos victory

Despite some fans angrily blaming Star-Lord for Thanos' victory, the heroes' failure truly belongs to them all. By the time the credits roll for Avengers: Infinity War, it should be clear to any adult watching that, if it weren't for the events of Captain America: Civil War, Thanos couldn't have achieved his victory snap. You can bet Iron Man and Cap will say as much before they finally bro-hug and get things done in Avengers 4.

The heroes fight an uphill battle in Avengers: Infinity War, and that's more a product of them being separated — rather than one unified team — than anything else. The only intelligence anyone in Wakanda has about Thanos comes from the traumatized Bruce Banner. Strange, Stark, and Spidey are unexpectedly off-planet. Hulk won't come out and play, Hawkeye and Ant-Man are MIA, and no one from S.H.I.E.L.D. shows up until after the fight is already lost. Even still, the heroes are so close to a win. But as Star-Lord himself once said, "close only counts in horse grenades."

Imagine what the heroes could have accomplished if they hadn't allowed the Sokovia Accords to split them? Think about what the combined forces of the Avengers, the Guardians, and the entire Wakandan military could've done if they were well informed and working together, rather than desperately reacting to Thanos' machinations.

Revolution is coming to Wakanda

Black Panther is the head of a nation — a rare position for superhero. Younger fans will root for T'Challa no matter what, and naturally they'll expect his people to do the same. But considering the events of Avengers: Infinity War, if you're an adult then you probably won't be surprised if Black Panther 2 brings us a Wakanda ready to dethrone its king. 

Put yourself in the shoes of a Wakandan. Your nation was isolated for centuries, hiding its technological superiority from the world. Most Wakandans lived with these secrets as a way of life. Then one day your King tells you Wakanda will be opening itself more to the outside world. Even if you like the idea, you'll likely have some reservations. 

And then right after your King makes this announcement? An army of alien monsters attacks your country and attacks only your Country. They kill hundreds of men and women, maybe more. And before the smoke has a chance to clear, literally half the people in Wakanda — along with everywhere else — just dies. As far as many Wakandans are concerned, Black Panther will have lots to answer for when he returns. He'll need more than pretty words to convince his people to keep their borders open. That's a political eventuality most kid viewers probably aren't thinking about by the movie's end.

The Titan's motives aren't as pure as he says

Like any real villain, Thanos doesn't see himself as a bad guy. Josh Brolin's portrayal of the Mad Titan convinces us that Thanos believes he's giving the universe the balance it needs. But adults know you can't always trust your narrator. A child is going to be likely to take Thanos' words at face value, while an older viewer might ask whether his actions fit his words.

Thanos isn't just a purple jerk who wants to balance the scales. He's a sadist who enjoys killing. He enjoys his brutal murder of Heimdall and Loki. When the rest of the Black Order start to move to help Thanos fight Hulk, Ebony Maw stops them and urges them to let Thanos "enjoy himself." He enjoys torturing Nebula, who is as much his "daughter" as Gamora. 

His battle with the heroes on Titan is more proof, in that there even is a battle. Even without the Time Stone, Thanos had enough power to wipe out the heroes on Titan easily. But Thanos likes fighting, likes killing, and likes proving himself superior. He can fool himself all he wants that he'll be happy in his "retirement," watching the sunset from a hut. But Thanos needs to satisfy his darker urges, and in the end they have nothing to do with universal "balance." The concept that a character is not fully honest with himself about something so basic about himself isn't something a child will easily grasp.

Gamora's past must be darker than we thought

We don't know a lot of specifics about Gamora's past. With what she says about Thanos in the Guardians films, she gives the impression that while she's done bad things for Thanos, her years with him were spent biding her time, waiting for the moment to free herself and hopefully stop him from achieving his goals. But Avengers: Infinity War suggests something else entirely, and it again reminds the adults in the audience that you can't always trust the person telling you the story. 

From his ability to get the Soul Stone by sacrificing Gamora, we know Thanos' love for Gamora was genuine. We also know Thanos' love isn't easily won — he doesn't feel it for Nebula, and he doesn't acknowledge (or perhaps even notice) the sacrifices of his loyal Black Order. Yet he loved Gamora above all others. And how could we possibly believe that someone for whom a bloodthirsty, sadistic maniac like Thanos feels love hasn't demonstrated some of his own qualities to earn that love?

While children would likely take Gamora's word, older fans can tell that at some point in Gamora's history she was more than just a physically enhanced prisoner. She killed — and she must've enjoyed killing. Somewhere along the way that changed, but Avengers: Infinity War makes it clear there's a piece of Gamora's story she hasn't shared.

Thanos undid the work of two MCU movies

While they're both still fun movies, it's difficult to not see Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok in a completely different light after watching Avengers: Infinity War considering the people the heroes fought so hard to save in both films are all murdered by Thanos and his Black Order.

The final battle of the first Guardians film focused on saving Xandar from Ronan the Accuser. In Infinity War, we learn Thanos "decimated" the planet off-screen to get his hands on the Power Stone. Thor and his allies sacrifice Asgard itself to save its few remaining survivors at the end of Ragnarok – repeating the phrase "Asgard is not a place, it's a people" a few times — only to have most of those survivors murdered within the first few minutes of Infinity War

Thor: Ragnarok, in particular, is strange to watch as an adult in light of what we all know is coming. Though it has its share of death, Ragnarok's sense of humor clashes with Avengers: Infinity War, and the idea of watching the two back-to-back seems almost surreal. Meanwhile, a child is more likely to simply enjoy the movie on its own, regardless of what they know is coming.

Peter Quill is a jerk to Thor

Peter Quill's mocking of Thor's voice and manner of speech is meant to be light and funny, and it definitely gets laughs. Plenty of kids probably didn't think much about it. But an adult is more likely to stop and think about the situation and see that Quill's actions are ridiculously over-the-line. 

As far as Thor knows, he's literally just watched the death of his entire race. We know some Asgardians managed to escape, including Valkyrie. But at that moment Thor believes himself to be the last Asgardian. Not only that, in the last few days he's lost an eye and his magic hammer, he's witnessed the deaths of every surviving member of his family, and was forced to trigger the destruction of his homeworld. 

Quill doesn't know all of this, but he definitely knows enough! He knows Thor was floating among the debris of a destroyed ship, including dozens of other bodies. That, all on its own, would be enough for most sane adults — and even most poorly adjusted jerks — to lay off the teasing for at least a few minutes. But fueled by his own feelings of inadequacy in terms of the crew's (especially Gamora's) reaction to Thor, Quill lays into him. Don't be a jerk, kids. Speaking of which...

Peter Quill likes being the only Earthling

In a lot of respects, Avengers: Infinity War is not Peter Quill at his best. Kids were probably just psyched to see Star-Lord hanging with the Avengers, like all of us were, and probably didn't think about why Quill didn't seem more excited to be back among his own people.

It could be that, as he said in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, he simply doesn't want to be reminded of the planet where his mother died. Or Gamora could be right, and he could just be avoiding facing his past. But judging by his interaction with the Avengers in Infinity War, Quill doesn't like being around other "Earthers," especially not when he's in the company of his team. You'd think he'd be thrilled to see what are probably the first Earthlings he's met since his abduction. Instead he treats them with hostility, suspicion, and disrespect.

Why? Because Quill likes being the only Earthling. "Terrans," as most of the aliens in the Guardians films refer to Earthlings, are not common among the stars. Wherever Quill goes with the Guardians, he's unique. He's the only Terran in an infinite interstellar highway of bright pink skins and green skins and Sakaarans and Kree and Taser-faces. Even when Yondu was threatening him by saying, "my boys never tasted Terran," he was telling Quill how unique he was. Of course Star-Lord wants replace Stark's plan with his own. If he can't be the only Terran around, he at least has to be the best.

Doctor Strange isn't a young padawan anymore

Kids aren't super aware of the concept of growth. Being seven isn't that different than being nine, at least in terms of your day-to-day life. But adults can look back and see growth in themselves, and in others. And some adult viewers must have noticed that, more than any other hero in the Avengers: Infinity War, Doctor Strange's skill, power, and confidence have grown a whole lot since we saw him last.

While the good Doctor seemed to take to more cerebral spells with ease in his debut film, he barely survived his magic battles. The fact that he survived at all is impressive, of course, but there is a huge difference between the apprentice who barely held his own against Kaecillius and the master who went toe-to-toe with Ebony Maw.

Even more impressive was his fight against Thanos. Strange has more success battling Thanos one-on-one than any of the other heroes on Titan. If that fight went on much longer, Thanos would have eventually defeated Strange, but for as long as it lasted Strange looked to be a contender. In spite of Thanos already claiming most of the Infinity Stones, their battle on Titan seemed more like a fight between peers. Drax would hate you for thinking it, but no single hero on Titan could've stopped Thanos. And if any of them could, it would've been Strange. 

The world is about to go absolutely insane

In Avengers: Infinity War's post-credits scene that shows Nick Fury and Maria Hill being purged with Thanos' snap, we see a little bit of what's about to happen on Earth. Adult viewers can imagine the gravity of it. Kids might understand the math of it, but they don't yet have the tools to grasp just how much work it takes to keep civilization rolling. 

Imagine a world where half the people just disappear. In the short term, cars and planes will be abandoned and crash into buildings. But think beyond that. Elected officials, people who make food, run power plants, schools, cash registers — gone. Not all of them, but enough. Who drives the school buses? Who picks up the garbage? Who sends out Social Security checks? Who's caring for hospital patients? Looting, rioting. People taking whatever they want, because who cares? The owner's probably dead anyway. How about squatting? A nice house is abandoned, its occupants probably so much "dust in the wind?" Cool, free home! What happens to the economy? Half the people in the world are gone. Property owners, bank customers – what happens to all that stuff? Will their next-of-kin claim it? How? How do you prove they're even dead? 

If this idyllic world that Thanos wanted is going to happen, it'll be a few decades or so before it happens. In the meantime, survivors would be wise to find well-stocked bomb shelters. Captain America can punch the Red Skull, but he can't keep you from starving, kiddos.