September 24, 2020

Avengers: Infinity War Blu-ray Review

In the summer of 1991 I was in junior high and the biggest thing in comics that year was the huge Infinity Gauntlet event. Still a few months before Jim Lee would blow up the comic industry with his X-Men #1 relaunch, the summer of 1991 was when Thanos became the most powerful villain in the Marvel Universe with the Infinity Gauntlet. The event became legendary and it set up the Infinity Gems to be a continual staple of the Marvel Universe for decades to come.

When Joss Whedon added a grinning Thanos to the credit scene of The Avengers in 2012, comic readers had their mind blown. Could they really be heading towards the Infinity Gems in the MCU? A year later we got our answer when Volstagg and Lady Sif took the Aether to the Collector and gave us our first MCU mention of the Infinity Stones. That crazy Feige was actually going to do it. We were going to get an Infinity Gauntlet movie someday. It would take another five years and multiple movies to build to it, but this year we finally saw a big screen version of the comic event that melted our minds twenty-seven years ago.

By now you’ve seen Avengers: Infinity War and know that the Russos pulled it off. Thanks to Markus and McFeely and them “knowing where the bodies are buried” in the MCU due to being involved with all three phases, they managed to bring together every major character from the past ten years of movies and deliver a payoff no one will ever forget. I’ve seen the movie eight times as of this writing, and I still love every second of it. Which obviously made the Blu-ray release of Avengers: Infinity War my most anticipated home video release this year.

The movie releases digitally on July 31st, and then the physical DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K UHD disc release will follow on August 14th. The special features across all versions are the same, with the exception of one feature that is only on the digital copy.

Of course the big question everyone has is if the movie is in the IMAX aspect ratio, as that was such a big deal when it was in theaters a couple of months ago. For those familiar with past Marvel Studios Blu-ray releases, it’s not a surprise that it’s not. In the past, only the 3D releases included the IMAX scenes and this time there’s not a US release of Avengers: Infinity War on 3D Blu-ray. The movie is presented in 2.39:1 widescreen that’s, which means yes you will have the black bars. It’s really not something that was unexpected, but the fervor over the IMAX version brought the aspect ratio issue to the forefront for this release.

Audio on the standard Blu-ray is 7.1 DTS-HDMA

The packaging promotes more than two hours of special features, but that number includes the feature-length audio commentary track.

As far as video features go, there is a short introduction to the movie by the Russo brothers, four featurettes, and four deleted scenes:

  • Strange Alchemy (5:08) and The Mad Titan (6:34) are two more general featurettes that act like longer trailers. There’s not much behind-the-scenes stuff in them and they’re really for people who aren’t as familiar with the MCU and what Infinity War means. They’re decent, but the other two featurettes are an improvement.
  • Beyond the Battle: Titan (9:36) and Beyond the Battle: Wakanda (10:58) are better features with a lot of behind the scenes footage and information on the production. For example, it’s in these that it’s explained that Spider-Man takes the longest to turn to dust as he’s using all of his super strength to resist it.

Of the ten minutes of deleted scenes, The Guardians Get Their Groove Back (3:20) and A Father’s Choice (4:00) are the best of the four. The first has the Guardians still on Knowhere as Drax is getting mad at Peter for listening to an Ace Frehley song over and over for hours while Nebula is trying to get a hold of them to tell them to go to Titan. The second is an extended version of the Thanos and Gamora scene on his ship where he uses the Reality Stone to show her a past moment of her serving him, and she has a costume that is modeled after his armor. The Happy Hogan scene is a silly one where he interrupts Tony and Pepper in the park while complaining about TMZ before chasing off a Paparazzi, and the Mind Stone hunt is a scene of unfinished effects where Proxima and Corvus are stalking Vision and Wanda in Scotland. Of course the Gag Reel is fun, and as usual Anthony Mackie steals the show.

The audio commentary features Anthony and Joe Russo and Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. It’s a very active commentary with the four of them playing off each other as they describe the filming and the writing of a movie that’s the culmination of ten years and eighteen movies before it. Highlights include:

  • The voice of the Asgardian distress call at the beginning of the movie is indeed that of Kenneth Branagh.
  • Valkyrie did escape with some Asgardians, “pray for Korg”.
  • Versions of Thanos destroying Xandar were written, but it was very similar to the Knowhere scene and the stone collection scenes needed to be both plot based and character based, which Xandar didn’t have.
  • They felt the Black Order in Hickman’s Avengers run were way too powerful, so their power levels were intentionally adjusted in the MCU.
  • Back stories for The Black Order were in earlier drafts of the script but were never filmed.
  • They do refer to Cap’s team as the “Secret Avengers”.
  • They point out the Arrested Development cameo in Knowhere.
  • Thanos didn’t just double resources in the universe because on Titan it was his idea to wipe out half the life and he was told “No”. He wants to prove himself right.
  • McFeely points out his cameo in the hologram with Thunderbolt Ross.
  • The reason why Thanos didn’t go after the stones earlier is because of him not knowing the location of the Soul Stone. As soon as he goes after them, everyone would unite against him and without knowing where the Soul Stone is; what’s the use?
  • The scene on Titan with Tony, Peter, the Guardians, and Doctor Strange was the first thing shot.
  • Shuri is the “smartest person in the Marvel universe”.
  • The Wakandan war chants weren’t scripted as they didn’t know about them as they didn’t see Black Panther when they were writing the movie. The actors came right from filming Black Panther and just did them on the Infinity War set. Likewise the writers didn’t know how amazing “Wakanda Forever” was going to be.
  • Rocket’s “Space Dogs” line is a reference to what someone in the internal Disney test screenings called the Outriders.
  • “Bring Me Thanos” is the biggest cheer moment of the movie, of course. The Russos mention a theater in India that sounded like a rock concert during that scene.
  • Thanos uses the Power Stone to destroy the moon and the Space Stone to pull it rapidly to the surface of Titan.
  • They address the fan uproar over Star-Lord and point out how it’s an understandable action after Thanos killing Gamora, despite Peter being prepared to kill her earlier.
  • Not going for the head was a small misstep on Thor’s part because he wanted revenge.
  • McFeely asks if they’re committing to Thanos and Gamora being in the Soul World after the Snap, and while they jokingly say “of course” they discuss the different possibilities that scene shows.
  • The Snap damaged the Gauntlet and “permanently” damaged Thanos.
  • Originally Spider-Man’s dusting wasn’t as drawn out. He originally vanished right after “I don’t feel so good”. They decided to use his super strength to extend his vanishing longer.
  • Having Peter die in Tony’s arms will change Tony forever.
  • They point out Thanos’ armor scarecrow from the comics that is there in the final scene.
  • Samuel L. Jackson did say the full line on set, and everyone would lose it when he did.

Of course there are many different versions of the Blu-ray out there, and retailers such as Best Buy and Target have their own exclusive versions of the packaging. But the special features on the disc itself are the same with the exception of the thirty-minute “Director’s Rountable” that is exclusive to the digital copy of the movie. Both the Blu-ray and 4K UHD discs include a digital copy code so it won’t require double-dipping to see that special feature.

While the special features and deleted scenes are pretty good for a Marvel release as major as Avengers: Infinity War, it’s the audio commentary with the directors and writers that makes it worth picking up the disc. After seeing the movie in theaters multiple times, you were probably going to buy the Blu-ray anyways and a big special feature like the commentary is a great bonus.