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“Avengers: Infinity War” is so tight and relentlessly paced that, well, it really doesn’t have much time for plot holes even if it were full of them. And it’s not full of them. For the most part, the story it’s telling works the way it should. But there is one detail that has bugged me a little bit since the film was first released back in April — and it’s something that bugs me much more now that I’ve listened to the commentary track on the “Infinity War” home video release.
The commentary track features directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and the part that’s bugging me comes when Thanos (Josh Brolin) takes Gamora (Zoe Saldana) back to his ship and reveals to her that he knows she knows where the Soul Stone is. At that point in the movie, Joe Russo and McFeely say something that both answers one big question while creating another.
McFeely: “The catalyst for the whole movie was when Thanos figured out where the Soul Stone was, because he captured Nebula on his ship and rooted around in her brain and found out that Gamora knew where the Soul Stone was.”
Joe Russo: “The reason why he has not gone after the stones before is because the minute he does, the forces of the universe are gonna line up against him. If he doesn’t know where the Soul Stone is then what is the point.”
That makes a lot of sense for the big picture — it’s the same reason why he had been using intermediaries, like Loki, to go after the Stones in the past. He didn’t want everybody to know what he was up to, and so was lying low, keeping track of them all until he finally had them all in his line of sight, so to speak, and could grab them all in one fell swoop. Which is what “Infinity War” is about.
The problem, though, is that the plan as presented does not actually account for Gamora’s presence even though it hinges on it. I considered this a minor issue until McFeely and Joe Russo articulated the plan the way they did in the commentary — a key part of Thanos’ plan had to have been to draw Gamora to himself very quickly.
Obviously, Gamora does run into Thanos pretty early on in “Infinity War,” because if it didn’t he wouldn’t have been able to get the Soul Stone and do his fateful finger snap. But the problem is that, as the story is presented, Gamora and the Guardians of the Galaxy are really only involved in the fight by accident, and not because Thanos actually drew Gamora into it.
Remember, the Guardians only play a part in all this because they’re the first ones to respond to the distress signal sent out by the Asgardians when Thanos attacked their ship. And, as presented, it’s really just a coincidence.
Here’s the chain of events that lead Gamora to Thanos in “Infinity War.” The Guardians answer a random distress call; they literally bump into Thor as he’s tumbling through space; Thor, because he already knew that one of the Stones was on Knowhere, tells the Guardians that Thanos was probably going there; and they go there. That’s not — again, as presented — a planned sequence of events.
But Thanos kinda acts like it was when Gamora, Star-Lord, Drax and Mantis get to Knowhere. “You knew I’d come,” Gamora says.
“I counted on it,” Thanos replies.
It’s legitimate to wonder why he would be expecting her, though. If the Guardians had been on the other side of the galaxy when Thanos attacked the Asgardians then Thanos probably would have been waiting a long time for Gamora to show up — maybe long enough that they would be bringing the forces of the universe with them. He was just lucky that they were close enough to be the first ones on the scene, and lucky that they stumbled onto Thor.
I call this a plot hole because, as Russo and McFeely say, Thanos’ whole plan hinged on him being able to get to the Soul Stone just as quickly as he could get to the other Stones. Which means part of his plan had to have involved Gamora showing up quickly. But there’s just nothing in the movie that indicates he did anything to ensure Gamora would come to him.
It’s a frustrating thing because “Infinity War,” while packed to the gills with Stuff Happening, is pretty good about addressing these sorts of things that it doesn’t have time to show, often with quick lines of dialogue — like when Thor mentions that Thanos invaded Xandar to get the Power Stone. We didn’t really need another huge CGI battle, so it’s fine with that happening off screen.
On the other hand, another interesting nugget from the commentary was that there was a draft of the script that included that battle at Xandar, and that in that version of the story Thanos captured Gamora during that fight.
It’s not hard to imagine that, as the proceedings were constantly being reworked and characters reshuffled — a good drinking game for the “Infinity War” commentary would be to do a shot every time they say they had to reshoot the scene you’re watching — that some detail was simply lost in the shuffle.
I’ve been assuming that there was some line about Thanos waiting to make his move until he knew Gamora was in the neighborhood because he knew the Guardians would want to help if they were in the position to do so. Or that he allowed the Asgardian distress call to go out specifically to draw her into the fight. But whatever it was, it didn’t make it into the movie.
This oversight in no way ruins the movie, at least not for me. Aside from this nagging detail I greatly enjoy the thing — I’ve been playing it as background noise on a loop all week while I work. But it does make me desperately wish that Marvel would put out an “Infinity War” extended cut. It’s a great movie, but it needed a little bit more room to breathe.