Last week, I did a deep dive into analyzing Wong’s reel librarian role in 2016’s Doctor Strange, in the lead-up to this past weekend’s (record-crashing) premiere of Avengers: Infinity War.
Below is Benedict Wong’s charming interview — and his Manchester accent! — on the premiere’s red carpet event.
First impressions overall
First, my impressions about Avengers: Infinity War in general. Note about spoilers: I will try hard not to spoil the big reveals or the ending, but be forewarned that I might (indirectly) allude to outcomes or clues.
Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. The action and pacing kept the story going, and it was truly impressive how the directors, Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, wove in character arcs throughout the multiple locales and action sequences. As one Vox reviewer highlighted, this movie mirrored onscreen how superhero comics do big crossover series in print. That the Marvel Universe managed to pull together all the myriad characters and story threads together — and did it well — is a Herculean feat, in and of itself.
I was also impressed with how expressive the CGI was for Thanos. I knew the Purple One was CGI, and yet I could not help but be moved by the genuine emotion captured in Thanos’s face — or rather, how they managed to capture actor Josh Brolin’s acting and emoting underneath all the CGI.
The ending… I will not spoil it, but I was impressed by how the ending raised the stakes. It connected back to the original comics series while also standing on its own. I also have to admit that one of my first thoughts after the movie ended was, “Now how are they going to get out of this one??!”
First impressions of Wong’s character in this movie
I mentioned last week that the director of Doctor Strange had hinted that Wong had an important role in Avengers: Infinity War. And Wong had scored his own character poster, which featured him conjuring magical shields with his hands.
Wong plays a part in one of the major battle scenes near the beginning of the movie. Thanos has dispatched his Black Watch baddies, using a “divide and conquer” strategy, with Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian heading toward New York to retrieve the Time Stone from Doctor Strange (the stone is in the Eye of Agomotto).
Bruce Banner also comes hurtling through time and space and (literally) crashes into the New York sanctum. He then warns them of Thanos.
Tony Stark — who was conveniently in Central Park with Pepper — quickly joins Banner, Strange, and Wong. Wong then goes into teacher/librarian mode and explains the stakes to Stark and Banner, through an illusion casting of the Infinity Stones. Wong is efficient and straightforward in this exposition, identifying and naming each Infinity Stone. This scene essentially functions as an abbreviated form of Wong’s Infinity Stone lesson to Strange in Doctor Strange; in that film, Wong did the illusion casting in the Kamar-Taj monastery, home to the monastery library. But in this film, it makes sense that Wong conjures the Infinity Stones in the entrance of the New York sanctum. We never get to see Wong the sorcerer librarian in his monastery library, but it is nice to see him using his librarian skills to help set up the stakes — and the plot of the entire movie — to members of the Avengers, as well as to the audience.
Side note: There is an Avengers: Infinity War prelude comic that reveals that Wong knows a LOT about the Infinity Stones, more than anyone else does. This suggests he has done some serious research in tracking down the history and provenance of each Infinity Stone, befitting his role as the Kamar-Taj Librarian. Henceforth, Wong will be known as the Supreme Researcher.
Back to the action… once again, Wong is just in time with his lesson, because the foursome then immediately square off against Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian. Banner has trouble turning into the Hulk — there’s a funny bit when Tony Stark says something like, “You’re embarrassing me in front of the wizards!” — so Wong takes up the charge of protecting Banner.
Wong then ultimately defeats Cull Obsidian by transporting him to a snowy region/planet and then severs off the villain’s arm when closing the portal. It’s nice to see Wong victorious in battle in this movie, especially considering his previous battle at the end of Doctor Strange, which I went into detail in last week’s post. Stark is so impressed with Wong’s quick thinking and magical skillz that he shouts, “Wong, you’re invited to the wedding!” (We had learned earlier that Tony and Pepper are recently engaged.)
A quick note that amidst all the action, Wong does land a few jokes, including one about a favorite flavor of ice cream, delivered in his usual deadpan style.
Ebony Maw ultimately captures Strange, and Stark and Spider-Man — who has since joined the crew — pursue Maw’s ship. This leaves Bruce Banner to contact Captain America and Wong to defend the sanctum.
Will we get to see Wong again?
Again, I will not (directly) spoil the end of the movie, but be warned that I may (indirectly and vaguely) allude to outcomes or clues.
If Wong returns in the second movie, then he might be key to restoring the world order. After all, he may turn out to be one of the only (if not the only?) Masters of the Mystic Arts left. However, Benedict Wong is not (currently) listed on the cast list for the Infinity War sequel, scheduled to be released next year. But that cast list is very short — only about three dozen names are listed as yet — so I will be on the lookout for any more news or clues of Wong.
Last but not least, I need to address the most important cliffhanger of the film… will Wong get to attend Tony Stark’s wedding??? We shall see… 😉
Have you seen Avengers: Infinity War yet? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts — but no direct spoilers, please!
And if you want more backstory on Wong and his character in the Marvel movies, check out Wong’s character page on the Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki site.
Adams, Tim. “Infinity War Prelude Comic Shows Wong Is More Important Than We Knew.” CBR.com, 28 Feb. 2018.
Avengers: Infinity War. Dir. Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. Perf. Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Josh Brolin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong. Marvel Studios, 2018.
“Avengers: Infinity War Trailer #1 (2018) | Movieclips Trailers” uploaded by Movieclips Trailers is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.
“Benedict Wong on ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Premiere Red Carpet | THR” by The Hollywood Reporter is licensed under a Standard YouTube license.
“Untitled Avengers Movie (2019): Full Cast & Crew.” IMDb.com, 2018.
VanDerWerff, Todd. “Avengers: Infinity War is like a really short season of a TV show.” Vox, 1 May 2018.
“Wong.” Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki, 2018.