Five Best Exposition Moments in the MCU: Infinity Saga

July 7, 2020 at 1:21 am (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

If you’ve read any of my recent articles on the Marvel Cinematic Universe Infinity Saga, you know that I don’t like obvious exposition. There’s a lot of very good writing throughout the Marvel movies (in particular, bickering to introduce characters and character goals works beautifully), and here are my top five moments of exposition:

5. Black Panther‘s opening animation

I know I lowered Black Panther‘s ranking in the five best films because of the opening exposition, but it’s still very good exposition. The animation isn’t just good; it’s fitted to the story and its technology—Princess Shuri later mentions her sand table.

It tells us a lot: why Wakanda is rich, where the vibranium came from, how the Black Panther super power is given via the heart-shaped herb and most of the ritual and tradition that comes with that. Personally, I can’t think of a better way to communicate all that info quickly and memorably. And I have a feeling that the panther-god Bast may be more than just a minor cultural detail in future films. (Or not. Who knows.)

4. The Wonka tunnel experience in Thor: Ragnarok

This is a very funny, entirely bonkers mini-scene that tells us a little about the Grandmaster and the planet Sakaar. It knows that it’s echoing the tunnel sequence from the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (that traumatised a generation of children), and used a twisted instrumental version of Pure Imagination to let us know that they know that we know. From this we learn that no one leaves Sakaar, the Grandmaster is the boss, Thor is his slave, and that gladiatorial combat is a-coming.

3. Stark’s name on weapons

Way, way back in the very first scene of the whole Infinity Saga, Stark is blown up. In the middle of an intense firefight that ends with his capture, he spots an unexploded (at that point) missile with his own name on it, and he is so shocked to see it that he freezes, staring at his own name.

This is when the audience and Stark both find out that his company—the company of which he is supposedly the boss—has been selling weapons to baddies. It is devastating not only because Stark is captured and nearly killed, but because everything he believes he knows just got turned on its head. It is abundantly clear from his face that he didn’t know his weapons were being sold to both sides.


2. The opening of Thor: Ragnarok, with Thor talking to the Ragnarok-bringing monster about the Ragnarok prophecy.

Yep, Ragnarok again. Thor chats to a skeleton and is then threatened by a big horned monster (Su-something) that is prophesied to destroy Asgard (which he then kills*). He takes a page out of Black Widow’s book and uses his own imprisonment and interrogation to find out what he needs to know. And we’re laughing so hard we don’t notice that they’ve just outlined an important plot beat so they don’t have to waste time explaining it in the climax.

*It gets better.

Honorable mention:

“And get this man a shield.”

Captain America gave up his shield to Stark at the end of Civil War and he doesn’t get it back until Avengers: Endgame, when he and Stark are fully reconciled. King T’Challa fought against Captain America and Bucky in Civil War, but that fight is well and truly over, and has been replaced by respect. This line is badass, while also establishing that King T’Challa and Captain America are friends now, and how Captain America gets the Wakandan shield he uses in the battles to come.

And people love this line. There’s something deeply satisfying about it.

Speaking of lines that are just beautiful, while also conveying vital plot information:

1. “He’s from space. He came here to steal a necklace from a wizard.”

Now that is what I call an excellent summary of all the salient facts needed to jump into an action scene. And an epic movie, for that matter.

1 Comment

  1. Summary of a Saga | crazy talk said,

    […] 5 Best-Written Pieces of Exposition […]

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