In a world with far too many superheroes for audiences to keep track of, one brave alien creature has vowed to do what is necessary to save Marvel's overstuffed Avengers franchise from itself: kill off half the cast.
Alas, not quite. While that is his plan, Thanos (Josh Brolin in a stellar computer-generated performance) has a stupider motivation: He thinks overpopulation will permanently render the universe uninhabitable and that 50 percent of all sentient life must thus be vaporized.
This Malthusian idiocy doesn't completely ruin the film, though many critics who gave it a positive appraisal nevertheless wondered why Thanos didn't consider using the infinite powers he sought for the purposes of that population culling to, um, create more resources or otherwise improve humanity's lot.
If only the protagonists of Avengers: Infinity War—Iron Man, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Thor, Hulk, a million others—had thought to hand Thanos a decent economics textbook. As the past few decades of history have shown, more people means more collective brain power; Earth's population is larger now than ever, and yet we have discovered new and better ways to sustain it. Much like the public's appetite for superhero films, our natural resources might actually be inexhaustible.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Avengers: Infinity War".