To Infinity and Beyond
Avengers: Infinity War is directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo and stars an ensemble cast, many of whom are reprising their roles from previous Marvel Cinematic Universe films: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, and Chris Pratt. The film is the nineteenth entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I am a firm believer that Avengers: Infinity War has been the one film Marvel has been building up to over these past ten years. Yes, I say even the first two Avengers movies, in one way or another, have been leading us to this moment right here and now, in which nearly every single superhero previously introduced to us in the MCU (Ant-Man and Hawkeye are missing for some reason) come together in one of the most substantial superhero smackdowns we have ever seen. All of those mid-credits/post-credits scenes of the previous eighteen MCU movies? They've all been guiding us to this movie right here. Yep. Every single one. And yet, Infinity War doesn't at all feel like a complete movie spectacle. I mean, it is technically one half of a larger story. While it's quite the gargantuan movie on its own, everything that happens in it will tell you that it is one half and only one half of the MCU's meatiest entry to date.
I knew I would be facing sell-outs left and right had I gone to see the film within its first two weeks, and also, because I am that cynic with a more unpopular opinion of the MCU, I couldn't generate enough excitement to go out of my way and see the film right away in the middle of my busy schedule. Eventually, the fact that the film is starring so many more characters than ever before, and that nothing else good has come out over the past two weeks, I finally decided to go out of my way to see it. I walked away liking the movie a lot more than I thought it would, and, dare I say it, I'm actually excited about what the MCU is going to be doing in early 2019, given what the film teases to us in its post-credits scene?
For now anyway, it's best that we simply enjoy the sight of seeing all of these comic book superheroes together, especially after the way Marvel has spent all of these years building them up. Infinity War brings the Avengers: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, and Black Widow, Doctor Stephen Strange, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Vision, Scarlet Witch, and the Winter Soldier together with the Guardians of the Galaxy, who all work together to try and stop the almighty Thanos (Josh Brolin). Thanos intends to collect the six Infinity Stones and use their power to wipe out half of all life in the universe. The Stones are scattered throughout the galaxy, with some currently in the hands of the Avengers.
Aaaaand that's about it for plot. Anything else is entering spoiler territory. Speaking of spoilers, it is a minor spoiler to say that there is not a single shot in this movie where we see every single character together in one place, like some wide shot where all of the Avengers and the Guardians are standing in a straight line together, about to take on Thanos' army. Instead, the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy are scattered throughout the universe in groups of four or five, with every single group coming into contact with Thanos. I guess there just wasn't enough room left for Ant-Man and Hawkeye, especially since the movie has quite the daunting task of balancing all of the characters that it already does feature.
- 2018 has been some year for the MCU, maybe even their best year yet. Black Panther got all the love and all the money at the box office, and then that movie gets followed up by the beginning of the ultimate showdown with the one baddie that Marvel has quietly been building up to over all these years in Thanos. I loved Killmonger in Black Panther; he easily booted out Loki for MCU's Best Villain (and Loki is enough of an enigma on his own). But then comes along Thanos, who might as well have locked up the award for all eternity. If Infinity War was going to work the way it needed to, Thanos needed to be great. And he is.
Thanos brings something to the MCU that I never thought was possible before in the MCU: a sense of hopelessness. Despite all of our beloved heroes coming together, there's a feeling that sort of washes over them all: a feeling that they have no hope of defeating this all-powerful being. Thanos' power only grows and grows as he collects more and more of the Infinity Stones (What? Did you really think he wasn't going to get any of them?), and unlike all those previous times against the likes of Loki and Ultron, the Russo brothers are able to do what Joss Whedon could not do: for just a split second, which is long enough, make us question if the Avengers and the Guardians can actually win. In addition, Thanos isn't some generic, power-hungry villain who wants to wipe out half of the population just because he wants to be ruler of the universe; he takes the time to explain the basis of his motives, while making difficult sacrifices in order to move forward with his plan. I don't know about you, but I was actually pulling for Thanos at times, because some of the best villains are more misunderstood than they are evil.
- My main fear for this film was how bloated it would be, and that fear came to be a reality, though not as bad as I had first envisioned. First off, there was simply no way the Russo brothers could balance all of these characters in a way to make it look as if they are all being given equal consideration. Some of the characters are much more crucial to the plot than others - mainly those who are in possession of an Infinity Stone - so it ought to be no surprise that some of the Avengers and a few of the Guardians of the Galaxy take something of a backseat for the majority of the film. In other words, the movie is trying to do a lot with its plot, but it has just way too many characters to look after.
- Tonally, Infinity War is a little off. The movie can go from a serious, dramatic scene, in which the Avengers contemplate what to do against Thanos, immediately to a light-hearted scene where the Guardians of the Galaxy are taking verbal jabs at one another. Irreverence is part of who the Guardians of the Galaxy are, though their style of humor isn't always the best mixture with the dread that the movie creates because of Thanos.
The truth is that in the months leading up to the film's release, I was feeling almost no excitement whatsoever. I liked Black Panther, but even after seeing that film, I still felt pretty jaded towards Infinity War, because I had seen Marvel go through the same routine time and time again. Even if they were bringing nearly every hero of the MCU together, I had no reason to think Marvel would bother to go away from excess humor and colorful action, because those two had been bringing in millions for them at the box office.
But Infinity War did more for me than I imagined it would: it gave me a terrific villain in Thanos that I very much want to see again in the 2019 sequel, it gave me a massive superhero outing that managed to be quite entertaining despite too many characters, and it gave me reason to believe that Marvel is starting to realize where they've been going wrong, and 2018 is the year in which they're proving they're fixing those wrongs. Those wrongs being weak villains and too much humor. Infinity War is the first part of the MCU's ten-year culmination, and while it has its drawbacks, it still is as much of a spectacle as you hoped it would be.
Recommend? Yes, but you should be fully aware of everything that happened previously in the MCU. In other words, it's best that you see the first eighteen MCU films.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: