Avengers: Infinity War is here, and with it comes ten years’ worth of buildup and anticipation. I don’t think anyone is rightly prepared for what this film has to show in regards to what 10 years of this brand means. It’s audacious, hilarious, epic, and most of all dark. No Marvel film yet has shown us just how bleak things can be in this universe, and once the credits roll after that gut punch of an ending, many will stumble out of their local theaters wondering just what will happen next.
The third entry of the Russo brothers after both Winter Soldier and Civil War, the third Avengers film unites every main character (Or group in the case of the Guardians of the Galaxy) from the Marvel Universe to face their ultimate doom: Thanos. A universal despot bent of ridding half of the universe of life. Picking up after Thor: Ragnarok and Civil War, Infinity War finds the Avengers still disbanded after the Sokovia Accords, with Steve Rogers now a war criminal that operates in secret to protect the world, and Tony Stark now a married man trying to let the peace of the world fall into legal hands. This goes out the window after Bruce Banner returns after getting his ass handed to him by Thanos. He comes bearing the warning that Thanos is coming, and this immediately sets up the action as Tony, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man embark on one journey, Thor on another as he forges a new weapon capable of killing Thanos, and Roger’s with his team go on their own as they try to protect Vision and the Mind Stone. After years of anticipation, many fans have wondered what these meetings would be like and they don’t disappoint at all. From Stark’s exasperated disbelief at the Guardians to Spider-Man’s constant pop culture references, they constantly gel together in surprising ways. The biggest laughs still involve the Guardians and their interactions with Earth Mightiest Heroes. Thor especially gets a couple of standout moments with Rocket.
By far the best character is also, surprisingly, the one the film spends the most time on: Thanos. For what could’ve been another one note CGI villain a-la Steppenwolf, Josh Brolin brings the hurt here. Exuding both menace and burden, Brolin’s Thanos continues Marvel’s hot streak of good to great villains (I don’t count Cate Blanchett’s Hela, she was acted wonderfully and was a ton of fun but was largely devoid of anything noteworthy). Thanos here is every bit of dangerous as the previous films have alluded to, but there is an emotional underpinning that makes him both vulnerable and compelling. His reasoning for wiping out half the universe is logical in a theoretical sense, and to a degree it can even be understood. But it pushes the boundary too much to become justifiable, and thus still makes Thanos the villain of this tory as he should be. But the best villains are the ones that see themselves as the hero, and Thanos is every bit of that here as he sees it as his burden to bear to rid half of the universe of it’s inhabitants. Other standouts include both Thor and Strange. Both have plenty of great action beats (Thor’s in particular has a moment late in the film that is very badass and cheer worthy, while also serving as a man hellbent on revenge as he has nothing left to lose). Doctor Strange in particular seems a few years removed from his debut in his own titular film and is thus more varied in his own powers and has many cool moments that I enjoyed. But where there is good, there is also some bad. The biggest of which is that many characters (Particularly Cap’s team, and the Wakandan characters) get shortchanged. Vision and Scarlet Witch ground the story with a secondary emotional core that can only truly end in heartbreak, but that’s about it. Outside of one hilarious line, even Steve Roger’s is kind of mute for the whole film as he takes a back seat to everything else going on. The same can also be said for Black Panther and his crew, though there is some slight forgiveness seeing as how they just had a whole movie released a few months ago. Also it should be noted there are blatant trailer shots that are not in the movie, and while it doesn’t bring the movie down to it’s knees it is questionable.
Avengers: Infinity War is everything to be expected of a blockbuster of this size and proportion, and in that same breath it also isn’t. When the end credits roll many moviegoers may very well find themselves mixed on what they just saw. I’ve already begun to see that now on social media. The question that will ultimately stem from many critics (Myself included) is that a McGuffin like the Infinity Gauntlet that has the power to undo anything is both good and bad because it works retroactively both ways. It allows the writers to have their cake and eat it too (But then this has been the way of comics for decades so make of that what you will). Still none of that erases the impact of seeing what happens, and my first viewing very much brought tears to my eyes. It’s a gut punch, and one that probably won’t stick knowing that there is a Phase 4 of the Marvel Universe and what that entails. What happens next will be anyone’s guess, and I suspect we won’t hear about until the latter half of the year as Marvel waits for the dust to settle. But what we have here works. As a culmination of Marvel’s previous efforts, everything you could have wanted from the last ten years is here. With set pieces that will have people dazzled, to jokes that have the audience cheering, there’s something here for everyone. And it should be said that it’s a miracle in of itself that Marvel was able to do this as well as they did. Sure, they had some missteps in terms of characterization, screen time, and even plot, but they still did it and that alone is enough to commend the Russo’s and the effort of everyone involved in this. I’m not sure how this will hold up against the other Marvel films, but it definitely ranks as my second favorite Avenger’s film at the moment, if not the favorite. But now here we are at the end. Next years gives us the conclusion to what is essentially a two parter but knowing that doesn’t make the wait any easier. Until then, be safe out there folks, there’s gonna be a Hell of a fallout after opening weekend.