The Universe Collapses with Thanos’ Arrival
Destiny has finally arrived. Avengers: Infinity War is a film that has been 10 years in the making. With the introduction of Iron Man being the harbinger of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the superhero film genre has seen a resurgence in popularity during the last decade. The franchise has now seen 19 films in its arsenal. This is since we first heard AC/DC’s “Back in Black” explode on screen in 2008 during the first few minutes of Iron Man. Now, with the arrival of Thanos, we can put a close on the first three phases of the MCU.
Fans of the franchise have been waiting six years for the arrival of the Mad Titan since he was first introduced at the end of The Avengers in 2012. Because Thanos demands our silence, there will be no spoilers laid out here. We’re not going to do what Forbes did and spill every detail before the general public sees it. We’re not evil monsters.
All-Out Infinity War
Without going too much into detail, the basic plot of Infinity War sees the “Mad Titan” Thanos in search of six Infinity Stones to use in his quest to wipe out half of existence. The Avengers and their comrades are none too happy about this idea. They band together to take the fight to him and destroy his chances of wielding universal power. Directed by the Russo brothers, who are no strangers to MCU films, this movie clocks in at 156 minutes. This is one of the MCU’s longest movies to date. Strap in with your Sour Patch Kids, two buckets of popcorn, and large Coke ready to go.
The Russo brothers are responsible for bringing 2016’s Captain America: Civil War to the big screen. Each Avenger and character we’ve seen so far in the last decade has their own storyline and quest to contend with here in Infinity War. But each objective serves a greater purpose. Stopping Thanos is the key mission here and it’s going to take a lot of muscle to defeat him.
Additionally, Marvel now comes in two for two in terms of their villains this year. Thanos, played with a quiet introspective by Josh Brolin, is given a rich background through flashbacks and Shakespearean expositional dialogue. While he differs from Erik Killmonger in Black Panther in terms of likability (you will downright hate him), the way he is handled by the Russos ranks him high among Marvel’s villains. Killmonger is a worthy opponent for Black Panther within his story, but Thanos is a mighty villain to contend with for all of the Avengers and our fellow heroes.
Balancing the Universe
How does one bring balance to the universe? Furthermore, how are the Russo brothers able to balance 5,000 characters within a single film? The brothers understand how gargantuan a task this is and, to their credit, did a fantastic job giving each character their time to shine in Infinity War. Some characters are underused, and that’s a shame, but its a minor flaw in an otherwise strong film. Your favorite character may not get as much screen time as you might like, but the directors made their decisions to underutilize certain characters for the good of the overall story.
The film shifts from location to location quickly too, which may be jarring for some viewers. The team-ups of various characters on their specific quests makes for some great comedy and action, especially between Doctor Strange, Tony Stark, and Peter Quill. I won’t get into who goes where and with who, but the directors and the creative minds at Marvel do a great job matching these characters. It is as if the Russo brothers, along with writers Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus, used a Tindr app for these heroes to set them up on their journeys. Seeing their personalities clash is reminiscent of the experience in the first Avengers film on a larger scale. We’re nearly 20 films deep into this franchise. Marvel still keeps me locked in when seeing the banter between our favorite heroes both old and new.
Waging War Takes a Toll
Because this is war now, everything each character does matters. One miscalculation or misstep can spell utter doom for themselves and their teammates. You will experience every emotion in one sitting watching this movie as it is an emotional rollercoaster filled with depth, surprises, and emotional toll. Try to ignore your Fitbits and Apple Watches blaring at you to keep a check on your heart rates. This is a fun but exhausting movie from start to finish.
Several surprises happen along the way. Some of them are great while others are absolutely devastating. Go into this with as clean a slate as you can, because this is one movie you do not want to have spoiled. I especially enjoyed some of the shifts in tone throughout the film despite there being a lot going on in the grand scheme of events. When you’re watching the Guardians of the Galaxy, it feels as if you’re watching one of their movies. A groovy ‘70s tune plays during the introduction of these characters. This same kind of personal touch is given to characters like Captain America and Black Panther when we visit Wakanda. These characters get their own themes when they appear on the screen.
Does Infinity War Deliver?
What worried me the most about having a cast this size is how the Russo brothers would be able to craft a story with a good mix of each hero. We’ve seen with Civil War how the duo can handle a large cast. The roster has almost doubled in length with the inclusion of characters that didn’t show up there. I am happy to report each character gets a moment to shine. There will be a lot of “Did you see what (so and so) did? That was so cool!” between friends who go to see this film in groups. I don’t think anyone is going to leave the theater angry about the misuse of any character overall.
While I am gushing about how wonderful the film is, there are also some minor negative aspects to address. The pacing moves at a breakneck speed, but each location gets a clear subtitle to hold the viewer’s hand as they navigate the film. It can feel a bit like a tilt-a-whirl ride as you bounce from locale to locale. As most Marvel movies tend to do, these sudden changes make the movie feel episodic in nature. It sometimes feels like a big budget show like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. You spend an hour with a group of characters each week and it adds more to the overall story of the season. Part of me wanted an ending where a narrator would start shouting “What will happen in the next episode of Avengers? What will our heroes do now?” like in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
The comedy, too, didn’t always land with a perfect 10 score. I thought some characters were given great comedy. Others, and you’ll know who I’m referring to, get reduced to being nothing but a walking joke. I also found the Black Order as a whole to be a little underwhelming aside from Thanos’ right-hand man. Aside from those nitpicks, this is a wholly entertaining two and a half hours. There’s also just one post-credits scene, so definitely stick around for it.
I’ve never been in a movie theater where the auditorium is nearly dead silent following the film. What makes this film great is the emotional weight the movie carries. It’s been hyped for 10 years that this is what the first three phases of Marvel films would be leading up to. We’ve only seen glimpses of Thanos since his introduction six years ago at the tail end of the first Avengers film. He packs a mighty punch, pun intended, as the angry Titan bent on ruining half the universe. Josh Brolin gives a reserved performance as Thanos. His backstory provides depth to his character and you feel an edge of sympathy for him as he plunders through our heroes’ backyard on Earth.
Following the closing moments of this film, I can’t tell you what’s going to occur next for this franchise. The Russo brothers have succeeded in turning this universe on its head. Doing so opens the franchise to numerous possibilities going forward into Phase 4. We’ll get a breather with Ant-Man and the Wasp in July. We’ll start picking up speed again with Captain Marvel and Avengers 4 this time next year.