This is it. Ten years of Marvel films and it has all come down to this, “Avengers: Infinity War”! After eighteen movies and numerous television series Marvel Studios finally brings us the battle that has been teased since the first “Avengers” movie pitting its greatest heroes against Thanos the mad titan. I held off posting my review to let my fanboy love for Marvel movies settle and truly digest the experience I had in the theater with “Infinity War” and what I’ve concluded is that this movie is more that a spectacle, it’s a new face for Marvel as the studio finally takes big chances, offers some closure and also leaves itself wide open to an even more epic finale in 2019. So, let’s get to the review, shall we? Just as a side note there is A LOT to cover with this film, so this review may be lengthy and wordy, but I appreciate you all for reading and I have done my very best to avoid spoilers aside from general plot details that are impossible to avoid in a review. Without further ado, this is my review of “Avengers: Infinity War”!
WHAT’S IT ABOUT
“Avengers: Infinity War” is the culmination of ten years of eighteen films within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When Thanos (Josh Brolin) finally makes his move for the Infinity Stones he strikes against Thor (Chris Hemsworth) first and then sends his Black Order minions to hunt down the stones that are guarded on Earth while he seeks out several stones in the cosmos. During the opening battle Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) is teleported back to earth and employs the help of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) and eventually Spider-Man (Tom Holland) as the Black Order first targets Strange’s Time Infinity Stone. This battles leads Strange, Spider-Man and Iron Man into space while Banner enlists the help of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) to protect the Vision (Paul Bettany) who possesses the Mind Infinity Stone. While those heroes wage war against Thanos’ forces in Wakanda, Strange, Iron Man and Spider-Man team with members of the Guardians of the Galaxy to battle Thanos head on while Thor teams with Guardians Groot and Rocket Raccoon to seek out a new weapon to stop the Mad Titan. With Thanos’ ultimate plan getting closer and closer to realization with every stone he finds the splintered Avengers must do everything in their power to prevent Thanos from eliminating half of the known universe.
As I said this review might be a bit wordy so I’m going to try and keep things as concise as I can. That said it’d take me paragraphs upon paragraphs to cover each actor or actress involved with this film individually, but I will say that considering the fact that there are eighteen films, including three trilogies, within the Marvel Cinematic Universe prior to “Infinity War” every actor once again owns their time on screen and captures their on-screen alter egos superbly. I thought that maybe “Infinity War” would suffer from too many personalities in the same package. We’ve seen past “Avengers” films fail to give everyone their due time to shine. For the most part “Infinity War” reverses that negative stigma and no one feels wasted. Everyone provides consistent portrayals with the characters we’ve come to know and love from Chris Evans’ noble Steve Rogers to Mark Ruffalo’s dorky Bruce Banner, Dave Boutista’s comically literal Drax and Elizabeth Olsen’s insecure Scarlet Witch. Considering the fact that for many of these actors it’s their third, fourth, or even fifth time or more suiting up it’s a credit to their abilities and the casting choices of Marvel’s executives that they are able to jump right back into the fray and once again become the heroes we need them to be.
A cool part of “Infinity War” is that we also see some major character growth in some of these heroes from their past experiences. Chris Pratt’s Star Lord for example feels a little more insecure, but more mature after the events of the Guardians of the Galaxy’s standalone adventures. Paul Bettany’s Vision has gone from a confident and powerful Avenger to a scared and more human character as he begins to doubt himself and understand how his existence is connected to a gem that can help end worlds. Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is one of Thanos’ first targets and immediately we see him scarred, frustrated and vengeful but also calm and collected despite having just escaped Ragnarok and now a new threat has torn his people apart once again. I especially liked the evolution we see within Dr. Strange and Iron Man. When we last saw Strange in “Thor Ragnarok” he had grown in power and confidence as a Master of the Mystic Arts and here we see him having completely owned his still relatively new role in the Sanctum Sanctorum, becoming a serious and outspoken magic user whose sole goal is the protection of the Time Stone. Benedict Cumberbatch plays a much bigger role in this film than I initially expected and he’s a delightful part of the experience as a wise and capable leader alongside Iron Man and a more mentally stable and calm hero willing to do what needs to be done for the greater good, even if it costs lives. It’s an approach to a superhero we don’t see much these days.
Speaking of Iron Man, Robert Downey, Jr. also shines once again as the first hero of the MCU as we see an unsure and frankly massively frustrated Tony Stark who has to once again deal with an entity that threatens the universe. This is a Tony Stark that thought he and his friends were the strongest there was until Thanos shows up to prove them wrong. This threat is what he himself as an individual has worked to stop. It’s why he created Ultron after all. Now he has to help face it head on and it’s incredible to see that after all these years Downey can still inject new growth in Iron Man. While Tony Stark is far from the central hero of this film as it’s truly and ensemble cast Downey provides one of the deepest performances of a hero in this film because as the danger of Thanos’ ultimate victory looms we see him struggle with being a part of a team, especially with heroes he has never worked with before, and facing a reality he wanted so bad to avoid. Downey has helped lead this entire universe for ten years as Iron Man and seeing Tony Stark wrestle with a new frustration shows the depth to which Downey has gone to bring this character to life.
I can’t move on without talking about the villain and we have possibly the greatest of them all in Thanos, played by Josh Brolin. For years we’ve been teased of his power and nature and thankfully Marvel not only got the character right, they made him possibly the biggest threat and most developed villain ever in the history of superhero films in general. Brolin is the standout performance in this project as “Infinity War” works to develop the villain more than any Marvel film ever has before. He’s an outcast from his home world who seeks the Infinity Stones to balance the universe, a move he feels will resolve battles over resources and put everyone on a level playing field to thrive and survive. He’s not just a garden variety conqueror. He’s complex and layered spouting well written monologues about fate and the justification of his actions that Brolin delivers with conviction and just the right kind of emotional touch while also avoiding too much vulnerability. Thanos is meant to be the biggest foe the Avengers have ever faced and their most dangerous nightmare. He is all that and more and it’s all thanks to Brolin capturing a spectacularly complex personality within the character that makes him even sympathetic at times.
Aside from the awesome performances that litter this film “Avengers: Infinity War” in general is just an overall great superhero movie. One of the best if I do say so myself. This feels like the truly gripping epic we were promised for ten years as the stakes are higher than ever and Marvel takes some very ballsy chances in bringing the Avengers’ biggest battle to fully realized life. After years of criticism against Marvel about a lack of depth for their villains, a lack of commitment to character mortality and a lack of flow and pace in some of their bigger projects “Infinity War” for me remedies all of that in one swoop. For the first time it feels like Marvel balances their heroes properly, for the most part, and they give us a truly intimidating villain whose power and destructive capability as well as his confidence in himself make him the most threatening force we have seen in pretty much any superhero movie to date. Thanos believes what he is doing is right the fact that he owns his mission more than any other villain in the MCU makes him feel unstoppable. When you combine the Infinity Stones into the mix the buildup gives the audience the same feeling of dread that the heroes begin to feel with every new Infinity Stone falling into Thanos’ hands.
Considering that “Infinity War” juggles three separate stories, the battle on Titan, the war in Wakanda and Thor’s journey for a new weapon, it never feels like there’s too much going on at once. I feel like the movie is very well paced and spliced together smoothly as it seamlessly switches from one set piece to another without ignoring or forsaking the action elsewhere. To use Thanos’ own words “Infinity War” feels “perfectly balanced” considering everything the story juggles. For me it never feels bloated or like it’s trying to do too much at one time. It did come close to overstepping its ambitious goals, but by the end of the movie I was satisfied that a lot of the established story had come full circle while we’re also left with a great final twist that leaves us longing for the conclusion next summer AND we even get some closure to unfulfilled stories of Marvel’s past.
On an emotional level “Infinity War” is an assault on the human mind in many ways, and all in good ways. I can’t not touch on the fact that not everyone survives this battle (and don’t let the fact that I put a picture of Steve Rogers above make you think i’m spoiling something. No matter what this was a loaded place to put a character photo so be afraid!). Marvel has been heavily criticized for backtracking on the demise of major characters in the past with only Quicksilver really getting the ax permanently aside from the villains. “Infinity War” is not afraid to kill off major players right from the get go. By the end of the film several characters have met their end, who those are and why they are important I won’t spoil here but suffice it to say that “Infinity War” not only ups the stakes but proves that Thanos means business and he and his followers are not against killing to get what they want. I was impressed really. Marvel finally decided to take a chance and put their characters in compromising positions where their lives were truly on the line. We’ve waited ten years to see the Avengers take on a villain that is truly an equal to their combined power and we got it in the form of a titanic being who approaches his self-appointed mission with conviction and leaves bodies in his wake and leaves us and our heroes feeling helpless as a result even when they do get the upper hand.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
There’s really not a whole lot that I hated about “Infinity War” by any means but if I had to pick out anything I’d say the Black Order, or Thanos’ Children in the context of the film, was probably the most disappointing aspect of the film for me. Save for an incredibly memorable Ebony Maw, the other three members of the order, Cull Obsidian, Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight, weren’t really as impressive for me as they could have been. Maw proves to be a truly intimidating individual in his own right, but the other three are pretty much relegated to being Thanos’ sidekicks and get little development outside of their undying loyalty to the titan. They are his scavenger hunters seeking out the Infinity Stones for him, but we don’t know why. We do get to see their powers but they’re no more special than any villain before them. In terms of battle their no more threatening or powerful than past advisories which made we wonder why they were even in this film other than for a bit of fanfare and to give Thanos a voice on the battlefield when he isn’t around. For me the Black Order doesn’t deliver near as well as their master and it’s those villains that actually make “Infinity War” feel crowded at times. I understand their inclusion in the film as Thanos can’t be in multiple places at once and again Ebony Maw proves to be a pretty cool character, but for everything Thanos does to undo the negative stereotypes of Marvel’s villain development the Black Order actually act as prime examples of how Marvel tends to have a problem with providing fully fleshed out and memorable foes especially if those bad guys aren’t the main antagonists in the story.
My only other gripe is that while “Infinity War” is extremely well written and the characters all get their chance to shine some of the epicness of their appearances on screen are watered down as an unavoidable side effect of having such a large cast. Captain America, Black Panther and others are very consistent with who we’ve known them to be and they do get respectable screen time, but they don’t say much. “Infinity War” solves a lot of Marvel’s problems, but one of the biggest issues that still remains is the inability to give meaning to the appearance of every hero’s appearance. While Captain America and others DO become big parts of the story they lack dialogue and at times it can be a little difficult to remember whose involved in this fight and where they are in the story. It’s not impossible, but you have to pay attention and invest in it or you’ll lose track of everyone pretty quickly. Again, this is probably more an issue due to the large cast than anything else and everyone does get to feel significant especially once the fighting begins. Even with the difficulties giving everyone a chance to shine on their own this is still a very minor blemish at best for an otherwise perfect and epic superhero film.
After ten years of waiting and an entire universe of films setting up a major conflict “Infinity War” delivers on pretty much every level. The film balances most of its heroes well, even if the script doesn’t, and expertly juggles three story lines and a complex villain who steals the show as possibly the most dangerous and threatening being we’ve ever seen in a comic book movie on the big screen. For the first time Marvel truly takes chances and even offers some closure to numerous story lines that have been dangling within the context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe while setting up what promises to be an epic conclusion in 2019. As a fan of Marvel films and comic book movies in general I left the theater with my jaw on the ground and wanting nothing more than to see the film again and again. “Infinity War” proves that Marvel’s gamble on an extended universe of interconnected franchises and films was worth every second of viewing as it all leads up to this. Epic, stylish, smooth and uncompromising, “Infinity War” leaves a lot for its successor to live up to and surpasses every expectation put upon it. Quite frankly it’s one of the best superhero movies I’ve ever seen, possibly one of all time and maybe even a contender for the title the very best ever in the genre depending on who you ask.