Tired of waiting for other people to get hold of the Infinity Stones Thanos (Josh Brolin) finally takes matters into (and onto) his own hands. If he can bring together all six of the Infinity Stones then he can finally achieve his goal – to wipe out half of all life in the universe. The Avengers (and friends) are the only thing standing between Thanos and catastrophic destruction. Action ensues.
It’s finally here. After 10 years of build up, we finally get what Marvel is touting as the climax of Phase 3 and effectively the payoff for the 18 films that have gone before it. To suggest that I was excited about this film might be an understatement; I’ve stuck with Marvel over the years through thick and thin – I still have a soft spot for the (utterly terrible) Captain America movie from 1990. I was willing Avengers: Infinity War to be good with every single fibre of my being, yet when I finally got to take my seat I was still convinced that it wasn’t going to work, that it couldn’t live up to the hype and that it would only be a letdown.
I left the cinema feeling a mixture of satisfaction and unease. Firstly, the film did not disappoint me – the sheer spectacle of it all and the almost impossible balancing act that the Russo brothers have managed to pull off is nothing short of miraculous (more on that later). But with that being said I did have this lingering sense of unease because there’s no doubting that this film is the first half of the story. I knew it was going to be the case going in but I didn’t expect to have so many unanswered questions as I had coming out. I didn’t expect the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be left in such a volatile and unstable state.
The first thing that I really want to dive into is the sheer scale of the film; the amount of heroes crammed into one film is utterly staggering. Logistically it seems an impossible task to just get all of these actors in vaguely the same place at the same time, but to then give them all something to do in a single movie. I think I counted around 20 “main” heroes, so those that have either headlined their own movie or are part of a group (I’m thinking the Guardians of the Galaxy, War Machine and Hulk in that category). It doesn’t stop there though. Then you have all of the supporting characters associated with each of the different franchises. The film is a very generous 149 minutes long, but still, that equates to less than 7 minutes each for the big hitters, less when you consider that Thanos is probably the lead in Avengers: Infinity War.
I think the point I’m trying to make is that there are such a lot of characters and we split our time jumping between 2 or 3 plot strands and 2 or 3 groups. This could have very easily felt disjointed, but I thought that the whole thing hangs together very well. Pretty much every one of the major players got a moment of their own and get some kind of development. Seeing the interactions between some of the characters is worth the price of admission alone. I don’t want to give away specific moments or pairings because I think it’s worth going in cold, but it’s fair to say it ties everyone together very nicely. I think perhaps the most underutilised was Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), whose role this time around was nearly reduced to “fighting stuff”. I think Captain America remains my favourite Avenger though, and the few moments that we have of Cap where he isn’t punching something were very well done.
I alluded to it earlier, but I think that Thanos is pretty much the lead in the film, to the extent that there even is a lead. For years now Thanos has just been a looming threat in the background, the big bad we all knew was coming at some point but also that we don’t really know too much about. Most of his screen time to date has been a fleeting glance, a voiceover, or him being spoken about in fearful, hushed tones. Within the opening 10 minutes of the film we get a good sense of exactly why Thanos is such a force in the universe. Avengers: Infinity War gives him centre stage as we follow his quest to finally gather all of the Infinity Stones. It would have been easy enough to make Thanos two-dimensional, a villain hellbent on destroying the Avengers and nothing else. Instead, the film takes Thanos’ motivations in the comic and makes them into something more believable, and dare I say sensible. There were certain points in the movie where I was almost on board with his grand plan.
Avengers: Infinity War is very much half a story; there was no way that everything could have been crammed into a single film no matter what the running time. I knew we were going to be left with a cliffhanger and I knew we were going to be left with a pile of questions, but I didn’t realise quite how many. I think that some of the cliffhangers do feel a little redundant because you’ll have a fair idea how they’ll be resolved, but even so next May seems too far away. Despite being planned as a two-parter, I think that the film does enough to stand on its own two feet. Don’t get me wrong, you need to have done your Marvel homework before you see this (I can’t even imagine going into this as your first Marvel film). But if Marvel packed up tomorrow and stopped releasing movies this would still be a superb ride.
2019 is going to be quite the year for wrapping up much-loved franchises as this phase of the MCU wraps up, Game of Thrones comes to an end and we get the final movie in the Skywalker saga.
I loved Avengers: Infinity War. It’s everything we know and love about the MCU but amplified to an epic, operatic scale. The film expertly balances so many competing characters and storylines to produce something that is far better than it had any right to be. The film is proof, if it were needed, that Marvel’s long-term planning and patience has really paid off – it also serves as a reminder as to why Justice League struggled to make an impact. I think this review will end up being slightly redundant in some ways, in that if you’re fully invested in the MCU then you’ll go and see this anyway, and if you have never seen a Marvel film before in your life then you won’t start now. However, if ever a movie could be a justification for sitting down to watch 18 other films in preparation, I think that Avengers: Infinity War might just be that film.