Avengers: Infinity War
Today I’m gonna be talking about the 19th entry into the MCU, Marvel’s 2018 ensemble superhero film: Avengers: Infinity War. It stars Robert Downy Jr., Chris Hemsworth, and about fifty other MCU regulars and was directed by the fraternal duo of Anthony and Joe Russo.
Avengers: Infinity War tells the story of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and, very literally, the whole Avengers gang as they take on their biggest foe yet: Thanos, played by the excellently motion-captured Josh Brolin. Thanos is in search of the six infinity stones because, with their combined power, he would be the most powerful entity in the universe, capable of absolutely anything. The Avengers join forces with nearly all the other MCU heroes as they try to prevent Thanos from acquiring. The infinity stones before it’s too late. At the very least, Avengers: Infinity War will always be remembered as a cinematic zenith.
It marked the beginning of the culmination of a ten-year journey that took us from the now seemingly humble beginnings of the MCU with Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk to what, at the time, seemed like the ultimate superhero crossover film: The Avengers. But that was only Phase One of the journeys. From there we were given still more development of core characters, as well as the introduction of increasingly more obscure new heroes. More crossovers ensued, firmly cementing the entangled nature of this cinematic universe. But that entanglement was never quite fully realized until now with this nineteenth film in the MCU.
That interconnectedness is both Infinity War’s greatest strength and its greatest weakness. After all the years we’ve spent with these characters, witnessing them all finally coming together with the grand task of saving the universe is beyond satisfying. All the character development, defining moments and instances of foreshadowing from the previous eighteen films suddenly merge and come to a head here. Everything we already know is vital to understanding. The extent of the threat in this film and the interplay among characters is gratifying because, for the last decade, they’ve been real people in our lives and we feel like we know them. All that entanglement makes Avengers: Infinity War a unique and satisfying experience for existing fans of the MCU. But, it also prevents this film from ever standing on its own.
As fans of the MCU, we forget that the average moviegoer likely won’t wanna watch eighteen movies as a prerequisite for a superhero summer blockbuster. The countless connections that we find exhilarating will most likely be confusing to anybody who hasn’t seen all the previous films. There are so many characters at this point that remembering all their backstories, powers, and involvement in earlier movies can be a daunting task, even for casual fans who’ve watched through the franchise in its entirety. And all of that isn’t even because Infinity War is only part one of this two part conclusion.
Nobody not even the most knowledgeable and diehard fans of the MCU ñ will ever watch just this film and think ìOkay, I’m fully satisfied now. It can never be a standalone film on the front end because of all the important information from the previous films, but it can never be a standalone film on the backend either because of the most blatant movie cliffhanger in recent memory. You need Endgame and, as a result, it almost makes Infinity War feel a bit indulgent. Although Infinity War is enjoyable in its own right, its expansiveness does make the movie feel too big at times. With so many characters concurrently doing separate things all across the galaxy, it’s a bit tough to see the bigger picture sometimes.
It’s handled as well as could be expected, but the film feels jumpy, especially towards the end. Cutting among the groups of heroes with their various tasks is necessary to set-up the eventual final battle with Thanos, but it does make the third act feel fairly disjointed. Despite nearly all our MCU characters uniting here to take on Thanos, we still never get that every-hero-fighting-together moment that fans crave. It seems likely that that will be the plan for the ultimate final battle in Endgame, but here in this film, we only get a small taste of that in the final ten minutes.
Rather than just throwing everybody together, this film groups the characters in combinations we haven’t seen before. Characters we know and love finally meet each other, often to humorous effect. Tony Stark and Dr. Strange butt equally narcissistic heads with the eager, perpetually optimistic Peter Parker thrown in for good measure. The Guardians of the Galaxy finally tie into the rest of the MCU, but almost immediately get split up, with Rocket and moody teenage Groot joining Thor on his quest to obtain a replacement weapon. All the various combinations provide for some interesting character dynamics and plenty of entertaining dialogue and situational humor.
The moments of levity are frequent but aren’t enough to overpower the darker tone of this film. These characters have faced some serious threats before, especially when joining forces like the Avengers. But previous confrontations have always seemed smaller. The stakes were always high. The threat was generally localized. Here they face their broadest, gravest challenge yet.
The fate of the universe rests on their shoulders well, half of the universe at least. When I saw this in theaters, I was not expecting Infinity War to be as dark and consequential as it was. Right from the opening minutes of the film, we know what kind of tone to anticipate here. We’ve come to expect a certain fun, light atmosphere in our MCU films and this movie goes places. That other franchises haven’t even dared to go regarding death and the failures of heroes. Which brings us to our villain: Thanos.
The first time you watch the movie, he’s the villain ñ no question about it. The Avengers oppose him, so we do too. Our feelings on him might confusingly soften midway through, but we’re still solidly against him. On rewatch, things are a bit different. We understand his plight from the get-go, which reframes how we view his actions. We may still disagree with his tactics and the resounding repercussions his actions have on the MCU, but he’s not simply the evil villain we once believed. He’s not bent on destruction like so many MCU villains have been, but rather preservation. In a strange kinda way, his heart’s in the right place.
His reasoning is sound and he remains impartial during it all, never letting his own emotions or biases influence his progress towards his ultimate goal. We might not be happy with the outcomes, but the film certainly makes us question what makes a villain a villain. It also asks the ultimate question: Why is Gamora? So is Avengers: Infinity War the greatest superhero movie of all time? No. Is it the best MCU movie? Still no. But is it the best Avengers movie? For now at least. It’s incredibly ambitious and delivers on the expectations the MCU has been building towards for the last ten years.
But in between the satisfying group moments and entertaining dialogue, the film falls back onto some of the standard trappings of the franchise. Other than the final few minutes with Thanos himself, the Wakanda battle consists of our heroes fighting thousands of disposable enemy drones with almost no immediate stakes, reducing the climax to almost filler material. Entertaining to watch filler, but filler nonetheless. Toss in a few extremely frustrating out of character moments and a perplexing fixation on a few of the lesser Avengers and you’ve got yourself a mid-tier MCU movie. Perhaps if Drax didn’t stand so very very still the whole time Alright, let’s talk about the pros and cons. Pro number one is Thanos.
The MCU and superhero movies, in general, have had a few good villains over the years but even fewer great ones. Of course, these movies usually focus on the heroes, but your hero can only be heroic if they have somebody formidable and interesting to face. At this point in the superhero genre, we’ve seen just about every variation of the takeover/destroy the city, country, or world villain plan. Thanos provides something different. He has logical reasoning and true motivation for this plan. And that motivation isn’t driven by a desire for money or power, but rather something much more nuanced and layered. He’s not quite a sympathetic character, but he does make it a bit difficult to root against him, especially on rewatch.
The second pro is the assortment of Avenger’s interactions. We have some Avengers grouped in logical combinations. Then we also get some unconventional pairings too. It’s those latter pairings that provide some of the most entertaining and interesting interactions. There are several heroes that, before this film, were completely unaware of the existence of the others, so their initial meetings were fantastic. The pirate angel meeting the rabbit and his group was probably my favorite. Tony and it he wizard were pretty good too. These various pairings provided much of the film’s humor, but it also gave us some interesting insight into the personalities and adaptability of some of the characters we’ve spent years with. Pro number three is the ambitiousness of this film.
There truly has never been a movie quite like it before. The first two Avengers films and even Captain America: Civil War brought plenty of characters together, but Infinity War is the culmination of ten years worth of films. Eighteen movies with all their characters, plot points, and universe-building finally coming to a head to deliver the story that’s been hinted at all along.
It’s not quite the payoff that Endgame will likely be, but it provides us with the set-up to that payoff and finally ties the entirety of the MCU together. As far as the cons go, my biggest con is the flipside of my last pro. The ambitiousness and scope of the film are commendable, but they also make it impossible to fully appreciate, understand, and enjoy it without having seen the eighteen previous movies. And watching those eighteen movies just once isn’t likely to cut it. This is the type of movie that calls back on both major and minor plot points as well as loads of character introductions and development from each of those films. Now I get that this is a franchise and seeing the earlier movies in the franchise is a given expectation, but when it’s this many, it almost becomes a chore.
It’s done probably as well as possible, but the second and third acts unfortunately mostly consist of cutting between three groups all tackling different tasks related to their goal of trying to stop Thanos. I’m gonna give Avengers: Infinity War 3.5 out of 5 paws. I admire its ambition and what it does for the franchise, but it’s not top-tier MCU for me. Thanos is top-tier antagonist though and I can’t wait to finally see Endgame see the conclusion of this story. I would recommend Avengers: Infinity War to fans of the MCU. I know, crazy right? But it’s the existing fans who are gonna get the most out of this movie. 38 hours of preparation is a lot.
Sure, it’s been spread out over the last decade, but rewatches are necessary to understand all the important nuances. Casual fans of the MCU or people who’ve only sporadically watched some of the movies will probably still get entertainment value out of this film, but you’ll likely be a bit lost at times with the sheer number of minor characters as well as all the references to the previous eighteen films. If you liked Avengers: Infinity War, I’m gonna assume you’ve already seen all the other MCU movies.
If not, I’d recommend the ones you’ve missed. Like any other franchise, there are some low points, but even those films are important for the build-up to this story. If you’ve already got those movies under your belt, my only recommendation would be Avengers: Endgame. I’m not even seeing it until tomorrow, but I think it’s safe to say if you enjoyed Infinity War, you’re gonna wanna see the conclusion of the story. Usually, I’d give you a few more film recommendations to follow up a movie, but Infinity War truly does stand alone with Endgame.
There’s simply nothing quite like it, so any recommendation I could give wouldn’t be able to compete with the sheer scope of this movie. Alright, a couple of questions for you guys. Number one: Have you seen Avengers: Infinity War? If so, what’d you think of it? And number two: What’s your favorite superhero movie villain and why? Marvel, DC, or other doesn’t matter. Be sure to leave your answers in the comments below so we can get a discussion going. Alright, so if you got some enjoyment, insight, or information out of this review.