This review for Avengers: Infinity War contains spoilers.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) started in 2008 with the introduction of one hero, Tony Stark, in Iron Man. Now, ten years later, Marvel has unleashed Avengers: Infinity War, a film with roughly twenty-seven heroes and truly defines what a blockbuster is. The film, like its purple villain, is big and bold, with a cast that is full of stars as their characters from various other Marvel films. It is an audacious effort on Marvels part to have all of these characters in one film and one wonders how they could even pull it off. Luckily the film is in good hands with producer Kevin Feige, who played part in mapping the path to this epic event, along with its directors and brothers Anthony and Joe Russo and its screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. All of this talent work together in delivering an emotional and intense superhero film that is the biggest anyone has seen on the big screen.
The film opens right in the thick of it as Thanos and The Black Order have already attacked the ship that carries the Asgardians who were saved by Thor and company in Thor: Ragnarok. Right away the Russo brothers and screenwriters Markus and McFreely lets audience members know two things: Thanos has already acquired the power stone and, with it, he can smash someone as powerful as the Hulk. It is brilliant as this beginning lets the fear set in that our heroes lives (as well as the fate of the universe) are surely at stake. From here the film does not stop. Through most of the film, I was clenching my seat due to some very intense moments, worried about the lives of my favorite heroes. One of the major complaints to the Marvel films from some critics is that no one’s life is at stake. Well now they are and I applaud Marvel for sticking to what they have done, establishing character throughout their films, thus making us care even more so for the characters when the stakes are increased in one big film.
There is plenty of action which is fun and gritty and is what we have come to know from the Russo Brothers style. The street fight in New York near the beginning of the film was hard hitting and there were times I would flinch when one of our heroes were hit, but also nervously laugh at the quick comedic moments. The battle with team Stark against Thanos was a bit different as it was a well thought out strategic plan the heroes worked out and, to the Russo brothers credit, it really showed as every character and skill played their part and it was just a blast to watch. I did notice the Russo brothers dialed back from the shaky cam and the very up close fight scenes they used in the prior films (Captain America: Winter Soldier and Captain America Civil War), which could be because the battles are on a more grand scale, especially in Wakanda. Wakanda is the “War” part of Avengers: Infinity War and it is spectacular. There is a moment when the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) soars over the battlefield and I just looked in wonder at what I was seeing on screen. When the heroes and aliens rush into battle, the fighting comes fast and hard, a lot is happening but the Russo brothers never lose sight of wonderfully balancing the action with quick bits of humor and character. Somehow, just about every character gets a moment and it is worth applauding.
With there being so many characters in the film, not every character gets the screen time they deserve, so only a handful of characters get their time to shine. The good thing though is that everyone and I mean everyone, was solid in the film. Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange, Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, and so on, continued to deliver solid performances in their roles. However, some characters/actors deserve special mention.
If you have been following Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) story you will know, the man has been through hell, as the son of Odin has lost a lot. Thor has lost his mother, his father, his relationship to Jane Foster, his eye, and his hair. Now in this film, he has lost half the Asgardians he just helped save, his friend, and his brother. He is broken, but instead of falling apart, Thor uses this emotional pain to channel it on retrieving a weapon he needs to take down Thanos. Retrieving the weapon is not easy by any means, and Thor risks life in doing so, and this leads to his emotional landing in Wakanda which could be the best scene in the film. The scene literally gave me chills and I wanted to stand up and cheer as Thor immediately turned the tide in battle and began his emotional charge to find Thanos. Chris Hemsworth deserves a lot of credit this time around. He’s always been solid as Thor, I’ve never had any gripes, but wow, what a performance he gives this time. Especially in the beginning when he tells his story to Rocket of what he has lost, it is an emotional moment which Hemsworth delivers wonderfully. I genuinely believe this is the best performance Chris has given inside and outside the MCU.
The film takes place two years after Captain America: Civil War, and we find Wanda, aka Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and Vision (Paul Bettany) have moved forward with their relationship. He is an android, she is human, and yes, it is odd. Even in the comics, I found it odd (I always wanted Scarlet Witch to hook up with Captain America), but the odd romance worked then and it works in this film. This focus on their relationship builds to a pivotal emotional scene in Wakanda where Wanda must choose to destroy the soul stone in Visions head, which would ultimately destroy him. Huge credit to Silvestri’s score at this moment and especially to Elizabeth Olsen as her expression when she is about to make the decision to kill the android she loves was just crushing, and what comes after was even worse as, thanks to Thanos and his time stone, she has to relive the moment of him dying a second time. Wanda really ups her game in this one as she becomes a protector to Vision when he is wounded and though her powers are still not as vast and powerful as in the comic yet she makes the best use of them in this film and proves she is quite possibly the most powerful Avenger. In the scene mentioned above, she is trying to destroy the stone with a spell from one hand while holding Thanos back with a spell from her other hand, showing how much power the Scarlet Witch has. There is another example of her power earlier in the film when she makes a spectacular appearance on the battlefield in Wakanda by using her spells to lift some massively large alien machines, that were rolling over the soldiers in Wakanda, high in the air and then smashed them hard into the ground. Though she is very powerful she is also very vulnerable which had me worried during the times she got caught up in a battle with Proxima Midnight. Wanda is a character who, similar to Thor, carries a lot of emotional baggage. Her brother passed in Avengers: Age of Ultron, she holds the guilt of accidentally killing people in a building from a bomb that went off when trying to save Captain America’s life in Captain America: Civil War, and now she witnesses the death of the android she loves, not once, but twice in front of her very eyes. When she comes back (and I’m certain she is) I think this is going to be a heavy toll on Wanda and could lead into Marvel going into the stories of Avengers: Disassembled or House of M where Wanda suffers a mental breakdown.
Captain America, aka Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), did not get much dialogue in the film, but fans of Cap should not fret as the word is that his role will be a big one in the next film. However, he does have his moments such as when he makes his first appearance in the film. When Wanda and Vision looked to be nearly defeated, there is this shadow of a man behind a rolling train and when we realize it is Steve Rogers and Silvestri’s theme music swells, I nearly lost it. This character and Chris Evans brings so much to these films. Captain America, is a man who inspires and motivates those around him and this is proven in every single film. Again, he did not do much in the film this time, but this moment and others such as Captain America zooming past the Wakandans army to take the front of the charge along with the Black Panther was just amazing and motivating, and it is moments like this that makes me want to cheer out loud in the theater. These little things mean so much and it is a huge credit to the director, screenwriters, and Chris Evans to fully capture the character of Steve Rogers.
I have really enjoyed the relationship of Iron Man, aka Tony Stark, and Spider-man, aka Peter Parker, in the MCU. I love the idea of Tony being a mentor to Peter, becoming like the father he does not have, but it is also a lot of fun to hear these two bounce off one another and helps make their relationship shine. The conversations the two have throughout the film are pure joy, but there were two moments in the film which are true highlights. The first being when Tony makes Peter an honorary member of the Avengers. Tony delivers the news quickly to Peter, but with Peter it means everything and this is mostly in part to Holland’s performance standing upright and taking in the honorary moment. The second is the passing of Peter. This was an emotional hit I didn’t expect. Knowing the relationship between the two, and to hear the young Peter being scared of passing away while hugging his mentor was really a tear-jerking moment that was very well written and especially effective due to Tom Holland’s performance. His reaction, the tone of voice, Holland just nailed it and I felt it all as he evaporated in Tony’s arms.
He’s big, he’s bold, he’s bald, he’s purple, he’s . . . Thanos! For years, the MCU has been leading up to this event of the heroes coming together to fight Thanos. He has been teased many times in stingers from numerous films and fans have been hoping that his first full appearance would be huge. I think they got their wish. Avengers: Infinity War is Thanos’ film. It is his story of getting the rest of the Infinity Stones to fulfill his plan of mercy, which is to aid the universe with its resource issue by cutting off half of the population. His reason comes from when his planet Titan suffered from lack of resources and overpopulation, which led to the death of his planet. His plan is a bit demented, yes, but the big purple fella means well and because he believes it is the most logical solution, this makes him all the more threatening. Thanos is another one of those villains recently coming from Marvel that actually has depth. He has a reason for what he is doing, it’s not just for ultimate power, he actually believes he is doing the universe some good. This plan does not come easy for Thanos and we learn it also comes with a sacrifice he must make, which is an emotional moment for Thanos leading to the loss of someone important. Josh Brolin’s voice was perfect for Thanos as he seemed to hit the right tone. It’s deep enough for Thanos’ big alien frame but the tone is also calming in perhaps touching on the fact he’s not a pure evil figure, but someone who genuinely believes the path of genocide, despite what he must suffer, is what must be done to save the universe.
It is very hard for me to find cons with the film. Again, the film is very big and with so many characters things are going to give and I take that into consideration. This many characters can be hard to juggle but the Russo’s do a fine job in pulling it off. Some characters get shortchanged in screentime but some of those same characters will get more time in the next one. The film does jump a bit and some scenes could be a bit longer for depth, such as the Vision/Scarlet Witch romance, or the battle between Thanos and the Asgardians ship, or how Thanos actually acquired the Power stone, but the film is already big at 2 hours and 40 minutes and I think despite having to cut some of these stories short, the overall story and its characters do not suffer. Also, there is the argument that some of the characters who perished are going to return and so this ruins the story as it takes away from any true stakes of the character. It is true that due to announcements of some upcoming Marvel films it had the potential to spoil the fact that some heroes will be back. However, this did not ruin the emotional impact of what was happening on screen for me and definitely did not cheapen anything in the end. Instead, it made me more anxious to see how they will come back and who will be back. Also, not everyone stays up to date with all the movie announcements, as proven with stories of some audience members crying in the theater over certain deaths. Finally, another criticism I hear is that the film is not a stand-alone film. That if someone is watching it for the first time, they would not know the characters or the story. However, I would argue, the purpose of gathering all these heroes together from multiple films IS going to require some catching up on other films, which very well could hinder the experience of those who are not caught up, but this is not something to discredit the film for and find it to be unfair criticism in this day and age where multi-sequel films are of the norm. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been around for ten years and there is always plenty of time for audience members to catch up. Plus, if you’re reviewing these films, you should be caught up anyways. I praise the Russo Brothers in treating this as though everyone is caught up and just taking off right when the film begins, this is both bold and applauding and very much like an actual comic book, which is what the film is an adaptation of.
Avengers Infinity War is a comic book film in its truest form as you will jump into a story with enjoyable characters that make you want to come back for more. Overall, I just loved the film. It is so well balanced with humor and action, which is amazing given the epic storyline and a large number of characters to juggle in the film. I find this whole build up to be truly spectacular on everyone’s part and I am so happy that I am able to experience something as big as this in the theaters. It’s crazy that we are ten years in with nineteen films in the library and Marvel is still capable of delivering outstanding films. I am very excited for what lies ahead for these characters and the franchise, whether it be a more galactic storyline, being Captain Marvel is coming, or as mentioned earlier, the storyline of Avengers: Disassembled and House of M. Whatever route Marvel chooses, I’m sure it is going to be a wild and fun ride. Until then, Captain Marvel will be out in March 2019 and Thanos will return in Avengers 4: Fallen Heroes, and I absolutely cannot wait to see what the Russo Brothers and company have in store for us.