Avengers: Infinity War - Review
I remember sitting down late one night in 2015 with a good buddy by my side. We were catching Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron at the midnight premiere. To see all the Avengers on screen again was insane, as was the movie. The next day I was sitting in class and wondering how it could be that only seven hours before I was watching Hulkbuster fight The Hulk. It was a profound moment of movie magic, something I thought Marvel would never top.
Avengers Infinity War, the latest entry in Marvel's Cinematic Universe, is here. On the 10 year anniversary of the MCU. The stakes were high for this one, especially in the wake of Black Panther, Marvel's biggest success in a while. Oh boy did they nail it.
The biggest question going into the film was Thanos. Would he be a compelling villain? The weight of the last two Avengers films rested on it. Thanos is a compelling villain, and almost not one at all. Like the filmmakers stated, he is the main character. From scene one Thanos establishes his dominance in a way that is meaningful, unlike so many lesser Marvel villains. His arc is wobbly, passionate, and brutal, and he may be the best villain Marvel has thought up yet. His design and the gauntlet he wields are very well animated, and Josh Brolin sells the emotion of the character. He is cruel, merciful, and powerful; a real knockout.
Thanos's children, on the other hand, are poorly designed cannon fodder for the Avengers to destroy. While they provide one or two cathartic deaths, their powers are limited by the video game-like design they inhabit. The special effects artists did such an excellent job making Thanos feel real (likely due to Josh Brolin's mocap performance) but slipped up hard on his minions. They entertain in death, but that's about it.
With so many characters to juggle, Marvel had little choice but to divide the film into several stories. What's shocking is how well it works. A movie hasn't handled multiple storylines this well since The Lord of the Rings.
Bouncing from the Guardians of the Galaxy to Iron Man to Wakanda can be odd, even jarring, but it gives way to the impeccable pace of the film; it starts fast and ends faster, action always following action. This film demonstrates the massive scale of the MCU at this point in its evolution, and it is amazing to behold. For someone who has bought in since day one, Infinity War is the moment I've been waiting for, and it doesn't disappoint.
Infinity War also nails humor better than any Marvel film since the first Avengers. When that film released, audiences were shocked by just how much banter the Avengers had in them, and how funny it was. Infinity War is bursting with humor that feels natural, smart, and lived in. Tony is brash and real, Vision is compelling, and Scarlett Witch gets some decent character development! Even Thor gets a sizable chunk of the film dedicated to him, and it all pays off in the epic battle of Wakanda sequence. Marvel has never been better here, showing off years of world building and character development in ways that feel permanent, meaningful, and real.
Of course Infinity War had to have an insane ending. Without going into spoilers, things change. A stirring final image left my jaw on the floor, wondering what in the world is going to happen next. The ending feels earned, and the consequences are real, but I wish the post credits scene hadn't thrown in a Captain Marvel plug to seemingly undo everything. Come on guys, you had a killer ending, why cheapen it with a shameless plug?
Avengers Infinity War is an incredible movie. For longtime fans of the MCU there are ample references and callbacks that will have you pounding your fists and jumping in your seats. For action fans there are fast, creative set pieces like the battle of Wakanda that make great use of every character, especially Thor. There is so much packed into Infinity War it is a wonder it has room for emotion. Every character's life is at stake, and Marvel takes advantage, keeping us guessing until the very end. This just might be the best Marvel movie yet.