It’s been 10 years since Nick Fury met Tony Stark in a post-credits scene in 2008’s “Iron Man,” in which the doors into a much larger universe had begun to open. Now, after 10 years-worth of storytelling with the release of almost 20 different films, it can all culminate in the gargantuan movie event of the year in “Avengers: Infinity War,” which keeps to its promise of bringing everything that’s been building up for a decade together into a large-scale, epic adventure together and unites all of our favorite characters and stories to create what may be Marvels riskiest, grandest, and most extravagant film they had ever released.
With 10 years-worth of stories behind them, all of our favorite characters must come together to face off a grave threat in Thanos, a being whose legend springs true to his name. He must seek all six of the mystical infinity stones if he wishes to annihilate half of the population in the universe, and now our favorite superheroes, from the Avengers to the Guardians of the Galaxy, must put aside differences and fight for the survival of every race in existence.
If this sounds like a colossal amalgamation of superhero storytelling and comic book fandom, you’re absolutely right. And yet, directors Joe and Anthony Russo have this tremendous gift of bringing together all of these characters and somehow making each one of them have a moment to shine. Of course, some of these characters do have a huge role to play in the story as a whole, but we’ll get to that in a bit. The film is so overstuffed with these characters that the nearly three-hour runtime is completely justified. But to their credit, they made sure that the film did not feel the length of its runtime, which is always a huge-plus.
All of the backstory and development we’ve witness in these characters weave their way into the story and it feels very natural. In many cases, this comes in the form of quick nods and references to past films, whether it’s Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey, Jr.) PTSD in “Iron Man 3” or Star Lord’s (Chris Pratt) father in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” It feels incredibly satisfying to see the characteristics and traits that help define many of these characters, like Rocket Raccoon’s (Bradley Cooper) greedy nature, Steve Rogers’ (Chris Evans) leadership, and even Tony Stark’s status as a mentor to Peter Parker (Tom Holland) comes into play.
It also really refreshing to see the way in which every part of the MCU comes together in a seamless, natural way. It’s incredibly exciting to watch some of our favorite characters, each with vastly different ideologies, backstories, and personalities, interact with one another, whether they’re bonding or arguing with one another. Whether it’s Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Tony Stark bickering with one another, which is satisfying given their similar backstories, or even Star Lord’s jealousy of Thor (Chris Hemsworth).
But in the end, some characters do play a much larger, more essential role in the film as a whole than others. Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) gets a lot to do and goes one of the strongest emotional arcs in the film with her relationship with Vision (Paul Bettany). Thor also gets a big portion of the film to himself, going on a journey with Rocket and Groot (Vin Diesel) for a way against Thanos. Doctor Strange also gets much of the screen to himself, given that he’s one of the more powerful characters in the MCU and the fact that he possesses one of the infinity stones. Strangely enough, though in hindsight this shouldn’t be all that surprising, Gamora also plays an incredibly vital role in the film, given her deeply complicated relationship with Thanos.
But without a doubt, out of all of the characters that appear in this movie, and there are a ton, Thanos IS the focus of the story, and he pulls no punches. From the opening scene alone, you understand why Thanos is a force to be reckoned with and what you can expect from him throughout the film. Not only is Thanos an imposing, intimidating figure, but he is clear in his conviction and dedication to complete his mission, to the point where he himself must make sacrifices. Even though he is meant to be the evil, antagonistic figure in the film, you understand the perspective from which Thanos views the universe and why he’s doing what he’s doing. And strangely enough, there were a couple moment where you do get to empathize with him a little bit. And Josh Brolin excels at relaying that conviction and emotion, even with the admittedly impressive CGI work. It is no question that Thanos belongs in the discussion of not just one of the best villains in the MCU, but also in any comic book movie ever.
Thanks in large part to Thanos, the Russo Brothers hold nothing back with the stakes this film has. You can feel the emotional weight of what these characters must do to protect the universe and you feel like anyone can bite the dust. While there are things that happen that you come to expect, there are also a multitude of twists, turns and shocking moments that’ll leave your jaw hanging. Even as early as the opening scene of the film, you understand what is at stake and that no one is safe from Thanos’ wrath. And all those stakes culminate in what might be the ballsiest ending to any Marvel movie ever, and it just felt so perfect for this kind of movie.
You also get a great understanding of the purely epic scope of the film, especially with the action sequences. With great use of 360-degree camera shots, impressive visuals, and expertly choreographed camera angles, the fights feel massive, energetic, and purely epic in scope. Whether it’s against Thanos or one of the members of his Black Order, each character, much like in “Captain America: Civil War,” gets a chance to use their own particular fighting style and it makes for great variety in the action sequences.
If anything, however, as we’ve come to expect, there are definitely times where the film feels too grand and a little too bloated. For the most part, we do have to jumble back and forth between action sequences and/or subplots between different characters and it can be a bit much. At one point, we jump from Thor and Rocket’s adventure to Wakanda and then to Doctor Strange and Tony Stark and so on. There’s also the downside of having too many characters, resulting in some of the characters lacking in some characterization. But again, this is something we’ve come to expect and we understand that not everyone will get a chance to shine. The Black Order, the henchmen of Thanos, aside from Ebony Maw, are simply there to be henchmen and be, admittedly great, foils for our heroes, thus lack any sort of development.
There’s also the use of humor throughout the film. For the most part, the jokes stick the landing and hade the entire audience cracking up. But while most of the jokes are really well-timed and well-written, it can feel a little unnecessary sometimes, and there were times where the jokes were a bit too much.
Overall, “Avengers: Infinity War” brings in everything it has to offer to give us a memorable experience that will shake the Marvel Cinematic Universe forever. With the intimidating presence of a terrific villain, the Russo Brothers manage to bring in everything that’s been set up for the past 10 years. The stakes are higher than ever before and you feel that with what the characters go through. The Russo Brothers did the impossible and brought all of our favorite things together to create a sky-high, action-packed thrill ride that will go down as a triumph in the superhero genre.