After 10 years and 19 movies, the end is in sight. Well, almost. And not necessary the end, but an an end. Avengers: Infinity is a whirlwind of a film, a non-stop, jam-packed, spellbinding and mind-blowing achievement of story and spectacle. And it’s sure mentally and emotionally exhausting.
There is really no beginning or end in this film; but it is indeed the beginning of the end. More than any entry in the Marvel franchise that has come before, Infinity War stresses the finite and the fated, as mortality and despair is demonstrated instantly and throughout.
The task at hand for the creators is both unprecedented and ambitious – and for anyone to try to write about this, an enviable job yes, it’s hard to apply any logic or experience to such an endeavor. Infinity War starts off fast, placing the viewer in the middle of carnage and death amid a spaceship teased at the very end of Thor: Ragnarok. So you need to have seen that movie to know what’s going on. And have seen the recent Black Panther and Spider-Man. And all of Captain America, especially the third, which was like an Avengers movie. Oh, and the two official Avengers movies, and both Guardians. Really, the only thing you could have skipped was Ant-Man.
If you never cared for the franchise, then don’t see this. But if you followed, closely or casually, you will undoubtedly be satisfied – and emotionally spent. And frequently bewildered. It’s because of all that came before that Infinity War is itself something unique in the movie world. It’s also a mostly different tone than what we’ve experienced before, as evidenced by the opening scene. The reason is twofold. We’re reaching the end of an era, and superheroes simply must die. But more importantly than just that storytelling component is that Marvel has introduced fully a villain only teased before; he is compelling, and instantly the best villain we’ve seen (with perhaps exception to Erik Killmonger). More than any one superhero, this is Thanos’ movie, as played with brilliant nuance and sophisticated lunacy by Josh Brolin.
A hulking purple figure, who out-hulks Bruce Banner, his quest to find six infinity stones, which hold all the power and energy in the universe. It takes him across the galaxy, and to Earth, battling all our heroes, many of whom are meeting others for the first time. Once Thanos gets all the stones, he can restore true order to the universe the only way he knows how: snapping his fingers and instantly decimating half of the living population, so as to allow resources and life to blossom once more, instead of letting the current citizens of the galaxy to toil. He thinks.
His humanity, as it were, is stressed even more by his relationship with Gamora, his adopted daughter working as a Guardian of the Galaxy. Where often women and their stories take a back seat in these Marvel films, it’s her actions and relationships, and to a lesser extent that of her sister Nebula, that drive much of what happens.
Still, it’s a whole lot of an exhausting, exhilarating, astounding movie. Scarlet Witch and Vision have stolen away to Scotland, trying to maintain a relationship on the run from the law. He of course has one of said stones, so they’re not safe for long. Iron Man has teamed up with his protege Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, traveling to space. Thor meets the Guardians. Captain America heads to Wakanda to meet T’Challa. Some characters have arcs large and small, while others seem to be nearing the end of their story. And there are more people, surprises, and callbacks. And maybe something from the directing Russo brothers’, so in control here, much earlier works.
There are still some funny quotes, especially as egos clash, but death and destruction always return, and the action abounds. Big punches, powerful beams of energy, and a bunch of explosions are the norm in these films, and this is no exception. Only here consequences and stakes seem higher. It’s only if you’ve spent time with these people over the last ten years that can understand, and thus care.
Impressively, Avengers has moments of tenderness, of sympathy for the villain, of genuine dread and shock. It’s consistent, coherent piece of filmmaking, which in itself is a staggering accomplishment. And while some heroes (Doctor Strange, Thor) and more to do than others (Black Widow, Black Panther) to have such a constantly compelling film is indeed a marvel. The opening third or so will leave you in a state of heightened excitement, the next part will fill you with fear, and the ending will leave you floored. If you’re not already on the floor.
- Rated: PG-13
- Genre: Action, Adventure, fantasy
- Release Date: 4/27/2018
- Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
- Starring: Anthony Mackie, Benedict Cumberbatch, Benicio Del Toro, Bradley Cooper, Chadwick Boseman, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, Danai Gurira, Dave Bautista, Don Cheadle, Elizabeth Olsen, Gwyneth Paltrow, Josh Brolin, Karen Gillan, Letitia Wright, Mark Ruffalo, Paul Bettany, Peter Dinklage, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Tom Holland, Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldana
- Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely