Regardless of which side of the superhero movie debate you fall on, it’s hard to not give Marvel credit for what they’ve managed to do with their cinematic universe. Fans were losing their mind when Nick Fury showed up at the end of 2008’s IRON MAN, knowing that an Avengers film was in the pipeline, which also meant that we’d be getting films for all the big names attached. Now here we are, ten years later, with 18 films spanning every corner of the Marvel universe from the mystical to the cosmic and everywhere in between, with the 19th film, AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR: The first part of an epic crossover, making good on everything that’s been in motion since 2007, when IRON MAN’s production and the notion of a cinematic universe featuring Earth’s mightiest heroes began.
One thing that INFINITY WAR makes apparent right from the start is that the stakes are higher than they ever have been. There was a long-running complaint amongst critics of the Marvel series of movies that there were no stakes — the heroes would always win, and the villains never truly had that bite to them, outside of exceptions like BLACK PANTHER‘s Killmonger and perhaps GUARDIAN OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2‘s Ego, who had more to them. INFINITY WAR does not have this problem, Thanos is an incredibly terrifying villain, invoking Darth Vader levels of menace, thanks to Brolin’s work bringing the character to life. Yet as you learn more about him, you begin to understand his motivations, and even learn more about his relationship with characters like Nebula and Gamora from the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY series. For many, this will probably be their first encounter with the character, and this movie does him justice by making him a very real threat, but also a somber one. Also along with him are his army, led by his “children,” who serve as formidable underlings who take care of things while their father attends to more personal affairs.
The film starts big and doesn’t let up. It takes you across the vast universe and switches between groups of characters at a fast pace, yet somehow never feels overwhelming. The bombastic and fantastically-done fight scenes and set pieces are bridged by some wonderful moments of humor and heartbreak as you see all of these characters interact with one another, some of them for the first time. While it’s true that some characters get more screen time than others, it never comes off as if someone has been shoved to the wayside to make room for someone else. Every hero gets to make their mark in one way or another, be it through dialogue or action, and that alone is a feat for which the Russos and everyone involved in the film should be applauded.
At the end of it, INFINITY WAR is a comic book movie on a grand scale ,and it is unapologetic in the best possible way. While fans who have been following the movies from the beginning will no doubt have moments where their jaw hits the floor, and will get more out of it due to callbacks to previous films, people who have maybe seen only a few of the releases won’t be too lost. Without going heavy with exposition to the point you may as well just have narration panels, the film walks that line of being approachable for everyone admirably, and when the ending hits, everyone will no doubt be stunned and eager to see what is coming next. At this point, the MCU is nowhere near done, and this writer couldn’t be more excited to continue following it.
Tags: Alan Silvestri, Anthony Mackie, Anthony Russo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, Christopher Markus, Danai Gurira, Dave Bautista, Don Cheadle, Elizabeth Olsen, Jack Kirby, Joe Russo, josh brolin, Kevin Feige, Letitia Wright, Mark Ruffalo, Marvel Studios, Paul Bettany, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Stan Lee, Stephen McFeely, Tom Holland, Trent Opaloch, Zoe Saldana