Franchises and intellectual property rule Hollywood and its biggest player is Marvel Studios and its Marvel Cinematic Universe. Over ten years and eighteen movies, audiences have been introduced to an iron-clad genius-playboy-philanthropist, an all-American hero that hates bullies, a lightning god and his mischievous stepbrother, and most recently a hero that reigns supreme over the African nation of Wakanda.
Avengers: Infinity War is the nineteenth entry and it is a take-no-prisoners assault on what we’ve seen before and have come to expect from producer Kevin Feige. It doesn’t change the superhero landscape like Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, or the flippant Deadpool, or even old man Logan. What Infinity War does offer, and something that has been sorely lacking in the MCU, is the element of surprise. The big names and supporting players converge to do battle with a foe that looks like McDonald’s Grimace if he stopped eating Big Macs and started hitting the gym.
Kevin Feige’s cinematic vision was bold and daring at its conception. Had audiences not have bought Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man a decade ago, or the outwardly never-aging Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, or Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) as Dr. Strange, this movie may not have occurred. The decades-long history of comics are the inspiration, Feige is the architect, and the Russos are the engineers in assembling an expansive epic that crosses galaxies – yes, even the Guardians of the freaking Galaxy find themselves in the middle of a universe-in-peril situation when they encounter Thor – and isn’t afraid to take lives. By the time we reach the finish line, and the war is over, the fallout is apocalyptic and we’re not quite clear what it all means. (Sitting in an auditorium full of press, it was dead silence all the way through the post-credit scene.)
I’m not even going to attempt to summarize the plot of InfinityWar. The volume of characters is bananas and the subplots feel like they have subplots. The overarching narrative concerns Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his quest to collect six “Infinity Stones.” Once he has them, this already intimidating supervillain’s powers will be limitless. No single entity could possibly stop him. The Avengers, Guardians, a friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man (Tom Holland), and ancillary MCU characters valiantly combine efforts to engage Thanos and his sycophants before he can retrieve the remaining stones.
Having already established the heroes (and there are a bunch of them), most of the focus of Infinity War is on the Big Purple Guy and his motivation. The master plan is not about ultimate power. His reasons for possessing the stones are less about subjugation and more about purification. Thanos is a destructive force that feels a few trillion have to die for the galaxy to persist. Sounds horrible and yet this monster becomes a tragic figure, committing an act so savage that not even he could have ever imagined.
The opening scene shows Thanos means business when it comes to getting what he wants. He isn’t a jocular villain, that’s for sure. Even the witty banter among the heroes is kept brief, though Iron Man and Dr. Strange have some quick quips when together, and Drax (Dave Bautista) is always a scene-stealer with his deadpan humor.
For a blistering 150 minutes, and moving with dogged enthusiasm, Avengers: Infinity War is pure entertainment with nearly wall-to-wall action. It’s a giant battle royale full of explosions, hulk smashing and pummeling, and Wakanda forever! The battles are among the most hard-hitting seen in the MCU, with a stunning ending that will make you wish the next installment would arrive now, instead of one year later.
Those who are unimpressed by this type of escapist fare or superhero movies in general, it’s best to stay away. This is clearly for those who have already gulped the Kool-Aid. It is possible to jump right in without having seen any of the other eighteen installments. If you’re reading this, though, chances are high that you have probably seen at least one.
Avengers: Infinity War is a blast and a total shock to the system. What happens next will determine if it maintains to be a classic superhero movie or is just one big bait and switch.
Director: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo
Writer(s): Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Notable Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson, Chadwick Boseman, Dave Bautista, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Mark Ruffalo, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Gwyneth Paltrow, Peter Dinklage
Travis Leamons is one of the Inside Pulse Originals and currently holds the position of Managing Editor at Inside Pulse Movies. He's told that the position is his until he's dead or if "The Boss" can find somebody better. I expect the best and I give the best. Here's the beer. Here's the entertainment. Now have fun. That's an order!