Review – Avengers: Infinity War

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Note: As with every major movie release these days, it can be impossible to discuss the movie at all without revealing some things that some people might consider spoilers. While this review doesn’t spoil any major plot points of the movie, it is not designed to be read if you wish to go into the movie knowing absolutely nothing about the plot.

It’s important to remember that when Avengers: Infinity War was first announced as part of Marvel’s Phase 3 for the Marvel Cinematic universe it was officially titled Avengers: Infinity War Part I, with Part II scheduled to come out in 2019. Later that would be changed so that the title for the first movie was simply Avengers: Infinity War and the Avengers movie scheduled to release in 2019 would be called something else. (As of right now it’s still being simply referred to as Avengers 4.) Despite the name change, it’s important to realized that this movie is still the first part of a two part culmination of the entire Marvel franchise up to this point. That means that this movie is still part of the buildup. If there are certain meetups or payoff moments that you’ve been waiting for, it’s possible that this movie doesn’t get to those moments. It gets to a lot of them, but we’re working with a franchise that’s pushing thirty main characters at this point so it’s understandable if everything doesn’t fit into the run time of a single movie anymore. Usually, a movie like this, one where there’s clearly a “Part II” to follow, can end up feeling like an overly extended prologue. But Avengers: Infinity War managed to avoid that. Despite it clearly being Part I of a two part story, it still manages to feel like a complete movie all on its own.  Avengers: Infinity War feels like the arrival that we’ve all been waiting for, yet it also is able to promise more to come.

The background information for this movie has been rolled out in drips over the past six years. We got our first look at Thanos in the post credits scene for The Avengers. We heard about the Infinity Stones for the first time in Thor: The Dark World. Guardians of the Galaxy gave us just a little bit of the backstory for Thanos, as well as his relationship with Gamora. It’s been a long process of a sentence of exposition in this movie and an Easter egg tucked away in that movie, but that means that this movie hits the ground running and is moving fast. While we’ve known that Thanos has wanted the Infinity Stones for a while now, this is the moment that he starts hunting for them in earnest. With the Black order in tow (a group of super powered beings that Thanos employees as his underlings/children) Thanos sets out across the galaxy picking up the six Infinity Stones, five we’ve seen so far throughout the MCU and the previously unseen Soul Stone.

Just about everyone who ever showed up in a Marvel movie makes an appearance here. You get the big names like Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark and Chris Evans as Captain America, but there are plenty of other big names as well. Benicio Del Toro’s The Collector shows up for a brief scene as does Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Wong (Benedict Wong) from Doctor Strange. Everybody brings their A game to this movie. Robert Downey Jr. could probably play a convincing Tony Stark in his sleep at this point, but he’s still giving this role everything he’s got. It’s pretty clear that everyone involved in this movie is playing the role that could very well cement their legacy and nobody’s taking that for granted. We could very easily go down the list of the twenty plus list of superheroes that are in this movie complementing them on this or that aspect of their performance. Infinity War does an incredibly good job of the near impossible task of balancing out a cast of this size, and almost every character gets a moment to shine, and we could be here all day if we were to lay them out one by one. However, a special shout out needs to be given to Chris Hemsworth. Thor as a character has been revitalized thanks to the massive success of Thor Ragnarok last year. Thant movie, as well as the early parts of this one, have taken a massive toll on Thor and Hemsworth allows us to feel the weight of recent events that sit on the character’s shoulders.

Of course, we also have to address the villain of the piece, Thanos. If there is a complaint about the Marvel Cinematic Universe that comes up again and again, it’s that the movies aren’t able to come up with an interesting villain. More often than not the villain of any given marvel movie is a mean version of the hero. Iron Man fought Iron Monger (mean Iron Man) in the first movie. The Hulk fought Abomination (another big, strong monster), Ant-Man fought Yellowjacket (another person with shrinking powers), Doctor Strange fought Kaecilius (another sorcerer), and so on and so forth. Whether you want to blame the source material itself, or the movie adaptations of these characters, the fact remains that general audiences probably can’t cite many marvel villains by name other than Loki and maybe Ultron. That being said, for the first time in a Marvel movie, the villain might actually be one of the most compelling parts of the movie.

In many ways, Avengers: Infinity War is a movie about Thanos. Thanos and his quest for the Infinity Stones is the driving force behind the movie. The Avengers are really just playing catch up, trying to survive this movie. We get a good amount of time with Thanos, learning about his backstory, particularly his relationship with Gamora, and his motivations. Thanos is the character in this movie that has character development and an arc more than pretty much any of The Avengers. Josh Brolin really sculpts Thanos into a three dimensional character here. Up until this point we’ve only gotten a few brief scenes with Thanos, seeing him as an overlord, or all powerful being looking down from on high. Brolin’s character is able to shine through the purple CGI and motion capture that bring Thanos to life, creating a villain that truly feels worthy of so many heroes needing to come together to take on.

When Captain America: Civil War came out in 2016, many people called it Avengers 2.5, some saying that it actually worked as a better Avengers movie than Age of Ultron did. Avengers: Infinity War perhaps even more so works as a sequel to the first Avengers movie. It’s cliche at this point to compare any sequel to The Empire Strikes Back, especially one that might deal with heavier or darker themes, but Infinity War really does feel like it could be the Empire Strikes Back installment of this leg of the Marvel franchise. Building upon the initial Avengers story citing the invasion of New York as The Avengers true first encounter with Thanos,  this movie is the one that pushes The Avengers further than anything has before. There’s a weight that exists with this movie, one that gives the movie a staying power long after the run time of the movie is finished. Avengers: Infinity War is a monumental accomplishment. It is the truest sequel to the Avengers franchise so far. It’s the nineteenth entry in an ongoing franchise that continues to defy expectations. It serves not only as the culmination of Phase 3 in the Marvel Universe, but as the culmination of every Marvel movie up to this point. It pulls off all of that successfully while still managing to tell a complete story and be a truly great movie in it’s own right. And this is just Part I.

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