Review of the Week–Avengers: Infinity War

I mean, come on. Did any of you really not see this one coming? Not only is my love for superheroes and the Marvel Cinematic Universe well established at this point, but what else exactly is happening in entertainment right now? Or this year? Yep, that’s what I thought: nothing. So Avengers: Infinity War it is!

All joking aside, this was a pretty big deal, obviously. And I was a bit worried that this grand capstone of the Marvel universe wouldn’t live up to all the hype. I’m happy to say that, for the most part, it certainly did.

In Infinity War, after making his presence felt more subtly throughout the Marvel universe for years, the mad titan Thanos finally makes his move and steps into the spotlight to carry out his master plan of wiping out half of all life in the universe–all in the name of order and balance. In order to stop him, everyone from the original Avengers (Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, and Captain America) to the latest additions to the MCU (Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, the Guardians of the Galaxy, etc.) must come together from all across the universe and work together to prevent Thanos from completing the Reality Gauntlet–a device that will give him the power of a god. But Thanos and his children are prepared to do whatever is necessary and make any sacrifice to finish their mission, and our favorite heroes will need to do the same if they want to win the day with the odds stacked against them like never before.

Okay, fair warning: if you don’t want to see any SPOILERS for Infinity War, you should STOP READING RIGHT NOW. I have things to discuss that involve me talking about what happened in the movie, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Still with me? Okay, good. Moving on…

Infinity War had a massive obstacle to being truly a great movie right off in that it had to bring together pretty much everyone in the Marvel universe in one limited-length film, and in a way that made all of them stand out and none feel like simply placeholders, set dressing, or throwaway characters. It’s definitely a challenging proposition, and actually the film really succeeded quite well in it. Sure, there were some characters like War Machine, Black Panther, Falcon, and Black Widow (not to mention Winter Soldier) that didn’t get as much attention and screen time as people like Thor and Iron Man and the Guardians, but that’s because most of those characters have very little to add to the overarching conflict other than just being additional hands on deck. Obviously the heroes with the greater powers have to be more front and center, and I honestly didn’t mind that at all. Everyone got their moment in the spotlight, regardless of how central they were to the plot or not, and all the actors involved reminded us of why we fell in love with their characters in the first place. I honestly can’t say a single one of them disappointed.

Although seriously, where the hell was Ant-Man or Hawkeye? How is the end of the universe not an all-hands-on-deck situation? I found it incredibly hard to believe that with everything else going on, the Avengers didn’t think it was appropriate or necessary to get those two heroes out of house arrest. So that was pretty lame. I’m willing to give Marvel the benefit of the doubt, though, due to the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp movie, which apparently is set before Infinity War. I’m holding out hope that movie will give us a compelling reason why Ant-Man wasn’t involved and maybe make him and/or Hawkeye relevant in the conflict again. I have a killer theory on that front, too, but I digress. If you want to talk with me about that one on one, I’d be happy to do so on your own time.

Anyway, even though the stakes have never been higher in the Marvel universe, Infinity War never devolved into a simple bombastic action movie. Even though there were Lord of the Rings-level battle scenes and a lot of things exploding all over the place, the intrinsic joy and sense of fun Marvel has created in its universe was never absent. Sure, this movie tugged at the heartstrings a lot more than previous films due to the deaths involved, but I still couldn’t stop smiling the whole time. A large part of that was just letting the characters be themselves without going overly dark and serious, and seeing the pairing up of previously separated characters in new combinations. The Stark/Strange rivalry, Thor teaming up with the Guardians in outer space, and the reunion of the Avengers despite government protest were all moments that I loved and that spoke a lot to how well all these characters work together in spite of their diverse backgrounds. Although as I accurately predicted, the reunification of the renegade and sanctioned Avengers basically swept all of Captain America: Civil War under the rug and pretended like it didn’t happen. Someone explain to me why that movie was at all important now, other than introducing Spider-Man? Seriously, I don’t get it.

Even the villains of Infinity War, which are usually where Marvel movies encounter the most problems, came off very well, all things considered. I’m not talking about Thanos’s four children–they were pretty much irrelevant aside from being very powerful and additional bad guy bodies to fight. The true triumph was Thanos himself, who I was really worried would come off as just a generic, evil bad guy who wants to destroy the universe because he’s a bad guy and that’s what bad guys do. I should know better than to doubt Josh Brolin at this point because the guy basically nails everything he does, and his portrayal of Thanos was no exception. I mean, sure, is Thanos crazy? Probably. But everything he’s done in the Marvel universe was actually rather well explained as a quest to bring his version of peace and balance to the cosmos. I can’t really argue with the idea that overpopulation destroys civilizations, and Thanos’s obsession with death and the overall life cycle, seeing himself as the only one willing to make the hard choices, puts him in a beautiful contrast with the Avengers. He’s definitely not a good guy, but Thanos comes off as the complex, multi-layered bad guy that Marvel desperately needs and sometimes falls short of creating. I definitely could see the emotion and inner turmoil he felt when he had to sacrifice Gamora to get the Soul Stone, and that said a lot more than words ever could.

Speaking of characters dying–wow. I mean, I was expecting a handful of deaths, probably from the older-guard characters, but nothing on the massive scale that Infinity War delivers. Never mind that the good guys lose and half the population of Earth and the entire universe gets wiped out, but more than half the Avengers are now gone too–all the Guardians except Rocket, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Bucky, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Black Panther–the list goes on and on. Ironically enough, the only ones left are pretty much the core group that started off the universe, something I didn’t see coming. Which if I’m being honest kind of undermines the impact of their deaths (although Peter Parker’s “I don’t want to go” moment made me tear up for sure just based on Tom Holland’s acting prowess)–let’s get real, Marvel is not going to kill off the Guardians, their most popular property, or Spider-Man or Doctor Strange, who are brand-new and haven’t yet gotten to strut their stuff properly. In fact, I believe hints were dropped throughout the film that these “deaths” due to the Reality Gauntlet are not permanent, and that they can be reversed.

We’ve got another upcoming Spider-Man movie, another Avengers movie that will finish the arc this movie started, and Ant-Man and Captain Marvel movies to prove that at least some of these characters are not staying dead for long. There’s only a few of the heroes I could see staying dead after Infinity War 2 next year–Gamora because Nebula is waiting in the wings as a replacement, Vision because what’s really the point of him anyway, and Scarlet Witch for the same reasons. Oh, and Loki sadly–he’s had his run. There could be a few more unforeseen deaths down the line, too (I could see Rogers and/or Stark kicking it in the next movie for sure), but just purely based on money-making logic, not many of these heroes, especially the newer ones, are staying dead. That kind of took away from the power of the moment a bit, which was a shame. If you really think this movie’s consequences aren’t going to be reversed, you’re probably very naive.

My Rating: 8/10

Sure, Avengers: Infinity War won’t be taking a place in my top five Marvel films anytime soon, and it did exacerbate some overarching problems I have with the MCU up to this point. But that aside, it was a really, really fun movie. It was epic, engrossing, awe-inspiring, and yet still maintains that indelible sense of humor that Marvel has gotten so good at using. The chemistry between characters who had previously never met, the powerful portrayal of the story’s villain, and just the grand cosmic scale of the adventure make Infinity War absolutely worthy of the hype it’s accumulated. Even though the sort of “shocker”, “cliff-hanger” ending they were going for didn’t really make me as a Marvel fan raise my eyebrows much, I’m still going to be on the edge of my seat waiting for the sequel.

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