Written by Rick Warren / gfn21
Infinity War has been referred to as “the most ambitious crossover event in history”, and it certainly is. With 18 movies building towards this event, it had to deliver on everything from character interactions to action to (most importantly of all) its villain: Thanos. Thankfully, it does all that. Unlike Age of Ultron, it meets the ridiculous expectations for an Avengers film and entertains from beginning to end. It stands as a symbol for the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as Infinity War blends elements from each film into one colossal movie that is made for fans but is also outright great as a movie. It offers things that haven’t been seen in a Marvel film thus far, and Thanos is genuinely unforgettable. While it does have some flaws, they’re greatly outweighed by Infinity War’s many strengths. This is a must-see movie for any fan, and it’s sure to have people talking all year long.
For my full thoughts and a spoiler-filled review, read on.
WARNING: SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT*
Marvel Delivers Yet Again
It would have been a shame to see Marvel stumble this close to the finish line, and with everything going on in this film, it would have been easy to do just that. The Russo Brothers prove that Civil War was not a fluke, though, as Infinity War leaps into the highest ranks of the MCU with ease. It offers deadly stakes that haven’t been felt in the series for such a long time, and it’s intense from beginning to end. The two and a half hour run time flies by, and when the ending comes it’s sure to leave you stunned.
As is to be expected with a Marvel crossover, the character interactions are a huge strength. Seeing the Guardians react with the rest of the Marvel heroes is so much fun. Star-Lord having a back and forth with Thor is hilarious, as is Mantis chasing down Spider-Man as he shouts, “don’t put your eggs in me”. The brief fight between the Guardians and the group of Avengers on Titan is loads of fun and seeing Captain America fight with Black Panther back-to-back is just as badass as one would expect. The chemistry between Spider-Man and Iron Man is still brilliant, and Bruce Banner’s “Hulk problem” is an interesting change of pace. It’s Doctor Strange, however, that steals the show here.
Benedict Cumberbatch seems to be like Chris Evans in the sense that he gets better in his role as time goes on. While he was good in his own movie and his Ragnarok cameo, he’s far better here. While his banter with Tony is fun, it’s the way in which he stays focused on the mission that works. He refuses to joke around or get distracted and is willing to do whatever it takes to win in the long run and keep the world the safe. His battle with Thanos was some of my favorite action in the film, and I’m more excited than ever for more Doctor Strange.
Most of the acting in the movie is fabulous, and, even though it is, none of the movie feels overstuffed. That is, for one exception: the Thor/Rocket/Groot weapon sidequest. There are parts of this adventure that I love, and the payoff could not be any better, but it simply overstays its welcome. Had it wrapped up quicker, the weapon-building would not have messed up the pacing and been distracting from the intense action on Wakanda and Titan. Peter Dinklage’s character was also the one weak link of the movie. His story is interesting, but the voice that he does is outright silly. While Star-Lord jokingly makes his voice super deep to imitate Thor, Dinklage does the same here. It’s painfully reminiscent of Bale’s Batman voice, and it’s super unnecessary. That said, while his character disappoints, the villain teased 7 years ago does the opposite.
The Terrific Titan
To sum things up in one bold statement, Thanos will go down as one of the greatest and most despised villains of all time. With what he does in this movie, The Mad Titan is guaranteed to gain icon-status and join the likes of The Joker and Darth Vader. He really is that great, and this really is “The Empire Strikes Back” of the MCU. It’s a Thanos movie, and it’s better because of that.
As the character is entirely CGI, Josh Brolin likely won’t get enough credit for his performance here. He deserves it, though, as his acting is unbelievably strong from beginning to end. He sells the anguish that he feels as he makes terrible sacrifices to reach his goal, and he sells the fact that he has no doubt he’ll succeed. Re-designing him to look more human was the right choice, as every bit of movement made by Brolin can be seen here. Thanos’s motivations make sense and are a huge step up from the comic book version, and he does the serious damage to the MCU that fans both hoped for and feared.
The movie starts by showing the destroyed Asgardian ship, with bodies littered on the floor and Thor out of commission. While this showcase of violence and the destruction of Xandar would have been nice to see, the fact that they even happened makes Thanos imposing right out of the gate. He then beats down the Hulk, and with both strongest Avengers down, the heads begin to roll. Heimdall and Loki are his first victims. He then tortures his daughter Nebula and sacrifices his daughter Gamora, which ends up being one of the most well-acted scenes in the MCU. Next up, he beats Doctor Strange and Iron Man one on one, nearly killing the latter. Finally, he rips the stone from Vision’s head, adding him to the large pile of bodies built up in the movie. When everything seems like it couldn’t get worse, it does, as Thanos gets the last stone and succeeds in his mission: wiping out half of the universe.
The Beginning Of The End
With a snap of his fingers, Thanos changes everything. Half of the Earth’s population suddenly disappears, completely fading from existence. This extends to the heroes, too, and it’s a jaw-dropping sequence that feels like it lasts forever. While it would have been hellish on its own, it’s the characters that disappear after The Snap that really make the moment chilling. The heroes that people braced themselves to lose, like Cap or Iron Man, remain untouched. Instead, it’s the new superheroes that died. Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Star-Lord and even Spider-Man all faded away. It’s a chilling sequence that is sure to leave fans and young gets devastated all year... until it inevitably gets reversed in Avengers 4.
While this twist ending is terrific, it’s also inherently flawed because this is a cinematic universe. We know that the Guardians, Spider-Man, Black Panther and Doctor Strange are all getting sequels and that they must return. Choosing to kill these characters is cheap because it immediately makes fans feel that this is not going to stick, and they’re right to think that; it won’t. Too many heavy hitters disappear, and for those who did not know that this was the first part of a two-part film, a cliffhanger may frustrate them.
Still, there’s no denying that ending this movie in such a way was a huge risk. It took guts to do “The Snap”, and even though it would have been much more interesting if less of the newer heroes vanished, it was a great way to end the film. The loss of Spider-Man specifically was painful to watch, as his final words were unbelievably heartbreaking. In a superhero film (or any film, really) it’s so rare to see a villain win, and with one as great as Thanos, letting him do so only works to make him better. With a great post-credits scene that announces the arrival of Captain Marvel, the final fight against Thanos next year is going to be something truly special.
Even with an ending that is too unbelievable and a side-story that goes on too long, Avengers: Infinity War is excellent. The acting is on par with the series’ best, as is the humor and action. The final act of the film is jaw-dropping, and Thanos is one of the best villains to ever appear on the silver screen. It delivers on all of Marvel’s promises and sets up an emotional conclusion that will focus on the original team of Avengers (and Captain Marvel) next year. For any Marvel fan, this is a must-see and one of the best theater experiences someone could ever have.
FINAL SCORE: 4.5/5