By: Tyler Miller
In 2008, Marvel Studios took a risk with Iron Man, a not so popular comic character at the time, with who they started their own cinematic universe. Now here we are, ten years and eighteen movies later, with the release of Avengers: Infinity War, the culmination of the past ten years. The hype is real and expectations are astronomically high. Somehow though, Marvel has managed to not only live up to the hype, but shatter all expectations and deliver their best film yet.
Infinity War sees Thanos (Josh Brolin), the villain Marvel has been teasing for years, on a mission to collect the six Infinity Stones so that he can achieve his lifelong goal of eliminating half of all life in the universe. Opposing him are the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and many other heroes that have been introduced in the MCU over the years, as they come together to try and stop him before he can put his plan into action.
Directed by Anthony and Joseph Russo (the duo that directed Civil War and Winter Soldier), Infinity War picks up right where last year’s Thor: Ragnarok ended, with Thanos and his Black Order attacking Thor’s ship. The movie wastes no time in getting straight to the story, so if you haven’t seen any of the past films, you’ll be at a loss. One thing that’s made very clear immediately is that this is a darker, more serious Marvel film than any other has been. The stakes are higher than ever before, and that’s reflected in the movie’s tone. That doesn’t prevent the movie from having that trademark Marvel movie humor. There are plenty of laughs to be had throughout the movie, but it’s never so much as to detract from or clash with the seriousness of the situation.
Right from the start, the movie is firing on all cylinders and moves along at a brisk pace. While the movie is two and a half hours long, it certainly never feels like it. The pace slows down a bit during the second act, but even then the movie doesn’t drag. Things remain entertaining and interesting all the way through. This is due in part to the different character interactions that are at play throughout the movie.
Fans have been waiting years to see some of their favorite heroes meet one another and play off each other, and while not everyone meets each other, there are some new and fun pairings that are sure to delight. Seeing Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) all meet each other and work together is a joy. Perhaps my favorite pairing was the team of Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and Groot (Vin Diesel). I never knew how much I wanted to see these characters together, but after this movie, I would definitely be down to see them get their own spinoff movie.
What’s great is that all these characters are able to interact with one another, but never sacrifice who they are and their personality for the sake of the movie. Peter Parker may be fighting aliens for the first time, but he’s still the same pop-culture referencing kid who wants to help keep the world safe. And even though they’re facing the greatest threat in the universe, the Guardians of the Galaxy still remain as goofy and off the wall as they always have been.
The standout character of this movie though is Thanos by far. After many years of buildup and teasing (and villains that were seen as disappointing), many were wondering if the mad Titan would be well done and worth the wait. I’m happy to say that Thanos is definitely the best villain Marvel has put in a movie. Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have given us a Thanos whose motivations are understandable and compelling.
These things actually make him a character that we can somewhat sympathize with, and possibly even see him as being the good guy in this situation. He truly believes that what he’s doing is for the greater good of the entire universe, and it’s not too hard to see his point of view. Thanos has probably the most screen time of anyone in the movie, so we have plenty of time to get to know him.
Props also have to go to Josh Brolin who plays the character. He gives a great performance as Thanos, making him exude confidence and strength, and put fear into all those he comes across, while at the same time showing a vulnerability in him that reveals there’s more to him than you would expect. On top of all that, Thanos is a legitimate force to be reckoned with. He makes it known right from the start that he’s not a villain that should be taken lightly. When he steps into the scene, you should be afraid for everyone that’s in his way, because they stand no real chance against him, especially once he starts collecting the Infinity Stones. I’ve seen some people say that he’s the Darth Vader of this generation, and I would be hard pressed to disagree with those claims.
Alongside Thanos are his “children,” the aforementioned Black Order. Unfortunately, these characters don’t get much development, and serve mostly as mini-bosses for our heroes to go up against. One of them doesn’t even get any lines, and only grunts whenever he goes to speak, so that shows where the priority was when it came to the antagonists of the movie. It’s a minor issue though in a movie that is absolutely jam packed with characters.
As for the action, there’s plenty of it, and none of it is a let down. The final act of the movie is one long, giant battle, and it’s an epic spectacle full of crowd pleasing moments. Things get particularly fun to watch when the fights involve the Infinity Stones. We’ve never seen battles like these play out, nor have we seen the true power of the stones be used before, so viewers are in certainly in for a treat.
Everything concludes in what is a truly perfect ending. When Infinity War was first announced, it was revealed to be a two-part story. That was later changed, with the two movies being entirely separate movies that have their own stories, but are connected by a overarching plot. By the end of this movie, it’s very obvious that Infinity War is just the first part of a two part story. Even with that in mind, it doesn’t make the end of the movie any less amazing or impactful.
The Russos had the unenviable task of bringing together just about every hero in the MCU, making Thanos a fantastic villain and character, and presenting an amazing story. They had to do this, all while keeping everything from falling apart under the weight of itself and the expectations of fans, and with Infinity War they’ve done just that. It’s going to be a long year to see how things wrap up in Avengers 4, but I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait.