Dread it. Run from it. Destiny still arrives.
Avengers: Infinity War is one of the most unique, thrilling, action packed, and tonally balanced films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ten years and 18 films of universe building, character dynamics, and memorable stories have led to this gigantic film. Avengers: Infinity War is certainly different. It dodges many tropes the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been known to use, it stays on a uniquely balanced pace, is filled with dramatic and dark moments, while also keeping the humorous “Marvel charm” that has captivated general audience for many years. Directed but Joe and Anthony Russo, veteran Marvel directors that have helmed successful films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Captain America: Civil War, use their thematic imprint and translate it in a film that juggles ten years worth of characters and dynamics. The brothers have made their mark on this franchise and continue to take these characters in bold directions with Avengers: Infinity War.
Avengers: Infinity War does a really sound job of balancing tones. With 18 films of character identities set in stone, and arcs needing to be payed off, it is natural to assume the film would have a jarring tone. While there are some points where the tone becomes uneven between humor and darker plot points, the film stays balanced most of the time. The Russo brothers stayed true to each character’s tone, which made for great character dynamics, especially for characters who never met. Characters who have developed in unique directions over the past films like the Guardians, Thor, Hulk and Black Panther, retain their individual grandeur and keep the thematic threads present from previous films like Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok and Coogler’s Black Panther. Overall, juggling so many different characters who had branched off into different tones and visual styles is a herculean task, but the Russo brothers answered the call. Avengers: Infinity War did a great job switching between emotional moments, dark themes and humor.
The characters of Avengers: Infinity War are all serviced well. Some are given more screen time, while others are more support driven. Characters like Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, The Guardians, Doctor Strange and Spider-Man all stood out with Thor taking the largest thematic share of the pie. Seeing Wakanda and the brilliant characters of T’Challa, Shuri, Okoye, and M’Baku on screen after the magnificent Black Panther was one of the highlights as this world of characters will definitely be at the forefront of this franchise for years to come. The most important characters in this film also have the most emotional edge attached to them. Gamora and Nebula, daughters of Thanos are given extra time and character development. Stark and Thor, who are uniquely connected to Thanos, are also given time to explore their individual mindset. Avengers: Infinity War feels like a genuine continuation of Captain America: Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Thor: Ranganork , all in one package. The fallout of the Avengers after Civil War, the growth and family nature of the Guardians following Vol. 2, and the destiny of Thor following the events of Ragnarok, all blend together to create a massive plot line, with the infinity stones at center. This works well and brings brand new character pairings, creates unique dynamics and creates tension, situational humor and emotional payoffs all in the same film. While the heroes in this film definitely have their time at the center, the true MVP of Avengers: Infinity War is the villain.
Thanos, played by Josh Brolin, is arguably the best Marvel Villain to date alongside of Killmonger. Thanos has been the end game villain for this franchise, ever since The Avengers released in 2012. The pressure for this villain to be impactful and not fall into common Marvel villain tropes was high, and Brolin answered the call with a powerful, emotional and brutal villain performance. Avengers: Infinity War is essentially a Thanos film. He holds the highest amount of screen time in the film and the story weaves through him, just as much as it does the heroes. Thanos is, by far, the most powerful character in the film, and the Russo brothers want to make sure you know that from the opening scene of the film, all the way to the final moments. There is a stoic nature to Thanos. The character is not afraid for doing anything needed to accomplish his goals, and at the same time is not blind to the destruction he causes. While not following his classic comic book motivations, Thanos is incredibly fascinating throughout this film and Brolin immediately captures any scene where he was present. The Russo’s took a few liberties with the character but it pays off in a big way with the film essentially centered around The Mad Titan and his self prophesied destiny. Overall, Thanos is right up there with the best villains this franchise has seen and is in the top echelon of comic book villains on screen.
Avengers: Infinity War is by far the most action heavy film of the franchise. Taking the title of the film seriously, the Russo brothers flow the plot of this film from multiple battles, huge action set pieces and of course, war. Whether it be the streets of New York, the boarders of Wakanda, or in the vast reaches of the Marvel cosmic universe, the sheer scale of Avengers: Infinity War is very impressive. At its core, Avengers: Infinity War is comic book movie magic. You genuinely feel like you’re watching a comic event, similar to a multi-title crossovers you’d see in the comic pages. All of these characters stem from their own mini franchises and films and have their own themes carrying off of them, all of it gets put into one film with characters being shown for a few minutes before moving to another. The heroes themselves, and their respective powers, are very well represented. A character like Doctor Strange, arguably the strongest single Avenger outside of Thor, has his powers displayed in full force and having a mystical character like him fight side by side with some of the other iconic Marvel heroes was a great sight to see. Much like the comic splash pages, the pace of the film moves quickly from action set piece to action set piece. The film is culminated with an emotional, high stakes filled, and ambitiously risky final thirty minutes, rivaling that of films like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier in my opinion.
As said before, Avengers: Infinity War is unique, yet familiar. It is tonally different yet also manages to capture the essence of what made this franchise so successful. There are a couple of gripes I had with the film. The first is the constant switching from battle to battle. Granted it is called Infinity “War”, but a part of me wanted a few moments to breathe here and there which the film didn’t always allow for. The second gripe I had was the score. The Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn’t been known for the best scores outside of a few great ones, and Avengers: Infinity War does not always bring the most memorable scores. While there are character motifs carried from older films like the iconic Avengers theme, Black Panther and Captain America’s theme, overall it was not the best part of the film. A couple of characters could have been utilized better and sometimes were “just there” with not much to do, as well as a few poorly timed humor. Finally, the visual effects lacked in a few small moments in CGI heavy battles but it is worth pointing out that Thanos’ VFX is flawless, and his moments on screen are very natural. During some of the more big battle sequences, the VFX suffers here and there but nothing more than small blemishes in an overall fantastic visual effects achievement.
The important thing to realize about Avengers: Infinity War is that it is half of a two-part epic. While this might leave some fans frustrated with a lack of a few thematic payoffs, it is likely all those frustrations will be put at ease when the untitled Avengers sequel is released in 2019. That being said, Avengers: Infinity War is an outstanding entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It takes the best parts of multiple franchises, multiple characters and multiple thematic arcs and blends them together into a cohesive, powerful, emotional and action packed rollercoaster. In what might be the most ambitious film that Joe and Anthony Russo have made, Avengers: Infinity War doesn’t hold back punches and throws them frequently. Led by an incredible villain performance Thanos, and backed with some of the most well loved Marvel heroes over the last ten years like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Hulk, Star Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot and so many more, Avengers: Infinity War is the first part in the culmination of a decade of Marvel. Filled with emotion, thrilling action, edge of your seat excitement, great character dynamics, well placed humor, dark themes, shocking twists and an incredible ending, Avengers: Infinity War is simply one of the best Marvel films to date.