Avengers: Infinity War Review

It’s all been leading to this, right? Since Thanos’ purply mug first smirked at the camera during the end credits of 2012’s “The Avengers,” fans of Marvel Studios’ unprecedented 10-year, 20-plus film run on the box office have been waiting for the ultimate battle between Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the infamous Mad Titan, who in the comics wields the Infinity Gauntlet and the six Infinity Gems to essentially rule the universe.

As such, something huge was in store, and huge pretty much sums up everything about “Avengers: Infinity War.” Take your pick of your favorite massive fight sequence in any of the previous Marvel Studios films (the Battle for New York, Sokovia or the German airport throwdown from “Captain America: Civil War”) and multiply it by 10 and you get the action scale of this third “Avengers” installment – start to finish.

That’s a true action blockbuster fan’s dream, so if your gripe with any past Marvel films has been “not enough action,” you won’t be disappointed. If issues with plot, meaningful stakes and plausibility has kept your from joining the masses of Marvel movie fanatics, well, nothing will change after “Infinity War.”

That’s because from a writer and director’s standpoint, the mere concept of “Infinity War” is a colossal beast that’s impossible to tame. Marvel put its A-Team — directors Anthony and Joe Russo and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (from “Civil War” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”) to the task, but the requirements of “make it our biggest action movie yet, include 30 established characters who all get enough screen time, introduce a new big villain and make it all meaningful” were unrealistic. ”Avengers: Age of Ultron” struggled with similar demands.

“Infinity War” skates by much the same way “Ultron” did – on the good will of the films that came before it. Its functionality and success is predicated on Marvel having created positive relationships between audiences and these characters. For 10 years we developed personal affinities for Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, Chris Evans’ Captain America, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther (to give a recent example) and way more. Plus, we’ve seen them interact in compelling, often hilarious ways in the previous “Avengers” films and “Civil War.” This movie rides these established character dynamics and offers too few precious new ones (Dr. Strange and Tony Stark, Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy) whenever they can be snuck in without disrupting the endless exposition.

The massive size of the story sees it splintered into multiple subplots with different groupings of Avengers on different missions, often abandoning one subplot for long stretches of time. This would seem like part of the fallout from the schism of “Civil War” but it isn’t really. All of that interesting complexity conveniently dissipates because Thanos has arrived.

“Infinity War” is essentially Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) quest to retrieve all the Infinity Stones alluded to in previous Marvel movies (namely the two in the Avengers’ possession) and destroy half the universe. Despite some admirable attempts to give him an ideology and emotional depth (and a great performance from Brolin), Markus and McFeely aren’t able (likely due to time constraints) to give us enough to see him as anything more than the uber-baddie. He’s not an example of Marvel’s previous villain problems, but he falls flat as the complex nemesis Marvel clearly hoped he’d be.

There are lots of shocking turns of events throughout (and especially the end) of “Infinity War,” but it’s more a mind-numbing “whoa” variety than the emotional gut-punch you might expect considering the level of connection many fans feel with these characters. The delightful banter that Joss Whedon imprinted onto these films starting in “The Avengers” gives fans lots of fun moments to lap up with their favorite characters, but we get mostly comedic intimacy with them, not emotional intimacy. Again, there’s just no time.

As an action spectacle, “Infinity War” definitely feels like the culmination of a decade’s worth of exciting and entertaining movies, but as the latest milestone on the story arc of these amazingly tended to characters, it’s just a lot of noise leading to a cliffhanger that Marvel knew it could get away with. Other Marvel films (and even team-up films have) have felt like more complete standalone entities; “Infinity War” necessitates all those movies just to stand on its feet.

The table is certainly set for a true culmination in the 2019 “Avengers” film. If “Infinity War” needed to be the franchise’s grandiose, over-the-top blockbuster so that the next “Avengers” can come in on clean-up duty and put some real depth and meaning behind everything that happened in “Infinity War,” it will have been worth enduring its messiness.


3.5/5 Stars


Avengers: Infinity War
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo
Written by Chrisopther Markus and Stephen McFeely
Starring: Uh … do I have to?

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