Possibly the biggest movie of the year (commercially speaking), Avengers: Infinity War marks Marvel’s 19th movie starring the Avengers characters. Ranging from Iron Man to Thor, from Captain America to Black Panther and from Doctor Strange to Spider-Man, the cast is also joined by the Guardians of the Galaxy this year. Too much of a good thing? Here’s our review, which we’re going to keep relatively spoiler-free.
Just before Avengers: Infinity War started, a trailer for Deadpool 2 was shown. It features Josh Brolin as the main villain, and in the opening sequence for Infinity War we see Josh Brolin again – this time as Thanos, the “Josh Brolin and Hellboy had a baby” bad guy we first saw as a kind of puppet master at the end of Age of Ultron. Does this mean that Disney ran out of people to cast in this movie? You’d almost think so, when you look at how many big names feature in the latest Avengers movie.
Thanos is no longer content to stay in the background for this one, and instead steps forward to go after the infinity stones. We know Doctor Strange has one, as does Vision, but Thanos wants all six stones so he can essentially solve overpopulation by killing off half the people on earth. He’s done so before, and is eager to mention it should be seen as salvation rather than suffering. It also doesn’t take him long to show that he’s not to be messed with – our friend Hulk is no match for him and gets a good beating trying to protect the Asgardians and the tesseract from Thanos. He fails, but Heimdall sends him back to earth to go and warn Tony Stark and the rest of the Avengers.
In terms of pacing, Avengers: Infinity War feels a little like a series of short big budget action movies loosely connected until they fit together during the second half of the movie. With so many superheroes to accommodate in a single movie, this switching between stories is of course inevitable, and it never hurts the movie because the writing makes sure that it’s easy enough to keep track of everything. So after meeting Thanos, Loki, Thor and the Hulk, you’ll see Doctor Strange and Iron Man together in their story and not long after you’ll meet the Guardians of the Galaxy again. All of these characters are, in their own way, affected by Thanos’ master plan – and in a few cases we also learn more about a character’s backstory, for example with Zoe Saldana’s Gamora who is Thanos’ daughter.
In terms of scope and approach, Avengers: Infinity War reminded me a little bit of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. The way the action shifts between story lines that are ultimately connected, the epic storyline where all life lies in the balance, as well as the fact that Infinity War isn’t actually a standalone movie. Of course, these days, none of these Marvel movie are anymore and there have been 18 just with these characters alone (because Hugh Jackman starred as Wolverine 9 times and we’re not even counting those Marvel movies)…. but Infinity War is meant as part 1 with the conclusion arriving in about a year.
The movie is also climactic in that it works towards a conclusion for this generation of superheroes that – at least for a portion of them – definitely feels “final”. This packs the movie with an emotional layer for fans of the characters in it, and Thanos is a fitting bad guy. He’s not downright evil and feels he is doing this for the betterment of the universe, and with a heavy heart – he’s just the only one strong enough to “do what it takes”. It’s a premise that also features in Dan Brown’s Inferno, and gives you the impression that “maybe he has a point” even though you don’t want him to press ahead.
The action sequences are excellent and nearly all characters get plenty of screen time (though perhaps Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier and Don Cheadle’s War Machine are just destined to leave people wanting more). Spider-Man and Black Panther only feature marginally (though Wakanda’s a big part), but at least they have their own movies to star in. Infinity War has a run time of just over two and half hours (not counting the credits) and manages to make that time go by without even realizing how long you’ve been sitting there. That’s the hallmark for a great summer blockbuster, and Avengers: Infinity War delivers on all fronts.