Review: AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, A Fun and Dire Marvel Royale
Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr. and many, many more unite for the ultimate Marvel showdown.
The impossible geek dream of most every Marvel movie character together in one adventure has, at long last, landed. Iron Man! Captain America! Thor! Spider-Man! Doctor Strange! Guardians of the Galaxy! (This could go on for a while). But is Avengers: Infinity War more than an extremely impressive cast list? While it may not be the best or most satisfying of Marvel movies, or even of the Russo Brothers’ three Marvel movies, it is a cosmic epic on the grandest scale, lots of fun but also increasingly dire. It is no less than one of the biggest corkers in movie history.
If I were to list the prominent cast members, I’d reach reach the studio mandated word-count before even beginning to detail my spoiler free thoughts on this film. I will say that while not everyone who shows up necessarily has a lot to do, several characters take narrative priority in perhaps unexpected ways.
It’s always great to see Paul Bettany as The Vision, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, and Chris Evans as Steve Rogers. But it’s even nicer to see Josh Brolin, as the mad titan himself, Thanos, really get to command the screen. Brolin, amid much chaos and craziness, manages to render mega-villain into something worthy of the decade-long build-up to his major arrival.
At Marvel Comics back in the day, editorial had a saying that every issue was someone’s first issue. Hence, the repetitive recaps of character origins and current plot points. Sure it was clunky, but whomever coined that edict wasn’t wrong.
Marvel Studios has generally operated with an eye to that method, insomuch as the films have been kept pretty straightforward, keeping most plot threads within their respective sub-franchises. (I.e., Winter Soldier gets resolved in the Captain America series, Asgardian drama is kept the Thor films, etc). All the while, the meta-franchise-spanning storyline of Thanos seeking the six infinity gems has planted, grown, and occasionally briefly revisited throughout the whole 18-film shebang. It’s the simplest of drawn-out storylines, one that asks refreshingly little of audience members: There’s this big scary purple guy who wants the full set of magical cosmic stones that will make him all-powerful. Even someone’s dim uncle who might catch a Marvel movie here and there every now and then, and couldn’t tell you which could track that. More power to Marvel for keeping things just that simple.
But this is where the casual commitment ends. Don’t go into Avengers: Infinity War without having seen Thor: Ragnarok, both Guardians of the Galaxys, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and all the Captain Americas and Avengers movies. It wouldn’t hurt to also catch Spider-Man: Homecoming, but don’t overwork yourself. Infinity War is every bit of two and a half hours, and does not stop to explain who any of the mind-bogglingly massive array of characters are, or why they’re doing what they’re doing when we first catch up with them.
Of course, the thing that all the superheroes end up doing is battling Thanos. The battles are numerous and sometimes brutal. (Suffering from “superhero fatigue”? AVOID this film at all costs). (Then step aside and let the fans enjoy it). While it’s quite fun to witness all the offbeat combinations of characters as they either meet for the first time or are reunited, all the fighting does add up after a while.
Which may contribute to the sense of exhaustion that one is likely to feel as the credits roll. There is also a well-earned emotional exhaustion that will be common for fans of the MCU. (Know what “MCU” stands for? Then you’re a likely member of that group). Plenty of spoiler-able things occur by the end; and yet, more than any other Marvel film to date, this one ultimately feels more like a very well orchestrated situation than a movie. The resolution is like nothing prior, in a comic book film or otherwise. Yes, there will be an Avengers 4 next year. But what, pray tell, will it possibly be? And after this, how much more can anyone stand?
Infinity War feels like a big turning point for this super-franchise, though a certain lack of resolution makes it impossible to pinpoint just why that is at the moment. It’s a very satisfying ride for the most part, a must-see for anyone remotely interested in following these characters (or whatever’s left of them) into their next decade. Infinity War is and isn’t many things, but one thing no can deny… It is a marvel.