Avengers: Infinity War reviews, what are they good for? Let’s be honest – not much. Marvel’s cinematic branch has been steamrolling its way towards 2018’s inevitable roster shakedown since 2008’s Iron Man, nary a hiccup or roadblock to count (eh, The Incredible Hulk, Thor: The Dark World). Kevin Feige has effectively reshaped modern blockbuster culture for ten years (and counting), all signs pointing towards this interdimensional doomsday event teased by Thanos’ first post-credits cameo in 2012’s The Avengers. Mission accomplished, achievement unlocked, and now it’s time to see what new box office records Marvel can break. Could Black Panther be dethroned already? (I’m doubling-down on “No.”)
Right, you’ve clicked here for a reason – who am I to deny some early hot-off-the-presses buzz?
“Was it all worth it? The origins, sequels, and spinoffs? Did Marvel answer our prayers?” Yes(ish). No mincing of words. Avengers: Infinity War could have been an easy victim of expectations and brand loyalty, but – especially for “Cosmic Marvel” fans (Guardians/Doctor Strange/Thor) – Joe and Anthony Russo wrestle with franchise-defining stakes like Olympic athletes. At just South of three hours, the movie boogies from start to finish (only to take momentary breathers so Star-Lord and Tony Stark can bicker like infantile man-children vying to prove whose is bigger). *Hard* sci-fi fans are in for a swirling galactic planet-hopper rotating around Thanos’ mighty gravitational pull, torn from the very pages of Marvel’s comic storylines.
Alas, if only it all felt a bit less “Part I-y” – but we’ll get there.
The premise is simple – Thanos (Josh Brolin) embarks on a mission with his Black Order squadron to collect all six Infinity Stones. With a specially-forged golden gauntlet, the Stones’ power could wipe out half of Earth’s population if Thanos were to simply snap his fingers. Looks like it’s Avengers time! Captain America (Chris Evans) is back (with beard), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) gets beamed home, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) continue their mentor-mentee relationship – I could be here all day listing every Marvel hero who joins the fight. Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), the Guardians…it’s everyone versus Thanos. All hands on deck.
Marvel’s wunderkind Russo brothers – in addition to screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely – faced a Hulk-sized task of not only ushering doom unto the Avengers’ doorstep, but honoring the singular developments of too many superheroes who have all benefited from hand-picked groomers (origin creators). Your Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) types. Wholly different characters signified not only by personality but surroundings as well (James Gunn’s cartoonish Looney Tunes galaxy, Coogler’s African Wakanda representation). A veritable MCU melting pot – pulled off with more seamlessness than expected.
It’s not *all* perfection, though.
For how tremendous Okoye’s (Danai Gurira) comments are when calling out the Avengers’ bullshit (my heart, be still), there’s a struggle to maintain Star-Lord’s maverick roguishness and inappropriate sense of humor (lookin’ at your “grenade testicles” joke, striving to be ”Gunny” but missing the mark). Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) continue to cement their place as the MCU’s unsung comedic relief, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) proves to be a far-superior supporting hero versus singular protagonist, but other arcs jumble together with *so* many heroes on screen. Mainly how almost every white male hero is driven by some form of ego. Not Ego, the Living Planet FYI. Tony, Star-Lord, Strange, Thor – the obvious offenders. Kudos to Avengers: Infinity War for staying away from *too* much head-butting between these similarly driven arcs…save for one anticlimactic act of selfishness.
Without mentioning spoilers but touching on problem areas, Thanos’ presence erases some wonderful character building that James Gunn established between Star-Lord and Gamora. We all know the latter is the daughter of the Mad Titan, and their relationship *had* to be addressed through interaction – but not this way. Guardians Of The Galaxy and its sequel work so well to balance Star-Lord and Gamora as equal players (Gamora the stronger, even). In Avengers: Infinity War, though, Gamora – one of the MCU’s forefront female warriors – is relegated to the status of “girlfriend pawn.” Star-Lord pushed frontwards when they should be treated side-by-side. This is quite possibly the worst look of the entire film; a black eye that mishandles two of my favorite Marvel heroes.
A true treat for fans will be the meet-ups and eventual team-ups – my favorite being a side-adventure featuring Thor, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel). Tony’s frustration with Drax’s blunt nature is good for chuckles, too, but a talking raccoon, a Norse legend and sentient tree walk into a floating space forgery. What’s not to love? The novelty of characters colliding is not lost on this critic: Drax’s comparison of Thor (a “man”) to Star-Lord (a “dude) instills lasting insecurity, Tony and Strange’s mental jabbing evolves beyond brainiac outshines, and chills shot up my spine when Cap’s crew (Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow) fly into Wakanda for the first time. We’ve been waiting *years* for such cross-hatching – and the Russos don’t squander the opportunity (see Spider-Man, Iron Man and Doctor Strange’s cape pulling off an escape plan based on a famous Sigourney Weaver film).
Let me make this next point very clear: Avengers: Infinity War should still be called Avengers Infinity War: Part I. Expect half a movie, plenty of cliffhangers, and winks towards the camera too preoccupied with what comes next. For instance, Banner – another unfortunate casualty of too much content and too little time (even at almost three hours) – repeatedly reminds us that his Hulk “performance issue” won’t be figured out until the next film.
Furthermore, at such a daunting length, plot movement is still driven by the most coincidence-first storytelling that disassembles with a projected warning (Thanos’ mercy is…suspect). Don’t get me wrong, pacing is on-point and can be described as a full-on sprint from start to finish, but it’s still disappointingly formulaic. Stakes are high, but are they *sincerely* capitalized on?
What’s funny is how I started writing this thinking “Gee, how am I going to review Avengers: Infinity War based on how almost everything could be a spoiler?” Guess it’s not that hard after all, but I promise, I’m wrapping up shortly.
Let’s talk action next, because you’re here for a Marvel movie. The Avengers leveled New York City when fending off Loki and Thanos’ Chitauri army, Age Of Ultron lifted Sokovia into the air and crashed it down *hard,* so how would Avengers: Infinity War compare? Frantically, furiously and without care for structural integrity.
For how much genocide Thanos commits offscreen (Xandar eliminated, Asgardians slaughtered), there’s still *plenty* of warfare to enact. The Black Order spar with Avengers intermittently as the hunt for Infinity Stones presses on, but you’re here for Wakanda’s border defense in terms of all-out war. M’Baku (Winston Duke) by his king’s side, Bucky brandishing his vibranium arm, Cap’s task force ready to beat the snot out of charging Outriders who spill from Thanos’ transport ships – jarring chaos, but enough CGI baddy-bashing for defensive hold-the-line intensity. Shout out to the ladies of Marvel as well, who once again shine brightest, as Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Black Widow and Okoye face off against Proxima Midnight (Carrie Coon) – my favorite flash of fight choreography in Avengers: Infinity War. Violence is a little less pose-heavy, too, with smiles and laughs replaced by stern grimaces.
I’ve gone this far without dissecting Thanos, but fret not, for it’s not out of spite. Josh Brolin’s monstrous supervillain brings to Marvel not only a fear-of-God adversary, but tonal darkness that inches closer to direness than ever before. Tony’s sarcasm or Bruce’s stammering wits may strike a few laughs, but when Thanos stomps into frame, a hush falls upon crowds and saviors alike.
His motivations are warped by self-righteousness – Thanos travels to overpopulated planets and eradicates half the civilization – because he believes he’s keeping natural order. Look no further than his grin upon telling Gamora her homeworld is now thriving, and civilians have full bellies. Brolin is on the verge of making us sympathize with the heartless warmonger, but brings about an evilness rooted in humanity and cultism. Not a walking supercomputer, no incredible shrinking man – just a self-anointed deity who could, like that *snaps,* wipe out everything we know and love about the MCU.
Can you feel my confliction permeating your [insert device] screen? This madness must end. Marvelites, enjoy Avengers: Infinity War. Soak in a more artistically-inclined adventure that I liken to Star Wars: The Last Jedi in terms of comparative cinematics when pitted against inter-franchise entries. Roll with a flurry of punches that come million-dollar-baby fast, appreciate the universe-building and sweat a few beads at the thought of Thanos crushing your favorite Avengers’ skull – just don’t expect a standalone feature.
Expect questions, some incidental plotting and Bruce Banner just kind of pointing out exposition that the film briskly glances over. This is without a doubt the movie “event” of the summer. But “movie” of the summer? That’ll be up for debate.
Avengers: Infinity War cares a bit too much about being "Part 1" and holding enough development for "Part 2," but MCU fans should see their 10-year buildup expectations met - not exceeded, but met.
Avengers: Infinity War Review