(Massive Spoilers to follow)
(turn back now if you have not seen Infinity war)
(still here? great pull up a chair and close the door)
Oh, God. The feelscoaster has arrived.
So, April 27th has come and gone, and Avengers: Infinity War has darkened all our doorsteps. For those of us who have seen the film it is difficult to not talk about it with those who have not. So what did we like about the culmination of ten years of Marvel films, bringing all the characters they have accumulated over the years into one two and a half hour film. Well in short it was incredible. The sheer scale of the film is just something unto itself. Where other studios have attempted to bring together large team films and those films have come apart at the seams or just not worked on the scale they were trying for, Infinity War is a triumph.
But since if we are all here reading this and have either seen the film or are just a masochist and want to miss out on all the fun, thrills, swerves and the massive dose of feels this film delivers, lets break it down in detail.
Let’s start with the things Marvel did right with Infinity War.
Right from the onset when Thanos says, “no more resurrections” you know this is not going to be your typical Marvel journey with all the heroes walking off into the sunset at the end. Loki sacrificing himself trying to save Thor after handing over the Tesseract was a shock but it really set the tone. Thanos was coming and stopping him was going to take an unprecedented amount of force. The Hulk was completely ineffective against Thanos, usually when any Avenger makes it known they have a Hulk it doesnt end well, and at first you think, well Hulk can handle Thanos. Until Ebony Maw holds back Cull Obsidian stating to “let him have his fun” and the tide turns and Thanos lays a beating on Hulk like he has never seen, just dismantling the Green Goliath.
Marvel made the stakes very real this time around. Up until now its only been secondary characters like Quicksilver who have died in the MCU, well Infinity War racked up quite the impressive amount of deaths in relation to the entire ten years of Marvel Cinematic Universe history. Loki and Heimdall were just the first taste of what was to come. With a death toll including Vision, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Man, Star Lord, Gamora, Groot, Drax, Mantis, Winter Soldier, Falcon, Doctor Strange, Black Panther and then even in the post credit scene Nick Fury and Maria Hill disappear just like the rest. Marvel did a fantastic job of addressing the usual issue that the consequences in their films usually mean the heroes walk away at the end, and they are protected by plot armor and sequelitis. Let’s face it too, the deaths came as a real gut punch to the audience. As a life long Spider-Man fan and being so impressed with how he was handled this film when he died it was quite a shock and an emotional one with him fading out in Tony’s arms. Not only that, when Thanos and Iron Man go toe to toe themselves and inevitably Thanos beats Tony to a pulp, when Tony gets run through you assume oh god this is the big death they were setting us up for. Wrong. They swerve the audience and lay a bigger punch upon us. Well played.
With the story Marvel has been leading us up to with Thanos taking on the entire MCU, you would think maybe that in two and a half hours that characters would get lost in the shuffle. The Russos proved that they could include that incredible amount of characters and not lose the importance of individuals, we even get a cameo from General Ross. Thor gets his moments to shine with his own journey to avenge the Asgardians and acquire Stormbreaker and then his big arrival on the battlefield at the end. Thor’s banter with Rocket, and the other Guardians is great, and gives a fairly dark movie some comedic relief. Spider-Man takes on a much larger part to play than he did in Civil War, and instead of heading home tags along with Tony on his rescue mission of Doctor Strange, which Tony and Strange together with Parker had some of the movies best moments, with Strange matching Stark’s banter punch for punch. Instances like this happen throughout, the Russo brothers paired characters up incredibly well. With all the years that the MCU has been around and the different styles of each film it could have come across fairly awkward but all the characters mesh so well with each other. Star Lord and the Guardians are right on point and Drax once again steals some comedic moments it keeps the film right where it needs to be. Raganarok while awesome felt like it was too comedic compared to how dark the storyline with Hela it was trying to tell, or on the other hand where a movie like Batman v Superman goes too dark and lacks moments where it takes it foot off the gas for a moment to let the audience catch its breath. Infinity War manages to keep the focus directly on Thanos and his quest to wipe out half the galaxy while at the same time keeping the humour intact, but without losing any momentum.
The Russos also managed to work in bits of each characters history within the MCU into the script without it feeling unnatural, just having it become a part of conversation that is relevant to that particular moment. Such as when Star Lord interrupts Tony saying that his plan sucks and that they should let him make the plan, in which Drax responds by mentioning that he should tell them about the dance off he had to save the universe. Also, Thor looking lost and forlorn about the pod with Rocket and Groot, Rocket takes a moment to talk to Thor and he talks about the people he has lost through the years, like his mother to a Dark Elf in Thor: Dark World. It just adds that little bit extra with the characters, but without making it awkward or out of place within the story.
Let’s talk about the real elephant in the Marvel room; Thanos. Over the years we know he is out there, from all the way back in Avengers, and then Guardians of the Galaxy, we get a bit more from him and even without the comic book history of the character you know he is the last person in the universe to mess with. The Marvel Universe has always had a bit of a villain problem, only a few villains really stand out across the films, Loki, Hela,Erik Killmonger being the real standouts. Well, at this point after seeing Infinity War I think we can all agree that Thanos stands head and shoulders above all of them. Thanos is absolutely vicious, not only can he easily handle himself in a fight, taking apart both sets of Avengers teams right off the hop he just takes the Hulk the seemingly strongest Avenger to school. Thanos deems himself that he is on a quest to balance the universe, while killing half the universe would be evil on an undreamt of scale Thanos sees it as necessary. Thanos manages strategy and can match tactics with any of the Avengers. Josh Brolin is spectacular voicing the Mad Titan. The Russos even take a break from the action to give us some back story on Thanos and his relationship with Gamora and shows us that he does have a soft spot for his adopted daughter, granted not enough of a soft spot to deter him from throwing her off a cliff and sacrificing her to get the Soul Stone. Thanos is certainly affected by having to do the deed, as evidenced when he tells Wanda that he has lost more than she can ever know. The Russos made Thanos such a well rounded villain and not just a one note villain who all we know is that he wants to destroy the universe. Thanos is the total package and I for one cannot wait to see what they have in store for him in Avengers: Endgame.
One thing that I was totally caught off guard with was the cameo from Red Skull as the shadow figure that Thanos and Gamora encounter on Vormir. That was a great way to acknowledge that Thanos is not the only one who has tried to get their hands on Infinity Stones. Red Skull offers warnings and information but that is about where it ends. Which is fine because you don’t want to convolute the story with characters that are not totally necessary.
I think we can all agree that the special effects were typical Marvel top notch. Seeing it in 3D was just spectacular. When Thanos and Gamora go to Vormir to get the Soul Stone the landscape was just beautfil and looked so good in 3D. Marvel Studios knocked it out of the park with the effects. The epic scale of battle at the end only steps up and looks so good and is nice and crisp with nothing getting lost in the shuffle with the amount of characters on screen.
The one really great thing about Marvel slowly building to this moment over the course of ten years is that as an audience member you are really invested in these characters. You really get to caring about them, and it makes the ending pack a far heavier punch, when we have seen Bucky, Falcon, the Guardians, Spider-Man all these great characters go through so many films without too much damage coming out the other side, but this one because we have years with these characters on screen it is quite the gut shot when they perish into ash at the end. The side plot with Star Lord and Gamora with their budding romance that has been realized in the last Guardians film and you get to see that real emotion play out when Star Lord is put on the spot to kill her to protect the Soul Stone. But, even on top of that Star Lord is willing to toss everything aside when the Avengers have Thanos tied down and are trying to get the Gauntlet off of him, and Star Lord finds out Thanos was forced to kill Gamora to get the Soul Stone. The acting for Infinity War was spot on, and our investment with these characters definitely pays off. Other film franchises when large team up movies occur normally does not play out as such because there isn’t that individual investment in individual characters.
Thanos’ Black Order though is a mix of good and bad. Ebony Maw was creepy and acts like Thanos’ Walmart greeter of death letting citizens of Earth rejoice as they are about to be saved by Thanos. Ebony Maw had some great scenes with Thanos himself, and his interaction with Strange, Iron Man, and Spider-Man. However, the other three children of Thanos, Proxima Midnight, Corvus Glaive, and Cull Obsidian come across more like generic bad guys who more or less give the Avengers a good run for their money, since they are the ones primarily conflicting with them until Thanos shows up at the end. While they are indeed deadly, with Corvus Glaive quite nearly killing Vision and stealing the Mind Stone himself, other than Ebony Maw they are relatively one note characters, unlike their comic book counterparts who are vicious and quite entertaining with their individual personalities. But, with a two and a half hour film to encompass as much of the MCU as possible fleshing out four underlings to the main antagonist could prove to be relatively time constraining. It is by no means taking anything away from the film but, if they are brought back in the second part it should be interesting to see if they get more screen time to develop them further.
With the ending delivering that massive punch that it did, and of course the excellent post credits scene in which we see Nick Fury calling in the big guns with Captain Marvel, this sets up Avengers: Endgame to be hopefully just as much of a huge thrill ride as Infinity War. The Russos have proven their worth, and that they can handle all the MCU characters competently at once, so in them I trust the fate of our Mighty Avengers. With just a shade under a year until its release the only way for Endgames level of hype is up.
Infinity War was a perfect pay off for ten years of world building, and absolutely I would recommend seeing this again, especially in 3D.