Avengers: Infinity War
***½ out of five stars Ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have culminated into the epic intergalactic superhero drama that is Avengers: Infinity War. The 19th film in the massive film franchise that began with 2008’s Iron Man, Infinity War finally delivers the battle with supervillain Thanos that fans have waited for since the teaser in the first Avengers movie six years ago.
Thanos (played by Josh Brolin) is on the warpath, searching for the six Infinity Stones, which yield unimaginable power. The universe’s greatest heroes, including current and former members of the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Sorcerer Supreme Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), team up in a desperate attempt to save all of reality. The battle stretches far across the cosmos, with battles occurring everywhere from Thanos’ ravaged home world Titan, to Wakanda, the prosperous African nation ruled by T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). The superheroes are split up into multiple teams, and some tough sacrifices must be made even to attempt victory.
Infinity War is a somewhat difficult film for me to review. Initially, it was announced that the third and fourth Avengers’ films would be called Infinity War: Parts 1 and 2. But then, the filmmakers claimed that the two films would be connected yet would stand alone. This does not seem to be the case, as Infinity War very much feels like the first half of a larger chapter. So, it may be fair to conclusively analyze certain elements found here until Avengers 4 comes out next year.
In any case, Infinity War is still a spectacle and lives up to a fair amount of the hype. Marvel and its Distinguished Competition in the comic book field have a long history of releasing crossover events. Infinity War feels very much like the cinematic equivalent of those crossovers and shares more than just the name of Marvel’s 1992 storyline, The Infinity War, and several related events. A glut of event storylines in recent years have helped contribute to a disillusion with the trend among comics fans, but thankfully Infinity War feels more like one of the better comics events, balancing action with characterization.
Perhaps the most character development is given to Thanos and his estranged daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana), now one of the Guardians of the Galaxy. We see a flashback to how Thanos killed most of the people on Gamora’s home planet and then took her under his wing in what he saw as an act of mercy. Through this, we witness Thanos’ misguided efforts to handle overpopulation and how he failed to understand why those actions went on to make Gamora hate him.
Perhaps the one weakness of the film is occasional mood swings between dramatic and comedic moments. For instance, right after Gamora shares a somber moment with Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), there is a bit of comedic relief with Drax (Dave Bautista), which feels forced and causes emotional whiplash. But most of the humor is perfectly fine. Drax and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) are thankfully presented with more dignity than in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Most of the best jokes come from the interactions between Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Dr. Strange and Star-Lord. The desire among fans to see these characters together is wonderfully realized.
A combination of the MCU’s signature humor mixed with high stakes action makes Infinity War a summer blockbuster to remember. Anyone who likes superhero films at all should definitely check it out. But be prepared to wait another year for full closure on this era of cinematic marvels. What else can I say but Make Mine Marvel!