It’s been ten years since the start of this cinematic experiment, a test to see if a tapestry of blockbuster superhero movies could be successfully woven into a single satisfying film franchise. There have been highs (Iron Man, Winter Soldier, Civil War, Black Panther), and there have been lows (Thor 1&2, Captain America 1, Age of Ultron), but through it all there has been a certain degree of consistency. If nothing else, the MCU has offered entertaining block-busters that occasionally turn out to be much more than that. After years of building towards a greater conflict, the Russo brothers were handed the gargantuan challenge of creating a movie that successfully merges the MCU’s various characters into one universe spanning tale. Thanos, the purple harbinger of doom has come, and with him brings the threat of unthinkably vast genocide. He has his eyes on the Infinity Stones, gems that when assembled give their wielder the ability to achieve any wish they desire. Unfortunately for the universe, Thanos’ desire is to destroy half of the denizens of the world with a snap of his fingers.
Going into the MCU’s latest, my largest question was how the Russo Bros could possibly create an intelligible film given its vast cast of supers. But all things considered, they’ve created a surprisingly coherent final product, melding its enormous cast of prior lead characters and excess of subplots into something with focus. Thanos is the driving force of the narrative, his single minded approach towards his supposedly righteous goal is marked with a purity than can only come from zealotry. Screenwriters Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus do their best to engender Thanos with enough pathos to explain his heinous acts, elevating him above the standard crop of typically poor Marvel villains. It’s all about population control, a sort of misguided implementation of utilitarianism. Brolin gives a calm, deliberate performance, granting a rational visage to to his monstrous plans. Although he is constantly at risk of devolving into a caricature of evil due to the grandiose proportions of his violence, the script and Brolin do a decent job at tethering a nefarious purple alien to some semblance of reality.
Still, the massive scope of it all creates something of a distancing effect. It turns out that battles for the fate of the universe are harder to be invested in than strain in relationships we care about (Civil War). Luckily, the mere presence of an unstoppable force like Thanos offers an excuse for a medley of fun crossovers. What happens when the ego-maniacal Tony Stark and Dr. Strange clash? How does Peter Quill react to the swaggering bravado and ripping muscles of Thor? What happens when Peter Parker goes to space? Infinity Wars offers insight into the power of a good ensemble; its enjoyable fan service brought to life by its stable of powerhouse actors. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is rife with delightful banter, Evan’s few moments as Cap are something to savor, and Bautista’s Drax steals the show as always. Its a good thing that these performances have plenty of charisma, because there’s simply no time for character revelations, developmental arcs, or any of the normal devices used to make the audience care about its heroes. As far as the defenders of the universe go, Infinity War entirely relies on prior investment into the MCU, barely able to stuff all of its characters into its two and a half hour run time.
Despite taking place on a scale larger than ever before, some of the battles devolve into a forgettable mosh of CGI-filled squabbles. Smartly, the triumphant 360-arc shots, and victorious posturing are mostly abandoned to reflect the dire straights of Thanos’ coming, and there are a few moments that do a good job of depicting the bruiser’s unmatched power of will. While this would seem like a natural opportunity to return to the more grounded style of fight choreography of Winter Soldier, nothing here feels as precise or memorable as that film. It makes sense why it lacks the ostentatious feel-good team-up moments of the first Avengers film, but the protagonists usually feel like a disorganized mob in a way that makes the fights a blur.
*Warning: Minor Spoilers ahead pertaining to the nature of the ending*
While messy, these doomed battles manage to convey that despite the superhuman status of Marvel’s finest, even they are not above death. Thanos’ cruel judgement shatters these previously invulnerable symbols of peace, and serves as a reminder that the eventuality of death is a certainty even for these demi-gods. The ending is a shocker, one that feels well-earned and deftly executed. There are no important lessons learned, and there is nothing to take away except the bitter sting of defeat. Sometimes the good guys don’t win. The brutality of this message is undercut by the inevitability that it will all likely be undone in the sequel, but for now the taste of defeat lingers.
Image Source: Digital Spy
3 thoughts on “Avengers Infinity War Review: The End is Nigh”
I agree on many points! I’m relieved to read a piece like this – the overwhelming praise had me wondering if I alone had just misread the film completely XD
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It was way more emotional than I thought it would be. Nice review.
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An absolutely stunning movie.
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