Action, Action Movies, Anthony Mackie, Avengers: Infinity War, Benicio Del Toro, Bradley Cooper, Chadwick Boseman, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Don Cheadle, Elizabeth Olsen, Idris Elba, Josh Brolin, Karen Gillan, Letita Wright, Mark Ruffalo, Paul Bettany, Peter Dinklage, Robert Downey Jr., Russo Brothers, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Superhero movies, Tom Hiddleston, Tom Holland, Zoe Saldana
Avengers: Infinity War is an overwhelming experience. I can’t think of any other way to describe it, because after ten years Marvel has made their most ambitious movie, combining dozens of superheroes onscreen for a massive spectacle. There are some truly great moments within the film, as well as some moments that fall victim to the weakest of Marvel’s common plot devices. I’ve always considered the Marvel films, especially the team up movies, to be the rare films that are both great cinematic experiences and great films, and while I think Infinity War is a great cinematic experience, I think it is a solid, if sometimes problematic film.
After years of planning, Thanos (Josh Brolin) has finally made his descent to Earth, planning his pathway to uniting the six infinity stones and destroying half the universe. This threat unites the heroes of the Marvel universe, including everyone from the Avengers to the Guardians of the Galaxy, to come together to stop this threat from realizing his vision.
Ironically, my biggest worry going in was Thanos, who ended up being the film’s best element. Marvel has had a mixed bag of villains, but Thanos is a truly menacing character who’s purpose is justified in his own mind. The best villains are those that believe themselves to be heroes, and Thanos’s motivations are surprisingly complex for a purple alien, and I definitely wasn’t expecting to be moved by Thanos’s origins or swayed by his logic.
By making Thanos the main character, the film definitely centralizes the plot and organizes the characters into factions with different missions, and while there’s a lot of great banter and interactions, it’s hard for each character to have a complete arc. There are certainly some great individual scenes, including an incredible standoff featuring Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill and a great opening scene picking up with Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, but these are mostly great moments instead of great through lines, and perhaps with a film of this magnitude it’s maybe impossible to do so, but I felt that it lacked the focus of Captain America: Civil War or The Avengers.
While the actual infinity stones themselves are somewhat tedious, I enjoyed Thanos’s mission, and the film definitely shows the ways in which Thanos differs from the heroes; he doesn’t value one human life in the way they do, and the film surprisingly shows why this is both good and bad for both parties. The film also retains the charm that makes these films work; unlike the DC Extended Universe, this film has earned its emotional stakes and character weight, and there’s a joy to seeing these character onscreen together because the path has been paved for it.
On a visceral level, the film is pretty impeccable; the action is great, the humor is sharp, and outside of a strange side plot featuring Peter Dinklage, it’s entertaining all the way through. There are moments that are plodding and it’s sometimes hard to see how things will connect, but the film never stops relishing in the joy of its own existence, and celebrates the rich world it has created. It’s truly a stunning achievement, and despite being slightly convoluted, it’s relatively easy to be engaged on a character level rather than a plot level.
I think Avengers: Infinity War represents the best and worst of Marvel; it’s joyful, exciting, energetic, wonderfully acted, and adapted exactly the way material like this should, whilst occasionally suffering from botched plot elements and feeling like only one act of a larger story (a feeling that is best exemplified by its ending). Still, I think the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done a lot of good for the film industry, and I’ve very much enjoyed my experiences over the last ten years, and despite its issues, Infinity War exists not because of fan service, but on the basis of great characters and storytelling. I love the ideas these films celebrate, and Infinity War is a testament to their ability to keep pushing forward. Grade: B+
As a side note, I’ve seen a lot of rankings listed for the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. For what it’s worth, I’ve listed my rankings, from worst to best, below:
19. Iron Man 2
18. Thor: The Dark World
16. The Incredible Hulk
14. Captain America: The First Avenger
13. Iron Man 3
12. Avengers: Infinity War
11. Avengers: Age of Ultron
10. Doctor Strange
9. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
8. Black Panther
7. Guardians of the Galaxy
6. Iron Man
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
4. Spider-Man: Homecoming
3. Thor: Ragnorak
2. The Avengers
1.Captain America: Civil War