“I’m here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative.”
Ten years have passed since Nick Fury uttered those words to Tony Stark in 2008’s Iron Man, the film that kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What felt like nothing more than a tease of an unlikely promise eventually came to fruition four years later in what was, at that point, one of the most daring ensemble features: The Avengers. Since then, Marvel Studios never looked back, expanding the world that once featured a mere six heroes to a galaxy that features over 30. With Avengers: Infinity War being pegged as the final chapter in the MCU as fans currently know it, audiences knew that the first of this two-parter, one which sees the long-anticipated Thanos (Josh Brolin) finally make his way to earth, would come at a high cost.
(Light spoilers ahead)
Infinity War begins with Thanos and his Black Order — CG-baddies Ebony Maw, Cull Obsidian, Proxima Midnight, and Corvus Glaive— tearing through the remains of the ship that housed the survivors from Asgard as they search for the Space Stone in Loki’s possession. Upon retrieving it from the ever-duplicitous Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thanos has his “children” go to earth to recover the Time and Mind stones from Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and The Vision (Paul Bettany) respectively. This, of course, comes with opposition from the heroes fans have come to know and love. Spider-Man, Scarlet Witch, Hulk, Captain America, Falcon, Black Panther — everyone joins in on the fight.
The narrative jumps between several different, yet obviously intertwined plotlines at break-neck speeds.This constant back-and-forth between the near half-dozen plotlines can be a little grating at times, but each thread in the story is compelling enough to rope you in to the respective scene. While some heroes get preferential treatment, the Russo Brothers adequately juggle all of the different groups of heroes in this movie as they scramble to find an answer to stopping the Mad Titan. The surprise, though, is that in a film with such a long cast of heroes, Thanos is featured just as much, if not more so than any other individual character.
While it is unsurprising that Marvel would make attempts at humanizing their villain, it is surprising the lengths they went to in order to make Thanos seem justified in his symphony of destruction. While his goal of wiping out half the universe can be seen as laughably generic, it is not without reason. A constant underlying reluctance permeates his character in scenes where he talks about and gets closer to achieving his endgame, even reaching a point where the Titan is moved to tears by his actions. Josh Brolin’s performance easily tops all of the other underwhelming villains that have plagued Marvel’s films. Brolin’s Thanos is undeniably menacing, but he is also interesting, often introspective, and just — in his own megalomanic way.
The action sequences are par for the course: Hulk smashes, Thor conjures up some lighting, Black Widow performs some incredible acrobatic feats, and Iron Man tests out a new sleek suit filled with an arsenal equal to that of a medium-sized country. This all, of course, while a medley of bright flashes and beams converge on targets as buildings, ships — even entire moons — are dropped on characters like nothing. It’s cookie-cutter, at this point, but still a spectacle that warrants viewing. After years of watching these character leading their own adventures in different corners of the universe, it’s a joy watching them deliberate and fight together in a seemingly hopeless battle. What isn’t a pleasure, though, is the ever-present Marvel cheese factor which demands there be jarring one-liners to make light of the grave situation at hand. As in previous Marvel movies, these one-liners are hit-or-miss, but considering the stakes in this chapter, it may have been preferable to dial it back on the quips and play on the grim nature of the story. To their credit, though, the Russo Brothers do tone it down on the jokes as the film’s final act comes to a close, allowing for the audience to fully engage with the bleakness of the reality placed before our remaining heroes.
While there are deaths throughout the film that carry emotional weight for avid MCU fans, the ending feels rather trigger-happy as main characters begin dropping by what feels like the dozen. That said, some of those deaths will tug at the heartstrings, but they happen so quickly that it’s easy to lose track of who it was that just got turned to a pile of ash and nothingness. Even for a movie that never lets up from the very first minute, the ending feels like an assortment of rapid-fire gut-punches that most people know are only for show. After all, the story is set to conclude next year and some of the characters who meet death in this installment are too profitable for Disney to actually kill off.
There’s a lot to balance in the jam-packed crossover which sports a hefty two hour and forty minute runtime, but Infinity War is a more than serviceable Marvel movie that delivers on the promise that was made in a post-credits scene of The Avengers six years ago: A showdown with the mighty Thanos. Whether Marvel cops out or delivers a satisfying ending to this chapter of its universe is yet to be determined, but Infinity War masterfully sets the stage for Avengers 4 in a big way and it should be interesting to watch them continue this story next year.
Bring some tissues and stick around for the lone post-credits scene — it’s Marvel-ous. Avengers: Infinity War is now playing in theaters everywhere.
Mario Avalos is a senior at Florida International University, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, along with certificates in Film Studies and Professional and Public Writing.