Review: 'Avengers: Infinity War' is a Flawless Blockbuster That Will Leave MCU Fans Shaken
by Jeremy Kirk
April 27, 2018
18 movies, 10 years, 10 Academy Award nominations, 6 Infinity Stones, and one mad Titan. Those are just some of the numbers the Marvel Cinematic Universe (aka the "MCU") is working with going into its 19th and latest film, Avengers: Infinity War, directed by Anthony & Joe Russo. All roads have certainly been leading to this, the culmination of the ever-expanding MCU and the adventures of the countless superheroes found therein. But Infinity War is unlike any of those adventures in which all of our favorite comic book characters have found themselves involved before. With Marvel Studios seemingly having perfected the superhero formula, it seems now is the perfect time to shake things up, and the MCU doesn't disappoint. Infinity War not only leaves the entire MCU shaken, it works to leave fans of this universe shaken, as well.
Much more than just another, run-of-the-mill adventure, the film closely follows the quest of Thanos (Josh Brolin), the galactic overlord whose sworn quest involves collecting all six of the incomparably powerful Infinity Stones. Thanos believes that, with the Stones affixed to his Infinity Gauntlet, he will finally have the power to wipe out half of all the living creatures in the universe, those that remain able to enjoy a far more prosperous and far less crowded world.
Thanos' task is headed in the right direction when Infinity War begins, as many of the Marvel superheroes who have been fighting Thanos' efforts for years now find themselves split up and scattered across galaxies. Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans) are the home team here on Earth, but after the events of Captain America: Civil War, they aren't in any position to team up. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) are still confined to space where the remaining Asgardians of Thor's home world try to find a new planet on which they can thrive. As Thanos and his minions draw closer to achieving their ultimate and nefarious goals, the scattered superheroes of the universe must put aside their respective differences and find a way of defeating the mad Titan once and for all.
Avengers: Infinity War is directed by the Russo Brothers, Anthony and Joe, a duo that has established themselves well in the MCU. After previously flooring audience expectations with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War, it only seemed right that the directing team should try and prove their worth with something bigger (much bigger). Infinity War is definitely bigger, and a fair argument could be made that it is better than any MCU adventure put to film before, as well.
Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely do a remarkable job balancing the movie between all of the characters required to make an appearance. They pull off this impressive feat in an unconventional manner that automatically sets Infinity War apart form the rest of the MCU, by essentially making the villain the main character of the story. They allow some of the previously established characters to develop to an extent, but only to the point that that development puts that certain character into Thanos' overall plan. This structure allows for near-constant action, something else Infinity War can boast about.
The Russo Brothers take that structure and do cartwheels with it, giving us the biggest, MCU adventure to date and one with the most interesting villains this universe has ever seen. All involved do an incredible job of establishing Thanos' plan as well as the motives behind his attempt at mass genocide. There is, however, a deeper emotion at work when it comes to Thanos and his relationship with the rest of the MCU. This notion of establishing an antagonist's motivations and allowing us to understand them has been brewing within the MCU, most notably Killmonger's goals in the recent Black Panther. The most dangerous villain is one whose goals are understood and even, to an extent, agreed upon, and Infinity War gives us a villain whose ultimate goal, reprehensible as it may be, makes sense.
Infinity War not only finds a way of handily balancing the massive cast of characters, it does so with a healthy dose of action and comedy alike. While the film is certainly darker in tone than any film of the MCU before it, the Russo Brothers still do a fine job of delivering an explosively entertaining adventure worthy of the brand. The odd team-ups the film establishes throughout are ripe with potential when it comes to that entertainment. Thor mixing it up with the Guardians of the Galaxy offers some hilarious banter. Seeing Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) fighting alongside Wakanda's Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the warrior women of Wakanda provides some flawless badassery. There seems very little has been left on the table this time around, and the resulting explosion of dynamics is just one, more aspect that sets Infinity War apart from the rest of the MCU.
Thanos, himself, is definitely another of those aspects, and Brolin, performing through the CGI creation of the character with seemingly minimal effort, brings the mad Titan to amazing life. Brolin is very deliberate in his performance, almost subdued when juxtaposed with the character's cataclysmic intentions. While much of the MCU represented here performs with standard solidity, it's Brolin's performance as the film's villain that truly takes it up those extra couple of notches. Thanos' villainy is unquestionable, but, between the established motives of the character and weighty emotion the actor brings to it, the antagonist this time around is the first that could easily be sidestepped into the role of protagonist.
Naturally, the less revealed about Avengers: Infinity War and the results of Thanos' plan the better. Infinity War is a blockbuster, cinematic experience fans of the MCU will want to have with as little foreknowledge as possible. Where the MCU is left at the end of Infinity War is something of a mystery, though, even for fans that have already taken in the experience. That darker tone of the film bleeds in all the way through, and the ways in which the MCU is shaken up by the end of the film will surely leave fans of the MCU shaken, as well. For that unconventional and downright shocking choice alone, Avengers: Infinity War will be remembered as something of a turning point for the franchise, and good on everyone involved for having the… um… stones to follow through in such a manner.