Review: 'Avengers: Infinity War' is an Unprecedented Achievement in Blockbuster Filmmaking

April 26, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War Review

From Marvel Studios stalwarts Anthony Russo and Joe Russo comes Avengers: Infinity War, the third installment in the Avengers franchise and 19th Marvel Studios film to date. The movie marks the 10-year anniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which began with the release of Jon Favreau's Iron Man in 2008. Starring Robert Downey Jr. as billionaire philanthropist playboy Tony Stark, the very first Iron Man movie was a worldwide phenomenon and would serve as the foundation from which Marvel Studios would build an empire. Ten years later, Marvel Studios has opened a record-breaking 18 consecutive movies at #1, with five grossing over $1 billion, and a combined total of over $13 billion at the worldwide box office. To say Avengers: Infinity War has been eagerly anticipated would be an understatement. But does this film, a decade in the making with unprecedented hype, live up to fan fervor and unrealistic expectations?

Avengers: Infinity War begins where Thor: Ragnarok ends, with Thanos (Josh Brolin) intercepting an Asgardian refugee vessel led by Thor (Chris Hemsworth), his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and Heimdall (Idris Elba). After making his debut in the post-credits scene of 2012's The Avengers, Thanos has been scouring the cosmos for the Infinity Stones, six gemstones of unimaginable power that will allow the despot to reshape reality and bring "balance" to the universe. Already in possession of the Power Stone, the Mad Titan has come for the Space Stone, which is somewhere aboard the ship. Meanwhile, his henchmen — Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw, Corvus Glaive, and Cull Obsidian — travel to Earth to retrieve the Time Stone from its keeper, Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), and the Mind Stone, which powers the android Avenger known as Vision (Paul Bettany).

Enter the rest of Earth's Mightiest Heroes: Iron Man, Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Captain America (Chris Evans), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), White Wolf (Sebastian Stan), and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). And don't forget the Guardians of the Galaxy: Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Groot (Vin Diesel), Drax (Dave Bautista), and Mantis (Pom Klementieff). Together, these heroes will face insurmountable odds and suffer unimaginable losses in an attempt to defeat Thanos before his gauntlet of ruin and devastation claims trillions of lives.

Avengers: Infinity War Review

There are more than 30 integral characters in Avengers: Infinity War, twice as many as Captain America: Civil War. Luckily, the Russo Brothers understand each character and seamlessly integrate them in a way that feels organic and authentic. Helping the filmmaking brothers craft this ambitious crossover event are screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who previously collaborated with the Russos on Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the aforementioned Civil War. The result is the unprecedented culmination of multiple storylines interlinked together over 10 years and 18 films. For any other studio, making a movie of this size and scope would be a risky endeavor, and an unsuccessful one at that, but for Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios it's business as usual. Where other studios have prioritized profit over patience in their bid to create crossover events and shared universes, Marvel has taken its time, invested in its characters, and laid all the necessary groundwork to make Infinity War a success.

A major part of the film's success is its villain, Thanos. After making brief appearances in The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thanos is now at the forefront of the story. Revenge doesn't motivate the Mad Titan — there are intricacies to his behavior that are compelling, even if you don't agree with his point of view. He sees a decaying, overpopulated universe tearing itself apart and thinks his solution, while extreme, is justifiable. He isn't heroic or noble, but has conviction and is willing to sacrifice everything to carry out his plan. There's a surprising amount of depth and texture to Brolin's character — he's nuanced and three-dimensional in a way few Marvel villains have been. Brolin brings a physical presence and intensity to the role and creates a character that is both intimidating and oddly emotional. Unfortunately, his henchmen, the "Black Order", aren't that memorable. Only one of them, the downright creepy Ebony Maw (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), is mentioned by name, making the quartet of warriors somewhat disposable.

On the hero side of things, the big three — Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, and Thor — continue to evolve, leading separate teams of superheroes across the universe to stop Thanos from achieving his goal. The interplay between Tony Stark, Peter Parker, and Dr. Strange is pretty great, even if I'm still not entirely sold on Cumberbatch as the Sorcerer Supreme. The character has progressed significantly since his 2016 standalone movie, but Cumberbatch just isn't as convincing as everyone else is in their respective roles. In Wakanda, Rogers and his Secret Avengers fight alongside Black Panther, Okoye (Danai Gurira), Shuri (Letitia Wright), and M'Baku (Winston Duke) against a horde of Outriders, alien monsters under the control of Thanos. Meanwhile, in space, Thor is still reeling from the events of Ragnarok. He teams up with Rocket and Groot for a side quest that is one of my favorite parts of the movie. There are some terrific performances and great character moments throughout, though some heroes get the short shrift. This is to be expected in a film with 30+ main characters, even with a 149-minute runtime, but the Russos and Markus & McFeely do an otherwise masterful job at balancing intimate character beats and big, sweeping action set-pieces.

Avengers: Infinity War Review

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been on a roll as of late, with the delightful Spider-Man: Homecoming, the wildly entertaining Thor: Ragnarok, and the gorgeous and engaging Black Panther. As a single entry in the MCU, Avengers: Infinity War is as good as anything Marvel Studios has released in the last decade, but what makes it truly special is how it elevates everything that came before and makes every character and narrative development even more meaningful. It feels too big at times – the stakes too high, the losses too great – but it never feels contrived; everything is earned. The Russo Brothers have delivered one of the most challenging and ambitious blockbusters I've ever seen, a gamble that paid off in spades for Marvel Studios. But this is only the beginning of the end. Catharsis is coming, but we'll have to wait until May 3, 2019, when Avengers 4 hits theaters. Luckily, we've got Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel in the meantime.

After the credits rolled and we all watched the movie's only post-credits scene, I left the theater in a daze; emotionally exhausted — perhaps even devastated — and yet thoroughly satisfied. With a pulse-pounding score by Alan Silvestri, beautiful cinematography from Trent Opaloch, impressive special effects, and an incredible cast, Avengers: Infinity War is more than a great movie, it's an honest-to-god achievement in blockbuster filmmaking. For 149 minutes, I didn’t need a Time Stone to revisit the past. I became a kid again, smiling ear-to-ear as my wildest super-powered fantasies were realized on the big screen. For a comic book nerd turned film fan, it is a dream come true. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Adam's Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Follow Adam on Twitter - @AdamFrazier

Find more posts: Marvel, Review



Sweet. Can't wait to see what Marvel does with the X-Men.

RPD on Apr 26, 2018


It is an interesting film. For me, on allegorical level, mostly. For some, there are devastating loses, but it mostly goes after the goal which reveals itself as a question of misery in the world (or universe, whatever you like better). Thanos is not a villain, he's failure of consciousness, known throughout the world for centuries. it is weird that only comic book stories have the guts to tell the story like this ...

shiboleth on Apr 26, 2018


can't wait

boball on Apr 26, 2018


The issue with the galactic-scope Marvel stories, especially with the time stone in play, is that the stakes and expectations take a hit. This review's note "I became a kid again" is a common thing to read about adaptation movies but one way in which it's uniquely true here is that being their first real multi-parter means it's the first time this series has a new significant aspect of the comic book format, the cliffhanger leaving you waiting for the next issue.

MichaelSquintsPalledorous on Apr 26, 2018


Spoiler. Dr. Strange give T. a modified Time stone. A reset is a foot. No one really dies in the MCU.

PARANAM on Apr 26, 2018


Well, it's not cool thing to give spoilers, especially on this one, in the first place. Some manners, please. I saw the film myself, but that doesn't make me entitled to act rude . Besides, nothing is going to be the way it was. So goes for every character in this. Anyway, let's wait, don't be a spoiled child here ...

shiboleth on Apr 27, 2018


What isn't true?

shiboleth on Apr 27, 2018


the Spoilers are already out there , shib ...from the ending to who actually dies to the " modified stone " . And , there are some who LIKE spoilers , as they help make up your mind if you're on the fence about seeing it or not .. the movie's out , so it's not rude NOW ...a few days ago , maybe so ... I'm actually more interested in the film now , because I have seen one very negative review ( prob from a non-CB fan , and Jimmy Hauser above echoes some of that reviewer's sentiments ) , and these other gushing reviews ...

Dominic on Apr 28, 2018


Of course the spoilers are out there. I just didn't look for them. And if I didn't watch the film, I still wouldn't do it. Posting them in the place where I don't want to see them is therefore rude. But that's me. obviously, it's not what everybody thinks. Which doesn't mean that people like me don't exist. And I'm saying that after seeing the film. Yes, go see it, it's interesting take on the whole idea of superhero pathos ... Regardless the critics or the spoilers out there ...

shiboleth on Apr 28, 2018


The Pathos of futility ? when you face someone who can destroy a universe with a snap of his fingers ... Tho I do like the continuation of the narrative aspect , we only had to wait a month for the next issue , not a year .. Yes i suspect most negative reviewers don't understand the ethos and pathos of CB storytelling , tho its been translated well recently

Dominic on Apr 28, 2018


The Question Now Is : do I pay for IMAX and hopefully a half-empty theatre , or stick to the regular format ? ... I hate 3-D , so ain't doing that ...

Dominic on Apr 28, 2018


Oh come on, when gods are playing, nothing is futile. Unless you are not a god. Either it is cool or it is fun. Thanos is a cool guy in that respect, he feels that. Although, the whole thing does look a bit like passing right through trauma for everyone. But yeah, translating it is fun. I agree with that...

shiboleth on Apr 28, 2018


I'll take it a step further. No one ever really dies, if they are "good guys," in any comic book.

Russell on Apr 27, 2018


I can't believe Thanos is actually Uncle Ben. I did not see that coming.

TheOct8pus on Apr 27, 2018


It never ceases to amaze me how you guys can praise one movie for doing the exact same things you criticize others for. This movie, while entertaining, tried to do too much. Too many characters and story arcs fighting for screen time. And so much out of place forced humor it makes Deadpool look like a drama. There was nothing seamless or organic about this movie. It was straight up spectacle crammed into a 2.5 hour movie that was still too short to hold it all. Which is fine. I enjoyed it. Despite the fact that it couldn’t decide whether it was a comedy, drama, or adventure. But it’s ridiculous that you “critics” will coerce the masses into believing your congratulatory rhetoric on some movies and baseless lampooning of others. Ironic. Movie critics are the Thanos of the film industry. Forcing your eccentric will on all of us because the vast majority of movie viewers are unable to think for themselves. Sigh.

Jimmy Hauser on Apr 27, 2018


I am not particularly fascinated with this film critic or with film criticism in general. And I might despise many of them just like you. But then again, it's like with films, don't watch them if you don't like them. Or don't read the critic if you're not into that. No need for such a drama ... And no, capital is the Thanos of film industry, criticism is always needed, even in cases when it's not good ...

shiboleth on Apr 27, 2018


Oh boy...

Cilantroman on Apr 27, 2018


Its just a job , about them giving their educated ( hopefully ) opinion on a piece of entertainment ....nobody says you HAVE to believe them , or feel forced by them ; just be informed , forewarned , or anticipatory ... But here's a present for you : .. as this guy hates the movie more than you ...

Dominic on Apr 28, 2018


That's what critics do. Reviews are there opinion that they put out there, they didn't force you to read. "Coerce the masses". "Forcing your eccentric will on all of us". I think you are in on that alone.

Ashmasterc on Apr 28, 2018


Hell yeah!

DAVIDPD on Apr 27, 2018

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