* No spoilers *
“Dread It, Run From It, Destiny Still Arrives” and so it has. 10 years in the making and after many many superhero films, all of which have been building the Marvel Cinematic Universe to this moment; The Infinity War.
When we first saw Ironman back in 2008, coming after many other superhero movies (such as Ghost Rider, The Fantastic Four, and Spider-man with Tobey Maguire), that we were actually watching history unfold. Of course the true storyline of these films did not rear its head until the first Thor film, with the inclusion of the Tesseract, which housed an Infinity Stone (and then further expanded in the first Captain America film), and then Thanos made his début at the end credits of the first Avengers movie back in 2012. After that the MCU has been laying the ground work over the years in building up this moment, such as revealing further Infinity Stones and having more end credit scenes that foretell Thanos’ search for them.
Well that search has finally brought him to Earth, and in the crosshairs of every MCU character that has been featured in these movies since 2008 (with the exception of many about three).
While some of the movies in the MCU have not been the greatest (Ironman 3, or see my review of Black Panther), all of them have helped put a few pieces in place for this big collaboration of heroes.
To me personally, Infinity War was EXACTLY what I wanted it to be. It the right length, it did all the right things, it didn’t waste my time, and I found myself enjoying it from start to finish.
I was worried that having so many famous actors in it, such as Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Bradley Cooper, and Chris Pratt (all of whom are lead actors in their own right), that the film would focus more on the highest paid or most well known actor, but Infinity War did a fantastic job of giving every single one of these people, as well as nearly every other character featured in this film, enough time to shine in their own right and distribute the focus perfectly between them. However, saying that, I did feel that Chris Evans’ Captain America, did not get as much screen time as some of the others, but he did make up for it in a couple of fight sequences, but as a character and giving him a chance to shine as an actor, it was a little lacking.
But that is fine. It was not overly a problem for me. It is just if you think of it like a percentage, then he might have got a little bit less, but then again he did have an entire Avengers movie focused predominately on him, so maybe the MCU balances itself out this way.
Characters like Black Panther, who was great in Civil War but I did not care for him that much in his own film (a controversial remark, I know), had just enough screen time that they did not get on your nerves, which, for me, was perfect. I liked Black Panther as more of a background or a support character, but given the lead, I felt that it just didn’t really work. That is just me though and I know that many people would disagree.
The film was not shy about killing off some less important characters from some of the other films, as well as a couple of major ones, one of which I was quite pleased with as I felt that this character, while really good to watch screen, was a bit redundant in terms of storyline and just needed to go. Thankfully Infinity War gave these characters great send-offs which only add to the emotional drives of the surviving characters. And that is perfect. This film shows us why these heroes are fighting on more of a personal level, rather than just trying to save New York (which, by the way, is probably the most defended city in the entire world! – other than Wakanda. Does it need the Avengers, Whatever group of Wizards that Doctor Strange belongs to, The Defenders, The Punisher, Spider-man, and everyone else all in one place! Spread out a bit. But I suppose that is more a general Marvel thing rather than related to this film, but its still a note worth bringing up).
Speaking of lesser known character, I felt a lot of these characters got just enough screen time to enjoy, but not outstay their welcome. Although some characters like Benedict Wong’s Wong, I would have liked to have seen more of them, but they did get involved at some point and we get to see these guys in action.
It was also nice to see a few characters we have not seen for a while, such as Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, or Benicio del Toro making a return as The Collector. It was these little touches, from actors and actresses who are not even in the film for very long but are still very highly paid people, that really do help to bring all the movies from all over the years together.
When the various different characters from all over the MCU finally meet up, they bounce off one another brilliantly, and we get to see some really great dynamics from these characters who have never met each other before, such as Thor and Rocket (or any of the Guardians), Iron Man and Doctor Strange, or anyone who comes into contact with the movie’s main villain.
Other than that last one, the rest show us some hilariously laugh out loud moments. While the MCU films have all managed to to capture the same humour that was first shown in the original Guardians of the Galaxy movie, which works 9 out of 10 times, it does sometimes feel a little forced and makes every person appear to have the same type of humour, with their little one liners, which can sometimes feel a little forced and could have easily come from any character… other than Drax, who is always hilarious, so hats off to you Dave Bautista, who always plays the role brilliantly, and of course Rocket and Groot who also deserve a little mention. Groot most of all as he is now an adolesant teen, following his baby Groot form from Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and while Groot isn’t in the film too much, his teenage angst thing is brilliantly done.
I do wonder though when did Bruce Banner/ The Hulk, become such a comedic character? Sure he had his moments, as they all do, but in Infinity War, Bruce Banner is basically a comic relief character and nearly every scene he is in, he is making a joke of some kind. I did find this a little strange after the 7th or 8th appearance of him in the film, and he is still pie-to-the-face esc jokes.
One last point, before I move on, is that Peter Dinklage’s acting is questionable. I will not say who he is or what he does in the movie, but his surprising appearance lead to some strange moments where is wondered about the man’s acting ability. I love him as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones, but I have yet to see him in anything else that has really stood out for him as an actor, and sadly Infinity War is not his moment to shine.
It is quite difficult to say too much without giving anything major away and fall into heavy spoiler territory, but thankfully this is all just filler for the bulk of the review, the main focus of it and the film itself; Thanos. The big bad wolf himself. First shown at the end of Avengers Assembled, then again in a larger role in Guardians of the Galaxy (now being officially cast by Josh Brolin), and then once again in the post credits scene of Age of Ultron, but other than this we have seen very little of him. We have heard things, such as in the Guardians of the Galaxy films, which was used to build up the character a bit more, but other than this we know very little of him.
It would have been easy for the writers of this film to make him a cardboard cut out bad guy, which we have seen in countless Marvel (and other Superhero) films that have come before (such as Whiplash in Ironman 2, Abomination in The Incredible Hulk, or any Thor baddie other than Loki, all of whom are completely forgettable) and just make Thanos a big bad monstrosity which the Avengers and everyone else have to unite forces in order to defeat, which is kind of what they do in a sense, but thankfully down to some really deep character drives and the fantastic acting of Josh Brolin (who I will admit I have a little bit of a man crush on), Thanos comes to life as an amazing purpose-filled and almost sympathetic villain. It is really something to behold.
The film goes into his relation with Gamora, showing us their past together and it is here that some of the greatest humanising elements of Thanos’ character come into view. We almost feel ourselves sympathising with him (to an extent… he is still a fucking madman, but his reasons for doing what he does are kind of on the level, even if his methods are absolutely not).
There are some amazing scenes between Thanos and his step-daughter, which are powerful and delivered brilliantly, further building this fantastic villian (as well as giving us quite a few surprises, including a character we have not seen for years! Albeit played by a different actor, but we knew all knew who it was, and their surprise return, if not just a little cameo, is another great link to the rest of the film series).
Thanos stands out amongst the other villains that came before him as a worthy foe for the united forces of the MCU to face against. Maybe this is in part to him being hinted at for the past 6 years, and now having finally made his monumental appearance, but at the same time, where as every other character has had their own few films by now and had a lot of back story told to us, Infinity War allows us to truly focus on the movies antagonist, fleshing him out, giving him motivation and drive, other than just simply world domination.
While there are the generic bad guys, who I do not even know who they were actually meant to be and still do not know their names to this point (I will do some reading afterwards), these guys serve as some of the cannon fodder and gives the heroes a few easy foes to defeat, allowing them a few moments of victory before the big honcho arrives.
Overall, Avengers: Infinity War was exactly what I wanted from it. It brought together nearly every possible character it could, gave them all the right amount of time to shine but not upstage anybody else, despite the big names and prices of some of them, and brought us a truly brilliant antagonist for the good guys to face.
While the film does end on a cliffhanger, it is not long before we are given the second half (in 2019) so we have plenty of time to digest what we have witness here in this movie.
I am looking forward to where this story goes, especially since the end credits scene hints at one of the next upcoming characters that is scheduled to appear in their own film before the second half of Infinity War (if that didn’t give too much away haha).
Any issues I have with it are merely nitpicking and do not ruin this film in the slightest. To me, Infinity War was the perfect deliverance of a story that has been building for over a decade, and for that Marvel/Disney, I thank you.
“Fun isn’t something one considers when balancing the universe. But this… does put a smile on my face”.