“Avengers: Infinity War” is our generation’s cinematic epic — our “The Ten Commandments”, if you will. The week leading up to my first viewing found me sort of nervous and half-expecting the biggest let down in movie history; however, I was more than satisfied with how things turned out even if it wasn’t all that perfect.
The plot, as simply as I can put it, is this: Thanos, an intergalactic Titan, is in pursuit of six, powerful Infinity Stones which — when simultaneously wielded — will give him the power to wipe out half of the universe’s population with a snap. As he sees it, this will bring back perfect balance to the cosmos, allowing it to thrive. It’s up to the Avengers, spread out all over the globe and galaxy, to stop the madman before he gets all six. One of the best things about all this is Thanos himself; not only is Josh Brolin perfect for the role, but the character is deeply compelling. Thanos thinks himself a merciful god — he isn’t just another stock villain. He is absolutely convinced that genocide is what ought to be done, and no one can come against this, his destiny. In all this, his motivations never feel forced or superfluous; there are times when he is, dare I say, “humanized”, not menacingly joyous that he is killing others, but actually melancholy as he pursues his sad task. It is this heinous combination between complete savagery and genuine emotion that makes Thanos so much more striking than any previous Marvel villain.
“Infinity War” is such a unique cinematic experience. It takes its audience on an unparalleled, intergalactic journey alongside nearly all the superheroes the Marvel Universe has to offer. The greatest fear among devout fans was that, in handling so vast a plot 10 years in the making, this would become sloppy and ineffective. Of course, if all the characters were just lumped into one long journey together, it would be way too much to handle. But, one of the best things about this is how characters are split up into various groups for each to have seperate journeys that are all important in the bigger picture (the only exception may be Thor’s plotline that was — for lack of a better comparison— reminiscent of Finn and Rose in “The Last Jedi” in terms of its necessity in the bigger plot). This structure of switching back and forth from different plotlines has its pros and cons; it can engage the audience more, always keeping things dynamic, but sometimes it can the audience a bit too much to keep track of. For me, it was admittedly a little awkward to abandon one set of characters for 30 minutes and then suddenly come back to them. Still, in all this the story managed to chugg along at a fair speed with only a good 30–45 minutes of uneventful loitering.
The biggest selling point for “Infinity War” was always its stacked cast of iconic superheros. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo did not take time to acquaint us with any of the characters, they rightfully assume we already know them quite well. They take advantage with the fact that their audience is aware of the heroes’ quirks and flaws and how these come to play when they are put in certain situations. While you don’t need to watch all 18 preceding Marvel films to appreciate this one, having all 18 under your belt will make you so familiar with every personality on screen, and when they are faced with the challenge of their lives, you’ll be quite invested. An example of how our familiarity with the heroes makes for incredible moments is the gut-wrenching scene in which Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord/Peter Quill is on the peak of lashing out in his famous prideful anger right at the wrong moment. The context of the scene, mixed with our knowledge of Quill’s notorious temperament, builds a delightful intensity rarely provoked by blockbusters today.
Of course, there are many more elements that make “Infinity War” a good movie: the always-improving special effects including the newest Iron Man suit, the ubiquitous Marvel-ly jokes that almost always land, Alan Silvestri’s appropriately grandiose score, and, needless to say, the just plain awesome fight scenes. Doubtless the most discussed part of the movie will be the surprising ending — an incredibly different, shocking finale that’s amazing except for the fact that we have to wait another year to see what happens next.
The movie does lose some points for being a bit too long with its decent share of unnecessary moments, and for being laden with just one too many threads to follow; overall, this is a monumental, historic event that could have easily gone completely south, but (thankfully) lived up to the hype. It definitely requires a sequel to top it all off, but even as a stand-alone movie, “Avengers: Infinity War” is the quintessential superhero epic.