SPOILERS AHEAD: Even though we’re past opening weekend for Avengers: Infinity War, and most people reading this have already seen the movie, I feel obligated to include the warning.
Finally, the most hyped-up movie in recent history has arrived. Heck, it may be the most hyped-up and anticipated blockbuster of all time. We’re in somewhat uncharted territory here, as Infinity War is the nineteenth addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has been going strong for the past ten years. Suffice it to say that nothing remotely on this level has been attempted before. It’s definitely made history at the box office, grossing over $630 million worldwide.
Thanos Has Arrived
Infinity War wastes no time pulling punches, and immediately sets up Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) character as a looming threat. Within the first few minutes, he beats up the Hulk, kills Loki and Heimdall, and claims the second infinity stone. His goal: to collect all six stones so he can completely bedazzle his brand new glove, and also kill off half of the universe’s population with a snap of his fingers.
Considering how many characters and plot lines the Russo brothers had to juggle, the amount of development given to Thanos was both surprising and satisfying. If you’re looking for the main character, look no further. Throughout the movie Thanos has the most clear goals, and arguably makes the biggest sacrifice to get what he wants. The whole film revolves around him and his, albeit sociopathic, goal. If you disagree, try watching the movie again and root for Thanos. It’s surprisingly fun.
So Many Plots
If Infinity War is your first Marvel movie, you might be a little confused. You’ll be able to follow that this big purple guy’s bad news, and the good guys all dress in bold, primary colors for the most part. One downside to creating a cinematic universe is that when you throw in a bunch of characters, you’re relying a lot on previous movies to flesh them all out.
But let’s be real, if this is your first Marvel movie, you kind of deserve to be confused.
Our favorite superheroes split off into three groups in their efforts to thwart Thanos. We’ve got Iron Man, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man teaming up with Starlord, Mantis, and Drax, who try to cut off Thanos before he reaches earth. Then there’s Thor, Rocket Racoon, and Groot, who travel to Nidavellir to forge Thor a new weapon capable of defeating Thanos. And finally we have Captain America, Black Widow, Bruce Banner, Black Panther, Okoye, Scarlet Witch, and Bucky Barnes helping to ward off the oncoming assault on Wakanda to protect the mind stone in Vision’s head.
A Tiresome and Joyful Ride
Throughout it all, the Russo brothers do a great job of balancing the massive load of characters, motivations, and plot points. And they even manage to keep up the now expected Marvel humor. While at some points the jokes undercut the emotional weight of the previous scenes, they also keep the movie fun and engaging. Hearing Thor continually address Rocket Racoon as “rabbit” is one of my personal highlights.
Still, at two hours and forty minutes, it can be a difficult thing to maintain. The thing about comedy is that it releases tension. If that’s happening after nearly every point moment of emotional significance, it’s a signal to the audience that everything is going to be fine. Which turns out to be a huge misdirection when you consider the ending. Or is it?
An Unsatisfying Cliffhanger
That’s right. Unsatisfying. While at the time it was surprising to see new characters like Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and Black Panther turn to dust, when you think about it, there’s really no reason to worry that they won’t be back. A good deal of the fallen Avengers still have long contracts to go with Marvel. While the ones who were spared (Captain, Iron Man…) are coming to the close of their current contracts.
So while it may seem like a gut-shot and a masterful stroke to “kill off” so many characters, there’s no reason to assume they won’t be brought back by the end of the second installment of Infinity War.
The most interesting thing to see will be how it’s done.