Victoria Stuewe ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Movies Editor
After 10 years of watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe unfold, films in the ever-present series have become fairly predictable. Even with new heroes and villains, Marvel is notorious for not presenting an adequate threat to the team. Fake deaths, weak villains, and repetitive storylines have made the 18-film epic almost tiring to watch. And yet, Avengers: Infinity War has the ability to leave you utterly speechless. It’s dark, yet hilarious; it’s exciting, but also devastating. In short, Infinity War has exceeded all expectations, redefining the previously formulaic Marvel film.
For a frame of mind, the film takes off immediately after Thor: Ragnarok with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) facing Thanos (Josh Brolin). However to not spoil the film, not much can or should be said about the plot. It is possibly best to go into the film not knowing anything at all. All that should be known is that, yes, indeed, the already-established Avengers from Age of Ultron reconvene as the Guardians of the Galaxy join along with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). This massive cross-over of your favorite heroes is all to defeat Thanos, as he comes closer and closer to completing the Infinity Gauntlet. If he were to collect all of the Infinity Stones, he would have the power to eliminate half of the universe’s population with the snap of his fingers.
So, to be short, a lot is at stake for these heroes.
Since it’s the first part in a two-part story, it might be easy to assume that the film would only be a set-up movie for a bigger, possibly more epic second part (see: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1). Thankfully, directors Anthony and Joe Russo were able to overcome this trend and create a film that, despite its incredible amount of actors and actresses, was actually well paced. Yes, there were moments that stuttered the story – mainly the slow and arguably unnecessary romantic scenes and longing glances – but, overall, as it jumps between different plot points, the thrill does not end.
The film immediately starts in the middle of the action, not giving you any room to breathe. In a way, this sets up what is to come in the rest of the film. Unlike other films in the MCU, Infinity War is almost constantly in the middle of an action scene. The sometimes-sloppy camerawork and overenthusiastic score can make these sequences a little overwhelming. But, when it’s at its best, the battle sequences can be exciting, almost too over-the-top, but, ultimately, a blast to watch.
Much of the anticipation from the ever-enthusiastic fandom is probably coming from the eventual meet-ups of the Marvel heroes. Fortunately, they do not disappoint. While completely expected at various points, some of the most hilarious moments come from these scenes and allow the film to be more than just about the Infinity Stones. The comedic timing is almost always perfect and allows for a small bit of joy amongst the chaos of the war. Though at times they are a little gratuitous, they’re welcome nonetheless, especially with all of the buildups the film has received.
With its utterly ginormous cast, there’s an assumption going in that a character might be underrepresented or one might rule over all of the others. Yes, of course, many of the characters have huge egos that get in the way. However, while Thanos is probably the character most seen in the film, not even heroes like Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) or Captain America (Chris Evans) or Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) take precedence over others from the Avenger team. It’s fairly well balanced, which is both surprising and welcome.
The criticisms that previous Marvel films did not give a sense of threat or urgency are valid. By scheduling the series so far in advance, it was almost always obvious when a character would survive until the next fight. Few situations had presented themselves to prove to be a drastic threat.
However, what Infinity War does best is have a presence of an actual threat. Not only does it create a stronger attachment to the characters fans have come to love, but it also makes the film much more exhilarating. If anything, this is what was needed most in many of the MCU movies. By expecting the survival of every hero, there’s no need to worry. But in Infinity War, you quickly learn that no one is safe.
Infinity War, to be blunt, does not hold back.
It’s devastating. It can leave you speechless. It makes you crave for more.
None of the Marvel films have ever ended in the way Infinity War has. It might seem an exaggerating phrase, but, in all seriousness, the conclusion is unprecedented in the MCU. Every predictable move that came in the two hours before the finale became irrelevant as the shock of the ending moments stays long after the cast’s credits flash by. Yes, there have been “cliffhangers,” but all of these seemed to come from those famous after credits scenes, merely hyping the audience for another origin story or a clue into what’s coming next. But the ending in Infinity War one is so surprising, so shocking that it leaves a tension that may even leave with you as you exit the theater. You learn you really don’t know what’s going to come next. It could turn into another Marvel scenario where everything is fixed within the first five minutes of the second part, but Infinity War makes you question all other preconceived notions you had on the MCU.
Though not a perfect film by any means, Infinity War delivers something new to the MCU that was much needed in a series that was, frankly, drying up. Even with great additions like Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther, it was easy to tell that the MCU was quickly running out of ideas. While these two films had directors that handled the context exceedingly well, the MCU, overall, was quickly approaching a status of being overdone.
However, the Russo brothers were able to make a film that didn’t rely solely on the anticipation of the crossover and primarily focused on the fans’ relationship with these characters. Audiences have been with these heroes for 10 years. 19 films have now gone by and there’s finally an end in sight; one that might not be appealing to all, but an end that is necessary to such a massive film series as this. The film needed these two directors to adequately handle this task, and they did it exceedingly well.
Breaking the formula that audiences have known for so long is a bold and provocative move, but the Russo brothers did it in such a way that it made the film stronger with a much more lasting impact. While you may be able to walk out of any other stand-alone Marvel film and know for a fact that your favorite hero is safe, that’s not so for Infinity War, and it shines because of that.
Overall Grade: B+
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