Ten years and 18 movies later have led to Avengers: Infinity War, the movie that changes everything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). And with Thanos, the evil-lurking presence teased over the years in various MCU films, finally coming out from the shadows, the significant ramifications viewers will witness at the hands of the intergalactic despot in Infinity War are sure to cause a stir of emotion with fans who have followed these superheroes over the last decade. When you bring together the original Avengers mixed with new Avengers (Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man) and the Guardians of the Galaxy to take down the biggest threat the universe has ever seen, on paper, it might feel a little overwhelming to pack this many superheroes into one two and a half hour movie. However, with the Russo Brothers, the directing duo behind the two best movies in the MCU (Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War), overseeing the biggest ever ensemble of superheroes assembled on screen, rest assured they manage to give balance to all these characters we have come to know for the entire duration of Infinity War. The result is equally thrilling, captivating, emotional, and, not so shockingly, epic all at once.
Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet — the evil Thanos. On a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, Thanos plans to use the artifacts to inflict his twisted will on reality. The fate of the planet and existence itself has never been more uncertain as everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment.
Despite Infinity War being the culmination of everything the MCU has shown us over the last decade, this is Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) movie through and through. Shown first at the end of The Avengers, and little by little up until Infinity War, the Mad Titan finally makes his was to earth in order to gets his hands on the rest of the Infinity Stones so he can have the power to wipe out half the universe with the snap of his fingers. As such, Infinity War plays out very much like a heist film with Thanos tracking down the remaining stones. Not only does Thanos’ journey ultimately propel Infinity War to great heights, but it also shows us a villain that’s more than just destruction for the sake of giggles. He’s a warrior with a sense of purpose, emotional depth, and will go to any length to get what he’s sought for so long. All of this, along with Brolin’s incredible motion capture performance, makes for the best villain the MCU has ever seen.
Of course, Infinity War is about more than just Thanos, it’s the gathering of Marvel’s mightiest heroes for the biggest ensemble the world has ever seen (for now). Following multiple characters in different areas around the world trying to keep the universe from the brink of destruction, Infinity War is a globetrotting adventure that never feels overwhelming or overlong, as the film moves at a brisk pace and gives every superhero their moment to shine. Some of the standout superheroes include Thor, whose character path has improved drastically since last year’s delightful Thor: Ragnarok; the Guardians and Doctor Strange meeting various members of the Avengers for the first time; and Spider-Man interacting with everyone he comes into contact with. Sure, original members of the Avengers (Iron Man, Captain America, and Hulk) are as good as ever, but it’s the cosmic superheroes like the Guardians and Doctor Strange (along with the webslinger teenage kid in New York) who in recent years continue to delight the most, which shows a trend in the MCU as it heads toward Phase 4 after next year’s Avengers film.
Infinity War showcases some of the biggest, most dazzling (and clever) action sequences the MCU has offered to date. Anytime Thanos goes head-to-head with an Avenger, it’s one of the film’s most exciting moments, as we watch the titan offer up a challenge for any one of the superheroes who face off against him. With Thanos, for the first time it feels like the MCU has offered up a villain that could actually give a fatal blow to any superhero that comes into contact with him. And as massive as some of the action sequences are in scale, none of them feels dizzying considering how much is going on in each one of them; the visual effects are consistent and the film’s precise editing never feels hasty even with all the jumping back and forth between scenes and/or areas of the battlefields.
Everything about Infinity War feels colossal (and monumental) and one false move would have thrown the entire film off balance. But thankfully, the Russo Brothers balance everything out to near perfection, from the action, to the character moments, and the film’s dark and light-hearted moments. All of this combined so effortlessly makes for masterful, blockbuster storytelling so few directors have ever achieved. One minute you’ll be cheering, the next your jaw will drop to the floor, and other times you’ll reminisce moments from previous MCU entries that led up to this film. While Infinity War does have a couple of minor blemishes and ends somewhat on a cliffhanger (though that’s a discussion for another day), none of it deters from the experience. Infinity War carries the weight of an entire cinematic universe where all the pieces come to together with results that are, well, marvelous. And thanks to one post credits scene, those like me likely will leave the theater wanting Avengers 4 immediately rather than having to wait a whole year for it.