Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Screenwriters: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Chadwick Boseman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Holland, Elizabeth Olsen, Karen Gillan, Carrie Coon, Pom Klementieff, Sebastian Stan, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Benedict Cumberbatch, Idris Elba, Letitia Wright, Vin Diesel, Danai Gurira, Paul Bettany, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Mackie, Benedict Wong
Unforeseen and unprecedented, Avengers: Infinity War delivers a conclusion of a lifetime that you’re going to want to see on the big screen and ahead of someone spoiling things for you. May you never have concerns about Marvel’s lack of conviction again…
10 years and 18 movies in the making, Infinity War was asked to juggle the massive expectations of its audience as well as the need for each of its franchise leading characters to be served appropriately. And, through some of the Russo Brothers’ now trademarked story-centred action, a premise that demanded attention and stakes, and a strong effort to invest in the arc of the villain, this full stop on the first 10 years of the MCU has managed to do just that. This is more than a superhero movie, it’s a defining moment in modern cinema.
The most pressing positive from the film comes from the brains at Marvel Studios – headed by studio head Kevin Feige – whom seem to have listened to concerns regarding the quality of the universe’s villains and made rectifying that issue their first port of call regarding Thanos in Infinity War, ensuring that the character’s desires were not left without explanation; that we were given the correct amount of insight into the tyrannical titan’s motivations, as well as his – for lack of a better term – humanity. In the space of a few hours, the most important of peripheral MCU figures became directly important to the story of the film and the future of the franchise, spearheading the direction of the conflict not as “generic ‘unwelcomed other’ number 4” but as a genuinely believable monstrous being with all the bells and whistles needed to make him a credible threat – on a scale of Malekith in Thor: The Dark World to The Dark Knight’s Joker, Thanos was a lot closer to The Joker.
That’s not to say that Thanos encompassed the entire film in the same way that The Joker did however, as the directors and their writing team did an incredible job in ensuring that each of the heroes was given their moment to shine too, with the franchise’s most prominent figures each finding room to manoeuvre in a cast of characters larger than arguably any in history. Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Starlord and Captain America were each given important direction and a lot of screen time through which to fulfil their tasks, and their interactions with secondary characters made for moment after moment of fan service that reached levels so high that Infinity War is almost untouchable in such a regard. This hectic and all-encompassing presentation did make performances harder to judge, and it’s fair to assume that there won’t be a single Infinity War cast member being nominated for their role in the movie at next year’s Oscars, but that’s not to deny the gravitas of Robert Downey Jr, Chris Pratt and Chris Evans in particular, each of whom offered tidbits of how special each of them are at important moments in the film; with Josh Brolin’s Thanos performance also being notable in its own right despite being so heavily masked by CGI.
Questions will also be raised about the quality of Infinity War to viewers unfamiliar with the franchise’s predecessors as the movie clearly placed a lot of its content against the backdrop of an expected familiarity between those watching the film and the characters within it. And sure, to a person fresh to the universe, Infinity War is hardly the film it would be to a person who’s a fan of the MCU, a reader of the comics or even a film goer who’s seen the vast majority of other Marvel movies, but to judge the 19th instalment of a universe with such traditional film criticism credentials would be to misunderstand the very nature of this once in a lifetime beast. Infinity War isn’t a film that 99.9% of people will begin their Marvel Cinematic Universe journey with, and though they’ll need a lot of catching up if they do choose to go down that route, the film’s lack of exposition and direct-to-action approach is actually to the movie’s benefit, keeping the run-time as low as it can be, the action and excitement high, and the story at the forefront of everything on the screen.
It’s in the story that Infinity War, and particularly the work of the Russo Brothers, comes to bare fruit, because for a film with so many must-see names, characters and moments, set across planets in different galaxies, everything somehow miraculously not only fits together, but also makes sense. The film’s narrative through-line is so strong that Iron Man can be fighting in one place while Star Lord fights in another, and at no point does it seem unnatural to be with one character as opposed to someone else, and while the film is filled to the brim with action set pieces and beautifully put together CG, the Russo Brothers ensure they never lose touch of the main arc of the film in what can only be described as a spectacular feat in direction – one that is complimented by every other aspect of post-production.
In short, this superhero-war-action movie is a moment in time that you shall never forget. This is a film so entwined with the history of a genre its own predecessors have come to define that it cannot be overlooked as anything other than a year defining, decade defining, genre defining all-time classic that belongs in the same echelon as The Dark Knight and The Empire Strikes Back in terms of quality blockbuster material. If you get the chance to see this on the big screen, do it. This is an event invitation you’re not going to want to pass up on; the near perfect comic book movie.