This review will contain SPOILERS so read at your own risk!
Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of a decade’s work. All complaints have been studied and remedied, but Marvel has also started taking chances. This is the most experimental film yet from them between sheer grandeur and their protagonist. While the last three films have introduced proper villains with fleshed out motivations and incredible power, Infinity War is the first time that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has a genocidal murderer as a protagonist.
Thanos (Josh Brolin) doesn’t just drive the action. He is the action. He’s the reason behind everything in a way that Marvel usually avoids in order to depend on multiple villains and other character motivations. Audiences have heard about Thanos through his children, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan). They’ve described how he tortured them and made them fight each other. Now, Thanos is telling his side and his motivations seem understandable. The universe has finite resources and as those resources are used up, it creates unnecessary suffering and prolonged death. In a modern science fiction update of “The Lottery”, Thanos simply believes that the universe should have half as many people in it in order to run smoother. He brags about how Gamora’s former home world has turned into a paradise from having people eating “scraps” while having no remorse for killing her mother and half the planet’s population. Thanos supports equal opportunity genocide, pointing out the victims are from “the poor and the rich.” Someone who believes they’re morally right despite the ethical problems of their beliefs can often be the most frightening of all. Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) once told Loki (Tom Hiddleston) “You lack conviction” which Thanos has from head to toe. This film has Loki telling Thanos “You will never be a God”, confident in the Avengers that once defeated him, but will the Avengers defeat Thanos or will Thanos realize how lonely it could be to get what he always wanted?
The Avengers meet the Guardians of the Galaxy…finally after four years of waiting for it. Spider-Man (Tom Holland) is even dubbed an official Avenger. Even more impressive, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr) after a decade of calling everyone everything from “Rock of Ages” to Squidward to Point Break ends up being so irritated by Parker’s dialogue that he pronounces “no more pop culture references”! Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) isn’t too impressed either. Ah, teenagers…
The age differences between these mature superheroes and their teenage counterparts; Parker, Shuri (Leticia Wright) and Groot (Vin Diesel), provides most of the needed comedic relief amid the heavy death-filled plotline. The teenagers are cocky, powerful and young just as most of our characters were when the audience was first introduced to them. Now, the original Avengers have become hardened veterans and the newer heroes aren’t as naïve or young either with Wanda Frank (Elizabeth Olsen) almost at full powers from the comics. Even the Guardians have a rapport akin to a family on a sitcom and know exactly how to work together even if their worst traits still get the best of them from time to time. Apart from the newbies, these are all heroes at the very top of their game with fight scenes almost hard to follow with so many people all doing what they’re best at. It’s even more like a double page splash come to life.
Avengers: Infinity War really does feel like a six-month Marvel event adapted into a film. Still, binging on that many comics in one sitting can feel a little much at times especially with the deaths and near deaths. The ending is a downer unlike any other Marvel film. The hopeful beat is replaced by a thoughtful one that even the credits don’t try to placate. However, everything is done so well between the direction of Anthony and Joe Russo, a screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely with James Gunn, and music by Alan Silvestri for the first time since the first Avengers film. It’s even better in a packed showing with audience participation like cheering or “oh no” as a collective experience. The immediate excitement over seeing everyone together in a comic book made real is so immense that it’s possible to go hours before realizing how much devastation was witnessed along with everything else. It should lead to a lot of divisive commentary online. Others will also complain about their particular favorites not being there or not having enough screen-time. No reaction shot of Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) seeing her boy on the news clutching the side of a spaceship, really? The one thing everyone can agree on is that it’s going to be a hard, long twelve months before being able to see the proper conclusion to this tale.