It wouldn’t be exaggeration to say that Avengers: Infinity War is a titan of a cinematic event. The culmination of 10-years of character building and narrative peaks, this film is an unapologetic celebration of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and all of the fans that have let these colossal films bring in billions in revenue. And it’s also pretty brilliant.
Because spoilers are a thing, let’s not delve too deep into the plot of Infinity War’s bumper-length runtime. Essentially, Thanos (Josh Brolin), destroyer of worlds and general bad dude, has finally caught up to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and the gang. Of course, it’s not just The Avengers who have to put a stop to unrelenting chaos this time; every main MCU property is here, with the likes of this year’s Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and all of the Guardians of the Galaxy along for the ride.
What a wild ride it is. From an opening scene that sets the apocalyptic tone, to an ending that’s downright shocking, Avengers: Infinity War firmly asserts itself as the Marvel movie to end all Marvel movies. No scene is wasted, and the constant barrage of action is only occasionally punctuated by perfectly placed moments of levity.
Tonally, screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have accomplished the impossible task of making a film this huge feel consistent and grounded. Any moments with Peter Quill / Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and his band of rogues feels exactly like a Guardians film. Spider-Man’s (Tom Holland) web-swinging is identical in mood to last year’s Homecoming, and Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) adventuring and quippy dialogue seems like it was pulled straight from Ragnarok. If you showed me this film’s fight on Wakanda, and told me it was a scene from Black Panther – I’d probably believe you.
Despite Infinity War nailing the comedic beats of its ensemble cast’s respective movies, it still manages to pack the weighty, emotional punches that you’d want from such a climactic entry into the franchise. Blood is undoubtedly shed, and there’s a constant sense of stakes that turns every banter-filled interaction into a subtly unnerved coping mechanism. These might be the characters we know and love, but their world is very much coming to an end.
An end brought on by the excellent Thanos, who may well be the best villain the MCU could ever ask for. Josh Brolin’s fearsome voice gives a great sense of scale to the hulking antagonist, and the CGI used to visualise the MCU’s greatest foe is flawless throughout. In fact, Thanos is present much more than I’d expected in the film – an aspect that I definitely can’t fault, because he’s probably its best asset.
His relationship with his daughter, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), is explored to a sufficient degree, but Thanos’ interactions with every member of the Avengers and beyond are an absolute joy to behold. He’s always been the boogeyman lurking in the cosmic shadows of these movies, so the chance to finally see him – and see him in such glorious, layered depth – makes Infinity War stand even higher on the shoulders of its predecessors.
Perhaps the most commendable thing about Infinity War, though, is how brave it is with its decisions and narrative. It’s reasonable to be nervous that the Russo brothers would play it safe when directing, but there’s some genuine surprises that left the packed-out cinema dead silent. This does unfortunately result in a movie that has ‘PART 1’ emblazoned across its bulging pectorals, but there’s still more than enough dramatic weight to dwell on long after the credits roll.