The Marvel Cinematic Universe turned ten years old this year. There’s truly no better way to celebrate such an unprecedented series of films than to go all out with “Avengers: Infinity War.”
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo (who previously directed “Captain America: Winter Soldier” and “Captain America: Civil War”), “Infinity War” finally puts Thanos (Josh Brolin) in action as the universe’s big bad. He’s on a mission to find all six Infinity Stones so he can complete his Infinity Gauntlet. If the Avengers can’t stop him from doing that, he’ll wipe out half the universe with the snap of his fingers.
This installment truly marks the beginning of the end of the MCU as we know it. There are a lot of things that happen in this film that I wasn’t prepared for — in a good way. “Infinity War” doesn’t pull any punches, literally. Right out of the gate, the Russos tell you what kind of film this is going to be, and given the film’s massive scale, I think the film is probably as good as it possibly could have been.
What I was curious about was whether Thanos would live up to the hype and anticipation, and I am pleased to report that he does. Thanos is the most central part of this film, and Brolin is excellent in the role, infusing Thanos with menace and a surprising amount of humanity for someone with such a nefarious goal. He is one of the best villains in the MCU because he’s a character you can understand. He has well-defined motivations, and even struggles to make some of his key decisions. I found him to be very compelling.
I won’t bother rattling off the rest of the cast. It stars pretty much everyone who’s ever been in a Marvel film, and they are all great, as expected. I do want to highlight a couple players that I thought stood out among the pack, though — Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch and Paul Bettany as Vision. They’ve all played more of a supporting role in the past, and while they don’t necessarily take center stage here either, they truly own their scenes, and I was pleasantly surprised by just how good they were.
In general, the new character dynamics all worked well. I enjoyed seeing the heroes from all these different MCU installments interact with one another — particularly when the Guardians of the Galaxy mesh with the main players from the Avengers. It provides some comedic levity to otherwise very grim circumstances.
However, because this film has such a massive scope, it does make things feel a little disjointed at times. This “infinity war” is being waged on multiple fronts, and each of these segments all feel like different stories happening at once. To a certain extent, that’s kind of unavoidable when telling a story that takes place in both Earth and space, but the transitions between those areas could have been better. That also introduces some tonal inconsistencies; sometimes something more dark will occur on one front, and then the film will bounce to another front where the tone and situation are quite different, undercutting some of the emotional weight.
That being said, though, “Infinity War” is still very emotionally affecting overall. I knew the action sequences and performances would be good, but I was pleased to see the MCU finally give one of their films some real stakes. It’s not perfect, but I really do believe the Russos accomplished the impossible by bringing all these different heroes together into one film. It’s both entertaining and poignant, and its ending makes me very curious to see where this story goes from here.