Thanos, bringer of death, has finally arrived.
The culmination of every Marvel movie and post credits sequence led to this moment. Thanos, his ultimate goal to destroy half the population of the entire universe, wields a gauntlet capable of withholding the power of the infinity stones. With the snap of a finger, he could end half of existence. As he makes his way through the various MCU locales to retrieve the stones, the heroes of the universe must band together to bring his imminent threat to an end. All they need to do is keep him from obtaining all of the infinity stones. Sounds simple, right? I will try to keep this review as spoiler free as I can, but be warned in advance.
The MCU, for me, has been a very hit-or-miss series of films. I’m a huge fan of the Guardians of Galaxy films, and the first two Captain America movies were solid. I like Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man but have never been a huge fan of those films, and while I really dislike Spider Man as a character, the newest film and Tom Holland were superb. I definitely can leave Thor. Not a fan. The Avengers films and Civil War are equally hit or miss, so as I sat in the theater awaiting Infinity War to begin, I wondered how this one would turn out.
The aforementioned premise is pretty nifty, I thought, and I like most of the heroes in the film. Even though the 2.5+ hour run time intimidated me, I figured I’d muscle through it for the sake of my brother (a huge MCU fan) if it turned out to be pretty dull. The film opens, however, with Thor and Loki battling for their lives against Thanos and his minions. From the get-go, the film is a blast, featuring the utter power of Thanos, who comes equipped with only one of the stones to start the film, as he and his cronies effortlessly take the next stone.
In doing so, however, a message is sent to Iron Man to prepare Earth for its next battle. From here, exposition takes hold while each of our heroes spread across the MCU battle Thanos’ pawns or find themselves embroiled in conflicts in progress. Seeing my favorite characters finally cross paths – and the inevitable and well timed humor that many bring – was like a childhood dream coming true, and watching Thor’s side story provided an interesting reprieve from the constant action (finding Peter Dinklage in Infinity War was also pretty cool, as I didn’t realize he was in it).
The cinematography in Infinity War was pretty tight, and, outside of a few jumbled cameras during fight (an artistic choice that I despise), the direction was solid. Visually, Infinity War is a feat for the eyes, as the massive scales of battles, explosions, and interactions in space continue to impress. I will say, though, that the computer animated villains looked pretty bad and stiff, particularly when fighting the heroes. Thanos, for the most part, looked pretty good, but his henchman were all laughably unbelievable. In a film with such an enormous budget and technical prowess, I feel like perhaps hubris got in the way of better judgment. Still, this is a minor complaint overall, as the remainder of the film was beautifully shot and rendered. The score within Infinity War was strong, too, able to convey huge emotions with its powerful compositions. Of all the MCU films I’ve seen, I can’t say any have held such stunning music.
Now, the best part of Infinity War has to be its characterization. For a movie that centers around the destruction of half the universe and the battles therefore to prevent it, we see a lot of character building. We learn about Peter Quill, aka Star Lord, and his huge character flaws (even still, he’s my favorite hero in these films). We learn that Iron Man is still too stubborn to talk to Captain America, and that the Hulk has issues with the Hulk. More interesting than all of that – well, Star Lord’s character arc is pretty damn interesting – is Thanos himself.
As Thanos works toward his genocidal goal, we learn a lot about the MCU film’s best villain. While his goal is the death of half the universe, it’s in order to ensure the denizens of said universe have enough food and supplies – the finite necessities of life – to continue living. For Thanos, the ends justify the means. My favorite line of the film is when one of the characters asks Thanos what he will do if he succeeds; he responds by saying he’ll get up early to watch the sun rise. The utter personal pain and sacrifices that Thanos endures is almost admirable; at the least, it makes his character appear more humane, more likeable, more real. From a literary perspective, Thanos is an excellent villain.
When all is said and done, Infinity War is one of the most violent and definitely the darkest MCU films to this point. The post credits sequence sets up the next big Marvel film, and the actual ending to this film is near perfect. The ride is a long one, and it’s intense and emotional, but it’s one of the most fun films I’ve seen in a long time. Add to that a powerful score, solid camera work, excellent performances, and some of the best character building from a comic book movie I’ve ever seen, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for success. If you’re on the fence about seeing this one, do it: You shouldn’t regret it.