Marvel has yet again somehow pulled off the impossible. As stated in almost every other Marvel review from the Printz, MCU fans often feel burnt out on tired, recycled stories of the endless plight of good vs. evil with good constantly being the ultimate victor.
In “Infinity War,” however, Marvel manages to flip the entire MCU on its head, creating a narrative that is truly one of the greatest films ever made. After 10 years of build-up, “Infinity War” truly displays the full capacity of what Marvel is capable of, constructing the first superhero film that feels like a connected, coherent piece within a massive, unlimited universe and is much like the legacy that comics has offered for decades.
Going into “Infinity War,” fans had one essential question in mind: can this movie possibly live up to the decade of films that have led up to this point? The answer to this question, at least before seeing the film, was an astounding and vocal “No.” With this expansive universe that has cost millions in the making, years of character evolution and thousands of hopes on the line, Marvel has undertaken a beast unlike anything since the massive popularity of the “Star Wars” franchise. Keeping in mind that there have been some critical flops within the MCU, it seems an impossible task to bring together all of the MCU’s significant faces in one cataclysmic event.
Cut to opening night. There’s a packed theater and a stunned, lengthy silence as the ending credits begin to roll. Marvel had done it. Despite thinking that nothing in this film could amaze me, I was hooked into the narrative from the first few minutes of Tony Stark meeting Doctor Strange and Thanos’ unsightly appearance. Every aspect of this film was spectacular, and after its lengthy runtime of two hours and 40 minutes, I immediately said that I was in desperate need for part two of this fantastic, universe-altering film.
If it can still be referred to as such, “Avengers: Infinity War” is the third film in the “Avengers” series of movies while also serving as the climax to this initial saga of the MCU. In typical “Avengers” fashion, this movie is meant to show off all off the films that Marvel has added to its roster.
The story picks up years after the Avengers had its climatic falling out in “Captain America: Civil War.” Captain America and his group that defied the Hero Registration Act are still considered war criminals, and Iron Man is preparing to have a child with his newlywed. Meanwhile, unknowingly to Earth’s heroes, the universe is being culled by the “Mad Titan” Thanos in his destructive path to claim all six infinity stones in order to restore balance to the universe. Worlds collide, heroes squabble and only chaos reigns in this almost indescribable event.
Possibly the most surprising thing about “Infinity War” (though its lessthan-impressed critics might disagree) is how connected the storyline is. The biggest fear going into this film was that directors Anthony and Joe Russo would only rush the storyline, making action sequences lose their impact due to a confusing and discombobulated narrative that didn’t know what exactly it wanted to say. Instead, the film feels more solid and thoughtful than any Marvel film before it, considering its sheer scale.
As the Avengers are further split apart, hurdling through separate corners of the universe, the writers clearly made it a priority to not confuse viewers while also making sure to give each character their time in the spotlight, hence splitting the film into two parts. Never was there a time that I wasn’t sure what was going on, even as Black Panther and co. fought aliens in Wakanda in one scene while the Guardians took on Thanos in the next. There was also never a time where I wished the narrative would slow down, which is surprising considering the film is not shy when it comes to presenting a ridiculous amount of high-stakes payoffs.
Starting off the movie with little time to fully explain the current situation with drawn-out, tiresome exposition, Iron Man, Doctor Strange and Spider-Man are the first to be drawn into combat with the Black Order. From there, the tearjerking scenes are neat places between scenes of absolute carnage following the wake of Thanos and his followers. Star Lord is faced with a difficult choice concerning Gamora and her father. Iron Man has to choose between saving the universe or staying home with his potential family, and Spider-Man is just a high school boy on an adventure he hadn’t necessarily signed up for. These multi-faceted sides of our heroes are what truly make this a stunning film.
Gone are the old shackles that held our heroes back from fully exploring their superhero identities. Now in the face of an inter-galactic threat are whole new shackles. As stated earlier, the theme of “choices” is referred to several times throughout the film, much like many traditional superhero movies. This is partially what makes Thanos such an interesting villain as he experiences the consequences of his choices possibly to a fuller extent than the Avengers. These choices made by these feuding super-powered beings are not only what defines them as living, breathing entities, but they also literally shape the fate of our existence. Though, that doesn’t mean that on multiple occasions our heroes won’t make unwise decisions based off of their emotions.
Again without going into details, there are several frustrating scenes of the Avengers putting the universe in jeopardy simply because they cannot sacrifice a single life. Though admirable, I do not think it is a stretch to say that multiple dire situations could have been completely avoided if they had gone with the sensible action and broken one or two Infinity Stones as opposed to handing them to Thanos in a feeble attempt to spare their lives. Despite these minor gripes, seeing the characters in action finally brought back the nostalgic, spine-tingling moment of seeing franchises collide in “the most anticipated cross-over event in history,” as Marvel put it.
Following the bad taste that “Avengers: Age of Ultron” left with viewers, “Infinity War” truly recaptured the initial grandiose feel of “The Avengers” and propelled the MCU into an actual comic book universe. As Marvel comics often go to other-worldly locations while bringing together multiple heroes to defeat some galactic threat, it was also only a matter of time before the MCU managed to reach such heights. Though we have obviously had a brief taste of this through “The Guardians of the Galaxy” films, nothing will ever compare to seeing my favorite hero, Spider-Man, in his iconic Iron Spider suit on another planet fighting a genocidal god-like being.
I did not have the luxury of experiencing the majesty of comics as a child, so this moment was pretty much how I imagine children of that era felt upon seeing Daredevil and Black Panther jumping from one alien airship to another. Take note: I have no idea if that has actually happened, but that only further solidifies my point. There’s no homework to be done with “Infinity War.” No prior knowledge of the comics is required to fully enjoy this film. Arguably, no prior knowledge of the past films will make a difference. I saw “Infinity War” with a friend who has had an unapologetic “meh” attitude toward Marvel for years was blown away by the movie’s final scenes.
In this way, the MCU has finally become its own full-fledged universe that requires little to no help standing on its own. Yes, there are several references to its source material that the more hardcore fans will enjoy, but this is not essential to becoming immersed in this incredible world. Because of this, “Infinity War” has often been compared to being this generations “The Empire Strikes Back” by fans, on Twitter, propelling the series into “Star Wars” status with its multiple twining plots and extended universe readings.
Overall, “Avengers: Infinity War” is simply a film that deserves to be discussed for a very long time. It is one of those genre-defining films that go beyond the superhero stereotypes and offers something much more incredible. Love it or hate it, the film delves into multiple impressive facets that have never been touched in action films and adds unforeseen layers to characters that have existed for decades. It offers so much in terms of displaying the evolution of CGI and shows possibly the fullest extent of technology.
One question remains: How can Marvel possibly follow up this film with a part two?