By Dominic Messier, Founder, Editor and Film Writer
So it has come to this.
Eighteen films and ten years in the making, the culmination of three separate Marvel “phases” of films whose plot evolutions invariably led to an epic showdown with a mad Titan named Thanos, whose will is hellbent on ridding existence of at least half the universe’s population, if only out of some demented notion of resource management.
When faced with a nearly unstoppable foe whose quest for the six Infinity Stones gives him nearly omnipotent power, what are Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Master of the Mystical arts to do?
Why, take some names and kick some ass, of course.
Some time has passed since the events of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Black Panther and Thor Ragnarok, with some of our favorite heroes having either gone on with their lives, continued living as government-sanctioned heroes, criminal fugitives or as wise-cracking space faring heroes.
All that’s about to change as the imminent threat of Thanos and his legions looms on the horizon. His quest to acquire all of the Infinity Stones takes him on a straight path to Earth, where some of the remaining pieces (around Doctor Strange’s neck or on Vision’s forehead, for example) still reside.
Having acquired a gauntlet capable or harnessing the stone’s powers, Thanos (Josh Brolin) quickly confronts Thor and Loki (Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston) for yet another gem, later facing Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and the Guardians to obtain a fourth, then facing Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wong (Benedict Wong) for the next, then Captain America’s (Chris Evans) team-up of Black Widow (Scarlett Johanson), Wanda (Elizabeth Olson), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Vision (Paul Bettany) for the remaining pieces.
You get the idea, right? Run through the entire gamut of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, piece by piece, hero by hero, giving everyone a shot at the towering purple-skinned menace.
Can this remarkable group effort stop the Mad Titan in time before he enacts his evil plan to erase half of existence out of some demented notion of finite resources (pulled straight out of the Infinity Gauntlet comic book, by the by)?
Cue dramatic cliffhanger music.
But first, a bit of overview and analysis to help us decipher the maddening amount of action on screen…at a dazzling running time of two-and-a-half hours and change, Avengers Infinity War doesn’t seem to have enough running time to truly allow all of its players to truly shine individually, at least past the “OMG it’s Iron Man talking to Star-Lord in the SAME SCENE!!!” novelty of the epic cross-over type.
While it’s great to finally see a cast of dozens, culled from eighteen prior full-length films, working together to stop a common foe, the rushed feeling one gets while watching this first of two installments (cliffhanger ending due in 2019) is one of having one a million bucks, but having been given only fifteen minutes to spend it or lose it.
I’m sure some of the script’s nuances and minutiae will shine further after repeated viewings come home video release time, however the film does telegraph many of its punches (pun intended) which will invariably allow many to predict the outcome come Part 2.
A surprising and refreshing aspect of Infinity War comes in the form of a layered, well-developed villain like Thanos. Though I expected the infamous Titan to be yet another two-dimensional baddie, what with his very limited cameos in The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, Josh Brolin’s portrayal, despite a fully CGI-rendered appearance on screen, makes for an engaging and gripping character portrayal.
You may find yourself guiltily rooting for him in some very small way, if only due to Brolin’s performance. His nuanced approach to the seasoned intergalactic tyrant makes for the best foil against two dozen well-established heroes.
- Must you see ALL of the previous Marvel films to understand this one? Well, it couldn’t hurt, given the sequential flow of it all. Unless you’re already well-versed in Marvel Comics lore, you’ll want to treat yourself a an 18-film marathon extravaganza.
- Is this film recommended for kids? Personally, I’d advise against it. Though the language isn’t too coarse (a d-bag here, a dips**t there) compared to, say, any other Samuel L. Jackson film, the story does culminate is a lot of deaths, which could leave young impressionable viewers a tad scarred, even if the narrative might allow for some reversal of such in the sequel.
- Do you need to sit through the long credits for an Easter Egg? Ahhh-DUH. This is the MCU way, after all, and sets up Part 2 nicely. Also, all those people whose names appear on screen worked really hard on this school project, glitter and all, so be nice to them and acknowledge their effort while you wait for the bonus ending.
There you have it. Expect lots of new suits, new villains, new abilities and some shocking twists. Don’t get too upset that some of your faves don’t get to mingle. They’re busy saving the universe (in this case, literally.) Just enjoy the ride, the laughs and the action. There’s plenty of it.
Just don’t forget to look for the Stan cameo.