Infinitely Worth The Wait
Review: Avengers: Infinity War
Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
Starring: Josh Brolin, Robert Downy Jr, Scarlet Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, Tom Holland, and every other actor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Infinity War is the culmination of ten years of build from Marvel Studios and it’s worth the wait.
From the beginning (2008’s Iron Man), the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has felt like a ticking clock. Every film builds into the next, with the now mandatory post-credits scenes literally working overtime to continue the process. The introduction of Thanos at the end of the first Avengers (2012) meant that a confrontation between the heroes and Marvel’s biggest villain was inevitable.
Unlike most superhero movies, Infinity War takes place from the perspective of its villain. The film starts partway into a confrontation between Thanos and Thor. Many of its subsequent scenes show us his quest for the Infinity gauntlet, a weapon of unimaginable power, from his perspective. The infinity stones were introduced early in the MCU, and Thanos’ quest to get them all feels like the culmination of many years of stage-setting.
As all of this suggests, Infinity War explores all the corners of the universe that Marvel have spent years establishing. From Guardians of the Galaxy’s far flung locations to Wakanda, the major set pieces are all here. Despite the years of hype and this overwhelming scale, the film’s story delivers on its promise and manages to surprise with its twists and turns.
Infinity War has an overwhelming sense of dread. The Russo brothers go to continuous lengths to remind the audience that their heroes are in trouble, up against an unstoppable big bad Thanos, and characters pay the price for standing up to him in a big way. It is easily Marvel’s darkest film and manages to pack heavy emotional weight comparable to the likes of The Last Jedi. Despite the usual marketing frenzy aimed at kids, it is not suitable for young children.
None of this is to say that Infinity War is irredeemably sad. The film’s script manages to get the usual levity, with Star Lord, Tony Stark, and Dr Strange all delivering humour in spades.
One of the Russo brothers’ other achievements lies in the way that they manage Infinity War’s giant cast. Every major Marvel hero from the past decade is present with the exception of Ant-Man and the Wasp (who have their own upcoming standalone film) and Hawkeye. At no points does this come across as juggling or overcrowding, and the film gives most characters meaningful story arcs. Each of the characters have great moments and the film explores what it really means to be a hero, with all of them deeply affected by the experience of being up against a powerful enemy. While avoiding spoilers dictates that more cannot be said, the Christian motifs and theme of sacrifice run deeply throughout.
While preparing for the second Avatar film, director James Cameron suggested that, while he loves the Avengers films, he hopes that franchise fatigue hits. After Infinity War, this seems unlikely. For a film made by a major comics company (one that is, in turn, owned by Disney), Infinity War takes a lot of risks and leaves the audience in anticipation for the sequel, which releases worldwide in May 2019. Even those wary of Marvel’s offerings would do well to sit all the way through to the end, after the credits roll.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor