For ten long years, Marvel Studios have saturated the film market with superhero film after superhero film, teasing Marvel fans with the ultimate hook and building up anticipation, as well as, a great deal of hype for the biggest superhero throw-down of the century in Avengers: Infinity War.
Infinity War is a film that I never thought would exist given the extensive cast of heroes involved and the fact that the narrative originally spanned across multiple comic book series over three years. Having been accustomed to seeing just one hero or a small team of heroes on screen in a film, the first Avengers film blew my mind as Marvel managed to seamlessly work heavy-hitting characters into a film where they each shared equal amount of screen time and priority. I honestly didn’t think Marvel could top that, but then they did it again with Avengers: Age of Ultron.
With Infinity War, I was hesitant. The first two Avengers films were, just that. ‘Avengers’ films. The Avengers team consisted of the staple characters we all know and love with minor appearances being made here and there by the likes of supporting characters like Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders). Those films didn’t consist of every Marvel Studios character, across multiple planets and Universes. I was certain that there was no way Marvel could pull off a film with a gigantic plot filled with characters from multiple Marvel franchises. How wrong I was.
Infinity War needs no introduction. The past ten years of Marvel films have all worked in tandem, leading up to this incredible moment in cinematic history, delivering us with a feature film filled with spectacle, visual delights, laughs and most importantly, a story of the ages that manages to captivate and be thought-provoking at the same time.
The film takes place immediately after the ending of Thor: Ragnarok and jumps right into the action. Unlike other films, Infinity War didn’t need a subtle build up. We’re thrust into the action right away, reinforcing the notion that every Marvel film before this had already set up the narrative for Infinity War.
The beginning of the film re-introduces us to Thanos (Josh Brolin), the big bad who is revealed to be the mastermind behind several planetary disasters, including the attack on New York, featured in Avengers. We are also introduced to his elite team of soldiers, known as The Black Order or the ‘Children of Thanos’. It doesn’t go unnoticed that Thanos and The Black Order are reminiscent of the biblical Apocalypse and his four Horsemen, who reign down terror upon the world. Thanos and The Black Order come across as unyielding, powerful beings, worthy of being the star villains in such a massive film like Infinity War, however, there were several moments throughout the film in which I questioned whether Thanos could really be considered as a villain as his motives, while misguided, may not necessarily have been motivated by evil.
As there was no build up, explanation or even a quick plot summary of all the previous Marvel films before Infinity War, I have no doubt that audiences watching this film without seeing many of the previous Marvel films would feel slightly lost. The film assumes that its audiences know the history behind the Infinity Stones and are familiar with each and every character, as well as their respective backstory. As a Marvel comics connoisseur, I didn’t have any problem with the film, however, I certainly feel for those who weren’t clued in. This is one aspect of Marvel Studios’ films that may be an issue for some. With all the films being tied-in with each other, it’s almost as if Marvel is forcing those interested in its films to be dedicated enough to watch every single film that it produces. Not all film-goers are as committed and devoted to the Marvel brand in its entirety as I am.
Character integration and interaction was masterfully done. Unlike in DC Comics’ variant superhero team up film, Justice League, which came across as incredibly convoluted, Marvel managed to bring together characters from multiple universes and have them interact with each other in a way which felt genuine and similar to what one would see in comic books. It was rather amusing seeing Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), two egotistical and arrogant characters, bicker like two old men as if they’d been doing it for years.
Likewise, I particularly enjoyed the interactions between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as the chemistry that appeared to be developing between Iron Man and Spider-Man (Tom Holland). I’ll admit to not being a fan of Iron Man, and given his history with Peter Parker in the comic books, dreaded the influence Tony Stark was beginning to have on Peter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (“MCU”). However, the portrayal of their relationship in Infinity War made it seem as if Tony had finally matured and was ready to take on the role of mentor and father figure.
A surprising twist in terms of chemistry and character portrayal came in the form of the unique scene between Gamora and Thanos. Those of us who are familiar with Gamora and Thanos’ relationship, which was briefly explored in the Guardians of the Galaxy film, will appreciate the fact that Infinity War finally sheds light into both character’s backstory and provides a much deeper understanding of the emotional strife between the two. It is this unexpected relationship in the film that ends up being vital to the crux of the film’s plot. In fact, the humourous question Drax (Dave Bautista) asks in the film, “Why is Gamora” turns out to hold a much more pertinent meaning, that will leave audiences shocked and surprised.
A lot of the enjoyment of the film, certainly stems from the fact that many of the characters remained true to their characterisation. However, there were some characters whose characterisation, as well as their relationship with one another, hadn’t improved at all, notably that of Vision (Paul Betthany) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). The set up of these two characters’ love story made in previous films made it appear as if they were star-crossed lovers who had an immense connection. I can’t complain too much about Vision, as technically, he isn’t human and therefore would not be able to fathom the full emotional spectrum of a human being.
Considering that she was meant to be incredibly in love with Vision, Scarlet Witch showed more feeling in her anguish over her brother’s death in Age of Ultron, than she did at the prospect of losing her lover. Perhaps this was more due to the fact that a lot of the build up was removed from the film in order to save time. Had this been a comic book, we would have had the opportunity to truly see Vision and Scarlet Witch’s relationship develop and perhaps more depth to the emotional struggle they face.
Time constraints were certainly evident as some characters, and side stories, were given more priority over others. Where Avengers, Age of Ultron and even Captain America: Civil War managed to give the characters equal narrative time, Infinity War, struggled slightly. The film saw Thor, Iron Man, and several others with more dialogue than other major characters such as Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and the like. It was rather surprising to see Captain America simply be the punching machine of the film. Sure there was a dialogue or two here and there but this version of Cap was more brooding brawn than much else. This appeared to be the case even with the like of Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) who was featured in the film solely to shoot a gun.
Of course, none of this truly mattered at the end of the day as the narrative wasn’t affected. In many ways, Marvel’s focus on Thanos and his motivations for collecting the Infinity Stones was enough to satisfy me and provide for a moving and entertaining film. Unlike most superhero films, wherein the villain’s sole purpose is to either destroy or conquer the world for their own personal gain, Infinity War managed to add several layers to Thanos and the reasons for his actions to wipe out half of humanity. Watching the film, it became rather apparent that Thanos’ reasoning could be applied to life as we know it in the real world, with overpopulation being rife and there being finite resources for us all. In this way, Thanos’ actions and the narrative in Infinity War made me think deeply about the current pandemic affecting life today, something that not many Marvel films had managed to do in the past. By encouraging deeper thought and discussions around the topics of environmentalism, sustainability and global overpopulation, Infinity War managed to become more than just a superhero feature film.
Visually, it goes without saying that Marvel knocks it out of the park. Being set across various worlds, Infinity War was a pleasurable visual experience, with action scenes that appealed to audiences. Having watched the film in IMAX, the visual and audio experience was heightened, making the film more immersive and enjoyable. Of course, the overall enjoyment of the film was also helped by the fact that the script was filled with wisecracks and humour that brought joyous laughter to the entire theatre, as well as tears during surprisingly heartbreaking scenes.
Avengers: Infinity War lives up to the hype and is certainly a film of the ages, one that Marvel fans will be thrilled and satisfied to experience, having waited patiently for the film for over a decade. With a fantastic story, brilliant use of humour and an exploration into the very real problems we face in today’s world, Infinity War manages to be more than just a run-of-the-mill superhero film. While an enjoyable film overall with an end credits scene that had me fist pumping on the inside, there were several aspects of the film that raised some questions, shocked, surprised and ultimately left me, along with several others gobsmacked and confused. It’s obvious that Marvel isn’t quite done with this story yet.
P.S Keep an eye out for some rather exciting cameos and hidden Easter Eggs.