Years ago, in a Q&A, Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) producer Kevin Feige claimed that the MCU movies would never take a dark turn. It seems like that promise has been broken. There was a time when Avengers: Age of Ultron was considered dark, but those days are over. There was a time when I thought Captain America: Civil War would be the darkest entry. Now that title belongs to Avengers: Infinity War.
My movie reviews never really go over the plot, but as this is the 19th film in this franchise, I might as well give a couple of bullet points to those who have never seen any of these movies: There exist six Infinity Stones of immeasurable power and the mad titan, Thanos, wants to use them to kill half the universe. In Infinity War, Thanos begins to collect the Stones and our superheroes have to stop them. These are perhaps the biggest stakes I’ve seen in a movie yet.
The Infinity War directors, the Russo Brothers, did an admirable job of keeping all of these characters straight (they stated that there were 76 cast members in total). Although the Avengers is in a state of disrepair, we still got to see the veterans and newcomers fight side by side. It was nice to see the Guardians of the Galaxy characters interact with the Avengers, but in my opinion, they weren’t necessary for the story. They’re their own super group, which only adds to the large cast. Sure, there were moments that they were crucial to the story (Thanos’ adopted daughter, Gamora, is a key member of the Guardians) but I would bet Infinity War could have survived without them. I say that despite the fact that every joke they dished out made me laugh out loud.
There were unusual (foolish?) decisions made throughout the film that bothered me until I properly suspended my belief. I understand that the Avengers must always stick together, but at some point, they must make sacrifices. One of the heroes, the android Vision, is in possession of an Infinity Stone, which will endanger trillions (yes, I mean trillions) of lives if it gets in Thanos’ hands. The Avengers can safely dispose of the stone if they sacrifice Vision, but they refuse to do so because he is their comrade. If anyone wants to persuade me that the life of a robot is more valuable than even a single human life, feel free I’m listening. Unrelated, I missed the line wherein the stranded Doctor Strange explained why he couldn’t open a portal back to Earth or teleport Thanos into the sun. Perhaps it was sandwiched between one-liners.
It’s hard to empathize with a character whose main motivation is to commit genocide, yet I still found the villain Thanos fairly compelling. You can’t quite sympathize, mind you, but at least you find him interesting. Certain elements of the movie’s uneven tone did not work for me. There are few things more troubling than a loved one asking you to kill them. One of those things is actually going through with it. Twice we see characters resolve to kill their lovers, and a similar situation with a parent and their child. All three situations end with someone pulling the trigger (literally or figuratively). I’m torn on these scenarios. On one hand, I tip my hat to any movie that raises the stakes above and beyond. On the other hand, I cannot separate the adult level storytelling from the inevitable appeal of these movies to children. This is a problem with many superhero movies throughout the genre’s history, and it’s an issue with way to address it. I suppose “art first” and “don’t talk down to kids” best represent my opinon on the matter.
The ending doesn’t leave the viewer with much hope. Half the population is gone. In a particularly emotional moment, we see Peter Parker die in Tony Stark’s arms. I know logically that they’ll keep Holland as Spider-Man for a little while (Spider-Man: Homecoming is part one of a trilogy), but I still had to resist the urge to shed a tear for the fading hero. One of my problems with Thor: Ragnarok was that comedy took precedence over genuine emotion, so I was pleased to see that Infinity War finally gives Thor the chance to mourn his lost family and address his misfortune.
What remains to be revealed is which actors signed on for more movies, and contracts are a good indicator of which characters are here to stay. Because this is the most successful film franchise of all time, we’ll certainly see many of these “deceased” heroes again. I hope the plot of the next Avengers isn’t as predictable as “watch the Avengers get the Time Stone so they can prevent this catastrophe from happening.” This was the first MCU movie in which I felt there were actual stakes, but it seems as if we’ll have to wait for Avengers 4 to see if they pay off.
For a normal movie: 8/10
For an MCU Movie: 9/10