Avengers: Infinity War is a (Somewhat Clouded) Marvel Gem
There’s something about the end of a piece of art that fascinates me - the crescendo of a movement, the finishing touches of a painting, the last few minutes of a film. It’s moments like these where I look retrospectively on the building blocks to see determine how structurally sound, in a sense, the finished product is. What was the process, the journey that led to success? What does the retrospective look like from every party involved? So much effort put in, and what was gained? These are all questions I consider when judging the merit of a movie’s story - basically, am I satisfied?
This question is hard enough to ask for one singular movie. It’s a little harder to ask for a series of movies, like Star Wars, since I must not only ask this question for each movie in that series, but for the series as a whole as well. This is partly why I couldn’t bring myself to review The Last Jedi; my judgments of the movie were just too entrenched in the other movies for me to easily give my thoughts over about it. For a franchise - nay, a metaphorical spiderweb - that’s been in the works for ten years, like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s downright near impossible; the threads that weave each movie into each other are so tangled that when I have to look back, I have a hard time finding who it was worth it for - and I’m a fan of the movies!
And so we come to Avengers: Infinity War, the nineteenth film in and capstone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. Was it worth it?
I say yes. Mostly.
The story of Infinity War, barring any and all spoilers, is as follows: A galactic being named Thanos is on the hunt for six ancient, powerful stones known as Infinity Gems (or Stones, in the movies), each one a concentrated source of something fundamental in the universe - space, time, reality, power, mind, and soul - which, when together, give the person or being wielding them absolute mastery over the known universe. At the beginning of the movie, each stone is in a different location around the universe, and Thanos is going around collecting them to be placed into a specially made gauntlet, which he wants to use to reshape the universe in the image that he so desires. This, of course, brings him in conflict with the Avengers, who, teaming up with the Guardians of the Galaxy, band together to stop him.
To call the 27 - and I counted - person main cast of Infinity War an ensemble would downplay the sheer size of this film; to list every single actor folly. Suffice it to say that if you’ve seen the poster for a Marvel movie in the past three years, you know who the movie is starring. Anthony and Joe Russo, the directors of Infinity War, made the decision to have the characters split up into different locations around the universe, which both allowed for multiple storylines to unfold at once, and also made sure that the main characters wouldn’t overshadow each other. This works, for the most part - there are some characters who see the spotlight a bit more than other characters, and some who didn’t even make the cut from earlier Avengers movies. Nevertheless, by the end of the film I felt that every single Avenger, Guardian, or otherwise got their appropriate amount of screentime.
That being said, some of those characters make questionable decisions at best, and outright stupid decisions at worst. Entirely out of character decisions? Now that I think about it, not really. Still though, at certain points in the movie I felt frustrated with the way characters were behaving on screen - not enough to make me dislike the film, but enough that I felt the need to point out that the feeling was there.
This movie is funny. It is, after all, a Marvel movie. I’m not entirely sure I agree with that decision, at least to the extent that it presents itself in the film. There should be moments of lightheartedness in the movie to cut from the heavier aspects, something which I feel DC should take notes from to do, or at least to integrate better into their stories (Looking at you, Suicide Squad and Justice League). However, I think there was a little… too much humor in the movie, especially for a story as dark and with such consequences as Infinity War.
Oh yes, there are consequences in this film. People die. And I applaud screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely for that. I’ve noticed that the past few Marvel movies have made lasting decisions, either by killing off characters or destroying previously known locations, and I welcome that change into a franchise that I think relies a little too much on plot contrivances to make sure that everything is fine in the end. Sometimes, though, it shouldn’t be, and I think Infinity War is one of those times.
Another thing that needs commending is the villain. Josh Brolin’s Thanos was menacing, powerful, but most of all, he was a character - a character with motivations, with sympathies, with emotions, something else that’s been on the rarer side in Marvel movies. And I get it - it’s the hero’s story, and therefore you need to build up the hero as much as possible, with some character sacrifices being made with regards to the villain. However, with eighteen other films of hero character development already there, Infinity War takes some time to focus on the villain, to make him a character too, and for the impact that Thanos has on the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’m glad that Markus and McFeely took that time to flesh him out a little more.
So yeah, Infinity War is pretty worth it. There were moments that made me waver in that statement, but I think I can confidently say that it is. It’s a movie eighteen films, ten years, and hundreds of issues of comics in the making, and it definitely feels it. The end of the era is upon us, and the least I can do is tell you that it’s worth a watch.