In 2008, an entire generation was defined. Barack Obama started his first of two presidential terms. Beijing hosted the 2008 Olympic Games. Steve Jobs was still alive. And in the world of movies, Iron Man kickstarted the now-ubiquitous Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury put it, “[we’ve] become part of a greater universe [but we] just don’t know it yet.”
Ten years later, that greater universe is now upon us. That child who once ogled at Iron Man has grown up. Throughout that decade, imaginations flared, and careers started. Now, we stand at the finish line, the end. Or the beginning of the end, at least.
In Avengers: Infinity War, the ambitious multi-franchise project that Kevin Feige started is coming to an end. And damn, it lived up exactly to what it hyped up to be.
All grown up
Infinity War itself represents a maturity. Our favorite heroes aren’t in Kansas anymore. Once sarcastic and brash, they have gone through years and years of sequels. Their stories have grown.
Unlike its colorful predecessors, Infinity War presents a more conclusive outing for the Avengers. Despite the colors that our heroes have donned, the brightest colors in the room emanate from the universe’s biggest MacGuffins—the six Infinity Stones.
Finally away from his throne, the Mad Titan Thanos is on the hunt for all six stones to form the Infinity Gauntlet, a weapon that grants its wielder omnipotent power. It will take all of the galaxy’s heroes to even dent Thanos’ plans.
We’ve all seen what a single Infinity Stone can do. Throughout the Marvel Universe, we’ve seen heroes almost die from facing one of these things. The Time Stone (wielded by Doctor Strange) even took down the ruler of another dimension, Dormammu.
As an Avengers movie, Infinity War shines because its stakes are higher. Much higher.
Anyone can die
The usual Marvel fare consists of the hero’s struggle against a villain who wants to take over the world. Besides the “taking over the world” bit, the danger is never ever-present. The heroes will almost certainly avoid complete annihilation, minus a few casualties here and there.
Infinity War changes the game. Throughout the film, there’s a constant fear that a scene might be a hero’s last. From the very first scene, it’s all systems go. It doesn’t let up.
Normally, movies excel if they allow the audience to breathe and catch up with the plot. Infinity War is one of the rare films that succeeds as a relentless roller coaster ride. Despite its almost-three-hour runtime, the film never has a dull moment.
For the most part, the film handles its ups and downs well. You’re almost never grasping for breath when it wants to show you an emotional moment.
However, it does stumble from jarring cuts and abrupt scene changes. Just as you’re about to get into a defining moment, the film cuts into a different scene. In these moments, it shows a scared restraint in revealing all its cards immediately.
For the most part, this is a very minor nick. It rockets through its plot like an enjoyable roller coaster. It’s a testament to directors Anthony and Joe Russo’s prowess to take the helm.
The Thanos movie…
Speaking of the directors, their biggest challenge undoubtedly was to bring Thanos to life in just one movie. Prior to Infinity War, his only appearances were through cameos and post-credits scenes. Even the MCU’s darling child Loki enjoyed four movie appearances before claiming the top crown as the universe’s best villain.
To accomplish this, the Russo brothers faces two objectives: building Thanos’ story and hyping him up as the most imposing force in the Marvel Universe—a tall order following Black Panther’s hugely successful Killmonger. Thankfully, the film does both handily.
In truth, Infinity War isn’t about the Avengers. It’s about Thanos. That’s what makes it an incredible movie. The Russos have successfully created a Thanos movie by marketing it as an Avengers one.
The movie displays both his impressive might and vulnerabilities as a character. There is a perverse logic to his motivation. While it’s not as sympathetic as Killmonger’s, it’s just as commanding. Josh Brolin as Thanos demands in every scene that he’s in.
…featuring the Avengers
Because of Thanos, the Avengers settle for a less prominent role than they are accustomed to. Which doesn’t take away from their power on-screen.
Seeing the Avengers interact with one another again is a sight to behold ten years in the making. Characters who don’t often interact finally meet one another. While there is a massive battle, the entire group is broken up into teams and subplots.
As you might expect, these “teams” are composed of heroes who rarely have movies together. It’s a refreshing take on the Marvel team-up film.
Still, this isn’t the Avengers movie you were expecting. Infinity War is Marvel’s biggest red herring—it’s actually a Thanos movie. The Avengers are just sweet, sweet icing on the cake. The true Avengers movie awaits next year. In the meantime, bask in Thanos’ light for he demands your silence.