Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
“Avengers: Infinity War” is the culmination of 10 years worth of Marvel films and the subsequent expansion of their cinematic universe. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo deliver a film that struggles to balance between fanservice and strong story, resulting in a raucous, if not a little messy, action-filled joyride most suitable for dedicated fans.
Infinity War — the first of a two-part installment — follows Thanos, a giant purple tyrant, and his furious mission to gather all six “Infinity Stones,” ultra-powerful gems that can manipulate time, reality, space, and much more. Their power, when put together, could easily wipe out half the universe with a snap of one’s fingers. And that is exactly what Thanos plans to do, believing that the only way to save the universe is to kill half of its inhabitants. With a potential universe-shattering threat to deal with, almost all heroes in Marvel’s arsenal, including Iron Man, Captain America, Spiderman and Black Panther to name a few, come together to take on Thanos.
“Infinity War”’s quality can easily get confused between a fan side and a critic side. As a film, it doesn’t deliver the kind of thoughtful storytelling recent releases of Marvel have shown, instead settling into the well-worn paths of an action film. For a fan, this film is a huge milestone, something they’ve been anticipating for 10 years worth of film. The symbolism of what this movie represents alone could fuel a fan for years.
On the cinematic side, this movie was a little bit of a mess plot and structure wise. In order to ensure that every character got their fair share of screen time, the movie was split into three or four separate subplots for each grouping of characters. While this did allow for accurate characterization and pretty equal screen time, it turned “Infinity War” into more of a collection of scenes and less of a cohesive story. Motivations are unclear, and at times, certain characters’ possible actions could have easily been forgotten by the audience after two or more scenes passed without a single mention of them.
In addition, while it’s understandable Marvel would want to make two films and have as much time as possible to explore their characters in this 18-movie saga, this film suffers from “The Hobbit” syndrome, meaning there was just barely enough palpable and quality story to tell that two films were warranted. Everything in between the important moments just felt like digressions. Fun digressions, sure, but they were still, in the end, meaningless escapades to prolong the film.
As a standalone film, this movie felt like a lot of build up for little pay off. Once the glitz and glamour of the milestone this film marked is stripped back, it becomes far too weak storywise to work without the knowledge that there would be a climactic follow-up to come.
However, on the fan side of things, this movie delivers more than enough to make up for the three year long wait for its release. It truly is a testament to — and showcase of — what Marvel and its legions of supporters have managed to do that nobody else ever has, building an expansive and at times very complicated universe across nearly 20 films and multiple TV shows, amassing a cast of A-list stars. Their talent shines in this film as they give their all and then some. “Avengers: Infinity War” is definitely no “Black Panther,” it’s not hugely culturally impactful or masterfully crafted but it still offers a fun and heart-pounding adventure for its viewer, delivering equal parts magic, too good to be true fight scenes, pretty people working together and heart.
For avid fans, seeing so many of the characters that they love together will be enough to keep them and happy and excited, for the most part, for its near three-hour run time. For those that are more casual, beware. If you have not seen at least the three films preceding this, it will be hard, but not impossible, to follow its threads. Overall, this film, on a cinematic basis, was simply lacking while as a new installment to a franchise and a testament to Marvel’s success, it was MARVELous.