Ten years, 18 movies, a lot of hype and finally Avengers: Infinity War arrives. The question is, does the movie deliver?
Especially when expectations are so high? When the Avengers first assembled in 2012 it was the sort of ambitious event that comic book fans never dreamed was possible for a film. When 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron landed the magic was still there but Joss Whedon, the man at the helm of both those Avengers films felt the strain and bowed out. After a great showing with Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), directors Antony and Joe Russo were hired to direct Infinity War and its 2019 sequel.
One epic package
Over the last 10 years, Marvel Studios has managed to deliver blockbuster after blockbuster and the Russos were tasked with taking all of that material and putting it together in an epic package. I am happy to report that they deliver a movie that takes all the different tones and characters from all of the preceding movies and blends them together to produce something quite magical. There are a lot of moving parts in this movie and somehow it all comes together perfectly.
Infinity War is not the best movie Marvel Studios has produced if you look at it as a standalone and it was never meant to be. This is meant to be grand-scale spectacle following 10 years of build up and, yet, the movie manages to have pathos and carry itself with a sort of grace I did not expect. You know that the stakes are quite high coming into the film but you don't expect the movie to make you feel as deeply as it does. As a fan who knows that the movie draws heavily from Jim Starlin's 1991 comic book The Infinity Gauntlet, I knew what to expect coming in but somehow the events that take place managed to surprise and somewhat shock me.
All the characters we know and love are all there but this is Thanos's story, for the most part, Thanos on his quest to collect all of the Infinity Stones. Josh Brolin's Thanos is larger than life, he has gravitas, commands respect and dominates all the scenes he is in. As soon as you first see him you feel that you are in the presence of a superior being. He is on a mission to wipe out half of life in the universe, balance the scales, as it were and he has an indomitable will to get it done. He is not just a generic big bad, there is a charm to him and a certain sadness. You almost want to take his side.
We have seen the Avengers assemble and have had a bunch of them onscreen at the same time, but not like this. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) did stand out for me among the good guys and his arc is quite strong and well done. All your other favourites are here and definitely not to be messed with. Events pretty much kick off straight after Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther. All the players in those movies are where we last saw them, in space and in Wakanda.
The Guardians of the Galaxy show up (with all the humour they always bring to a party), as do Doctor Strange, Wong, Iron Man, Spider-man, Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon, Scarlett Witch, Vision, and War Machine. There are some surprise characters that are a nice touch as well. The story even takes time to throw in some Norse mythology Easter eggs with Thor's storyline. You can't be a self-respecting villain without some henchmen and Thanos has some zealous and pretty scary ones referred to as his Children. There is the hulking (pun intended) Cull Obsidian, the truly terrifying sorcerer Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight, and Corvus Glaive.
The film is quite long at 149 minutes but the pacing is done so well that you don't get tired of watching or feel like scenes are merely there as padding, which was the case in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Like The Last Jedi, this movie does spend some time subverting fan theories and delivers some nice surprises as a result. Many people will find it annoying that issues aren't resolved and that is to be expected. The movie does all it can to be the spectacle that it is and that we wanted, it delivers a villain worthy of waiting 10 years for and it is a good story that manages to juggle a huge cast of characters and locations quite nicely.
Avengers: Infinity War manages to live up to very high expectations and though it's quite self-contained it does leave you wanting more, which you will get in the 2019 sequel. As is tradition, stay for the end-credits scene and its Easter egg.