Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios
Produced by Kevin Feige
Directed by Anthony & Joe Russo
Screenplay by Christopher Markus/Stephen McFeely
Based on “The Avengers” by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
After ten years and nineteen movies, this is the payoff. And what a payoff it is. Ten years ago, if you had told me I would be seeing a superhero epic on the scale of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR I’d have laughed myself into a hernia. Simply because at that time I didn’t think such a feat would be possible. But during those ten years, Marvel Studios has created a Marvel Cinematic Universe of such sheer spectacle and magnificence that it truly does stagger the imagination. “Epic” is actually too small a world for what I feel about AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. I’m actually pretty simple in what I look for in a superhero movie. All I ask is that it gives me the same emotional and imaginative rush I felt as a twelve-year-old reading comics books. Most of the MCU movies have done that but this one delivers like none of the others.
And that’s because the stakes are bigger than ever before. The Mad Titan, Thanos (Josh Brolin) wreaks havoc across the universe, searching for The Infinity Stones. Six stones of infinite power that individually control Space, Time, Reality, Mind, Soul and Power. Place them all together on The Infinity Gauntlet and whoever wears the gauntlet becomes more than a god. Thanos seeks the stones in order to eliminate half of all living beings in the universe. He believes that the universe is out of balance, being choked to death by too much life and it is his destiny to correct that imbalance.
This naturally brings him into conflict with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) possesses The Time Stone, housed within The Eye of Agamotto while The Mind Stone resides in the forehead of The Vision (Paul Bettany) as it grants him sentience. Thanos dispatches his adopted children to Earth to secure those two stones while he searches himself for The Soul Stone. To find it he’ll need the unwilling assistance of two other adopted children; his daughters Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan). This naturally puts him up against The Guardians of The Galaxy who already have more than enough reason to want to rid the universe of Thanos. Upon meeting Thor (Chris Hemsworth) under circumstances I would not dare reveal the need to find and destroy Thanos goes up a few thousand notches in urgency.
The problem with The Avengers stopping Thanos is that there aren’t any more Avengers. Not after the events of “Captain America: Civil War.” As an utterly bewildered Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) who’s been off in space the past couple of years and so has been out of touch asks Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.); “What do you mean, you broke up? Like The Beatles?”
Well, yeah, kinda like that, Bruce. Which is why we get separate teams in various places on Earth and out in space trying to stop Thanos and his minions from collecting the Infinity Stones and bringing his insane plan to fruition.
And that’s part of the genius of the writing and direction of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. Because even though there’s an absolutely insanely large cast of characters doing a lot of complicated things in a lot of locations both on and off Earth, not once was I confused as to who was doing what and where they were doing it and why. And there’s a wonderful mixing and matching of characters who have never met previously who suddenly find themselves thrown together and have to learn how to work together as a team. Which is why we’ve got Thor, Rocket Raccoon (Voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Voiced by Vin Diesel) off on their side mission while the rest of The Guardians: Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) Drax The Destroyer (Dave Bautista) Mantis (Pom Klementieff) hook up with Doctor Strange, Iron Man and Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) who is really starting to grow on me and I’m not even a Spider-Man fan but this kid had a couple of scenes that actually had me cheering for him.
And again, I have to go back to applauding the writing and directing because believe or not, just about every member of the huge cast gets to have a little moment during the fighting, dimension-hopping, explosions, teleporting from one planet to another and all the other craziness. Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) Natasha Romanoff/The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Sam Wilson/The Falcon have an entrance that brought the audience I saw the movie with to their feet cheering. As did the charge of The Black Panther/TChalla (Chadwick Boseman) leading the Dora Milaje and the Jabari into battle. And Thor reigniting the heart of a dead star in order for the Dwarf King Etri (Peter Dinklage) to forge him a new weapon capable of killing Thanos. Hell, Shuri (Letitia Wright) got thirty seconds of applause and cheers just for showing up. This was a movie that the audience I saw it with wanted to embrace and have a good time with.
That’s not to say it’s all a fun time at the movie. Yeah, there’s a lot of humor here. It’s fun to watch equally matched arrogantly brilliant dickheads Tony Stark and Stephen Strange whip out their egos and use them on each other like rapiers. It’s a hoot to watch Peter Quill’s frustration as how his friends and teammates so quickly take to Thor. There’s a great fight scene between Iron Man, Spider-Man and Cull Obsidian (Terry Notary) one of the Children of Thanos in Washington Square Park that I’ve positive is a homage to 1960s Marvel comic book fight scenes where the heroes wisecracked with each other and snapped on the bad guy while fighting.
And speaking of bad guys, Josh Brolin manages to perform the task of me giving him the MVP props for this movie. Not an easy task considering the talent he’s in this movie with and that many of them (I’m looking at you Pratt, Cumberbatch, Downey, Dinklage and Hemsworth) ruthlessly and shamelessly steal every scene they’re in. But Thanos is my favorite kind of Big Bad: I don’t like what he’s doing. I don’t like how he’s doing it. But daggone it, I can understand why he’s doing it. And anyway you like to slice it, that’s some fine writing and acting at work Hand-in-Infinity Gauntlet there.
But make no mistake, it’s a dark movie, one that’s reflected in the costuming of The Avengers as most of them now wear black and even the bright colors of Iron Man’s brand-new nanotech armor seem dull and muted. Same with the armor of James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle) and The Falcon’s wings. The bright, optimistic colors are gone. This is a war The Avengers and their newfound allies are in and in wars, people die.
Chances are if you’re reading this then you’ve been along for the Marvel Cinematic Universe right from the start as I have been. And let’s face it, AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR would have been impossible to do if we didn’t have the build-up of the previous nineteen movies. Most of these characters have had two or three movies by now so we know them and so this movie has the luxury of just jumping right into the story and taking it for granted you know the backgrounds of all of these superheroes and how the MCU works. And as I said at the beginning of this review, this is the payoff. Between “Black Panther” and AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR this is one of the best years of superhero movies. We now live in a Golden Age of Superhero Movie Cinema and I for one am enjoying it immensely.