Avengers Infinity War

Warning! This review contains SPOILERS for Avengers: Infinity War!

Avengers: Infinity War, directed by Joe & Anthony Russo, is absolutely a success in what Marvel set out to do 10 years ago. Now, a film of this magnitude; with the number of characters it was juggling, and the scope of the threat it is dealing with; means it of course falters in a few places – there are elements to this film that absolutely didn’t work for me. But in the context of the larger film; what it had to juggle; what it needed to accomplish; and the massive audience that it has to serve – especially after 10 years’ worth of well-loved films leading up to it. I think Marvel and the Russo brothers have accomplished what could have easily been a massive bin fire full of disappointment and broken dreams. Having said that though, there is one glaring issue to this film that could easily bring all those positive comments / feelings crumbling down. So, now I have to try to review this film in a coherent way; touching upon all the necessary little moments that need to be talked about. Wish me luck.

Thanos – played by Josh Brolin – is finally here and has no plans to let anything stop him from gathering all of the infinity stones and unleashing ruin upon the galaxy. It falls to The Avengers and their allies to come together and do what ever is necessary to stop him; which means sacrifices will need to be made.

After the post-credit scene had rolled and my friends and I were leaving the cinema and heading back to the car, I was asked what I thought of the film (after some general discussion about various scenes) and the first words that came to mind were: ‘it was good, but it wasn’t great’.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time with this film, and looking back on that initial thought, I’d probably say it was an unfair and inaccurate thing to say. Because there were plenty of moments during this film where I was smiling from ear-to-ear, and also times where I was genuinely touched by the poignancy of particular intimate moments – and these are all things I’ll get to talking about in more detail.

But… for me… there felt like there was something missing. I didn’t have the same euphoric feelings that I did when walking out of the first Avengers film (though my expectations for that film were nowhere near as high as my ones for this one). But still… there was no overwhelming goosebumps moment for me when watching Avengers: Infinity War (and I fully know I’m in the minority on this).

But again, I did still enjoy this film. And much to my surprise, the element that I perhaps enjoyed the most was Thanos. A character who has been teased since 2010 but had no significant development, other than a few brief scenes that gave very little understanding or context for the character; somehow ended up being the most compelling aspect of Avengers: Infinity War, for me.

So yes, despite Thanos looking like a big, purple, CGI thumb; there was an incredible amount of depth to the character. Thankfully, Thanos is the complete antithesis of Steppenwolf from the recent Justice League film. I’d actually say that Avengers: Infinity War is less an Avengers film and more a Thanos film. A surprising amount of time is spent developing and exploring who Thanos is as a character; what drives him; what his weaknesses (if any) he might have as a person. I went into this film expecting a generic CGI villain who shouted clichés at the Avengers and was generally forgettable, and instead got a character who I’m genuinely eager to see more of. And a lot of praise has to be given to Josh Brolin who brings a significant amount of range to the character. The calm, collectedness in his voice, or the surprising amounts of emotion; all were part of a performance by Josh Brolin that deserves to be recognised as truly great.

You see, Thanos is a character who could have very easily been a generic, one dimensional bad guy. Take his plan for example. If you were to boil it down, it’s like any other villain’s ultimate goal; to wipe out an untold amount of people from the universe. Most films would leave it at that and not go any deeper into it. I mean, for most audiences that’s usually enough. But Infinity War takes the time to explore what type of person Thanos is, to want to do such a thing, and what motivates him to want to do it.

And what was the biggest surprises of all for me, was that somewhere very, very deep within his reasoning, was an idea that made sense; that I could understand. Most villains want to blow up the world or take control of the galaxy just because. It doesn’t go beyond that and it doesn’t give significant or meaningful reasoning for them to desire such a thing. This film offered a villain who wanted that and then took the time to delve into why it might make sense in the context of this characters’ mind. It resulted in a character who wasn’t just this tyrannical, evil villain, but instead someone with layers and an ideology that felt brilliantly explored. All-in-all, Thanos was simply fascinating to watch.

But beyond the exploration of Thanos’ driving forces, was a character who without all the universe ending talk, was interesting to watch on-screen. He is perhaps the first MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) villain who felt like a genuine threat. He was someone who not only set out to reduce a planets population in half, or to beat down your favourite Avenger; but was someone who I truly believed could do it – and without much of a struggle. His introduction in particular did a great job of establishing his power and his ferocity. To not only kill Loki and Heimdall in the opening scene, but then also have him take on arguably the strongest Avenger (The Hulk) and beat him down with such ease, was a great way of establishing the threat that he posed and that the Avengers were very much screwed from the beginning.

Anytime he was in a scene with another of our Avengers, I would get the same feeling I would have when watching Game of Thrones. At any point someone could die, there was nothing that could be done to stop it, and the death wouldn’t be heroic or a worthy feeling send-off, but instead brutal and heart-wrenching to watch. I can’t think of another villain in the MCU who has ever had such a presence or follow through. Perhaps my only main complaint for Thanos is that I would have liked some more creative use of the infinity stones. Other than one scene involving the reality stone, I never felt the full possibilities of the stones were explored.

But this isn’t just the Thanos show – though I’m totally on board for a standalone Thanos film where we get to explore the character even more. This is an Avengers film where nearly every character that has been introduced up until this point appears in the film (minus a few characters like Hawkeye or Ant-Man). And for the most part, I’d say that the Russo brothers did a damn good job of incorporating the sixty-plus characters on the roster.

It’s in the crossover interactions between the various groups of characters (many whom have never met before) that the film shines. Watching the egos of Tony Stark and Doctor Strange collide, while the endearing naivety of Spider-Man bounces in-between them, is a joy to watch. Or getting to see Thor’s first interaction with The Guardians of the Galaxy is certainly one of the funniest scenes in the film, as Peter Quill tries desperately to compete with the god of thunder. Purely from a top down level, seeing all these characters from all those films come together in their newly created little groups is what fans have always wanted. Bringing the Guardians and some of the Avengers together is unbelievably satisfying. Watching as Captain America and Black Panther blast ahead of the rest of the Wakandan army and throw the first punches against some terrifying looking creatures are the moments that we’ve all been waiting for, and they don’t disappoint.

Speaking of action though: when I look at the varied and lengthy action scenes that we get in this film, I am conflicted on how I feel about them. My personal favourite scene had to be the one on Titan where the various characters are attempting to relinquish Thanos of his gauntlet. The creativity of combining the different abilities of each character and bringing them together in a fluid, rhythmic assault on the seemingly unbeatable Thanos was so exciting to watch. And the outcome of that battle and the devastation Thanos inflicts upon them, added to the intensity of him as a villain.

But there were also action scenes – primarily the large assault on Wakanda – where I felt numb to the experience. At this point it’s a pavlovian response for me, when watching humongous action scenes filled with explosions and waves of enemy fodder being mowed down, to cease to be emotionally invested. I know I’m watching a bunch of CGI hit some more CGI, and it’s really difficult for me to care about all the inconsequential devastation. I prefer the smaller, more intimate conflicts. For example, when Captain America and his band of outlaws return and all work so seamlessly together to bring down Thanos’ minions was such a fulfilling moment. Plus, Cap’s reveal in that moment was such a great return for the character, who is one of my personal favourites in the MCU. The big noisy stuff simply just doesn’t do it for me anymore.

Switching gears again, I want to talk about the more intimate moments between characters, and there’s one in particular that I want to talk about first:  it being the scene that was unexpectedly my favourite in the whole film, between Rocket Racoon and Thor, which is never something I thought I’d be saying after seeing Avengers: Infinity War. Thor pouring his heart out (in his Thor way) beautifully highlighted the larger arc for a lot of the characters in the MCU. Thor is the god of thunder; he can best any enemy and is one of the most powerful protectors that Earth has. But he’s also lost everything and everyone that ever mattered to him. To hear him list everyone he’s lost, really put into perspective the unfair loneliness that he and a lot of the other Avengers exist in. For me, it was a really poignant, honest moment. It showed a side of this franchise that isn’t always seen. Earth’s mightiest heroes are also Earth’s loneliest ones. That scene in particular, really stood out to me.

But sadly, moments like that came few and far between. Avengers: Infinity War – understandably – has a lot to accomplish, and so a lot was either going to fall to the side or be completely overlooked. Bruce Banner and Black Widow reuniting. Bucky and Cap seeing each other again. Peter Quill dealing with the loss of Gamora. These were poignant moments that I wish the film had the time to dive deep into and explore. Just one of them alone would have been an incredibly rich scene. But this film simply doesn’t have the time.

There are the various branching storylines with each containing a large number of characters. To stop and give focus to an especially intimate moment would only slow things down and take the focus away from something else. It’s weirdly a film that accomplishes so much and gives long-time fans the moments they’ve been waiting years for, but at the same time passes over really important moments and simply isn’t able to give the attention to the characters that deserve it. I think this is a primary contributor to why I both enjoyed this film and was left feeling a little unfulfilled at the same time.

But unfortunately, it isn’t the only issue I had with the Infinity War. For me, the massive tonal issues in the film became a distracting point of contention in my head. Taking the various characters from MCU films of varying tone, and putting them altogether, made for an experience that was tonally confused. To go from a significant death, filled with intense levels of emotion, directly into a scene where everyone is joking and making quips, was for me, difficult to acclimate to. I needed (wanted) time to process some of the things I was experiencing but was never able too. This isn’t a new problem for a Marvel film – particularly an Avengers film – but it was still a constantly jarring experience to go from one intense tone to another with no pause in between. Even with a 150-minute runtime; Infinity War simply didn’t have the time to let anything just be. It always had to quickly move onto the next scene. It’s breakneck pace was both a blessing and a curse.

With Avengers: Infinity War, I’m conflicted. And I’m still yet to talk about my biggest concern / problem with the film. First off, I think that the ending they went for in this film is really bold. I always assumed Infinity War would end on a down note – that audiences wouldn’t leave the cinema with that wholesome good feeling that Marvel films usually leave them with. But man, when those final moments were playing out and the Cap said those haunting words and it cut to credits; I’ve never heard such a deafening silence like that (after a big blockbuster event like this, I mean). The crowd (and me) didn’t know how to react. You’d expect cheers and clapping, but there was just this solemn silence throughout the room. It was really quite profound to experience and be a part of that moment.

But! I’m worried that the ending that this film led up to. The story it told where the bad guy wins, and so much significant consequence is felt for the first time; will be completely undone with the next Avengers film. Marvel films are usually quite afraid to deal with significant consequence. It’s why I like Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War, because those MCU films faced the consequences of the characters’ actions head on and showed that this wasn’t a universe of only happy endings and the heroes winning.

I mean, Baron Zemo – played by Daniel Brühl – is perhaps one of the only villains in the MCU to succeed in his plans (other than Killmonger – played by Michael B. Jordan). And so, I’m concerned that the effectiveness of the ending in Infinity War will be made null-and-void by Avengers 4. It’s this thinking that is keeping me from fully feeling the effect of that ending. I can’t bring myself to invest in a massively consequential ending when there’s the possibility for it to soon mean nothing in the larger overall story. I feel as if I’m left in a state of limbo as I wait for Avengers 4. It’s a very lonely place to be, as everyone else seems to be loving the experience they had with Infinity War, while I’m here struggling to fully know how I feel about it all.

As I look back on everything I’ve written so far; I realise I should have made it clearer that this is less a review with the purpose of concluding whether it’s a film worth seeing or not – because let’s be honest: regardless of if I recommend it or not, everyone’s going to see this film. This is more a review based around examining this film and the many, many parts that make it up. I hope I’ve have done a competent job of that. And yes, I know that there is still a whole lot of stuff that I never even touched upon, but to do so would see this review going on for far too long – longer than it already is.

So with all that being said, here’s where I want to leave things: Avenger’s: Infinity War is without a doubt an unmatchable accomplishment. Something of this scale and ambition has never been done so successfully – and may never be done to this extent again. What this film succeeds at doing after 10 long years of set-up is nothing short of incredible. My hat goes off to Joe Russo and Anthony Russo – two guys who once directed episodes of Community and Arrested Development – for taking on this titanic responsibility and not messing it up. Did the film give me everything I wanted? No. But is it a failure? Absolutely not. I’m actually quite tempted to go see it again, as I’m sure there are things I missed – plus, there are a few moments I’d quite like to experience again. So though wasn’t everything I was hoping for, Infinity War is still something quite special to have experienced.

So even though this particular part is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things; I’m still going to recommend, Avengers: Infinity War. I can’t imagine it will disappoint most people and I’m confident you’ll have an absolute blast watching it (if you haven’t already). And thank you for baring with me on this long rambling review in which I’m not confident I achieved anything.

I’d love to know what you thought of Avengers: Infinity War, and what I had to say about it. So please leave any opinions, feedback, etc. in the comments section down below. Also, it would be great if you would consider following both my blog and my Twitter – @GavinsRamblings. But enough of my ramblings now. I want to finish by saying thank you to you for dedicating some of your time to reading my review. I hope you have a wonderful day and I’ll hopefully see you again sometime.

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