Over the course of ten years and nearly twice that number of movies, Marvel Studios has spun a tale as dense as Spider-man’s web, and nearly as strong as Iron Man’s armor. It really has all led to this, Avengers: Infinity War, a movie with seeds planted in almost every one that precedes it. I’m happy to say it succeeds in realizing the fruits of its three-phase plan, although I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.
As much potential as there was for Infinity War to be a disaster, with so many characters to juggle and plotlines to converge, it excels by taking a counterintuitive approach: simplicity. Strip away the backstories, post-credit sequences and character developments and you have the basic story of a bad guy collecting the tools he needs to enact his master plan, and the group of unlikely heroes destined to stop him.
It’s an action-packed and suspenseful tale. You don’t need to have seen a single Marvel movie to enjoy it. If you’ve learned anything during the last decade, though, it’s icing on the cake. The forethought required to arrange this feat is as amazing as it is brilliant. There’s depth and subtext to reward the hardcore fans, but plain old entertainment for casual viewers, even though it takes some of its cues from the best sequel ever, The Empire Strikes Back.
It does so by splitting the superheroes into groups to fight the war on several battlefronts. If you expect to see every single one of them fighting Thanos (Josh Brolin) together, you’ll be disappointed. So, while you don’t get the banter of familiar relationships, such as Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), you get the new banter of new combinations, such as Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch).
So familiar has the public awareness of these characters become, they can be mixed and matched to cook delicious new recipes. My favorite is probably a new “love” triangle among Thor, Starlord (Chris Pratt) and Rocket Raccoon (voice of Bradley Cooper). If you’re asking how in the world those particular individuals got combined, telling you would ruin half the fun. Let’s just say that that part of the story starts where last year’s Thor: Ragnarok ended.
If you don’t think Marvel has sold its soul to the devil to reap such success, consider the fact that Infinity War is savvy enough to have one of its climactic battles take place in Wakanda. Hot on the heels of the massively popular Black Panther, Infinity War feels almost like a sequel. It could have been coincidental, but the synergy is too perfectly calculated to be an accident. It could be because it follows so closely, but I think fate has dealt Marvel a double whammy.
This is also my favorite battle of the movie. In fact, the Earthbound scenes work for me better than the hardcore science fiction of the space scenes. It’s easy to lose track of all the planets Thanos visits in search of his precious infinity stones, all the different spaceships that transport the heroes chasing him, and all the alien species that are his minions. And even in the comics, it’s always felt unnatural to me when a terrestrial hero like Spider-man travels into the cosmos.
Avengers: Infinity War is a fast running 149-minute movie. When it ended, I was shocked; it didn’t seem like it should be over already. That could also be because of the nature of the ending, though… and I can’t talk about that. Let’s just say it’s dark and one helluva cliffhanger. Marvel has yet to release the title of Avengers 4 because it would supposedly spoil Infinity War, but a quick glance at their schedule is a good indication of the impact of this ending.
Thank Thanos we have to wait only one year to see what happens!