It’s been ten years since Robert Downey Jr. stepped into the Iron Man suit and kickstarted one of the biggest and most conceptually ambitious cinematic ventures of all time: the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now, nineteen films later, Avengers: Infinity War brings all those that came before crashing together with spectacular style.
The plot, for all its many, many characters, is incredibly simple: Thanos (Josh Brolin) searches for the Infinity Stones in order to wipe out half of the life in the universe. The Avengers – and a smattering of other heroes from across the galaxy – must try to stop him, through a series of action-packed set pieces. Instead of employing a plot that twists and turns its way to the finish line, Infinity War instead feels like a series of vignettes that all bombastically come together in the climax.
Many of the characters suffer at the hands of the plot’s simplicity, a lot of our favourite heroes receiving very little screen time. The most impressive character development actually belongs to the villain of the piece, Thanos. The hulking purple Titan has been teased for six years since the first Avengers film in 2012 and his first full-scale outing delivered in abundance. The film is less about if and how the Avengers could stop him than it was about how and why Thanos was going to fulfil his destiny. Time will tell, but he may go down as the most memorable, most complex villain in the franchise.
” Infinity War… feels like a series of vignettes that all bombastically come together in the climax.”
Thanos’ menace and awe would not have been possible without two key factors – Brolin’s performance, and state-of-the-art CGI. The actor was unrecognisable, but his voice work and facial cues provided depth and humanity to the character. The CGI was utterly flawless as Thanos blended seamlessly into most scenes. The textures and details at times almost make you wonder if you’re seeing a real eight-foot purple man. This level of detail was pivotal in bringing the character to life in an immersive way, and it did not disappoint.
The film offers a little bit of something for almost everyone. Children and casual viewers can sit in awe of the huge set pieces and non-stop action, not having to worry about the plethora of references to past and future movies, as well as the source materials. The latter are the very things that draw in the hardcore fans, giving hints and winks in every scene. The only people who may be left wanting by Infinity War are the people with an axe to grind, people who are oblivious to the references to source material and cannot be won over by hollow, storyless action. If you go in wanting to find fault in its overindulgence, you needn’t search hard: Infinity War wears its excesses proudly on its chest.
But Infinity War is a compelling addition to the MCU’s third act. Thrilling, funny, spectacular and heart-breaking, the film is overcrowded but somehow not overstuffed. We have to wait a whole year before the story is concluded – with an as-yet untitled Avengers sequel – but Infinity War stands defiantly on its own two feet as one of the greatest and most ambitious Marvel movies yet.
Image: Marvel Studios