After endless teasers, a decade of setup and all the fan theories, we’ve come to this moment. The wait for Thanos is over. And right out the gate we see that the threat he poses to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is real. Following immediately after the events of Thor: Ragnarok, Thanos easily captures Thor and shows the Hulk he’s no mere puny god. From that moment on there’s no doubt that Josh Brolin as Thanos will be the one driving this film. And what’s in store for us is undoubtedly the end times for the MCU. *Spoilers ahead.
Let’s get the technical stuff out of the way so we can geek out later. Visually speaking, this film has to be one of Marvel’s best offerings, from the motion capture used for Thanos and Hulk to the melding of aesthetics of the various different franchises. The pop-color look of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the gritty realistic feel of the Captain America movies all the way to the vibrant and textured look of Wakanda are all present on screen.
Although I don’t agree with certain moments in this movie (ie. Star Lord can die in a ditch), the writers managed to adapt the Thanos storyline in a very satisfying way. The Russo brothers show once again their expertise when dealing with ensembles and a lot of the various loose threads and storylines from the previous movies are paid off (even though I could’ve gone without any more Pepper Potts nonsense).
By the way, just to save some time, everyone but Antman is in this movie and they do a good job on the acting front. Standouts include Tom Holland as Spiderman (you’ll know why when you see it), Idris Elba because Idris Elba, Josh Brolin as Thanos, Mark Ruffalo and whoever is your favorite superhero kicking ass on the screen at the moment. The Marvel formula is in full effect and jokes are flying, with most landing at an incredible pace, but it is done without sacrificing the necessary tension and sense of foreboding dread. Because the proverbial shit has hit the motherfuckin’ fan.
The storyline follows Thanos and a group of minions he calls the “Children of Thanos” as they rampage across the universe searching for the Infinity Stones. He does so in search of what he feels is balance in a universe with finite resources. In reality, he wants to eradicate half the life of the universe. And yet he’s portrayed as a character who’s fully cognizant of what he’s doing to achieve his goal and yet is willing to sacrifice anything for said goal, including a character defining scene where he sacrifices his “daughter” Gamora in order to get the Soul Stone.
After acquiring The Power, Space, Reality and Soul stones he travels to his home planet Titan to face the first group of our heroes. They almost succeed in removing the Gauntlet from Thanos, but Star Lord goes ballistic and yet again we see the full might of the Mad Titan as he dispatches our heroes by throwing a literal shattered moon down on them. He receives the Time Stone given to him by Dr. Strange, presumably after he had looked forward in time and deduced that this was the only right choice. This leaves only the Mind Stone on Earth with Vision as the last step between Thanos and ultimate victory.
Now for the third act, you’ll excuse me for geeking out for a second but let’s set the stage here. Thor is still alive, he was picked up by the Guardians earlier and has gone off to get a new weapon to fight Thanos. He gets the axe Stormbreaker from Eitri one of the dwarves that forged his hammer played by Peter Dinklage and heads to Earth. The last line of defense on Earth is set in none other than Wakanda. All of our remaining heroes including the fractured Avengers, and basically all of Wakanda, gather to fight off Thanos’ invading force. Every single person there puts in work like never before, but it’s still not enough. Thor shows up with his new war axe and helps the remaining defenders kill off the last of the invading army and their “Children” leaders. Meanwhile, Thanos finishes dealing with the heroes of Titan and finally makes his first appearance on Earth. And please understand this was someone who smacked Hulk and turned him into a little bitch for the rest of the film before getting the Stones, and he shows up with five. What follows is the complete and utter destruction of all opposition from Thanos. He destroys everyone between him and Vision and gets the Mind Stone. And with a snap of his fingers, he ends half of all life in the universe.
Well damn Marvel, people say your movies are fluffy and no one ever dies, you kill off most of your main cast of heroes. People say you lack interesting villains, you give us excellent and complex ones like Killmonger and to a lesser extent Thanos. People say you’re all about the jokes at the expense of the drama. Well, they’re right, although you’re good at what you do.
Avengers : Infinity War isn’t a perfect film. Some of the jokes don’t land (how would Peter Quill know what military hand signals are?). It requires you to have seen previous Marvel movies to really appreciate it, and by second viewing it had already lost some of its appeal.
But it does succeed in being the first part of a Universe defining event by having the main villain win. It’s a film not scared to ramp the stakes all the way up and execute on its own premise. Not since The Empire Strikes Back had we seen such an impact on a beloved mainstream franchise, and I for one cannot wait to see the next part.