I will start with a very quick, spolier free review of Avengers: Infinity War and then immediately launch into a detailed analysis of the film as there is really so much to dig into.
So first of all, you really have to see this film. But you probably shouldn’t see it if you are unfamiliar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is the wrong film to enter the franchise. The film lives off the fact that it is the culmination of ten years of genre filmmaking. There are references to previous installments and there is little character development involved, because almost all characters are extremely well established by now. So if you have never heard of Iron Man, or Spider-Man before, you probably won’t enjoy this film at all. It will most likely feel like a confusing convoluted mess that makes absolutely no sense and leaves you completely unsatisfied.
Having said that, if you have been following the MCU and have seen most if not all films, you will absolutely love this film. If you have been watching since Iron Man, as far back as 2008, this film will be all the more intense for you, as we revisit old locations with all the familiar characters you’ve come to know and love at such a fast pace that your heart will be strained to continuously pump at the rate you require it to (seriously, if you have a condition, you might want to avoid this…). Everyone who has seen this film so far has had the same experience. It was extremely exhilarating, but also exhausting. The runtime is around two hours and fourty minutes and the fact that it barely slows down at any point of the film, makes it incredibly hard to endure. The film essentially tortures its viewers in the most positive way you could possibly frame this, as it sucks the very last drop of adrenaline out of you.
I can’t say much more about the film without getting potentially spoilery. I will say this much more: the film had a very good balance of characterisation, in my opinion. The focus was always on Thanos. He is the main character of this film. The Avengers and Guardians have their respective moments throughout the film and there are support characters, as well as other villains, but support characters fit into the film as meat in the room. They are there to flesh out the universe and make sure we experience it as a living and breathing thing. The villains remain completely nameless and that is a good thing. We don’t need to know much about them. This is not about them. This is about Thanos and our beloved heroes. Thanos has the greatest character arc and his character is really fleshed out from beginning to the end. The Avengers and Guardians don’t need much more character development, as we already know and love them well. Only a few characters get a bit more development, where necessary for the plot or because we haven’t spent enough time with them. Conversely, a few of the newer main characters don’t really get that much to do, or to interact with others, simply because there is no time to cram even more into this film. Otherwise, we would have had to get through a six hour movie. To be honest, I may have even enjoyed a Lord of the Rings style film a little more, just because I could really use some time to breathe and gather myself, but also because some of the characters could really use more time for a reunion or to get to know each other. Stretching it out with more character interaction scenes may not have been a bad idea, but I won’t argue with the results of this magnificent piece of cinematic history.
Now on to MAJOR SPOILERS! Seriously, do not read on after this part. The film can only be enjoyed if you know nothing about it. Any spoiler might ruin it for you!
In fact, what I really loved about this film, was that it was shot and advertised in a way to avoid spoilers. Yes, the trailers might give one or two things away. But they also deliberately changed things with CGI in the trailers, to make us think it would go one way or another. Characters were removed from certain shots, effects were added, details changed. They already did this with Thor Ragnarok, to keep the surprise alive for Thor’s eyepatch, but this time they changed a lot more.
Speaking of Thor Ragnarok… That film is completely ruined by Infinity War. Seriously, Heimdall is dead. Loki is dead (so well done, though). All of Asgard is dead (wasn’t Thanos supposed to only kill half the population though?!). We didn’t see Korg, because it wouldn’t have fit the tone of the film, but he’s definitely dead too. And all of this in the first two minutes of the film. Jeesh. So much for “Asgard is a people, not a place.” Two minutes later… “Asgard is dead.” It sets the stage for the sheer brutality of Infinity War, but man. I cannot go back to Ragnarok anymore, because it just feels too sad knowing what will happen right after the film ends. This is a general problem you face when trying to make emotionally engaging films, but connect them too quickly. That is why it is always good to keep some time in between the films, for additional things to happen, characters to develop off screen etc. If you don’t, you face the problem of one film encroaching upon another’s territory. And boy, does this film ruin everything in the MCU. This film is essentially a metaphor for when you were a kid and played with your action figures. You create characters and plots for each of them and have them go through trials and tribulations to get to where they are. Then this other kid asks to play with you and your figures and brings his own. But that kid doesn’t play by the rules of storytelling and world building. He just likes to win and smash everything. So he comes up with some insane bullshit about infinity stones that control everything in the universe and then he pits his one figure against all of yours. You keep coming up with ideas on how to beat his two dimensional overpowered superbeing and you keep winning, but the other kid doesn’t like losing. So he keeps pulling more bs superpowers out of his ass to turn your victory into a cruel farce and beats the living shit out of your heroes. Finally, when he is done, he sits back and smiles happily, leaving you back in tears or at the very least frustrated and no longer willing to play with him. That is this movie in a nutshell.
The end credits were incredibly thoughtful. It’s as if you’re at a funeral or reading an obituary. For the first time, we don’t see fancy graphics and animations, or cheerful and bright colours, but just a drab and dreary black and white slow moving credits scene. I loved that almost as much as I loved the entire film. Combined with the heavy and sad soundtrack playing in the back, it was just magical how much it felt like a kick to the gut. When the title of the film appeared and then turned to ash, I got even more emotional. Simple, yet brilliant. It’s as if Marvel looked at the down and wounded DC and said “Oh, so you are trying to be dark and gritty? You know what, we usually like to be upbeat, funny and cheerful, but we can be darker and more profound than you any day. Try this on for size!” Avengers: Infinity War cements Marvel’s unquestionable dominance in the superhero and comic book film adaptation market. They played the long game and it paid of in so many ways. You want a funny film? You want a serious and dark film? You can have both with Marvel. The Captain America films already started going in that direction, but Infinity War took the cake. I firmly believe it will become the new synonym for dark sequels, replacing Empire Strikes Back (which of course is still fantastic, but in a very different way).
What surprised me most about this film, was that they really went all the way there. This film in itself has closure; at least for Thanos. He gets all the Infinity stones, fulfills his mission and is finally content. In essence, this film is the first proper super villain movie; not a super hero movie. Because we had been told there would be two parts to Infinity War, I had assumed we would start of a little slower and have him collect up to three or four Infinity stones throughout the film. Never did I imagine he would actually succeed in gathering all of them in just one film. But then again, this was likely just another marketing stunt pulled by Marvel. The fourth Avengers film has now been renamed to untitled Avengers film. So we are being kept in suspence and hyped at the same time, something most studios are completely incapable of doing in this day and age. I love Marvel for how much effort they put into surprising their viewers in the theaters.
Of course, a few things, like Loki’s or Vision’s death were expected by audiences. But even there they pulled it off so well, that they kept toying with us. Poor Vision nearly died so many times in the film, then died to save the universe, only to be brought back to end the universe. And worst of all, he was actually one of the most intriguing characters and had very little screen time over the course of the MCU. Gamora’s death was also a likely scenario, despite her popularity. Her ties with Thanos made it very unlikely to survive; just like Drax. But the fact that Peter Quill actually screwed up and doomed the universe was tough for me to swallow. They were so close and then he just loses it. Of course, it is a human reaction and this is kind of the main theme of the film. They all act and react like human beings with feelings and attachments, whereas Thanos is calculating and ruthless and that is why he succeeds in the end. If Wanda had killed Vision sooner, Thanos would have had to give up on his quest. If Gamora had allowed Nebula to suffer and die, Thanos would have never found the soul stone. If Starlord had not reacted on the news of his beloved Gamora’s death, Thanos would have lost. If Doctor Strange had not given up the time stone to save Tony, Thanos would have lost. I also thought Tony Stark would be a goner, just like Thor and Steve Rogers. Tony even had that emotional battle scene and a foreshadowing scene with Pepper in the beginning. But this is exactly why this film is so amazing. The foreshadowing means nothing. Characters live and die at random. You never know what will happen next. The ending was even more of a shock, as all of the Guardians, except Rocket Racoon die. Of the Avengers, only the original team survives. Cap, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hulk, Thor (and presumably Hawkeye), as well as War Machine (damn, you’re one lucky Phase 1 sidekick!) and we can also assume that Ant-Man is alive and well. This actually serves to condense the MCU down to just a few characters, so we can have more meaningful character relationships and interactions in the next installment, rather than the overcrowded clusterfuck we experienced now. But as a movie goer, you would have expected the original characters to be replaced by new ones. Even as a comic fan, you would have expected something like the New Avengers Initiative, but no. We are going back to the beginning with the original team for the next film. We will of course see the new characters brought back to life (we already got a new Spider-Man announced, come on!), but it may require one last sacrifice from the old team, before they pass on the baton.
The film is not like the other Avengers films. Having rewatched the previous installments prior to the Infinity War premiere, I was left with a very different feeling. Avengers built up an incredible amount of pride and hope in the viewer. Age of Ultron did less so, but still made you really connect with that feeling of “Hell yeah, Avengers assemble!” Infinity War is more like “Aw, poor Avengers… Guess Captain Marvel has to save them now.”
That post-credit scene was just as emotional, with Maria Hill disappearing and Nick Fury desperately trying to run away from the universe somehow and letting out a Samuel L. Jackson “Motherf….” before he is also turned into ash by the universe. Speaking of which, everyone’s clothes and other items also disappeared, but for some reason that one device Fury was holding survived. How? It’s not a big deal, but I feel like it would have been better for the clothes to remain when they turned to ash, much like in Star Wars, just to keep it consistent.
But how is Captain Marvel going to fit into all this? Don’t get me wrong, Carol Danvers is one of my absolute favourite Marvel characters. She is a nerdy, athletic, breathtakingly beautiful and smart airforce pilot, who also just so happens to be the most powerful hero, with the potential of becoming the Nr.1 hero. Except, she is also flawed and continuously gets herself into trouble, which makes the character so god-darn appealing. But how is she going to undo all of this, without time travel? I mean, there is the possibility of getting back the Infinity Stones from Thanos and rewriting reality, but I put my money on time travel. Ant-Man is going to travel through time by shrinking down to the quantum level and recruit Captain Marvel at the end of her film, bringing her back to the present, explaining why she was absent this whole time. I also don’t understand why Captain Marvel was not called in right away if she was actually available at the time. If Fury knew it was the end of the universe scenario, why wait until his own death to call Carol in? My guess is she actually was not available, but his signal at the end of the film, was a safety protocol, put in place to set things in motion that would then finally bring her into the present time, or maybe even have her show up before the present time, at the battle of New York in the first Avengers or something like that, changing how the MCU evolved over time. Although that may be hard to swallow and complicate a lot of things, unless they are planning on rebooting the MCU, which I assume is the case. All next MCU films currently confirmed will be prequels to Infinity War. Ant-Man and the Wasp releases in a few months and is set after Captain America: Civil War. It will also likely deal with time travel, as Janet Van Dyne is said to appear in the film. As such, Ant-Man will likely have learned all he needs to know for Avengers 4 in this film. Next up and releasing very closely to Avengers 4 is Captain Marvel. An origin story set in the 90s and dealing with the Skrull-Kree war that will also bring back familair faces, like Nick Fury and Phil Coulson. While the plot of the film could easily serve as its own universe shattering two-part Avengers story, this film will likely serve to establish just how jawdropping Captain Marvel actually is, before she goes off to save everyone in Avengers 4. This will make it more believable for audiences that she can singlehandedly turn the tides after Infinity War. Many more Marvel films are slated to release post Avengers 4, but not a single one of them has been titled. We just know about that one Spider-Man film, they could be continuing the story, or be interspersed segments between the already established films, or yet more likely, new films with new characters, after the old Avengers team’s story is resolved in Avengers 4.
All in all, it is very hard to judge Avengers: Infinity War on its own, without knowing how the story will continue in Avengers 4. Avengers 4 could bring all characters back unharmed, which would render Infinity War meaningless. Or it could cement the deaths of all characters that have disappeared, just dealing with Thanos once and for all, which would make Infinity War the saddest, darkest and most destructive film ever made. Infinity War destroyed most locations of the MCU and both killed half its characters and ruined many of the previous films’ storylines. E.g. the Guardians of the Galaxy films are still fun, but feel utterly pointless, seeing as their accomplishment in the first film is rendered meaningless, by the third minute byline in Infinity War, explaining that Thanos just walked through Xandar and slaughtered everyone a week ago, in order to claim the power stone. Add to that that the Guardians are basically all dead and gone and almost principally to blame for Thanos’ victory, you don’t really view their films that kindly anymore. They really are a bunch of obnoxious morons and a-holes… I already mentioned Thor, but even the Captain America franchise is dead in the water now. Bucky and Falcon are gone and in the comics both of them at different times, took over for Steve as Captain America. So where would we even go with Cap after this? Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see some original storyline about Captain America, the supersoldier fugitive, perhaps fighting the Red Skull, as we just learned he is alive and well. But would Marvel really go there? And is Chris Evans even interested? Didn’t he want to retire from acting? In the words of Steve himself: “Oh God!”
Only time will tell. In any case, I am thrilled to continue watching the MCU story unfold for another amazing decade and marvel at each new installment in the series.