In Avengers: Infinity War, bad things happen to really good people.
Not just really good people, but the universe’s band of heroes who audiences have formed a bond with over 18 superhero movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
When he was first introduced in the post-credits scene of 2012’s Avengers movie, purple intergalactic despot, Thanos, had a sense of mystic around him.
After teases of his savagery in bit and pieces over Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron, the audience finally gets a fully-formed maniac who significantly strikes out names from the Avengers’ roster by the end of the movie.
Forget what the title card says, Infinity War is the Thanos show.
The conflict of the movie is simple: Thanos wants to kill half of the universe’s population because he’s a genocidal humanitarian.
To achieve this, he needs to acquire all six talismanic infinity stones, shiny powerful gems that represent aspects of existence that will empower him to carry out his wishes with the snap of his fingers.
Of course, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, The Avengers will stop at nothing to make sure this does not happen. However, dealing with the Mad Titan is the biggest challenge they will ever face at a time when the team has broken up into pieces after Avengers: Civil War.
Spanning 10 years and 18 movies since the first Iron Man movie, the MCU has rolled out an unending stream of fascinating superheroes with their own unique stories in their fantastical cinematic worlds.
In Infinity War, all the works over those years collapse into one another to form one big spectacular event situated in an elaborate universe that needs saving.
Since the Avengers team was ripped apart by the events of Civil War, Thanos takes on an underprepared, badly-assembled team. The villain’s presence forces a reunion of the earth’s protectors as well as a team-up with space travellers from the deep expanse of space.
For most of Infinity War, our favourite superheroes are split into separate groups across the entire universe as the movie juggles between three or four significant story threads, as superheroes team up in different capacities to stop Thanos’ plan.
The movie situates a story in New York, cuts to somewhere in Scotland and then flings the audience to the African nation of Wakanda just before getting transported to Knowhere in far-flung space.
Despite how exhausting it sometimes feel to keep jumping between these various threads, directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo are able to blend the sheer spectacle with meaningful story arcs for characters to matter in the time they appear onscreen.
Infinity War is an entertaining cocktail of all the incredible parts of MCU which brings everyone together in one large pool to direct a path to its own story.
A very common criticism of Marvel projects is their history of forgettable villains who struggle to display conviction in their narratives and, as a result, end up with stakes that hardly excite the audience past fleeting seconds.
Perhaps a testament to years of hard work that has gone into making this Infinity War, the movie does not suffer from this affliction and much of that is down to the impressive work of Josh Brolin as the Mad Titan.
Unlike many other Marvel villains before him, Infinity War frames Thanos’ motivations to destroy half the population as a desire to help make the universe more prosperous in his own twisted little way which comes off less twisted than you might originally think. He wants to kill trillions of creatures across the universe so that little babies can grow up well-fed and with better chances of thriving.
The terrifying result of the great work done with Thanos is how his motivations almost make him a sympathetic character especially since he completely believes he’s doing the universe a favour.
Brolin is impressive with every gesture on his CGI face, every chance he gets to throw blows with our heroes, and every soft moments he gets to depict that there’s method to the madness.
With our favourite superheroes bent on making sure Thanos does not have his way, Infinity War finally answers the question: What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?
The long-awaited face-off between Thanos and the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy is a joy to watch as clashes result in spectacular fight sequences that are extravagant and tense.
Since it wouldn’t be a Marvel project without the cutting one-liners, Infinity War is saddled with a lot of light-hearted banter between characters; and while this sometimes feels excessively laboured and out of place, the Russo brothers skillfully balance comedy with solemnity with an assured ease that preserves the universe-ending stakes and offers complete immersion into the universe like it’s never been seen before.
This provides room for the emotional investment of the audience to have some big payoff and it does in the grandest of ways possible with one of the biggest cliffhangers in the history of cinema.
Without revealing any particular spoilers, perhaps the most heart-wrenching detail in Infinity War is that despite all the destruction wrought in the movie, the universe is not prepared for what is yet to come.
The movie’s sickest attraction is that it takes you to the darkest places where you thought it’d never dare to venture. Infinity War sticks the landing with an audacious and chillingly shocking ending that’s going to take time for fans to get used to.
It is dark and it is shocking and it is heartbreaking and electrifying in unimaginable ways.