Avengers: Infinity War
Written by Michelle Sinclair
PSA: This review is a spoiler-free zone.
Despite the nauseating amount of my life that I have spent watching every tangential Marvel film to ensure I would Know All The Things going into Avengers: Infinity War, I didn’t particularly want to see it. Some of that is superhero burnout, but mostly I was turned off by the plethora of articles online speculating that the film would be the darkest installment and gushing over how many major characters could die. Not my favorite things. On top of everything else, the title Infinity War does not sound even remotely appealing in a world where armed conflict seems never-ending.
That’s why I’m shocked and delighted to announce that this is a funny movie. Infinity War is a treat to watch, and while it does have its dark moments, they land with greater impact because they are balanced by character-driven humor and conflict.
First, the setup: The Avengers have “broken up” into factions and are trying to move on with their individual lives when a supervillain from space named Thanos comes to Earth hunting for primordial power-jewels called the Infinity Stones (hence the title). The Avengers and their cohorts have fences to mend and egos to soothe if they’re going to stop Thanos from his dream of using all six Infinity Stones to kill half the universe.
Thanos is a more layered bad guy than that description makes him sound, but this classic “us versus the baddie” conflict provides a stellar framework for two dozen Marvel characters to contribute in meaningful ways. A more complex plot would have undoubtedly overwhelmed the storytelling. Historically, superhero movies that dabble in more than a few characters tend to wind up muddy and flat (like X-Men 3, Spider-Man 3). Infinity War is able to support so many individuals—the desires, loyalties, and conflicts playing out onscreen—within the overall framework of a two-and-a-half-hour film because of all the feeder movies that went before it give those individuals depth. Can you watch and keep up with Infinity War without having seen Captain America: Civil War or Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2? Sure—the film is careful to include relevant backstory points—but unless you’re a comic book reader, you probably won’t understand the characters very well. (That being said, the Dr. Strange movie is very skippable.)
Avengers: Infinity War is by no means a “must see” movie (is there really such a thing?), unless you relish the rare times when major studios take a risk with their golden goose. There will be more Marvel films after this one, but beneath Infinity War’s sheer watchability lies a brilliant gambit. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo ask viewers to take a leap of faith, trusting that once the most anticipated superhero film of the last decade is in the rearview mirror, people will still tune in to find out what happens next.
I always figured I’d be done with these things after watching this one, the “end of the story” so to speak. Turns out, I might be wrong.
Avengers: Infinity War is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, language, and some crude references.
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