It’s the event that comic book/MCU fans have been waiting for. Over the course of ten years and 18 films, Marvel Studios has slowly built up its cinematic universe, putting vast amounts of time, money, and effort into introducing and developing its plethora of characters, all of which has been leading up to the point where they would finally come together to do battle against the most dangerous foe any of them has ever come across. “Avengers: Infinity War” was never going to be a small feat. In fact, in terms of sheer scale, it was always going to have to be the most epic and grandiose entry yet seen in this universe. This put an enormous burden on the shoulders of directors Joe and Anthony Russo, and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (the same pairs that had given us the thrilling “Captain America: Civil War”). Would they be able to juggle even more characters than they handled in their previous entry, or would it all come crashing down around them in an epic fail? If “Civil War” was any indication, you can probably already figure out the answer to that question.
Picking up right where “Thor: Ragnarok” left off, we find that Thor’s (Chris Hemworth) ship has been attacked and boarded by Thanos (Josh Brolin), who is still on his quest to collect the remaining infinity stones. After a brief confrontation, Dr. Banner (Mark Ruffalo) is hurled back to Earth, where he warns Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) that Thanos is on his way, with Strange subsequently recruiting Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to help out. Shortly after, a pair of Thanos’ lackeys arrive on Earth in an attempt to retrieve Strange’s infinity stone, but finding that they are unable to extract it, they end up kidnapping the Doctor instead, forcing Tony and Peter Parker (Tom Holland) to stowaway on their ship in a daring rescue attempt.
Meanwhile, Thor is picked up by the Guardians of the Galaxy. They eventually decide to split up into two groups, with Thor, Rocket (Voice of Bradley Cooper), and Groot (Voice of Vin Diesel) going after a powerful weapon to replace Thor’s hammer, and Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) going after Thanos. In Scotland, we find Vision (Paul Bettany) and Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) trying to go about their lives, only to be interrupted by more of Thanos’ people trying to get Vision’s infinity stone. This attack is repelled with a little help from Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), who all agree that something must be done to keep the stone out of Thanos’ hands. As all of our heroes work on their separate goals, they all have the same ultimate goal in mind: prevent Thanos from acquiring all six of the stones, which would mean the end of half the life in the universe in his demented plan of bringing balance to it.
As you can clearly see, there is a lot going on here, with dozens of characters wrapped up with several subplots in the elaborate tapestry that is “Avengers: Infinity War.” However, that ends up being one of its most effective elements. There are so many different characters and plotlines going on that you hardly have a chance to become bored throughout the lengthy 149-minute runtime. It does indeed run a little on the long side, but given how much it has to juggle, it’s somewhat surprising that the film didn’t end up being a good three hours (though there’s always the possibility of there being a number of deleted scenes that could easily make it so). All this is to say that, while Marvel films have been somewhat indulgent in the past in terms of being longer than necessary, it’s actually quite justified this time around.
As for the movie itself, it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a Marvel film. There are plenty of great and entertaining characters, and, of course, a multitude of fantastic action sequences that deliver all the excitement you could want from a film like this. If there is one minor complaint to be had, it would be that the overall story is a little on the simple side (i.e. everyone’s working towards stopping Thanos from getting the stones), but again, you can hardly blame Markus and McFeely for trying to keep it simple, what with the Herculean task of trying to fit all of these superheroes into one film and giving each of them their due. That being said, can you imagine what the result of a more intricate story could have been involving all of these characters, especially knowing that they had two films to tell it?
Indeed, we all knew going in that this was merely the first part of a two-part story, so it’s hardly surprising that it all comes down to a big cliffhanger, though as to what the cliffhanger is, I’m sure there were more than a few surprised viewers. Some people may accuse it of feeling too much like the first half of a big picture, but that’s exactly what it is, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It is the first half of an epic story that could very well take another two and a half hour film to finish up, especially given what we’re left with at the end of part one. However, given that we’re getting the same writers and directors back for the as-of-yet untitled fourth film, I don’t think there would be a single complaint if we did get a three-hour film next time.
All-in-all, “Avengers: Infinity War” is a pretty big success. As mentioned, it’s rather incredible that these guys were able to cram so much into one epic-sized film and have it turn out this well. The great Joss Whedon set the bar with his two entries in the “Avengers” series, where he had to juggle everyone that had been introduced in the MCU up to that point, but the folks behind this latest entry have proven that they were more than up to the task of carrying on in his footsteps by delivering a thrilling, action-packed adventure that is sure to please not only fans of the comic books, but also those just looking for a fun and exciting time at the cinema. 3/4 stars.