Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).
The Marvel Studios animated logo that precedes Avengers: Infinity War concludes with the “IO” in “Studios” morphing into the number ”10”, commemorating the decade that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been in our lives. So after all that time (and the eighteen MCU movies that have come along with it), is there any chance of comic book movie fatigue among the movie-going public?
If it’s ever going to happen, it would be with Avengers: Infinity War. Not only does the movie clock in at a whopping 156 minutes (outlasting the prior two Avengers flicks by 15 minutes each), it features half-a-dozen storylines, two dozen lead characters, and its (no spoilers!) death-ridden finale is undercut to the point of being meaningless since we’re all well aware of the MCU future.
There’s absolutely plenty of reason here for fatigue to start setting in, but instead, Infinity War is setting all kinds of box office records around the world. Despite feeling a little all-over-the-place, it’s one of the more entertaining and memorable films in the MCU canon, and it’s easy to figure out why.
MCU overlord Kevin Feige has kept two things at the forefront of every Marvel movie he’s produced (which is all of them). First, he ditched the idea that supertheroes are always super. These are real people (albeit with unreal powers and abilities) who laugh, cry, bicker, and joke like.... well, real people. Throughout Infinity War, screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (who wrote Thor: The Dark World and all three Captain America flicks) have sprinkled all kinds of seemingly throw-away lines referencing everything from Ben and Jerry’s to Footloose to Starbucks, but though the lines may seem throw-away, they not only serve to entertain the audience but to also humanize these characters. Having Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) pausing to argue about ice cream while the bad guys are literally at their door adds a little something to their character while also making them instantly more relatable.
Which leads to Feige’s other guiding tenet. Make these things fun. Outside of the MCU, we’ve seen comic book hero movies that were campy (Batman Forever), overblown (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice), and serious (the Dark Knight trilogy). Though Infinity War may end on a somber note (again, no spoilers!), the balance of the movie is a perfectly executed blend of whiz-bang action and humor that keeps it humming along. Feige gets it, and we’re the beneficiaries. It’s hard to believe that in the 18 (now 19) MCU movies there hasn’t really been a dud in the bunch; even Thor: The Dark World, which has the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score among Marvel films (66%), was better than average… and infinitely better than anything DC has thrown at us, save for Wonder Woman.
Infinity War picks up shortly after the events that concluded last year’s Thor: Ragnarok. Uber-baddie Thanos (Josh Brolin) is still on the hunt for the six Infinity Stones (he has one already); once has has them all, he can snap his fingers and destroy half of the universe, therefore relieving him of his nagging concern about overpopulation. (Who knew Thanos had a conscience, misguided though it may be?). The Avengers team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy and a few ancillary folks to try to keep Thanos from getting the stones.
That’s it. That’s the whole plot. And though the story may be simple, the movie is anything but. Since the screen can’t hold twenty lead characters all at once, the heroes splinter into a handful of smaller groups to each tackle Thanos in a different way. Balancing the multiple storylines occasionally gets away from directors Joe and Anthony Russo (Captain America: Civil War), and the continuity and pacing are somewhat lacking, but there’s no denying the overall impact of Infinity War. It’s loads of fun, and not only does it erase any notion of audience fatigue, it should serve as a wake-up call for any studio heads with a superhero movie on their mind. This is how it’s done.