My Review of Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has accomplished something that has never been done before in film history. They have created a world of intertwined movies that has grown over the course of 10 years into a series that has been accumulating heroes and building suspense toward a catastrophic event that would require them all to come together in order to save the universe. They’ve taken risks, had their hits and misses, and held strong. The opening of their 19th film, Avengers: Infinity War, has finally brought them all together, and the overwhelming fan anticipation and support has shown that this franchise is not ready to give up, especially when its characters have so much to lose.
Thanos has finally begun his quest to collect all six Infinity stones that have been hiding throughout the universe. As his army descends upon Earth, the shattered Avengers team prepare for an epic battle while the Guardians of the Galaxy join the mix as word spreads throughout the universe that Thanos is in pursuit of the stones. Thanos grows stronger as each stone is added to his gauntlet, causing the heroes to join together in order to keep the remaining stones out of his grasp. Please note, there will be spoilers in this review.
As the Marvel Cinematic Universe grows, each film becomes more and more anticipated. The fact that Thanos had been teased in so many movies leading up to this meant that there needed to be a big payoff when he did emerge from the shadows, and there was. Thanos is intimidating. He’s as big as the Hulk, as level-headed as Captain America, and as technologically advanced as Iron Man. However, he’s not a one-dimensional character. He sacrifices a lot for his quest, but he is also ruthless and carries out his mission, despite his self-doubt and the personal pain that it causes him. These stones are his crutch. While they make his job easier, we see that he can take on any combination of Avengers without them. We also see how impossible he is to kill. He is stabbed and beaten a number of times throughout the movie, yet he always bounces back, making the possibility of victory feel hopeless to our heroes. It’s going to take more than a magical ax or Wakandan force field to stop him.
As a result, the characters really have to step up their game. We see more power emerge from Scarlet Witch than ever before. Iron Man and Spider-Man are given really impressive suit upgrades. The Iron Spider suit is especially showy and useful. Thor also exhibits more power after the events of Ragnarok showed him his true potential. The action scenes are huge and take place in wide open spaces, a contrast from the tight spaces of city limits, such as New York and Sokovia, illustrating how much is at stake for so many.
The character introductions are well done, considering how many need to be made. Thor, Loki, and Hulk are still together, picking up right from Thor:Ragnarok. The Guardians appear, rockin’ out in space. Tony and Pepper are found walking through the park, talking about their future as a married couple and possibly one day, parents. Cap, Widow, and Falcon bust in to save Wanda and Vision from an attack, utilizing their strengths with hand-to-hand combat so that not all of the fights are about superpowers and high tech weapons.
Best of all, we get to see all six Infinity stones appear at once, and they are used against our heroes numerous times. Each time one is found, the tension mounts. Dr. Strange’s scenes are especially tense since he wears the time stone around his neck and refuses to let it out of his sight. This makes for a great battle on Earth with Tony and Bruce protecting Dr. Strange from an alien invasion as they try to retrieve the stone from him. Spider-Man joins the mix which culminates in Strange, Iron Man, and Spider-Man’s abduction in to space. Banner is left behind, having to make the call to Cap that Tony was hesitant to make. This was probably my favorite sequence in the film.
What Didn't Work
I’ll admit, I tend to love the Marvel movies that fall flat with fans overall. I prefer The Age of Ultron to the first Avengers movie. Iron Man 3 is my favorite Iron Man movie in the bunch. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is probably my favorite movie in the franchise, despite finding the first Guardians movie to be just okay. However, I’m in agreement with fans that The Winter Soldier and Civil War are two of the best films out there. When an MCU movie makes my top five list, I usually walk out of the theater with no question that it has earned its spot. So, this movie could have gone either way for me, but I was really looking forward to it and felt sure that I was going to walk out of the theater with this movie being in one of the top three spots of my personal favorite MCU movies list. I’m disappointed to say that it wasn’t.
One of the best things about the MCU is that their movies, while part of a whole, can stand alone as their own complete story. Previous Avengers movies showed the heroes defeating the villain and saving the day but then setting up the next battle to come. While I didn’t expect them to kill Thanos in this movie, I was begging the movie not to end on a cliffhanger without some resolution. If Thanos ended up with all of the stones, fine. If certain heroes had to die as the result, well, I was warned. So, I was disappointed when not only did it do what so many franchises had done before, but it ended so abrubtly and with so many questions unanswered that I was confused by what I had just seen. I left feeling unfulfilled and cheated out of a solid storyline and the elements that these movies always seem to get right.
Fans were led to believe that we would see a lot of our favorite characters die and that there would be real consequences to this story that would be necessary to defeat Thanos. Considering that some of these characters have been on screen for 10 years, it was important to give them a good send off and to make their deaths mean something. Instead, many of them disappeared into thin air, falling apart like dead leaves in an ambiguous death which left me thinking that they were not dying but just being swept into another reality. Even Gamora, who we see being thrown off of a cliff and whose body remains at the bottom as a sacrifice from Thanos in exchange for the Soul Stone, may pop up again. There is no way that the most deadly woman in the universe would go out that way.
There were also so many missed opportunities for jokes or character interactions, mostly as the result of the characters being so separated. We did not get the Steve and Tony reunion that would patch up their spat during Civil War. The Bruce and Natasha reunion was glossed over for no good reason. The entire movie felt rushed, and while there was plenty of action, the balance of comedy, action, and heart that the MCU is so good at executing was all thrown out of whack. I was hoping the meeting between Iron Man and Star Lord would lead to more of a conversation between earthlings, one who has not been to Earth in 30 years and has a lot to catch up on. SHIELD is largely absent for most of the movie when they could have been the vehicle for reassembling the team and helping to pass the water under the bridge.
It was also disappointing to me that we didn’t get to see all of the heroes on screen together at once, something else that was hinted at in the rumor mill before this movie was released. Even the Guardians spend very little time together, with a reserved Rocket and mostly useless Teen Groot heading out to space with Thor to find a solution for stopping Thanos. I refuse to place on the blame on there being “too many characters” in the movie because that isn’t the problem. I felt like this film suffered by keeping the characters separated for too long, much like in the way the Star Wars characters were in The Last Jedi which was a big problem with its unpopular plot. There is a way to balance a large number of heroes on screen at the same time.
One film that did this really well recently was X-Men: Days of Future Past. That film had to alternate between past and future characters and sometimes show different action sequences going on at once. They had the advantage of killing off their cast only to use the powers of time travel to bring them back, but at the same time, at least one reality showed them going down fighting like heroes, each of which would have been a fitting end to each of their characters complete with action and poignant dialogue that slows the plot just enough to let it all sink in and stir up the emotional beats that Infinity War missed.
I also didn’t know what to trust in this film. Certain scenes felt dream-like. Characters were not acting the way they should. Things were happening so fast that these gigantic moments did not have time to sink in. One of the scenes that confused me the most was Gamora’s capture. In a previous scene, she had made Peter promise to kill her if she was captured by Thanos so that he wouldn’t be able to get any information out of her. This felt like a very dark promise for a Marvel movie. Just a few minutes later, Peter is called on to carry out this promise. For a team that always finds a way out, it felt strange for this scenario to happen so soon after their talk and for it to become a reality. That on top of Drax and Mantis being sliced into pieces only to rematerialize seconds later gave me that feeling that I shouldn’t trust any character deaths in the movie, and if they were going to die that easily, it wasn’t going to do the characters justice.
Also, there are usually scenes shown or dialogue spoken in the trailers that are not seen in the movie, or another version is used. However, one of the most noteworthy images from the trailer doesn’t even exist in this movie. In fact, it’s basically a lie. The shot of the heroes running at the screen in Wakanda’s jungle never happens. Not only does it happen, but the Hulk is featured in this promo, and you come to find that Bruce Banner only appears as the Hulk in the opening scene. For the final battle, Banner needs to suit up in the Hulk-buster armor to be of any use. While I respect the secrecy that this film managed to keep throughout the filming up until its release, using flat-out lies to market the movie felt like a slap in the face.
Usually, the first time I’m watching a good Marvel movie, certain scenes stick in my head where I make a mental note that those are scenes I will watch over and over again once the film is released on Blu Ray/DVD. With the entire movie being basically one giant fight scene, nothing really stood out to me as anything iconic or noteworthy. Even in other fan reviews, you don’t hear a particular scene or sequence mentioned as a favorite. Those who enjoyed the movie have mostly been commenting on it as a whole.
I felt like too much time was taken on events that weren’t as interesting, such as the construction of Thor’s Stormbreaker weapon or the flashback scenes involving Thanos and young Gamora. I would have traded them for more interaction between Avengers. Favorite characters such as Black Panther, Black Widow, and The Winter Soldier are well under-used. They are not given two seconds to breathe or regroup. Many are not introduced until mid-way through the movie or later while other moments of preparation and planning use up screen time only to lead to nothing.
Avengers had the iconic shot circling the founding members of the team. The Age of Ultron had the death of QuickSilver and a city evacuated and then evaporated. Civil War had the airport battle and so on. The Wakanda fight was huge and anticipated, but aside from team ups from different characters in the universe, there wasn’t anything that made me say “wow” or stuck in my head as an iconic Marvel shot. There was just too much going on only to end the way it does with most of the team disintegrating into thin air before the credits roll. Tony’s prophesy of finding himself the sole survivor of this alien attack is made true in his final scene, but that moment is so quick that there is no time for it to register. I wasn’t upset with the characters disappearing as much as I was about how fast the movie ended. In order to cap this one off, there should have been some resolution, some idea of what’s to come besides a text to Captain Marvel.
My Ranking of MCU Movies: Best to Worst
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
The Avengers (2012)
Black Panther (2018)
Doctor Strange (2016)
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Iron Man (2008)
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Sometimes it takes more than one viewing for a movie to sink in and for me to decide whether I liked it or not. For now, this film falls into the “just okay” section of my MCU preferences. While the plot is simple, it’s just too inflated and filled with a great cast that is under-used with so many missed opportunities for humor and iconic action sequences. I’m still looking forward to Avengers 4, if only to tie up the loose ends, bring forward some missing characters, and send others off the right way.
What did you think of Infinity War? Take my poll and leave a comment below!