Updated: Jul 5, 2019
by Derek May:
YIN: Avengers: Infinity War
I think it’s important to keep in mind that nothing like this has ever happened before. Nineteen movies over ten years, all building up to a single, major payoff while still allowing each individual film to hold its own identity while serving the larger scope. Sure there have been franchises that have gone on longer (e.g Bond) or those that have told sweeping arcs (Star Wars), but never have we seen such focused continuity over such a relatively short span, retaining nearly all its cast members—major and minor—and, most impressively, maintaining such an astoundingly high level of quality over that period. I certainly haven’t loved every Marvel film (I still cringe just thinking about Iron Man 2!), but even at its worst, this cinematic franchise remains unprecedented. So now that it’s all come to a head, has it pulled off the impossible?
Yes. Hell yes.
I’m not going to spoil anything here, that would be too massive a disservice to film and fans alike, but I can say that Infinity War certainly lives up to the hype and expectation, delivering on just about every level possible. Is it perfect? No. There are some legitimate quibbles, but they are ultimately far outweighed by the excellence of the whole.
Let’s start with the big purple elephant in the room: the villain. If there’s been on consistent criticism of Marvel movies over the past decade it’s its lack of strong villains. To their credit though, they’ve listened carefully to the feedback and made the necessary course corrections of late. While Loki was often the sole bright spot amongst Whiplashes, Mandarins, and Ultrons, lately we’ve seen a sharp uptick with the likes of Vulture and Kilmonger. But the one baddie we’ve been waiting on is literally the biggest of them all—Thanos. And wow, does he deliver. What we get is not only a strong and powerful performance from Josh Brolin (soon to be seen in my other favorite non-MCU franchise Deadpool!) providing a hefty, believable dose of menace and overwhelming will to succeed, but also a surprisingly touching and empathetic layer of emotion. Like all great villains, Thanos truly believes he’s doing the right thing, that his actions are a benefit to the universe, and he pities those who can’t see it. He understands the price such actions extract, and is not just willing to pay it, but willing to endure the pain of that cost for the rest of his life. As much as we want our heroes to defeat him, we also have enough understanding to feel sorrow at his misguidance and pity at what must eventually be his fate. As much fun as it is to see our motley crew of champions unite onscreen, the movie simply could not work unless Thanos is truly worthy of such a confluence. Fortunately, and somewhat unbelievably, he is. He’s a true threat, while being a true character. In a movie full of scene stealers, it may not be an exaggeration to say he steals the film. How’s that for villainy?
On the other side we have our squad of do-gooders ready to step up and save the universe. A film sporting this many cast members simply couldn’t function at the outset if we just threw then all into the same room, so it was both smart and practical for directors Joe and Anthony Russo to split them up into teams. Practicalities aside, this is still a risk, as not every matchup may work, but once again they seem to have pulled magic out of both the most likely and unlikely of pairings. If you’ve seen any pictures, posters, or t-shirts, you pretty much know who