18 movies and 10 years have led to this and I kinda feel like it’s pointless to even have to try to put this all into words.
Maybe it’s due to the simple fact that just about every single goddamn person on this planet will have an opinion about Avengers: Infinity War. Because everyone will have an opinion, and likely tell you about it endlessly, they will fall into one of three categories – they’ll love it, hate it, or are split right down the middle. Because of that, people are going to have their opinions set in(finity) stone (heh) even before the first trailer will play before the movie.
But I still have some things to say regardless, and some of you might care a little bit about what those things are…
Let’s start with a little history. No, not the movies. If you wish, you can find out more about those here, here, and here. Let’s talk about the comic this is (kinda/sorta) based on. The Infinity Gauntlet was a 1991 event comic about a crazed alien named Thanos collecting six exceptionally powerful items, called the Infinity Gems, and using them to wipe out half the life in the universe. He succeeded. No kidding, he killed half of everyone everywhere!
The event was insanely popular in the 90s. It led to two sequels shortly after publication (The Infinity War and The Infinity Crusade) which weren’t quite as well-received at the time. Even though some look back on the miniseries with some criticism, it’s a series that has stood the test of time as being one event that lived up to some of the spectacle it promised.
I bring up the original comic because it’s important to understand the place of “event comics” within the publishing side of comics when thinking about this movie.
Event comics tend to be published for sales boosts. It’s a common practice for Marvel and DC to do so on a regular basis. They sometimes want to offer something that will “change the status quo” for their publishing line, or set the stage for the next set of stories the publishers want to tell, or, and this one is both true and somewhat naive, they simply want to offer something that mixes and matches bunches of their characters into one story. Hey, some readers like seeing what Iron Man, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Drax, Mantis, Nebula and Star Lord would do if they were thrust together and Marvel would be all too happy to take that fresh, new $5 bill right out of your wallet to fulfill those desires. Even though I am a fan of good event comics, and am often willing to try my hand at a lot of them when they come out, I do admit that these miniseries and “status quo changes” happen far, far, far too often with varying degree of me being frustrated about what they are trying to do.
Why did I go into all that about event comics? Well, it’s important to talk about that inspiration Marvel Studios used for Avengers: Infinity War.
This is, simply put, an event movie. It’s big. It’s brash. It’s what blockbusters are kind of meant to be. Marvel has built a universe on screen much the same way they built a universe in the pages of their comics. They have these various characters doing various things and inhabiting a world together. Sometimes they cross paths. Sometimes they team up. In this case, they band together and battle the biggest enemy they have ever faced. It really makes sense why they’d do this. They’ve been doing it for 35 years in comics.
Let’s face it – if you like the Marvel movies (like I do), then you’re going to already be won over to, at the very least, buy a ticket to watch this movie. Even if the movie doesn’t live up to whatever expectations you have, it really doesn’t matter. You’re invested. Pretty much 90% of the people in the movie theater on opening night were sitting on their tickets for the last couple months. They applauded at things characters did. They laughed at some of the more comedic and light moments. And, a couple of super nerds made sure everyone knew what they felt by addressing the audience after the movie.
(No, shit, a guy in the front row of the theater wanted to start a conversation about how epic the movie was – with everyone. I did not play along because my bladder was about to burst from all the peach Fanta I drank. And I didn’t care to participate. And that guy was kind of an asshole. And I’m kind of an asshole.)
Allow me to cut to the chase, here. I really liked this movie. Scratch that… I loved this movie. I was, pardon the cliche, on the edge of my seat for the entire 150-minute runtime. It is a relentless movie in terms of thrills and action. It doesn’t waste time with how it handles the fate of some of the characters. It doesn’t waste time before diving right into the relationships of the characters. I will say that Thanos is given some interesting traits for his motivations. I do think he is one of the better fleshed out villains in the series.
I definitely do not want to spoil much of anything in this movie. Infinity War is adult in how it kinda doesn’t care about what you think should happen, but what does happen in the climax – even though this is a giant spectacle intended to appeal to all our sense of imagination and wonder. It’s not interested in whether or not you’ve seen the other movies because it knows you’ve seen a number of them to care enough about seeing this one.
In the only moment I will actually specifically mention from this movie, there is a scene in which General Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt) demands that James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) arrest some fugitive heroes (see Captain America: Civil War to get that lowdown) who have come to help after some aliens came down to mess up some stuff. Seriously, government bullshit was standing in the way of accepting help when you literally could not need it more. That was immediately tossed aside. The simple idea of assessing a problem, coming together, and fixing said problem was the most important thing. It’s what heroes do.
That’s really important to emphasize here: This movie lets its characters exemplify what being a hero is. It’s uplifting while impressing upon the sheer weight of what they are up against.
However, I do not want to sell short the emotion of this movie. I have heard this movie be compared to The Empire Strikes Back and it is a very apt comparison. Empire still had lots to be uplifting about and had plenty of character moments that moved you in wonderful ways as much as it did make you concerned for them. It was not “dark” or fill you with dread that the heroes cannot work their way out of their predicament. Did it end on a down beat? Yes, but it was far from a downer of a movie. Avengers: Infinity War made sure to take its notes and learn well from one of the best adventure movies of all time. Marvel Studios, yet again, gambled massively on bringing together all their previous movies into one, big event movie and, yet again, won big. You will absolutely leave the theater excited, worried, curious, unnerved, heartbroken, and absolutely wanting more and wishing you didn’t have to wait a whole year to get it.
If you’re a fan of this series of movies, you will also leave very, very satisfied.
The final verdict: This movie has a full set of Infinity Stones proving, once again, like ’em or not, Marvel Studios definitely knows what they are doing and how to handle their rich characters. Time, Space, Soul, Mind, Power, and Reality… They are all here and Marvel is wielding that gauntlet like a Thanos.