As the nineteenth film set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe featuring a star-studded cast and all three Phases of the franchise referencing either an Infinity Stone or Infinity Gauntlet, Avengers: Infinity War promised great things – but did it live up to expectations?
In truth, it did and quite frankly, I had a blast when I watched it.
The storyline is simple – villain Thanos (Josh Brolin) is on a mission to collect and wield the power of the six ‘Infinity Stones’: the Space Stone (Blue), Mind Stone (Yellow), Reality Stone (Red), Power Stone (Purple), Time Stone (Green) and Soul Stone (Orange). What does he want to do when he’s got his hands on them all? What most bad guys want, to eradicate half of existence, that’s what. Thankfully, Thanos is a little more complex than your average bad dude, with interesting and complex layers to his character.
As a villain hellbent on destruction, Thanos’ eyes have an oddly human and wary look about them, despite their CGI creation, and his face is host to deep-set wrinkles portraying him as a weathered soul who has witnessed a lot of suffering. As the film goes on we learn that in his own unique warped way he wants to cure planets of the plight that overpopulation and lack of resources brings; he sees randomly selected genocide as a solution to oversaturation and the key to long-term survival, having experienced the demise of his homeworld for similar reasons. Thanos’ quest for the Infinity Stones echoes Voldemort’s bid to collect the seven Horcruxes in the Harry Potter saga, yet, unlike your typical villain, Thanos doesn’t seek domination, if anything he’s looking for peace but needs, in his mind, immense power to obtain the serenity he seeks both for himself and the rest of the universe.
Of course, our favourite heroes couldn’t allow Thanos to make such an inhumane decision on behalf of the rest of reality. What makes this film so great is that it really communicates the fact that the Thanos threat transcends reality, space and time and isn’t just a global danger but an overall danger, bringing together the space travelling characters of the Guardians of the Galaxy, our established heroes of the Avengers series and Wakandan newcomers from 2017’s Black Panther.
The film also feels impeccably balanced with each cast member seemingly enjoying the right amount of screen time – quite a feat when directors Anthony and Joe Russo had to juggle such an ensemble cast, a cast, who, incidentally portray some interestingly refreshing relationships between their alter egos and not just the romantic kind, although some romance does figure in the film with Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) leaning on each other for support.
Indeed, the mentorship Tony Stark bestows on Peter Parker / Spiderman (Tom Holland) is as endearing and great to watch as ever, while the strained father-daughter relationship between Thanos and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is a dynamic set-up, adding further depth to Thanos,’ often conflicted and tormented character. There’s even a sense of sisterhood and unity between Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Okoye (Danai Gurira), head of the all-female special forces in Wakanda.
As you would expect from any Marvel film and Avengers sequel, Infinity War is brimming with quick quips and wonderful wit – and it’s not just the secondary side characters like Drax (Dave Bautista) and Rocket the Rabbit…oh sorry Racoon (Bradley Cooper) that provide light comic relief in amidst the doomsday narrative as you might predict. Marvel films have a loveable ability to laugh at themselves, with Stan Lee making his trademark cameo appearance as a bus driver transporting a load of teenagers, including Spiderman and dryly remarking “haven’t you kids ever seen a spaceship before?!”
Humour also stems from the egos that clash as Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) initially clashes with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) feels comically threatened by Thor (Chris Hemsworth), queue some serious masculine jealousy. That being said, this movie doesn’t just comprise of humour. A Marvel film wouldn’t be a Marvel film without carrying a powerful message. Throughout the plot we see our heroes struggle, resulting in the death of some much-loved characters. The lesson is that heroism isn’t always about success, but how you bounce back from failure is what makes you truly heroic. The constant and often tragic knockbacks also serve to make Thanos credible and all the more formidable as a villain.
Themes of morality run throughout the film as Captain America (Chris Evans) assures Vision “We don’t trade lives” in relation to avoiding having sacrificing one life to save millions when you can try and save everyone instead. A similar thread runs parallel between Doctor Strange and Iron Man as the latter tries to teach the former about the concept of a ‘moral compass’. It’s great character development for Doctor Strange, whose choices prove to be an integral part of such a vast narrative.
It’s normal practice when writing reviews to include negative aspects of a film but Infinity War doesn’t have many. The battle scenes do become a little incessant making the overall film a little formulaic – after all, even brilliantly choreographed combat scene after combat scene woven together with comedy can eventually lose meaning and substance. However, the romance and relationships between characters portrayed by actors who share great chemistry anchor the battle fighting scenes and add a much-needed ‘human’ element to the film. The sublime special effects spectacle of each battle, in particular when Doctor Strange takes on Thanos with light beams of power and skill, makes the fight scenes an entertaining watch (though the destruction of the beautiful constructed Wakanda is an incredibly emotional scene).
There are tonnes to say about Avengers: Infinity War, and by the end of the film you’re literally living and breathing the same air as superheroes. The film is incredibly immersive, providing all-encompassing escapism – seriously go check it out for yourself and let us know what you think on Twitter and Facebook!