Title: Avengers: Infinity War
Describe This Movie In One Avengers: Infinity War Quote:
BRUCE BANNER: There's an Ant-Man *and* a Spider-Man?
Brief Plot Synopsis: Purple mountainous man seeks majesty of mystical glove.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 4 Hawkeyes out of 5.
Tagline: ""Where will you be, when it all ends?
Better Tagline: "How many assholes have we got on this ship, anyhow?"
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: After mostly tiptoeing on the outskirts of cosmic villainy, the dread Thanos (Josh Brolin) climbs down off his throne and decides to "do it himself." "It" being securing the six Infinity Stones and eliminating half the universe, thus sparing everyone else the suffering of his overpopulated (and doomed) homeworld of Titan. Naturally, Earth's Mightiest Heroes — oh, and also the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Wakandans, and the defenders of the Sanctum Santorum — take issue with this.
"Critical" Analysis: "It all comes down to this."
Ten years, man. It's been ten years since Iron Man launched Marvel's improbably ambitious enterprise. Now, as we approach the end of what is known as Phase Three of their Cinematic Universe, are we satisfied? Or do we look upon these works and despair, to paraphrase Ozymandias?
It was a trick question: Ozymandias is a DC Comics character.
There are times — many of them, in fact — when Infinity War feels overwhelming, even more so for people unfamiliar with the previous films. For sure, it's a welcome change to not rehash origin stories*, but directors Anthony and Joe Russo really punch the gas early and barely let up as we follow [deep breath]: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Guardians on a cosmic quest; Iron Man, Dr. Strange, and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) on the trail of Thanos; and Steve Rogers, T'Challa, and the rest trying to foil Thanos' henchmen here on Earth. And for the most part, the Russos (also of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and CA: Civil War fame) are up for it.
*The closest we get is Thor, in a surprisingly touching scene, discussing his tragic family history with Rocket.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has said A:IW is Thanos' movie, and he ain't kidding. Barely glimpsed in a decade's worth of movies, the beefy Titan with an affinity for Infinity Gems isn't just a fanatical Malthusian, he's also the movie's most complex character, up to and including his wildly divergent parenting styles. He's tender (in flashback) as he adopts a child Gamora (albeit while murdering half her planet), then brutal while torturing Nebula (in one of the movie's genuinely disturbing scenes).
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It's also refreshing to see not the usual suspects given some love. Not shockingly (given recent MCU events), Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Thor carry a great deal of the film's narrative weight, but Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) has *a lot* to do, and it's not just because he carries the Time Stone. Similarly, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the rest of the Guardians, and Spider-Man, are unexpectedly prominent.
Unfortunately, in a movie with [consults abacus] 40 characters, not everyone can be front and center. The Avenger Formerly Known as Captain America (Chris Evans) makes the most of his limited screen time, as does this year's (so far) reigning box office monarch, Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). Mostly, this surfeit of superheroes forces us to enjoy the little things: Drax's borderline erotic descriptions of Thor, Tony Stark's fatherly interactions with Peter Parker, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) teaming up with Okoye (Danai Gurira) against Proxima Midnight (Carrie Coon). But even in a movie that's almost as long as a typical MLB game, sacrifices must be made.
Less easily justified are a handful of crucially puzzling decisions made by several of the protagonists with regard to those Stones not yet in Thanos' grasp. Where more pragmatic heads might have prevailed in the face of the deaths of untold trillions, others fall back on "you never leave a serum-augmented/cybernetic/otherwise enhanced man behind," with predictable results.
Still, the massive scope and ambition of Avengers: Infinity War put us in a forgiving mood. The big question is: who's left standing at the end? Ha ha, we're not falling for that one again, though suffice to say Avengers: Infinity War is as much about sacrifice as fisticuffs, and is as close an analog to The Empire Strikes Back as we're likely to get from the MCU. It's the sprawling culmination of a decade's worth of world-building as much it is a vehicle designed to ensure your butts are in your seats for the sequel. In both senses, for the most part, it delivers.