by Nicholas Lemieux
WARNING: Spoilers for 'Infinity War' ahead.
Although it was annoyingly released right in the middle of my exams, a couple of days ago I was finally able watch the long-anticipated Avengers: Infinity War, the latest, and probably biggest, addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After 10 years and 18 films of build-up, a staggering budget of $300 million and a completely decked out all-star cast, I had to ask myself, did this movie live up to its long-sustained hype? The short answer is: God yes.
The film itself revolves around the galactic conqueror Thanos, subtly introduced previous films, and his destructive quest to obtain the six Infinity Stones. If Thanos gets his hand on all six Stones, he will become the most powerful being in the universe, wiping out half the life in the universe. As a result, the Avengers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, are forced to assemble and unite with various other superheroes, from Doctor Strange to Black Panther to the Guardians of the Galaxy, to protect the universe from Thanos’ oncoming onslaught.
Firstly, it’s worth noting how well Infinity War handles its mass cast of characters. At least 40 characters are prominently featured in this movie, and to its credit, each character is given their due. Admittedly, if a newtime viewer were to watch this film without any prior understanding of these characters, chances are they’ll probably end up slightly confused. But as a culmination of everything the MCU has constructed, this movie easily shines, especially for any avid watchers of Marvel movies. Seeing this vast array of characters fighting side by side, from Iron Man and Doctor Strange’s bickering to Thor’s initial befuddlement with the Guardians to seeing Thanos finally battling the Avengers is every bit as satisfying as you’d imagine it to be.
Easily the highlight of this movie was Thanos himself. Proving the MCU has finally solved their weak villain problem, it seems likely that Thanos will go down in cinematic history as one of the greatest villains ever put on screen, along the likes of Darth Vader and Voldemort. The first 10 minutes alone instantly proves his vast threat, massacring many Asgardians, killing fan favourite Loki and easily overpowering the Hulk with nonchalance, setting him up as a force to be reckoned with and also justifying why these heroes are forced to band together to defeat him. His motivations are especially fleshed out, with his genuine intentions to free the universe from the threat of overpopulation, not to mention his fascinating interactions with his adoptive daughter Gamora, whom he sincerely loves and his vast reluctance at having to sacrifice her for seemingly the greater good, making him a vastly complex and overall very effective villain. The CGI and motion capture performance also does a fantastic job at bringing this character to life, especially with displaying his vast range of emotions.
With its mass cast, other characters also get the chance to shine. Thor, coupled with his much neededdevelopment from Ragnarok, perhaps goes through the greatest story arc in this film, coping with the heavy amount of losses he has sustained, including the death of his brother Loki, and setting out to forge a new weapon to defeat Thanos and avenge his brother and his peope. This all ultimately culminates in probably the most cathartic scene during the climax when he arrives at the battle with his new axe Stormbreaker to wreck mass Hell on Thanos’ forces. Tony Stark/ Iron Man plays a prominent role, bringing the fight to Thanos personally, as he faces his worst fear of possibly losing everything and everyone close to him, whilst also engaging in some entertaining bickering with Doctor Strange, who plays an intriguing role as a sort of Chessmaster in the grand scheme of things. Steve Rogers/ Captain America admittedly only shows up in a handful of scenes, but regardless it’s likely he’ll be featured more in the sequel. Vision and Scarlet Witch get a heartbreaking subplot, ending with Vision ultimately sacrificing his life for ultimately a pointless cause. The Guardians of the Galaxy meanwhile provide some much needed levity, with Gamora surprisingly getting the most focus involving some intense scenes with Thanos and perhaps having the most hard-hitting death in this movie. In spite of its huge cast (and the lack of any appearance from Hawkeye), no character feels wasted which is perhaps a true testament to the script of this film.
The basic plot, splitting up the heroes into various groups until they all reunite for the climax, works for the most part. The visual effects are as spectacular as expected from any other Marvel movie, particularly as I mentioned on Thanos. The action scenes, of course, are still a joy to watch, especially when Thanos starts utilising the various different effects of each Infinity Stone. And overall the grim ending, featuring more than half the main characters in this movie fade away to dust after being wiped out from existence by Thanos, from most of the Guardians to Black Panther to even Spider-Man definitely proves this film isn’t pulling any punches. Aside from a few nitpicks here and there, such as how the very long running time of about 2 hours and 30 minutes may make it lag for some people, I can honestly say that, as the beginning of the end for the past films in the MCU, Infinity War is practically everything any fan could ask for and definitely delivers on its premise. All I’m going to say is, its untitled sequel next year has a lot to tie up.