“Mr. Stark, you've become part of a bigger universe. You just don't know it yet- I'm here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative.”
That line applies to both the characters in the movie and the makers of the film itself: ten years ago, Samuel L Jackson’s appearance in the post credit scene of Iron Man sowed the seeds for a movie franchise (in the words of Dr Strange) “hitherto undreamed of”. Over the last decade, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had 19 movies with varying levels of greatness but a consistent sense of fun and quality throughout all 40 hours of movie runtime. Taking characters most people had never heard of and transforming them into fan favourite cultural phenomena, Marvel Studios has truly thrived under Kevin Feige and Disney.
A number of movies up until this point have featured the teaming up of multiple Avengers starting with Joss Whedon’s 2012 film The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble depending on who you ask). It was one of the biggest movies of its time and saw the union of all established Superheroes of that universe.
They were successful. In just about every aspect, the Russo Brothers succeeded. This film does the impossible and juggles 10 years worth of hype and characters to bring a film that is shocking and emotional and funny and exhilarating. It is obvious that finding a balance between all of the 24 super-characters was a difficult task but Marvel have done a wonderful job. Talking about the film technically is difficult-especially as it is really part one of the story (anything that may be considered a plot hole may be easily fixed in the next part) but the film manages to maintain a consistent tone throughout that lets the audience laugh and smile through the funny moments without taking away from any of the emotional or shocking moments.
The score, while occasionally a tad overdramatic, is probably Marvel’s best one yet. So often do these movies rely on forgettable themes that never get used again but Alan Silvestri perfectly utilises his now iconic Avengers theme from 2012 and introduces a number of new memorable themes into the soundtrack- he also makes use of the different styles of music for different characters such as Black Panther’s more tribal African style and Doctor Strange’s mystical strings. My favourite few moments in the movie are amplified and often made 100% more effective by the presence of the loud orchestral soundtrack. The CGI is almost flawless and adds a sense of realism to the stunning cinematography. Motion Capture characters like Thanos and Ebony Maw look absolutely incredible as well. In Captain America: Civil War, there was a strange CGI issue with whenever Iron Man was in his suit without his helmet. I’m delighted to say that this issue has been fixed... but is now present with whenever War Machine has his helmet off. However, this is very minor and probably unnoticeable to people who don’t pay close attention to Don Cheadle’s face. However, the film looks absolutely beautiful both out in space and on Earth.
The plot of this film is surprisingly simple- Thanos wants to solve overpopulation by killing 50% of all life in the universe. In order to do this, he needs to acquire the 6 Infinity Stones that have been scattered across all the other films in this universe. The Avengers and The Guardians, aren’t too thrilled about this so they try and stop him. As that brief and vague synopsis would suggest, the true protagonist in the film is Thanos himself. The film really follows him and his journey, so it was necessary to develop a character that deserved the spotlight. Thanos definitely deserves it. Josh Brolin’s charismatic performance as the Mad Titan Who seems to be haunted by his actions is one of my favourite things about this movie. He is without a doubt the best villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is worthy of all the hype he has received since his first cameo in 2012. His henchman Ebony Maw was in danger of becoming a generic forgettable side villain but through the fantastic performance of Tom Vaughan Lawlor and the excellent motion capture, he somehow became more memorable than most MCU main villains.
So obviously the villains are great but I think I’d be right in saying no one is really going to see this film purely to watch the villains. There are a lot of heroes people want to see too. I believe that, overall, they are handled really well but obviously with such a busy movie and such a full cast, some heroes get the spotlight while others become sidelined. I am in quite a good position as I don’t really have a “favourite” Avenger or Guardian so I’m able to enjoy whoever gets the screen-time and don’t often feel that I’m being deprived of my fav. However, fans who are looking forward to seeing Infinity War because they’re looking forward to seeing specific characters like The Hulk or Bucky Barnes may not love the film as much as I did. There’s a lot I want to say about the characters in this movie but as there are so many, I think I’ll have to do it in a quick-fire round.
Iron Man- The man who started it all back in 2008 is back in the limelight. In recent films, his horrible decision making and increasing arrogance has made him slightly less likeable but in Infinity War, he has truly returned to form and I’m very happy about that. He’s funny but his anxiety and PTSD remains a key aspect of his character and it only heightens as the stakes get raised. I’m glad to say they’ve really done this character justice. Highlight- “Get lost, Squidward”
Thor- My favourite character in this movie, finally stepping into the limelight after smaller roles in Age I’d and showing that he truly is the “Strongest Avenger”. After Thor: Ragnarok breathed new life into his character and his world, he finally shines in an ensemble film- having some of the best lines and greatest moments of the entire film. I honestly have zero complaints about Thor in this movie and if he’s not in your Top 3 characters by the end of it, you’re wrong. Highlight- that moment.
Bruce Banner- Fans of Dr Banner will be very happy to see him and his major role in this movie and its plot. Seeing Bruce in battle as Bruce is actually something that has never happened in an MCU film. However those looking forward to seeing The Hulk take centre stage may be a tad disappointed. A number of Banner/Hulk scenes also seemed to end up on the cutting room floor. Especially with some of the being shown IN THE TRAILER. Highlight- reaction to that moment.
Captain America- Perhaps a tad underused, super soldier Steve Rogers undoubtedly has an important role in the film and its plot following the events of Civil War but is often sidelined by the vast number of people he shares scenes with. I get the feeling he was the character that suffered most from the limited run time and we may find him being the star of numerous deleted scenes. Chris Evans shines, however, and I hope they unlock the real potential of his performance in Part 2. Highlight- “I am Steve Rogers”
Black Widow- Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff once again shines brightest during the action scenes with her Jason Bourne-esque hand to hand combat. Away from the fighting, she has very little to do in this film which is a little disappointing following her major role in Civil War and Age of Ultron. The new hair looks alright though. Highlight- “She’s not alone”
Dr Strange- His solo movie was great but he felt uncomfortable and awkward at times. In Thor: Ragnarok, he was more likeable and seemed to have settled into the role. This film solidifies the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch is a great Dr Strange. His powers in battle are unique and his presence on screen is arrogant and funny without being unlikable at any time. I’m now really hoping for a sequel to his solo film. Highlight- Going head to head with Thanos on his own.
War Machine- I don’t know when it happened but at some point Rhodes ceased to be a generic Iron Man clone and became a tank with the most firepower out of all these characters. He’s awesome to watch and Don Cheadle is charming and funny as always in the role. Shame about his head looking weirdly small when the helmet comes off. Highlight- defending Wakanda with a LOT of weaponry.
Spider-Man- He’s great. Tom Holland has now appeared in just as many movies as Tobey Maguire and it’s safe to say he’s my favourite version of the character. This film shows off his great power and his great responsibility while also reminding us that he is a child and is dangerously naive. His relationship with Tony Stark is one of the best things about this film and I’m really glad they work so well together. Highlight- “made-up names”.
Black Panther- meh. He was one of the coolest characters in Civil War, he was probably the worst thing about his own movie and in this one he’s just kind of...there. Highlight- “this is no place to die”
Scarlet Witch- Following her debut in Avengers: Age of Ultron, it’s pretty clear Marvel hasn’t really known how to handle a character as powerful as Wanda Maximoff. In that film, they handled it by making her emotional after the death of her brother so she let made more mistakes. In Civil War, they chose to deal with this overpowered issue by... not dealing with it. She was present during the fights and was clearly capable of ending it all herself but just didn’t for some reason. Infinity War deals with it quite a bit better and she is able to shine during both the action scenes and as her very interesting character gets developed. Highlight- during a scene set Edinburgh, an emotional conversation was taking place but in the background, there was a sign in a fish and chips shop that said “we’ll deep fry your kebab”
Vision- Suffering from the same problem as Wanda, Vision is arguably one of the most powerful Avengers and that presents a problem when trying to put him in real danger with real stakes. The solution? Make him un-powerful and have him spend the entire film being wounded. However, Paul Bettany once again portrays Vision charismatically and charmingly. I’ve loved his voice since he was JARVIS inside Iron Man’s suit and his whole “working out what it means to be human” shtick, while not at all unique, is done really well. Highlight- when that thing happened and then didn’t and then did again.
Falcon- As always, Anthony Mackie is the comedic leverage needed in a lot of these darker. The character of Sam Wilson is a funny and visually interesting character with a unique way of fighting that I really enjoy in this movie. Highlight- “this is awkward”
Bucky Barnes- He’s home from side character to villain to plot point to cameo to properly joining The Avengers. I’ve always been a fan of Bucky and his involvement in this film bodes well for his future in the MCU. Even if he didn’t have THAT much to do... Highlight- His moment with Rocket.
Loki- Tom Hiddleston manages, in his fifth film to show the world why he was the perfect choice for the God of Mischief in a way that makes the audience question his allegiance but love him either way. Highlight- “We have a Hulk”
Wong- He’s great. His involvement in one of the opening fight scenes was really fun. I wish he wasn’t so responsible (he had to leave after that to guard the sanctum so the earth wouldn’t be attacked by things from other dimensions and stuff) because he would’ve been a good addition to the team. Highlight- Being invited to the wedding.
Mantis- She wasn’t my favourite character in Guardians 2, she’s not my favourite character in this film either- but I've decided I really like her. I think it’s the innocence and naivety paired with her relationship with Drax. Highlight- “Kick Names and Take Ass”
Nebula- She’s got all the makings of a great character: she’s complex, dark, written well and has a deep personal connection to two of the main characters in this film. But I’ve never been able to latch on to this character and I think that’s down to the performance. The irony that my least favourite performance in this film is coming from my favourite Doctor Who companion Karen Gillan is not lost on me. I just wish she was a bit less weird. Highlight- The revelation of just how much of her is robotic during that shot of her in prison.
Drax- Funniest character in the film by a mile. Not going to try to describe any of the jokes but he’s really great. Dave Bautista is an absolute gem. Highlight- “Why is Gamora?”
Gamora- I’ve never loved Gamora but as soon as I saw Zoe Saldana singing along to “Rubberband Man” adorably, I decided she was in my good books. Her relationship with her sister Nebula and her step father Thanos is a real high point. Highlight- every single one of her scenes in this film is a highlight.
Groot- The whole Teenage Groot gag worked well for the Guardians 2 post credit scene but I’m not sure it’s all that great in this film. He still has some great moments (specifically, one with Captain America) and begins to work better later on in the film but he’s pretty low on my list of best characters. Highlight- “I am Groot...?”
Rocket- My mother has always hated Rocket Racoon but came out of this film saying “I guess that rabbit is alright”. My friend Alex Gibson who hates Marvel films said “yeah that Racoon was actually pretty funny”. Rocket really was wonderful in this film, I’ve never been a huge fan but I get why everyone loves him now. Highlight- Being a true captain and comforting Thor.
Star Lord- I was rather wary about the crossing over of the Guardians and The Avengers but I’m happy to say it worked well. Peter Quill played off Tony Stark like it was meant to be. His scenes felt straight out of a Guardians of the Galaxy sequel with all the humour, heart and music one could want. He did do a silly thing though. Highlight- trying to compete with Thor.
Okoye- Yeah she’s cool, she was way better than T'Challa in his own movie and is once again funny and fun to watch in combat. Highlight- Starbucks.
So that was my “quick fire” look at all the characters. Turns out I had more to say than I thought I did. I don’t assume anyone has got this far in reading this rambling mess. If you have, comment “Thanos did nothing wrong”. Overall though, I think Avengers Infinity War is one of the best films in the MCU and one of my personal favourite superhero films. I honestly cannot wait for Avengers 4 next year!