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Categories: Movie Reviews

Avengers: Infinity War overcharges everything you’ve come to know and love about Marvel Movies, writes Matthew Wilson, for one truly big screen experience.

10 years ago, Marvel gave us a promise, a post credit scene that nearly everyone missed talking about The Avengers Initiave, and with those three words The MCU was born, 10 years and 19 films later it has stood out as one of the biggest and most successful franchise of all-time and while it hasn’t been perfect all the way, Infinity War might just be the crowning jewel in Marvel’s crown.

After suffering a heavy loss at the hands of Thanos (Josh Brolin), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is left wounded until he’s picked up by The Guardians of the Galaxy answering a distress call. After learning more about Thanos from Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Thor sets off with Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) to find an Asgardian forge that will allow him to build a weapon capable of killing Thanos while the rest of the Guardians (Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista and Pom Klementieff) head to Knowhere to protect the Reality stone.

Having escaped Thanos’ attack, Banner (Mark Ruffalo) returns to Earth, arriving at Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) sanctum, after getting back in touch with Stark (Robert Downey Jr) – and being introduced to Parker (Tom Holland) – a legion of Thanos’ forces invade Earth. While the combined efforts are enough to hold off the forces, the heroes quickly find themselves on a rescue mission heading for Thanos’ home planet of Titan.

Meanwhile, Banner gets back in touch with Rhodey (Don Cheadle) just as Rodgers (Chris Evans), Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), Wanda (Elizabeth Olson), Vision (Paul Bettany) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) return following a fatal attack on Vision. Realising that without the Mind Stone, Thanos will never complete his mission, the team decide it must be destroyed by Wanda though she is reluctant. Looking for a way for no-one to die, Cap takes the team to Wakanda hoping they have enough time to remove the Stone before Thanos arrives.

What’s key is that this is definitely the first half of a much larger story, even at over 2 and a half hours the majority of the film is split into separate storylines; Thor, Titan and Wakanda, with Thanos being the connecting element between all three. It helps knowing this because while Wakanda does deliver a huge finale, how it leaves things off to lead into Part 2 is something special.

Obviously the cast for this film is huge and naturally there are some characters that get more screentime than others. T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) don’t come into play until near the end but both have their moments, plus it was fun to see Shuri (Letitia Wright) immediately schooling Bruce before even saying Hello. Bruce himself takes on a much larger role due to Hulktile Dysfunction, as odd as it sounds it does work quite allowing the more awkward and excitable Banner to take centre-stage without Hulk taking away focus.

Falcon, Black Widow and Cap have all been in hiding since the events of Civil War but are brought back in after the attack on Vision and join with Rhodey. There are some beginnings of Arcs for these characters, Rhodey and Flacon not so much though getting to see them fight together was fun and while it was only hinted at, Romanoff meeting Banner again hinted at a rekindling. Cap  is still Marvel’s MVP and there seems to be a lot of set-up for Part 2 to put him into the spotlight, his return to the fight is natural for his character and he still retains the same mixture of leadership and awkward charm that made him so entertaining.

Wanda and Vision cover the wounded heart of the film, both having decided to give a relationship a shot. While admittedly I would’ve liked some more build-up between them,  I do like their relationship; Vision is the more rational of the two, understanding the need to put down his own life to save the universe but unfortunately Wanda is the only one able to kill him and she’s reluctant to even think about that as an option. It’s a strong dichotomy between the two that taps into the classic ‘needs of the many VS the few’, and crucially you never feel like Wanda is acting selfishly.The two of them work well together and Marvel manages to make their relationship stand out among the chaos.

The Guardians are as fun as ever, Rocket and Groot spend most of their time with Thor, Groot as a videogame loving, foul-mouthed teenager and Rocket as the body-part stealing mass murderer, obviously teen Groot isn’t as hilariously adorable as Baby Groot but he’s showing some humility that Big Groot had while Rocket shows his own growth by handing down some wise words to Thor regarding loss. Thor himself is strong as ever, the amount of loss he’s suffered through Ragnarok only to lose again five minutes later and he’s not in the best place before the film starts. This is the most regal Hemsworth has been as the character, even with some great comic lines you can tell this isn’t the same Thor we saw 7 years ago.

Drax and Mantis don’t play too heavily into the story but both are still hilarious in their shared misunderstandings. The main duo of Quill and Gamora have the best work, Gamora especially with her relationship to Thanos, Saldana does some of her best work in the MCU showcasing how torn she is between hating her father and accepting this man raised her. Pratt isn’t as forefront as The Guardians movies but he still nails the hilarious outlaw of Starlord but when things get heavy the amount of rage he has catches you offguard.

Rounding out the heroes are Stark, Strange and Parker, Holland still makes his place for the best Spider-Man with a ton of pop-culture references and a fast-paced, often worried demeanour befitting of a teenager stuck on an alien planet. Cumberbatch has gotten a lot more confident, and indeed snarky, as Dr Strange, able to use a lot more spells and tricks but his match is met… in the confident and snarky Tony Stark. There’s a lot more behind the scenes to Strange that I can’t get into but it leaves his character on an interesting note going into Part 2.

Downey started this franchise and he continues to be one of it’s biggest players, here Stark is still trying to have a normal life and the universe still gets in his way. Downey is still charismatic as ever but like Pratt when it comes time to get serious Downey nails it. In particular his ongoing trauma from Thanos’ invasion of New York, he’s put in the most difficult situation of his life and more than once he questions if he can even survive.

On the villains side Thanos takes top prize and boy does Brolin bring it, Thanos might just be the best villain in the MCU and for good reason, there is so much depth to him and what he does. He’s the hero of his own story, his mission to collect the Infinity Stones comes from a place of wanting to save the universe from itself and willing to sacrifice to do so. Brolin is great as the bloodthirsty Titan but what really stands out is how he handles the emotional weight of Thanos, you can tell he doesn’t always enjoy it but will do anything to save the universe. There is a ton of great work done to make Thanos a much deeper villain and by the end he’s made such a mark on the franchise that you want to see more of him just to see what he does next.

With Joe and Anthony Russo having taking the reins of the MCU there was a lot riding on them to make this work, and it absolutely does, this is ten years worth of build up paying off in the biggest, way imaginable, from its brutal start to it’s speechless ending, this is why people have put their faith in Marvel. As you might expect from a Marvel film there’s humour and quite a bit of it, Drax in particular carries some of the best lines but for the first half of the film most of the characters have a great line to raise a chuckle.

That’s the first half, towards the second half things get dark, this is Marvel doing their Empire Strikes Back; Genocide, annihilation and failure all have a part to play in shaping where Thanos goes and what he does, it’s difficult to go into details but the film is constantly subverting your expectations, every time you think something is going to go right, Thanos knocks it down. Trust me when I say that this will drain your emotions more than any other comic-book film to date.

Even on a pure entertainment level this has some of the biggest spectacles in the MCU to date, I’d still put the Airport Battle as the MCU’s best fight but there’s enough here to come close to it. Smaller fights like the invasion of Earth the attack on Vision do enough to keep interests high with superpowers and threats galore but it’s during the final act that things get massive, on Titan our heroes unleash everything on Thanos and struggle to even make a dent while in Wakanda, the Black Order unleash their animalistic army, using the sheer numbers to overpower everything in their path It’s the biggest battle the MCU has seen since New York and it is incredible, even knowing there’s more to follow and only bigger to come I can’t imagine what Marvel have in store.

Marvel proved their cinematic universe could work when they made the first Avengers, now with Infinity War they’ve brought everything together and pulled off what 10 years ago seemed impossible. The set-up is excellent with the promise of more to come, the acting solid with the massive cast all pulling their weight with special mention to Olson, Bettany, Downey and Brolin. And The Russo’s take everything they’ve brought to the series and ramp it up, the humour, the shocks and the darkness. It took 10 years but Infinity War is the apex of a studio that took a chance and saw it through.

Avengers: Infinity War is out now in cinemas.

Matthew Wilson

Operating out of Livingston, Scotland, Matthew Wilson has been self-publishing reviews since 2012 - amassing over 1000 and climbing on his personal account at MovieFanCentral- and has produced a number of short films for his Graded Unit at Edinburgh College. Matthew hopes to start writing and directing his own productions one day, having written several unpublished scripts for film and television.

Posted on Apr 30, 2018

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