Movie Review: Avengers Infinity War

Avengers Infinity War
Review by Sean Robert Lay

2007 seems like a long time ago. Movies based upon Marvel comic books were grasping for air and had one foot in their grave. Brett Ratner had just destroyed the X-Men, Daredevil was a total garbage pile, Hulk was an (slight pun intended) abomination and Peter Parker had just emo danced all over our broken hearts.
An announcement was made in that year everyone scoffed at immediately. Marvel wanted their chance to make their mark with what few properties they hadn’t prostituted away to other companies and Iron Man was in production.
It couldn’t be good? Right? I mean, it was a character that no one cared about, from a book that had been canceled more times than Jean Grey has died, staring an actor who had a string of tepid movies over the past decade and a half while he was in and out of rehab.
We expected it to be a forgotten way to pass the time. Something to waste a Friday night with and then never think about again. I remember walking in to that theater, ready to pick it apart. Ready to come up with dozens of ways they could have made it better. Ready to say it was just as bad as all the other Mid 2000s Marvel movies.
And then….it wasn’t.
It was amazing. It absolutely made you buy into a character that you never had before. Robert Downey Jr played the role with such precise effectiveness that he fell quickly into the “born to play this role” category in the likes of Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier. The story was well paced, faithful to it’s source material and engrossing. Four simple words ended what was the best Marvel movie to that point and left you ready for more.
I. Am. Iron Man
I then remember sitting there, asking my friend if we should wait for the credits…because back in that day, it was actually still a question.
We did. And there it was. A dark silhouette in a dimly lit room. Wait. I know that figure. That…it can’t be. Is that Samuel L. Jackson? Wait, EYE PATCH?!
“I’m here to talk to you about the Avenger’s Initiative”
No way. No freaking way. There’s no way they can do an Avengers movie. It would take too much. It would be too costly. They would never have enough time to do it right.
Then Disney said, “Hold my beer and watch this”
The house of the mouse shocked the world and bought Marvel Comics and studios. At first, there was fear and trepidation that they would ruin what was set in motion. They’d Disney-fy it and everything would be sunshine and rainbows. But they didn’t. They threw money at the people who knew how to make them more and left them to be. The influx of cash allowed Marvel to announce an entire Cinematic Universe. Thor. Captain America. Black Widow. They were all coming at you. And that was just “Phase 1”
The entire outline encompassed 3 phases that would all culminate 10 years later, far…far away in 2018.
But what could it be? What story were they going to do that would be epic enough that it would take 10 years to tell?
The first phase ended with the release of Marvel’s The Avengers. A perfect way to wrap up the first phase of the introduction of the Original 6. Loki was defeated. The Chitauri were dead. Credits role. By this point, no one is leaving their chairs until the lights go up and the ushers come in.

OMG. Is that…THANOS?! Those of us who lived their lives off of comic books knew instantly what that meant.
Infinity War.
One of the most epic, ambitious stories ever told in the medium. If they do it right, it will be classic. If they do it wrong, it could fully implode on them. Let’s see what happens.
Flash forward 10 years, 18 movies, and about 65 new characters later and here we are. The moment we’ve been waiting for. In that time, the initiative revolutionized entertainment. Comic books are no longer something pimple faced teens and adults with no social lives hide away with and escape to other universes for a while. Now, they’re something regularly discussed at work places, dinner tables and bus stops. With parents and aunts and uncles and strangers. Everyone has bought in and gotten aboard this train and are in for the ride together.
I’ll be honest right off the bat. I didn’t think it was a perfect film, or the best movie of the MCU. I’d probably put it 5th behind Black Panther, Ragnarok, Civil War and Homecoming in no certain order. But with that said, it was still everything I wanted it to be. All those characters, seamlessly coming together and integrated into each other’s lives. From the moment the opening scene began, you knew this wasn’t going to be your standard “everything is going to be perfect and fine in the end” super hero movie that we’ve come to expect. This movie was going to be as gritty, murky and rigid as its source material deserved.
Dear DC Comics. This is how you make a comic book movie, with dark and brooding undertones, but make it coherent…lighthearted…and highly entertaining.
The movie plays out more as vignettes than one full story. The film jumps from location to location and team-up to team-up across the entire galaxy with quickness and ease. There is a lot of film here, and little fluff. The infinity stones are obtained without bogging down the details, sometimes even off screen. Though done in a manner that gives you satisfaction in their gaining.
When I sat down to write this review, I realized that there was so much story that the details were getting muddled in my brain and I needed to see it again to paint a clear picture. I immediately went to the theater, notebook in hand, and watched it again. There is an argument to be made there that if there is so much story packed in that it gets compacted and jammed in your brain, then there is really no story at all. But I don’t feel that is the case here. Yes…there is a lot of plot and story. You realize when all is said and done that the majority of the cast likely only had to film their parts for a few weeks due to the length of time they’re actually shown on screen. But each character feels fully developed and you understand their motive and relation to each other. Each has enough time…just enough time…to flesh out what brought them to this place and why this fight is so important to them.
The characters that are forced together to form their independent teams are staggeringly well done. The head on collision of ego between Dr. Strange and Iron Man. The testosterone standoff between Thor and Star Lord….and then the Abbot and Costello relationship of Thor and Rocket. Two leaders of men waging war against cosmic foes in Cap and Black Panther. Each seems real. Each seems like they belong. The father and unwanted son relationship of Tony Stark and Peter Parker continues on from Homecoming and leads to some much needed brevity in what otherwise could have been a movie mired in despair, though Pete’s constant use of pop culture references are now coming off as slightly cloying than original.
Thanos is one of the most fleshed out villains of any super hero movie. His motives are clear. He feels justified in his means and there’s a small part of you that even understands where he stands and why he’s doing what he’s doing. It’s not just a simple quest for power as so many one off villains before him have been on. He has compassion for the universe around him. He has profound love for a daughter that despises him and sadness when she continually rejects him. He feels noble and just and truly believes that his mission is for the greater good of every creature in the universe and that he is the only one with the fortitude to carry it out. Josh Brolin conveys such amazing depth of emotion for a CGI character that is usually reserved for the likes of Andy Serkis.
All in all, the movie was exactly what I expected to it be. From the beginning to end with no surprises.
And that’s where I feel it misses a beat. Everything I expected to happen for the last 10 years did. It did not disappoint or fail. But there was also nothing else that came along that I didn’t expect. I wanted that. I wanted that moment where I sat back nonplussed and said “oh …oh my.” I wanted that initial Nick Fury in that darkened living room moment that took my breath away. And I didn’t get it.
I also thought that the “cliffhanger” ending was lackluster. It’s no secret that this is a two part movie, despite Marvel being coy about the title of the second part. And the movie ends on a note that is supposed to make you say “wow” and makes you emotionally confused. But it’s done in a way that leaves you knowing exactly how it will be resolved and that there will be no real consequences to the actions that are carried out in the films fading moments. Especially if you understand how comic books…and capitalism…work.
There’s also some great misuse of powers. Certain characters exhibit powers through the film that, honestly, should make a lot of the events of the film unable to even occur, but only exhibit those powers when convenient to the plot and then are simply forgotten about when they could matter most.
Then there’s the post credit scene. One that could have been that “OMG” moment I wanted so desperately…but with the way they’re been releasing information the last few years…announcing casting decisions for movies not coming out for years down the line…hinting and poking at audiences at comicons, press releases and interviews, as soon as it happens it’s more of a “oh…well, there that is” than a “I can’t believe what I just saw!”
In the end, its strengths far outweigh its weaknesses. It delivers a massive blow to your senses and takes a decade’s worth of planning, execution and anticipation and gives you a 2.5 hour thrill ride that doesn’t feel like you’re quiet ready to get off of once when the final words are uttered. In moments it will leave you angry…jubilant…depressed and above all else, satisfied. It’s the perfect capstone for a project so massive and complex that could even confuse Bruce Banner. And it makes you realize there are only two words that can be strung together that surmise what will occur in the second part of this epic.
Avengers, Assemble.