‘Dread it. Run from it. Destiny still arrives.’
18 films in 10 years, all leading up to this. And it is so bloody worth it. This film is the closest a comic book movie has ever gotten to capturing onto the screen the actual experience of reading a comic book. The lightness of touch in telling a story that is full of light and dark, that so quickly and intermittently changes between them, propelled by the desperation and urgency to turn the page to find out what’s going to happen next.
I’ll avoid going into specifics here and the best way to see it is to go in knowing nothing and enjoying/embracing all the surprises. Avoid all the spoilers. Avoid rewatching the trailer again. Just sit back and let the film work its Marvel-ous magic.
Because what you get in return is well worth the price of the ticket (PSA: try your utmost to see this on the biggest screen possible, don’t wait to watch it on your laptop or telly via means of grey-area legality). Directed by the Russo brothers (who bought us the spectacular Captain America: Winter Soldier and the incredible Captain America: Civil War) this is a pacily told tale that breezes through it’s 149 minutes running time. Tonally it’s perfectly told; accessible for those who’ve not really seen the previous movies yet packed full of nods and detail for those in the know. The gags vary from smirky to chuckle-worthy and there are some epic lines I can’t wait to quote on a daily basis.
Just a brief look at the poster for Infinity War will remind you about how many characters we’ve gotten to know in our 18 visits to this universe. It’ll also remind you how many you care about. Marvel made it clear that things were going to get dark and real with this film; they weren’t lying. Even during my second watch I found myself being surprised by how certain things played out.
Here, the threat is real.
Thanos is a superb villain, maybe even just sidestepping Killmonger from the extraordinary Black Panther. Comic book films only work when the villain is as well constructed as the hero, we need to believe in why they are doing what they are doing. We also need to believe that there is a real danger and there’s a chance that good may not necessarily win, not matter how much we want it to. Josh Brolin gives so much depth to his performance that it’s truly remarkable. Aside from Killmonger and Loki, I can’t think of another Marvel villian that has been so perfectly rendered on the screen. In fact I’d be hard-pressed to think of another villian from recent cinema in general that is given so much pathos and development. As I touched upon in my Black Panther review, the best villains are those who aren’t really villains; their motivation may be just but their actions and methods are not. That’s more than true for Thanos.
Then we’ve got the motley crew trying to stop him. With so many heroes in this film it would be impossible and illogical (both storytelling-wise and logistically) to put them all in one room. Instead we’ve got factions of unlikely pairings, all of which maximise the development and characterisation of those involved. The film skillfully juggles these various subplots and although a few characters feel slightly underused (not all that surprising considering how many there are) the dynamics are set up to truly bring out the best and worst of them all. They’re ingeniously chosen to such an extent you end up being reminded of the previous films and all the various brilliant moments that lead us to this. Don’t be surprised by the overwhelming need to watch all the others again.
This is big and bold blockbuster storytelling on an Titan-ic scale. The stakes have never been higher.
(There is a scene after the credits, at the very very end. It’s worth it.)