It's hard to believe that MCU has been going for ten years. It's even harder to think about how before The Avengers came out, it just felt like another collection of superhero films at time when the industry was loaded with them. But now it's grown in a juggernaut with no signs of stopping, with almost every film over the last decade culminating in this massive crossover.
Captain America: Civil War was as much an Avengers film as it was a Captain America movie. Infinity War is as much an Avengers film as it is a giant milestone celebration for the MCU with how it brings in the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Spiderman and Black Panther into the movie, and despite that still manages to nicely balance out the screen time of its many heroes, while also giving enough time to flesh out Thanos as he finally takes the role of central villain.
Needless to say, Thanos does not disappoint. Arguably the single most dangerous villain in Marvel Comics, he more than proves himself to be the most dangerous and badass villain in the MCU as he gathers up the six Infinity Stones and even with the heroes teaming up against him there is almost nothing they can do. Without using the Infinity Stones, Thanos beat the Hulk so badly that Hulk was scarred to come out, smashed Iron Man's latest suit to scrap, and the most anybody does to him for most of the film is make a small cut. The Mad Titan shows that he is a level of badass beyond any villain before him, even if he doesn't wear his cool armor for most of the movie. I'm guess right now that his armor was too expensive to animate on top of everything else, but I could be wrong.
And surprisingly the amount of screen time Thanos gets makes him into one of the more human villains of the MCU. Not what I expected given that while the Thanos of the comics has some humane moments, he's still gleefully killed untold numbers of beings just to impress Mistress Death. This Thanos doesn't enjoy violence and simply believes that he is saving the universe from becoming overpopulated. He's certainly not a good person by any stretch of the imagination, we see that with his genocidal acts throughout the film, but it's still an amazing contrast to see that he can a monster who orders the deaths of billions one moment and try to be kind father the next. Going even further than that, empathize with Scarlet Witch when she attempts to kill Vision to keep the last Infinity Stone from Thanos, because he made a similar sacrifice with Gamora earlier in the film.
Adding to the level of fear for Thanos is that while it might not seem apparent, he truly lives up to moniker "Mad Titan." Thanos has the charisma to make it seem like he's right but his word is the only thing we have to go one. He claims that he saved Gamora's world, but in Guardians of the Galaxy we are told Gamora was the last of her kind. Thanos claims that his planet died thanks to overpopulation, but what we see of it looks more like it was wiped out by war. In essence, Thanos is deluding himself into thinking that he is in the right and is so certain that he flat out ignores any evidence that might contradict his opinion. Taking the idea of a villain being the hero of their own story, Thanos believes he is saving the universe, and is the villain because the threat he perceives doesn't even exist.
Thanos's underlings don't get to talk much so the only ones I could really pick out were were Ebony Maw, the talkative one with the telekinesis, and Cull Obsidian, because when a villain is a giant you notice. Unlike Thanos who is a central character in his own right, in fact he's the main character of the movie, his underlings are around to serve as obstacles for the heroes. But they do so very well giving us some impressive battles, even winning some of them. They are dangerous threats in their own right, not the typical disposable minions we see in the MCU.
Aside from Thanos the big draw for me was how the trailers showed us meetings between various heroes who had never met before. The movie could not given everyone equal screen time but it gave most of the players we wanted to see their time to shine. The most fun for me was seeing Thor with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Star Lord trying to deal with how Thor is much cooler than he will ever be.
Iron Man and Spider Man's student mentor dynamic continues to be great. Peter is young and inexperienced, and Tony may have seen him take on a supervillain, but he hardly feels Peter is ready to take on a menace to the entire planet. But Peter has gotten his act together, plus he's got the Iron Spider suit. With that and having learned to keep his quips from getting in the way during a fight, Spider Man is going much further towards being the Spider Man who knew doesn't need to listen to Tony as much as he used to. Actually given how much fun it is to see Tony annoyed by Peter referencing movies, Peter shouldn't listen to him at all.
Doctor Strange and Tony were interesting to see. Strange still has some work to go on being a team player, especially when he's on a team with Tony Stank. They both want to do things there way. And Star Lord comes in and wants to do things his way. Still they all manage to work together because they want to save the universe.
I was expecting this movie to just fix things between Captain America and Iron Man, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that wasn't resolved right away despite Civil War implying the two mended fences from Steve's letter. In fact we see they had not spoken since, and they never meet in the movie at any point. Oh spoilers, I assumed anybody was ready for those in this review. But if you are confused since we the Hulkbuster in the trailer, that's Bruce Banner piloting it.
Not much else to say about Bruce in this movie. I was wondering how he was going to come back after he was afraid Hulk would never let him back out. Now he's stuck in a battle where once again he wants Hulk to come out, and Hulk is too afraid after the beating he got from Thanos. For now Banner has made due with the Hulkbuster about as well as he could if Hulk was around, it's not like things would have been any different at the climax when Thanos came to Earth with FIVE of the Infinity Stones if Hulk tried to go another round with him.
Thor's arc since it was pretty straightforward, but done well. He lost more of his people thanks to Thanos, including Loki and Hiemdall. But unlike the Hulk, Thor isn't running, he wants a new weapon so he can end Thanos. Thor holds in how clearly pissed off he is for most of the film, but doesn't need to rage at everyone around him for it to show, his smaller acts do a good enough job that. Thor showing his determination was more badass anyways when he stood in front of a fucking star in order to light the forge that would make his new weapon. Some people might say this is regressing on Thor's arc from the last film, and I say, no he isn't. Thor needed a new weapon because he obviously got wrecked when he faced Thanos off-screen before the film proper began, and something that packed more of a punch than his old hammer.
With the plot itself we were promised Infinity War was going to get more serious and it delivered. The movie started off mostly comical we got the more sense of impeding dread as Thanos acquires the Infinity Stones, characters die, and the struggle to keep the Mind Stone from being taken gets more and more desperate. Not to mention the movie ends with Thanos winning and killing half the universe, which includes many of the main characters in the film.
People who accuse Marvel films of having no consequences. Now obviously the heroes killed by the Infinity Gauntlet will be back given that it includes characters with sequels in the works. That does not however mean that everyone is coming back, we have had a few character deaths in the MCU that have stuck. Thanos winning this movie means that this film will have consequences as it leads into the next Avengers film. Yeah if you recall Infinity War was initially going to be a two part movie, and the names may have changed but that alone has not changed that our next Avengers film will be a follow up to this one.
The action in the film continues to be amazing as the MCU keeps adding new material. Iron Man's new suit and its shapeshifting gives a nice new angle to his fights after Tony spent the last two Avengers movies bringing out new suits that used the same weapons. Doctor Strange's magic proved an amazing sight and a nice improvement from his film where most of the fighting with magic swords, and showed us how far he's come as Sorcerer Supreme. The teamwork with him, Peter, Tony and half the Guardians against Thanos gave us an amazing sequence of them catching Thanos off guard with their unpredictable attacks, nearly taking the Infinity Gauntlet until Star Lord screwed it all up. I did not expect that.
The last two Avengers movie gave us the heroes fighting against armies of easily disposable minions, but the battle in Wakanda gave us something new by upping the scale to include a small army fighting the monsters, tactics adjusting on both sides as the Thanos' children and the monsters adapted to how the Avengers were fighting them, forcing the heroes to make hard decisions to adapt back, and the villains ultimately managing to outmaneuver them and nearly take the Mind Stone from Vision.
Seeing Bucky back in the fight was cool. I loved seeing T'Challa present him that new robot arm, and despite his past trauma, Bucy understands without a word that he is needed and gets in the battle. But the highlight was seeing Thor arrive with Stormbreaker and crush the aliens with his new weapon. I do not exaggerate when I say that when that happened, everyone in the theater started to applause as the God of Thunder was finally back on Earth.
Thanos' fights nicely showed the seriousness of things with how brutal the fights with him got. We saw heroes so beaten up they could barely move, Iron Man's new armor is smashed to pieces and Tony himself is impaled, and Vision loses a chunk of his head. To top it all off Thanos just powering through almost everything sent his way gives the hint that even without the Infinity Stones the heroes in each seen probably wouldn't have had much chance against him.
The effects for the Infinity Stones themselves are a sight to behold. It really showed that most of the earlier users were just scratching the surface of what these these things could do, especially with the Reality Stone. Unintentionally I think it's funny that Thanos never seems to use the Soul Stone. Looking at the comics its powers sound the most vague of the six, and with the overlap between soul and mind the Soul Stone seems to demonstrate new powers whenever it appears. Apparently Kevin Feige and the Russo brothers felt the same thing about the stone's powers being annoying vague and just had Thanos not use it, or any uses it might have had would end the plot too quickly.
With regards to the film's ending, well like I said above, this was originally a two part movie and the change in title has not effected that. This movie is still existing a set up for the next film as the heroes try to find a way to undo Thanos killing half the universe. Regardless it's a very powerful scene to show so many heroes turning to dust. Especially when it happens to Peter, as Tony tried to protect the kid the whole time, just for Peter to die from circumstances completely out of control to either of them. And the after credits scene where Nick Fury sees a crash, just to see that nobody was in it before he died himself.
I did not like the implication that the survivors of Asgard were killed, but Thor implies not all of them died. Joe Russo stated that some of them fled the ship during Thanos' attack, so the events of Thor: Ragnarok did more than just deliver the Space Stone to Thanos.
Not everyone is going to like seeing so many heroes killed off, but the characters killed with the Infinity Gauntlet obviously aren't gone for good. Are Loki, Hiemdall and Gamora dead for good? We'll have to wait and see, Loki has been "dead" before after all. Regardless, if everyone can agree that Thanos must pay for what he has done in this movie and for the other atrocities he's committed then I say he's doing a fine job as the main villain. That said with how the film has depicted Thanos in victory, he doesn't seem to be enjoying his victory so any act of revenge on him is likely to be hollow if Thanos is a shell of a man by the time his enemies catch up to him.
Also with regards to the sequel; Doctor Strange apparently knew that Thanos there was no way to beat Thanos. He saw the future with the Time Stone, by all rights he knew about Star Lord screwing things up, and he apparently knew that no matter what Thanos would take the Time Stone so all Strange could do was make sure things happened with some of them alive. And for the next film he is no doubt going to have to carry the burden of knowing the future, with everyone having issues trusting him since Strange will not be able to reveal all of it out of risk of altering it.
Infinity War delivered on the promise of an epic crossover between almost the entire MCU, which as its ending has shown will take more than one movie. It has also made me curious about the Captain Marvel film. Her insignia was on the distress signal Fury sent out. But we've told her film will be set before the rest of the MCU. That she hasn't been mentioned by now despite early statements saying she's going to be the strongest hero in the MCU points to Fury calling her is a sign of desperation as Carol Danvers' powers will turn out to be too dangerous to use in anything but the literal fate of life on Earth.
The only real strike I can say this movie has against it is unlike of the MCU you definitely need to go with an understanding of the films before it. But in this day and age that's pretty easy so I don't see it as a big deal especially when most of the MCU can easily be viewed on its own. And judging by how much money this movie brought more than double its budget in less than a week I can say its not a problem for legions of other MCU fans who had been waiting for it.