Today: May 19, 2024

Avengers: Infinity War

It is probably a sign of the times that to get to this point in the Marvel cinematic universe we have had to go through no less than 19 films. The way we consume storytelling has shifted, mainly thanks to binge watching Netflix, and so cinema – with the help of the hugely lucrative and over-saturated superhero genre – has had to adapt. These days it isn’t just about telling a single contained story, it has to be bigger, it has to incorporate a multitude of characters and there have to be multiple easter eggs for fans to pick up on.

And so after 18 films we arrive at Avengers: Infinity War. It is what Marvel have been building to for some time. All the way back in Phase One we were fleetingly introduce to Thanos, the Mad Titan, as the Big Bad who would come to cause Earth’s Mightiest Heroes their biggest problem yet. Of course over 18 films the collective of Avengers have substantially grown, so much so that some of them don’t get anything more than a name-drop.

The film opens with Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) band of cronies slaughtering half of Asgard in front of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) before the Titan himself retrieves one of the six infinity stones. Making a lucky escape from Thanos, Bruce Banner aka Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) returns to earth to warn Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) of the impending threat to earth. When New York comes under threat the likes of Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), The Guardians of the Galaxy – yes, all of them – Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) must band together once again to prevent Thanos from retrieving all the infinity stones and killing half the population of the universe.

With this many characters it was always going to be tough to tell a coherent story. And in many ways plot is Infinity War’s biggest stumbling block. Or at least it would be if it weren’t for Thano’s storyline. Defying convention the lead character here is actually the villain himself, not in an anti-hero kind of way, but from the actual bad guy point of view. By telling Thanos’ story the film retains a focus amid all the set pieces. Thanos might on the surface seem like your usual stereotypical villain but learning his backstory lends Infinity War a sense of gravitas and reasoning Marvel has rarely managed to touch on. There are even times when you wonder if he might not have a point to all the death and destruction he is willing to bring.

It is easily Marvel’s darkest film to date. Although fear not Marvel fans, there are still plenty of comedic quips and in-jokes to keep the tone lighter than anything DC has done to date. Early on Thanos declares “there will be no resurrections this time”. The film stating from the out that it means business. What makes it darker is the last time we saw The Avengers together they were at each other’s throats in Captain America: Civil War. So how do you reassemble the feuding Avengers? The simple answer seems to be, ‘you don’t. Instead The Russo Brothers, who have helmed two Captain America films and will bring us this and the next Avengers film, go down the Star Wars route. Of having a big climax in which our heroes are all fighting multiple enemies in multiple locations. In many ways it works, the Stark, Spider-Man, Strange rapport is a treat. Thor and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) get on swimmingly and all the while Cap and his team are left to do the million-yard-stare brooding.

The problem that Marvel and The Avengers has is come the final they are determined to stick to that Star Wars feeling in The Empire Strikes Back. We know there’s another one coming, so all the dark, jaw-dropping events of the film you cannot fully be emotionally invested in. You’re left sitting in a darkened theatre, daunting music blaring going, “well now what?” Given this marks the end of Marvel’s Phase Three it feels a little flat, when it clearly wanted to be gut-wrenching. The hope is that the next Avengers film, which arrives next year, will answer many of the questions and dilemmas raised here.  

A hugely epic and often exhilarating popcorn film that dazzles when dealing with its villain but leaves you feeling a little short changed when handling its heroes.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email:

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