avengers: Infinity war

Review by Maia Mathieu 

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After ten years of dominating box offices, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is bringing all its big heroes together for one last hurrah, before the contracts on the original Avengers (Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, etc) expire. Avengers: Infinity War has been hailed as the biggest crossover event of all time and great care has been taken to avoid leaks. Now it's finally here, and it's surprisingly good.

I think that it is fairly uncontroversial to say that the MCU typically does better with the solo movies than with the Avengers team movies. The first Avengers (Assemble) flick was an enjoyable popcorn movie that really didn't stand up to thinking about things once the explosions died down, and the second one (Age of Ultron) was pretty rough. I was concerned, going in, that the much-lauded cast of thousands would be a gimmick that fell flat very quickly, but I was pleasantly surprised. Following on from two of the smartest movies in the Marvel canon, I was afraid we were going to go back to shallow shoot-'em-ups. The marketing seemed to focus on spectacle, perhaps as part of their no-spoilers strategy, but there's real heart to this story, and the villain is given depth and pathos that the trailers don’t even hint at.

Avoiding spoilers in this review is tricky, especially since the studio has been so scrupulous about avoiding leaks. Also, talking about the plot is a tricky thing, too, because this is very much part one of two, with the conclusion coming next summer. The closest comparison I can offer is that in terms of events and tone, this is The Empire Strikes Back and we have to wait a year for Return of the Jedi. This makes for a dramatic conclusion that left me in a strange emotional place, because the body-count is significant. However, the body-count includes characters I can't imagine staying dead and doesn't include characters, which I'm pretty sure, aren't going to make it out of Avengers 4, so that's a bit awkward.

Thanos (Josh Brolin) is the survivor of a planet that died due to overpopulation. He has taken it upon himself to go through the galaxy and exterminate half of all life, planet by planet, so that the other half has more resources and better odds of survival. To do this the most efficient and merciful way, he wants to collect the Infinity Stones which we've seen bits of in previous MCU movies and basically become a god. Our heroes object to the slaughter of billions and are here to stop him. This story hinges on the emotional arcs of Tony Stark (of course), Thor (coming off the excellent Ragnarok) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana, finally getting to play a person, not a love interest) and her relationship with her adopted father, the villain of the piece, Thanos. Secondarily, the comics' love story between Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) finally makes it to the screen. Everyone else is included because their being there serves a purpose and how cool is that?

The score is epic, the pacing doesn't let up, and every time that Thanos acquires a new Infinity Stone, someone pays a terrible price. This is a spectacle, yes, but it's worth the hype so far. Fingers crossed that Avengers 4 doesn't let it all down.