a critiQal film review Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Plot: Iron Man (Downey Jr.), Thor (Hemsworth), the Hulk (Ruffalo) and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet - the evil Thanos (Brolin). On a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, Thanos plans to use the artifacts to inflict his twisted will on reality. The fate of the planet and existence itself has never been more uncertain as everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment.

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  • ...both shines a light on individuals and provides epic battles against the most formidable enemy the MCU has ever seen - but its sense of dread is hard to handle, and the ending is rough.

With the pending digital release of the (now) #1 Movie of All Time, it seemed like a perfect time to go back and catch up where we left Thanos and the rest – Avengers: Infinity War.  Would this, the darkest movie of the MCU, be worth watching – or is it just a prelude to Avengers: Endgame?

The cast of characters in Avengers: Infinity War is mind-blowing.  Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Thor, Loki, Captain America, The Winter Soldier, Spider-Man, Star Lord, Gamorra, Nebula, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon and Groot.  All are here – along with their friends (all except the cast of Ant-Man (2015), who will supposedly pop up in the sequel).  Even Captain Marvel (2019) gets a tease in the post credits.  All facing off against Thanos, the villain that the whole MCU has been leading up to.

Of course, over the past 10 years (wow!), viewers have grown with all of these characters.  With some of the core group (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America), they’ve grown with them through a whole trilogy apiece.  And, while some of the films haven’t been quite as good as others, the viewers have invested a lot of time in these characters.  Who could imagine Iron Man as anyone but Robert Downey Jr?  Captain America without Chris Evans?  Thor without Chris Hemsworth?  Heck, even Doctor Strange without Benedict Cumberbatch, Star Lord without Chris Pratt or Black Panther without Chadwick Boseman?  Their acting has been so on par, they’ve ingrained a place into the public’s heart.

And now there is Avengers: Infinity War.  Unlike the previous films, where – in spite of overwhelming odds – there was always a sense the hero would triumph in the end.  Now, however, we are coming to an end, a shakeup that will “forever change the MCU” (and possible contract endings).  And everyone knows what that means.  Very few of these characters are really safe.  Never before has death loomed like it does here.

And that’s partly due to the villain of Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos (CGI, but voiced by Josh Brolin).  While prior villains have been evil enough, there’s something different about Thanos.  He’s relentless, for one thing.  Heck, in the beginning of the film he fights off Loki, Thor AND the Hulk – and that’s with only one infinity stone in his gauntlet.  All so he can wipe out half of existence to “save” the rest.  Just that opening sequence hints at how powerful he is…and that’s when the dread begins.

While other superhero films have had characters die before (the much-ballyhooed X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), for one), there’s never been such a sense that everyone is in jeopardy like there is for Avengers: Infinity War.  That’s thanks in part to Thanos seeming disregard for death, and partly due to the feel of the entire film, purposefully done by directors Joe and Anthony Russo.  By providing most of their heroes with a shining moment (hard to do with such a large group, but they do it), they are singing everyone’s swan song.  But whose final moments are actually approaching?

Thankfully, despite the massive amounts of CGI involved in Avengers: Infinity War (heck, the villain is a CGI construct himself), the times have advanced enough for the epic battles that take place in the film.  While the film’s ending leaves viewers wanting, watching worlds collide in some truly impressive battles is something no one who has been following this universe should miss.

The ending of Avengers: Infinity War, sadly, leaves a lot more questions than answers.  While everyone knows not all the death and devastation shown can’t possibly stick, that just leaves viewers knowing full well that some of their heroes probably won’t survive the sequel – which leaves them with another film waiting for the end.   Thankfully, while the sequel will mark the end of an era, there isn’t much longer to wait until it arrives on digital – and the few of us who didn’t see it in theaters will finally be able to see the Avengers: Endgame.

Depressing as all get-out, Avengers: Infinity War manages to bring together a star-studded cast (and everyone’s favorite heroes of the past decade) into a film that manages to shine a light on individuals even while providing some truly epic battles against the most formidable enemy the MCU has ever seen.  But, its sense of dread is hard to handle – as is the knowledge that the ending of an era has begun.

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