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Marvel’s most recent blockbuster, Avengers: Infinity War, was one of the most highly anticipated films of 2018. Does it live up to the hype?

Forewarning: this article contains spoilers.

Initial Thoughts

Here’s the thing– I was expecting Avengers: Infinity War to be a bit of a letdown.

As a nerd, I know that’s blasphemous to say, but the thing is, there tends to be a bit of an inverse correlation between the size of a cast of characters and the coherence of a film’s plot. All too often, the more characters a film has, the more it tries to juggle multiple plots, resulting in an episodic mishmash of storylines in which nobody gets the attention they need to be memorable.

And when we’re talking about a big cast, Infinity War’s was pretty damn big. You have individual ensembles from Avengers, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Black Panther all together for a single film. My main concern was that each of these individual films/ casts has their own flavor. There’s always the distinct quippiness of a Marvel film with each, sure, but witty scripting aside, they each take a unique approach to the genre and to their own primary plots.

So going into Infinity War, I halfway suspected that the film would be two to three hours of witty quips, flashy fight scenes, and a plot that was being pulled in too many directions to be followed.

I was wrong.

Yes, there was an abundance of characters, but yes they also managed to keep the plot tight. There were still plenty of quips and crazy combat scenes to keep long-time fans happy, but they were balanced with a storyline that was compelling and engaging.

Speaking of an engaging storyline (spoiler ahead), Marvel made a smart decision with this film by rooting it in a very powerful, very compelling villain. A lesser evil wouldn’t have had the gravity to keep the surplus cast spinning in orbit. But Thanos– the jacked purple daddy with some deep-set chin wrinkles that would benefit from some collagen/ Botox treatments– didn’t play around. Dude came to collect some rocks and destroy half the universe.

Perhaps that’s oversimplifying things, but the stakes still stand. Half the universe. Gone.

Smartly, Marvel didn’t make Thanos’ motivation something like a hunger for power or personal preference for chaos. Instead, Thanos sought to bring balance to the universe. His actions are rooted in the belief that there are too many beings in the universe, and their overabundance strains the resources of the planets they inhabit, which fuels wars, famine, and general suffering. By wiping out half of the beings in the universe, he believes he can restore balance and create a cosmic utopia.

In fact, they did such a good job of making Thanos an effective villain that the day after Infinity War’s release, think pieces about whether or not he was right started popping up across the web. Since Thanos is convinced that his goal is noble, even audiences are being led to think that he might just be right. You may even think he’s not that bad of a guy. I’d hope you couldn’t look past the genocide bit, but like, if you can, you may be team Thanos.

Throughout the nearly-3 hour saga of the fight against Thanos, each character/ set of characters had the chance to flesh out their own plot points as they related to the unfriendly purple invader, but they all came back to the same mission. Many of these individual character arcs worked to make the main plot even more compelling, rather than watering it down like I had feared they would. When Scarlet Witch had to destroy the Mind Stone, killing Vision, the emotional impact wasn’t lost. When Thanos sacrificed Gamora to obtain the Soul Stone– impact not lost. And when wittle Peter Parker turned to dust in Tony Stark’s arms… you guessed it. Impact not lost.

Throughout the film you really got a sense of the stakes through the individual character arcs, and so, when (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) Thanos succeeds in acquiring all six Infinity Stones and snuffing out of half the universe, it comes with a real sense of loss and devastation.

That being said, I feel like the sense of defeat is dampened a bit by the knowledge that there are upcoming Marvel films set after the events of Infinity War that contain some of the characters who sublimated; something has got to bring them back, right?

But, if we allow ourselves to suspend disbelief, it was a pretty impactful outcome.

Critiques

For all that Infinity War did right, there are still a few critiques I have to level against the film.

First, I feel like the Bruce Banner subplot ultimately didn’t go anywhere. Throughout the film, Bruce finds himself unable to Hulkify. This leads to some comedic situations, especially early on with Dr. Strange and Iron Man, but for the amount of times it played a role in the film, we ultimately reached the end of the film without that aspect being fully addressed.

Second, the film needed more Black Panther. T’Challa and Wakanda are pivotal, as Wakanda is the backdrop of the climactic battle scene, but the characters of Black Panther didn’t really have a chance to flesh out their subplots in the same ways that the other characters did. To be fair, their film had a tidier resolution than some of the others, leaving less room for them to be zooming around space or forging godslaying weapons, but still… if Black Panther taught us anything, it’s that you can never have enough Black Panther.

Final Thoughts

Marvel Studios has seemingly perfected the art of pre-release buzz. Even if you don’t keep up with the superhero genre, you’re going to know about an upcoming Marvel movie. Hell, you’re probably going to go ahead and buy a ticket for opening night, too, just to see what the buzz is about.

Marvel Studios has joined the ranks of Star Wars and Harry Potter when it comes to new film fanaticism. Theatres stay packed for these films for days on end, and Infinity War was no exception.

As much as my inner hipster wants to be skeptical of anything with so much hype, Infinity War was just fun. I didn’t expect it to be as engaging and emotionally impactful as it was, so all-in-all it was surprisingly pleasant.

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Blake Reichenbach

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Blake is a writer, yogi, nerd, and dog lover. Oh, and he owns this website.

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