Courtesy of the lovely people at Marvel UK, I got to spend Sunday evening at the Avengers: Infinity War fan screening. London unfortunately isn’t getting a full scale premiere this time (the last time Marvel did a huge premiere in the UK was for Captain America: Civil War) so we had a fan screening instead with cast in attendance at which a select audience would get to see around 20 minutes of footage. I was rather expecting something akin to the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 and Doctor Strange fan screenings that I had been too previously which featured the cast for about a minute before we saw footage. Boy was I wrong!

On being let in (it was held at Television Centre in London) we were given fancy light up bracelets to wear . After quite a wait (warm up guys must have the toughest job in the world!) due to the talent (cough Tom Hiddleston cough) arriving a little late it was time to get this show on the road! Hosted by Edith Bowman the fan screening was quite the spectacular. In attendance were directors, the Russo brothers (who were seated in the audience with us at the beginning!) along with Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Tom Holland (Spider-Man), Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange), Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes), Letitia Wright (Shuri), Paul Bettany (Vision) and Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlett Witch). Each of the assembled actors was introduced to pyrotechnics and wild applause (and in Tom Holland’s case streamers made to look like Spidey’s web shooters).

All of the cast spoke a little about what being in the film meant to them. All were unanimous in their praise for the Russos and spoke about the family atmosphere on the set. Tom Holland and Letitia Wright spoke about how being on set was like watching a masterclass in acting and how much they appreciated being able to turn to the older actors for advice. They were all very kind about the fans and still amazed at the reaction that the fans have to them and how much love there is for the MCU worldwide. Tom Holland (notoriously rubbish secret keeper) was shushed enthusiastically by the Russos when asked about his new suit (he spent most of his time in Mo-Cap pajamas and was very jealous of everyone else’s cool clothes – also he made the young teens in front of me nearly faint. I hadn’t quite appreciated until I heard the screams just how hugely popular he is). The Russos meanwhile continued their gentle trolling asking the audience “hey where is Hawkeye?” (in response to the total absence of Jeremy Renner‘s Hawkeye from any of the promotional material so far (presumably for spoiler reasons) and asking us where the soul stone is.

Paul Bettany was hilarious mentioning how he used to show up for half an hour and get paid (for being the voice of Jarvis) and now he has to actually work for his keep as Vision. Elizabeth Olsen (who looked stunning in a green leather Alexandre Vauthier dress) immediately won my heart by appearing on stage barefoot (and gave the general impression that she’d be a killer drinking buddy) and confirmed that Scarlett Witch and Vision have fallen for each other. Sebastian Stan spoke about how Bucky is back to his old self and looking forward to re-kindling his friendship with Cap. Letitia Wright spoke hilariously about getting a call from Marvel after Black Panther and immediately assuming she was in trouble only for them to tell her that they wanted her for Infinity War. Cue her asking if she needed to audition while they patiently explained that no she just needed to show up to filming! Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston were as charming and erudite as ever discussing how much they enjoyed their roles.

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Then there were games – which I was not expecting and which everyone quite got into. Tom Holland and Letitia Wright had Marvel Mash Ups where they had to guess which 3 MCU actors had been mashed together to form a grotesque face (Elizabeth Olsen’s reactions to this (see above!) were joyous). Tom Hiddleston took part in Avengergrams where he had to solve anagrams of MCU character’s names. This involved some gentle chiding from Tom (like a disappointed uncle to a group of unruly toddlers) as the audience kept enthusiastically answering for him and not letting him have a turn. The first one was Spiderman and even if he hadn’t known the answer he was probably helped by Tom Holland shouting with exasperation “Oh come on”. The younger Tom then had to confess he’d had to ask Letitia what an anagram was. Hiddleston without skipping a beat “It’s the predecessor to instagram”. Finally Benedict hosted the Marvel Mind Challenge with a newly engaged couple answering MCU trivia. Unfortunately, I’m not convinced the female half of the couple had seen an MCU film in her life. 

Finally before the cast vanished (after an epic selfie and having their pictures taken with some incredible cosplayers) the Russos announced one person would win the chance to see the film before its UK premiere! Yay how exciting. We all had to hold our hands in the air with our magic glowing bracelets and the winner’s hand would turn red. It duly did and we all congratulated the winner. But the Russos felt bad, having only one winner seemed a shame so they decided we should have another go. So again we all held our hands in the air with the winner being decided by whose bracelets turned red. The Russos pressed the button. And the entire audiences bracelets turned red. We all get to see it early (after the world premiere in LA- no one is seeing it before then)!

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But what of the footage itself I hear you ask? The Russos have asked people not to spoil and yet it’s quite hard to write about the screening without mentioning anything about the footage. So from here on there are some minor spoilers so if you want to remain spoiler free you can skip the rest and just look at the pretty pictures above.

We were shown about 20 minutes of footage which comprised of roughly two scenes. The first can be summed up as the minions of Thanos do battle with New York’s protectors and the second is the Guardians of the Galaxy meets Thor. I’m not going to discuss what happens plot wise in the clips but a few reactions:

-The dialogue was very funny and very sharp.

-The new tech looks amazing.

-The action sequence we saw was genuinely thrilling and exciting and so. so well done. There was a real sense of world ending peril that perhaps has been missing from the earlier Avengers films.

-The baddies are truly scary. We didn’t get to see Thanos in action but what we saw of the minions was chilling. Marvel has always suffered with a villain problem with really only Loki, Hela and the Winter Soldier making much of an impact (OK the Michael Keaton scene in the car is also unsettling in Spiderman Homecoming). Looks like hopefully that problem won’t repeat here.

-Drax continues to be the MVP of the Guardians universe.

-The Guardians’ musical taste continues to be excellent.

Chris Pratt is very funny.

-And my only teeny tiny reservation. This is not Taika Watiti’s version of Thor. Which is understandable. Thor in this clip – not in the best of places. But given I could watch Thor: Ragnarok on repeat from now until the end of time the slight shift in characterisation gave me whiplash (but of course as ever this is a very small clip (which felt to me like two edited scenes rather than one long one) and it is impossible to judge characterisation on a tiny out of context snippet.

-This film is going to be the death of me!

Avengers Infinity War is set for release worldwide on 27 April 2018.

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Naomi Roper
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