The Marvel Cinematic Universe began in earnest 10 years ago when the first Iron Man hit theaters. While it was difficult to see at that point (comic book movies in the 90’s were decidedly meh), the film ended up being ground-breaking. Marvel’s work in the following decade changed not only the movie industry, but popular culture as a whole. Suddenly, the little studio that could is setting the tone for the rest of Hollywood. Everyone wants to be Marvel. It is with this history in mind that the studio releases its biggest film to date. That being said, does Avengers: Infinity War live up to what can only be described as its gargantuan hype? Here is (our best attempt) at a spoiler free review of Avengers: Infinity War.

Avengers: Infinity War follows our titular heroes… and then some. All of our favorites are back, including: Tony “Iron Man” Stark (Robert Downey Jr), Steve “Captain America” Rogers (the always adorable Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). The more recent Marvel additions: Spider-Man (Tom Holland),  Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and even the Guardians of the Galaxy all join in the action. The film is directed by current Marvel guardians Joe and Anthony Russo from a script by Marvel go-to writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.

Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes in Avengers: Infinity War,

The movie follows as our heroes finally go up against Marvel ultimate baddie Thanos (Josh Brolin) in his quest to get each of the Infinity Stones. That’s as much as you’ll get from us…

It feels like a monumental task to review this movie without spoilers. However, it seems best to begin by saying, both Marvel and the Russo brothers have upped their game with this film. There is a heck of a lot going on here, and the experienced team juggles everything with ease. While the movie is a bladder busting two hour thirty minutes, it doesn’t feel that long. The pacing is well structured, and the delightfully quippy script keeps things moving. In fact, watching the film, the scariest thought is how will the franchise continue to surpass (or even match) this level in the future. This cast is gigantic, the set pieces are huge and the film somehow manages to avoid being dwarfed by its scale. Parts of this movie are awe-inspiring in its size. Do with that what you will. 

In hindsight, certain characters fall through the cracks a bit. Ultimately, in a movie with more than twenty main characters, this is going to happen. It’s difficult to go into this without entering spoiler territory, so apologies for the lack of specifics. The main characters are given their due, but some disappointing cuts are made for time. Ultimately, this movie could have easily been more than three hours and people would still be missing.

There’s great performances all-around in Avengers: Infinity War. The length of time Marvel has spent laying this groundwork has definitely paid off in building a troop of actors who are not only comfortable in their roles, but in their chemistry with each other. Benedict Cumberbatch takes a noted step forward in the franchise, emerging from Doctor Strange’s 2016 standalone film with gusto. The relative MCU newcomer takes a gigantic step forward, easily going toe to toe with Robert Downey Jr.’s always formidable Tony Stark. 

Next, props must be given to Chris Evans for the growth and development we’ve seen from him as an actor over the last decade. This fact seems tremendously evident in this film. Evans gives an understated, but powerful performance. Cap has a number of solid moments, which even started waves of applause in a relatively small press screening. Evans has stepped up from being a relatively unknown performer to establish himself as not only the heart, but the backbone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film makes great use of the character, and Evans is a definite strength in the narrative.  
Next, Marvel has received their fair share of grief for their villains (poor Ronan the Destroyer). Interestingly, the script takes some time to beef up the character of Thanos. While audiences have been getting tantalising pieces of him dating back to the first Avengers movie, he’s been little more than cut-scene material. In his first time carrying a film, the script takes the time to show just what makes this villain tick. In fact, its more than that. He’s given flashback time and some insightful dialogue showing just who he is, especially through building his own relationships. Its interesting treatment, and feels like a bit of a shock to the system (especially thinking about Marvel’s other villains). When considering the strides Marvel’s made beginning with Hela (Cate Blanchett) in Thor: Ragnarok and now with Thanos, here’s hoping this shows a reversal of the trend.

Visually, definite concern arose with the character of Thanos during the film’s marketing build-up. While there are moments throughout the movie where Thanos looks like a computer generated villain, he looks much better than certain other comic book villains (*cough Steppenwolf *cough). In fact, there are a number of moments where Brolin’s solid performance underneath is very noticeable. It’s strong work all-around on the construction and development of the character.

The ending?? No spoilers of course. However, it should be said that Marvel’s decade of work paid off in droves. Audiences have had multiple films to get to know and even grow to love these characters. This is how these franchises need to be constructed. As the concluding action played out on screens, there were gasps in the theaters, yelps and even concerned whines coming from the audience. Marvel has built themselves one heck of a franchise, and the creative groundwork is solid and well-done. 

Ultimately, there’s much more that could be said, but it’s getting into spoiler territory. Avengers: Infinity War is another strong entry into the MCU. Is it an entry point if you haven’t seen the other films? Probably not. However, if you’ve been growing and learning to love these characters for the last decade, the film is definitely worth your time. Here’s looking forward to another strong decade for the MCU.

Avengers: Infinity War opens in theaters around the country Thursday night.

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