Ten years ago, Iron Man flew into theatres, launching what is now the most successful movie franchise of all time – it spans billions of dollars, countless A-list actors, and many, many hours filled with action capable of capturing people’s attention with ease. Has it always been successful? No, but Marvel Studios has seemingly found the secret sauce – and it deploys it again for Avengers: Infinity War.
This is the third film in the Avengers line, and it much improves on the previous entry (2015’s Age of Ultron was… less than stellar). It has some serious flaws, but for the most part, it manages to hold the audience’s attention with some great visuals, and the sheer spectacle of watching some of the world’s most famous actors interact with each other on screen is almost enough by itself.
The movie truly shines when it shows off those actors, and goes into the interplay one might expect from brawling egomaniacs. There are some really fun moments between pairings that are less than expected – Thor/Guardians and Iron Man/Star-Lord are two particular ones that jump out immediately, and follow up on what was teased in the trailers from earlier this year.
These kinds of films, especially within the Marvel universe, are only as good as the villain, and it’s a huge relief that Thanos (Josh Brolin) delivers on the threat that was promised back in 2010’s debut Avengers feature. It was a tricky thing to balance – after all, how could people like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, etc. feel any fear after defeating threat after world-ending threat? In that sense, the movie starts with a punch, and drives home without any doubt that The Mad Titan is the realest, most visceral concern that any of the characters have faced thus far. Brolin does a great job of emoting through the CGI as well, and there are more than a few scenes that make Thanos more nuanced than the regular “I am the bad guy, watch me destroy buildings” take that most Marvel villains get.
The issues that plague this movie are essentially the same ones that follow the other Marvel movies as well – namely that whenever the major antagonist is not on screen it becomes a regular beat-em-up, paint-by-numbers flick. Truly, that’s what most superhero movies are: opportunities for the good guys to beat on some faceless, nameless bad guys while looking good doing it. That’s what most people want, and Marvel knows how to deliver. It’s just, after ten years of watching them do it, over and over, it gets a little stale after a while. Is that a real problem? Maybe not, but it’s easy to see why Thanos is such a breath of fresh air. His lieutenants (known as the Black Order, or The Children of Thanos, if one was curious to learn a little bit more), who spend most of the film harassing the Avengers with varying degrees of success, are a little more interesting, but ultimately they’re not what most come to see.
The other major issue with this film is that, despite the high stakes and cliffhanger ending, this movie is not the end. Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige has repeatedly said the story of Thanos will conclude with the as-of-yet untitled Avengers 4, meaning this film was entirely made to set up the next one. Knowing that sort of cheapens the ending, which is unfortunate. The good news: Avengers 4 is set to be released next May, so audiences won’t be waiting very long. Also, if anyone is taking bets on what the next film will be called, put me down for Avengers: Disassembled (the name for one of the more famous Marvel comic runs back from 2004/05).
Ultimately, it’s an entertaining film, and judging by the reactions at my advance screening, people will love it. Audiences were fist-pumping and cheering, and during the more emotionally poignant scenes, a pin drop could have been heard. Granted, that is the reaction one might expect from the crowd that is going to see it on opening night, but at the end of the day, this movie will please audiences the world over, and it’s worth your time (even if it is 2 hours and 40 minutes long).
Avengers: Infinity War is now playing in theatres.
You can follow Shoaib Alli on Twitter at @SNSAlli for all sorts of movie news, reviews, and whatever else happens to cross his mind while he’s browsing social media.