A beautiful fizz in place of a shocking bang,
After 10 years of slow build the Marvel Cinematic universe reaches a semi climax in a film that perfects the action movie craft but ultimately leaves you wanting more.
Make no mistake about it, this is a big film, and not just in terms of the amount of main characters in it, the overall scale and scope of the film are huge. It pushes the boundaries of what a Marvel film has done up to this point by combining so many different locations, characters and film styles and turning them into one cohesive narrative. From a production standpoint it’s a very real achievement not only that the film has actually been made, but that it can be made, and adhere so cleanly and easily to the MCU thus far. It’s Ironic that it’s taken 10 years to answer the question “how can all these different characters work in the MCU” but Infinity war not only proves that they can but proves that they can fit together in a natural and cohesive way. This is thanks in no small part to the Russo Brothers.
See directing or producing one film is hard, directing or producing multiple films is very hard, Infinity war is, however, the culmination of 18 films, and in this film The Russo Brothers have taken on every single one of them. This latest avengers film is clearly built on the back of the characters that feature in it, they are vibrant, varied and bring a lot of potential to the table, but this comes at the price of having to feel authentic. If T’challa feels less of a king than he became, or Thor is not the stone cold badass he was come the end of Ragnarok then the foundations of Infinity War would start to crumble before the narrative of the film had even tried to take off. But they don’t, the Russo’s manage to take 10 years of cinematic history under their wing and capture the tone, style and quirks of each faction in a near perfect fashion. That takes serious talent and serious talent is exactly what’s on show in Infinity War.
Speaking of talent it’s time to address the man of the hour, The Mad Titan, Thanos. Josh Brolin is truly fantastic in this villainous role. He strikes a disconcerting balance between a measured, calculated being with good but flawed intentions at heart, and a ruthless titan, stopped by nothing in a blind quest. It’s his ability to control both of these extremes that make him feel like a step up in terms of MCU antagonists, he is shown to be effortlessly powerful and needlessly brutal, but we also get to see enough of his motivations and his quieter moments to be unnerved by him on a whole new level.
That being said what Thanos brings to the table is only as good as the story he is written into and unfortunately the narrative of the film manages to let the production of the film down. It all starts strong with a set up that immediately establishes how tense the film could be. But by It’s final moments the audience may well have decided that the punch line was less interesting than the buildup of the joke it comes from. Especially with the promise of so many surprises going into the film, it’s a shame that despite having 10 years of back story to surprise the audience with very little takes place that you wouldn’t expect from a film like this. It’s not devoid of surprises or character progression but those moments feel too greatly outweighed by “necessary plot movements” to have the desired impact.
Theres an argument to make that what an audience member will get out of infinity war depends on their expectations going in to the film. If you’re going in looking for your typical avengers fare: a popcorn flick with a giant roster of main characters then you’ll be in for a very good time. If, however, you go in expecting more of this film than that which has come before (as you would be more than right to do considering the films marketing) then, when the dust settles, you may find yourself disappointed.
The third Avengers film is infinitely watchable, infinitely impressive and infinitely beautiful, as a fairly standard action movie infinity war excels with it’s diverse range of protagonists and the stories and styles they bring to the plate. It’s the most cohesive and entertaining version of an Avengers film that has been released to date. With all that being said it still stumbles and falls in to the same holes that have plagued marvel since the start of the MCU, and with the stakes supposedly so high it makes you wonder how damaging those flaws may turn out to be and how much work Avengers 4 may have to do in a year’s time to fix them or commit to them.