Stones. Thanos is after the stones. And he’s been hunting these stones since well before the Marvel cinematic universe timeline officially began with the release of Iron Man in 2008. And stones, in the slang sense, is what Marvel has. Because they have effectively blown up the universe they built over the course of 19 movies.
Marvel’s Villain Problem. What Villain Problem?
The story is pretty simple, Thanos aspires to be a god and bring balance to the universe. By collecting all of the infinity stones, he will wield power unparalleled in the universe. Thanos will have the ability to end half of all life in the universe. And the only thing standing in his way are the Avengers and, well, nearly every other character in the Marvel cinematic universe. But like any great villain, Thanos does not see himself as evil and neither will the audience. He is a psychopath with a mission and his goal is not without some logic. Like Killmonger in Black Panther, there is an argument to made for the “villain’s” motive. Thanos wants to bring balance to the universe so that the limited resources will not be plundered, which was the cause of his own homeworld’s demise. So in that sense, what Thanos is trying to achieve is actually a good thing. And his argument is debated throughout the film as a running theme that might leave some members of the audience confused. It’s a problem we face in our current world with a growing human population skyrocketing. (There are no estimates that I could find about the earth’s insect population, but I’m going to guess it far exceeds into the quadrillions.)
It must be mentioned that Josh Brolin as Thanos is not only the greatest villain in the Marvel cinematic universe, he may be one of the great movie villains of all time, right up there with Darth Vader himself. (Time will tell.)
“ And stones, in the slang sense, is what Marvel has.”
Action is story.
Perhaps my biggest complaint about Infinity War, which runs two and a half hours, is that there really is no good time for a bathroom break. It’s lacking in the kind of quiet moments that signal to the audience that, we’re going to take a break to think about what just happened, and, oh, it’s cool to grab some more refreshments and hit the bathroom. (Choose your bathroom break wisely.) The action set pieces in Infinity War are top-notch, truly the best we’ve ever seen and not just in a Marvel film. No one understands action sequences better than Marvel because they are seeded in the very panels of comic books from which so many other filmmakers were influenced.
Pleased to meet you, character I am meeting for the first time.
While the action sequences dominate, the reason these sequences work so well is that they are rooted in great character moments. And as dour as the circumstances are for our heroes, there is no shortage of humor. If you see this film with a crowd, expect to miss a lot of dialog as the humor definitely dominates in all the best ways. Half the joy in these character moments is seeing beloved characters meet and interact for the first time. Tony Stark and Doctor Strange’s relationship is particularly prickly. And Peter Parker provides honesty and laughs, he’s just happy to be help and be along for the ride. Future films in this series will never feel as fresh as all of the “first meetings” that take place in Infinity War.
What does it mean to be a hero?
The meaning of heroism is a theme that runs throughout all the Marvel movies and it’s defined differently by certain characters, but at its core, it’s about self-sacrifice. And therein lies my biggest problem with Infinity War. The final stone that must be obtained by Thanos is the mind stone and it’s in Vision’s head. And Vision himself says that they should just destroy it (thus ending his life) because if Thanos gets his hands on it, he would have the power to destroy half of all life in the universe! Vision is expressing what true heroism means, which is putting others before yourself, an act of self-sacrifice. The only thing preventing him from doing it is Wanda’s love.
So, let’s weigh this: Vision, a sentient robot over the lives of those fighting Wakanda, the world and the universe? And the battle to protect Vision’s life while the mind stone can be safely removed and destroyed certainly resulted in loss of other lives at the hands of Thanos’ minions. Why are those warriors lives expendable and Vision’s is not? Captain America provides a weak excuse for this argument but it’s something I found distracting. It’s not a problem until you ask the question, because if I was Vision, I would have peaced-out and told Wanda to destroy that stone for the good of the universe. I mean, he keeps mentioning it.
I guess what makes Marvel characters so compelling is their flaws and poor decision-making. In fact, some of the best fights are among heroes themselves. (Captain America: Civil War anyone?) And, hey, what’s a comic book or a good comic book movie without a debate among nerds? It’s a minor point but worth mentioning, or at least debating for the next year until we see the conclusion of this story in Infinity War part two.
“…at its core, it’s about self-sacrifice.”
On that ending…
“I’m not sure how to feel about this? I’m still processing.” That’s how so many felt, myself included, after seeing Infinity War. I always enjoy a good post-film conversation and it’s hard to know where to start when so many things you love, even before they were brought to life on the big screen, just… well, I’d rather not say exactly.
It’s no secret that we lose a lot of characters, or as Disney likes to think of them, franchises. (And I won’t get into who, that’s spoiler territory that will be discussed on the Film Threat Podcast next week.) But suffice it to say, that this is the first Marvel movie to end… in a way that no one expected. Some are comparing it to The Empire Strikes Back, which ends on a cliffhanger and one really big question. The ending of Infinity War puts beloved characters in a far worse predicament because logically, there is no way to fix this so that our heroes win. (At least knowing all the rules that the Marvel universe has introduced to us.) We’ve gotten so used to Marvel movies ending with our heroes on the winning side that when that doesn’t happen, we really don’t know what to think.
I do believe some children will be traumatized, probably kids under ten. In fact, I saw a boy about eight years-old walking out of Infinity War at an early screening balling his eyes out. I think some parents might be upset that this might not be an experience for the single-digit aged set. But they’re going to have to get over it and perhaps use this as a teaching moment, because in life, we don’t always win. More often than not, life is a series of losses followed by a good win every once in awhile.
What Marvel has done is subversive in all the best ways. I am just pleased that they continue to surprise us and I for one, cannot wait for the conclusion. Now we all will have to wait a year for the resolution when we learn which characters live and which characters, I mean, actors will “die,” meaning their contract to appear in future Marvel movies has not been renewed. If I had to speculate, I would say that while the actors playing certain characters may no longer be with us, those characters may continue with other actors in those roles. (Rhodey anyone?)
“I’m not sure how to feel about this? I’m still processing.”
On credits and end credit sequences.
So, are those “credits” at the end of Avengers: Infinity War actually a list of everyone who died? Half of all life! I say this… half-jokingly, of course. It truly takes an army of creatives to deliver a cinematic digital spectacle like this and I am grateful for their stunning work. But at this stage, perhaps Marvel should just refer the audience to a website where a PDF could be downloaded of the entire credits because, damn, these credit sequences are about 10 minutes long now. (So, for a more detailed credits list, which is still amended, please scroll to the bottom, and while you do that, read the additional Film Threat critic’s comments.) Marvel has done a good thing and trained audiences well. Everyone remains in their seats until the lights come on.
Infinity War is an achievement unparalleled in movie history, the culmination of 10 years, 19 movies and comic book stories going back to 1941 when Captain America was originally created by Jack Kirby. The perfect mix of thrilling action, compelling storytelling, memorable characters, comedic moments — and all of that works in tandem like an orchestra bellowing an epic score. Infinity War leaves audiences wanting more… and with a lot to think about. Make mine Marvel.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Starring Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johanson, Elizabeth Olsen, Chris Pratt, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Holland, Chadwick Bosman, Zoe Saldana, Sebastian Stan, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Dave Bautista.
9 1/2 out of 10
Film Threat Team Reviews
Of all the comic book movies, Marvel, D.C., etc, this felt the most like a comic book. Brief, but effective moments for each hero; things going bad before they get worse; the most heroics coming from the least obvious hero; and for the most part remaining unpredictable. Thanos had a great deal of dimension to his character and played subtlely and beautifully by James Brolin. He is the star that stands out from the pack. I love walking away from the film feeling depressed…a good depressed…and bewildered…a good bewildered.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Anthony Ray Bench
I literally learned to read with Marvel’s Infinity Gauntlet back issues (and X-Men…lots and lots of late 80’s/early 90’s X-Men). When Thanos flashed his smile at the end of 2012’s The Avengers, I almost exploded. I knew what was coming, and six long years later I finally got it. Thanos, the Gauntlet, the Infinity Gems…everything. Avengers: Infinity War wasn’t exactly like the comics, I knew it wouldn’t be and I made peace with that a long time ago. Still, this film adaptation had the same grand stakes, the philosophical insight, and the utter hopelessness and desperation that made the classic comic arc a compelling character study. Marvel Studios produced a gem of a film here. It’s bold and unpredictable. Funny and downright tragic. Most of the jokes hit their mark, and the character interactions are pure nerd candy. The action was exciting, Thor and Doctor Strange were definite highlights, and then there’s Thanos…Thanos was downright amazing. The secondary villains were creepy and nuanced too, but Thanos was magnificent and I can’t wait to see what happens next. This was well worth the wait!
Epic, and despite being over two and a half hours, it moves at breakneck speed. Juggling such a massive cast of characters does mean that a handful of transitions such as going from Vision and Wanda (Scarlet Witch), who get the best scenes, on a secretive date to the Guardians Of The Galaxy zooming through space are tonally at odds with another. But for the most part, that isn’t much of a problem. Regarding the MCU, I have found Captain America to be the most relatable, but between all three solo adventures and the other Avengers movies, it is Thor who comes across as having the most engaging character arc of everyone. Josh Brolin steals the film as the mad titan Thanos. Alan Silvestri’s score is the second best for any MCU title The action is stupendous, the acting excellent, and the ending is freaking amazing!
I was late to the party with a Sunday afternoon screening of Infinity War but still caught it on opening weekend. Saw it with a good crowd and we sat enraptured and terrified, breathing, moving, and reacting as one. Terrible anticipation reigned like a mad Titan. Having heard the hype, every time a beloved character was down…. we felt the cold thrill of fear that it was for good. At the end, wrung out, relieved, saddened, and bouncing with the need to talk it through, I recognized a feeling I have far too infrequently these days: this is why I go to the movies.
9 out of 10
Might be too much of a good thing. By assembling just about every Marvel hero with the exception of Howard the Duck, directors Joe and Anthony Russo set up some surprising interactions between characters who don’t even live the same galaxy, much less the same world. For example, the Guardians of the Galaxy aren’t sure what to make of Thor. While there is a lot of humor to be derived from the pairing, it’s not as powerful as watching Guardian Rocket Raccoon sheepishly hiding the surgical wounds that have made him the way he is. This scene from his debut film made it easier to cheer for him when the action scenes began.
With all the characters struggling for the spotlight, some get lost in the shadow. It’s still oddly rewarding to know the folks at Marvel are trying too hard.
7 out of 10
The movie is exhausting, in a good way. It’s a universe-trotting backpedal for the Avengers, who are perennially on the defensive. This gives the movie a stressful, lump-in-your-throat tone throughout because there’s only so many ways everything can come up Milhouse. This is all due to Thanos, the jumbo crayon looking to prune the universe. Not only is he the hero of his own story, but he’s written himself as a tragic hero, which makes him far more dangerous. To put it plainly, Infinity War is genuinely surprising, the action is inventive, and as for the characters you know and love, you will continue to know and love them.
The big, chaotic epic fans of Marvel movies have been waiting for. The action is relentless and often fun but exhausting. Once you can come up for some air, there might be a sigh of relief over a prolonged high of what you just witnessed. A lot of my opinion of the film rides on the final moments of the film, which I wouldn’t dare to spoil with specificities, but it’s worth noting one of these movies finally took a risk, even if, by design, it isn’t meant to last. Avengers: Infinity War moves relatively quick at its 150-minute runtime but at this point, it feels more like an obligation over a true movie event.
And now… more credits.
Avengers Infinity War (2018) Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo. Screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. Based on the Marvel comics by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby. Comic book story by Jim Starlin & George Pérez & Ron Lim. Characters created by Steve Ditko (Spider-Man & Doctor Strange), Jack Kirby & Joe Simon (Captain America), Jim Starlin (Thanos, Gamora & Drax). Music by Alan Silvestri. Cinematography by Trent Opaloch. Editing by Jeffrey Ford, Matthew Schmidt.
Produced by Kevin Feige (producer), Victoria Alonso (executive producer), Jon Favreau (executive producer), Louis D’Esposito (executive producer), Stan Lee (executive producer), Trinh Tran (executive producer), James Gunn (executive producer), Mitchell Bell (co-producer), Ari Costa (associate producer), Michael Grillo (line producer), Nicholas Simon (line producer: Philippines).
Karen Gillan… Nebula
Elizabeth Olsen… Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch
Josh Brolin… Thanos
Carrie Coon… Proxima Midnight
Tom Holland… Peter Parker / Spider-Man
Scarlett Johansson… Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
Chris Pratt… Peter Quill / Star-Lord
Chris Evans… Steve Rogers
Pom Klementieff… Mantis
Chris Hemsworth… Thor
Sebastian Stan… Bucky Barnes / White Wolf
Robert Downey Jr…. Tony Stark / Iron Man
Zoe Saldana… Gamora
Tom Hiddleston… Loki
Benedict Cumberbatch… Dr. Stephen Strange
Idris Elba… Heimdall
Chadwick Boseman… T’Challa / Black Panther
Dave Bautista… Drax
Letitia Wright… Shuri
Vin Diesel… Groot (voice)
Danai Gurira… Okoye
Benicio Del Toro… The Collector
Paul Bettany… Vision
Kerry Condon… Friday
Bradley Cooper… Rocket (voice)
Gwyneth Paltrow… Pepper Potts
Peter Dinklage… Eitri
Mark Ruffalo… Bruce Banner / Hulk
Anthony Mackie… Sam Wilson / Falcon
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor… Ebony Maw
Callan Mulvey… Jack Rollins
Terry Notary… Cull Obsidian / Teen Groot
Sean Gunn… Rocket Raccoon
Winston Duke… M’Baku
Benedict Wong… Wong
Don Cheadle… James Rhodes / War Machine
Florence Kasumba… Ayo
Jacob Batalon… Ned
(Oh, and there are plenty of more names, trust me.)