"There was an idea to bring together a group of remarkable people to see if they could become something more. So that when we needed them, they could fight the battles that we never could.” This quote is the basis for what in 2008, with the release of Iron Man, we first heard described as the Avengers Initiative.
With the release of that film, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was founded: The idea of creating a shared universe of multiple differing characters through their own films, with an end goal of one day bringing them all together as one, much like comic books had been doing for decades prior. 10 years and 18 films later, with the release of Avengers: Infinity War, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, this unparalleled cinematic achievement has reached the point it has been aiming towards all these years.
Avengers: Infinity War is a balancing act, trying to bring together and service a roster of over a dozen familiar characters while telling a fresh and engaging story with the sense of scale and impact that pays off years of prior work. As a fan that loved these superheroes growing up and has seen every one of these movies in theaters since I was 12, I can confidently say that, for me, this movie accomplishes all these things and more.
It uses all of the groundwork that has been so carefully laid out through 18 previous films to set up character dynamics, motivations and relationships that feel real and genuine and takes time to pay them off, while creating new and interesting ones along the way. We know how these characters act and operate on their own, but it’s when you put all these pieces together that you realize how surprisingly well they all fit together in both expected and unexpected ways.
At a run time of 2 hours and 40 minutes, this movie is jam-packed but it never feels its length. The pacing is done so superbly that by the time the credits rolled that I didn’t believe that much time could’ve passed. Everything that happens makes sense in the course of the story based on what has happened before and where it is going, making it all feel earned.
This is a Marvel movie, and if you’ve seen any before, you know to expect laugh out loud moments and bombastic action set-pieces and all of these are plentiful and on a scale like nothing you’ve seen before, but it’s the character moments that make this movie worthwhile to me. This is true not just for our heroes who I’ve spent so much time with, but also for the main villain Thanos, performed by Josh Brolin.
While Marvel has continually had a problem with lackluster villains in their films, Thanos deservedly takes a spot in the upper echelon of great ones. He is a force and menace that you will root against, but even if you don’t empathize with him, you will at least understand his perspective and motives; all the greatest villains are those who believe that they are the heroes of their own story. The formidable threat he provides adds stakes to a genre of film that often feels like it doesn’t have any, and further propels this movie into rarified territory.
Just in getting to this point is an accomplishment for the MCU, but to cap off 10 years of work with this film is truly an achievement. This is still a Marvel movie, through and through, and if that’s not your cup of tea than this movie is most likely not for you.
But for those of you who have seen some of these movies before, you’re in for a fun ride. And if you’re like me and know these movies backward and forward, than know that this is a movie that will make laugh, cheer, pull at your heart strings, and everything in-between. Marvel and the Russo brothers deserve so much praise for truly outdoing themselves and delivering such a remarkable feat with this film and setting the bar so high. The only question now is how do they top it?