Main cast: Robert Downey Jr (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow), Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr Stephen Strange), Don Cheadle (James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine), Tom Holland (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa/Black Panther), Danai Gurira (Okoye), Paul Bettany (Vision), Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch), Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon), Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes), Chris Pratt (Peter Quill/Star-Lord), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer), Pom Klementieff (Mantis), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Vin Diesel (Groot), Bradley Cooper (Rocket), Terry Notary (Cull Obsidian), Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (Ebony Maw), Carrie Coon (Proxima Midnight), Michael James Shaw (Corvus Glaive), and Josh Brolin (Thanos)
Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo
Well, here it is: Avengers: Infinity War which finally pits every freaking character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe against Thanos. Well, not so fast – Hawkeye and Ant-Man are apparently under “house arrest” while the whole thing is going on. Has anyone been begging for this? Well, the whole hype machine on YouTube and online magazines insist that we do, so I suppose we only have ourselves to blame when this movie turns out to be all about fanservice with some story tacked on.
Prerequisite viewing prior to this one, I feel, is Captain America: Civil War, because it will help explain why the Avengers are fractured at the start of this movie into Team Captain America and Team Iron Man. Still, it’s okay if one comes into this one without having seen any prior movie – seriously, is there still anyone with access to cinemas or Internet who hasn’t seen even one of these movies? – as it resembles a comic book far more than any previous movies.
So yes, Thanos finally makes his move. When the movie opens, the Asgardians, who think they are off to a new beginning after the end of Thor: Ragnarok, are literally screwed when Thanos and his Black Order show up to basically kill everyone who isn’t named Thor after sending Hulk flying off the ship onto Earth. The purpose is simple: these people keep one of the gems Thanos seeks to power up his gauntlet. He basically needs six gems, and now that he has one of them, he’s off to get the remaining five. Honestly, given how easy these gems are found, I don’t know why he doesn’t act sooner. Two of the gems are on Earth, conveniently enough in the hands of the superheroes: the time gem is worn by Dr Strange (it’s the thing he uses to reverse time), while the mind stone is that thing lodged in Vision’s forehead. So guess where our bad guy is headed off to now.
Bruce Banner falls back onto Earth and, conveniently enough (there will be quite a number of “conveniently enough” in the story, because who cares about the story anyway), onto the HQ of Dr Strange. Dr Strange, hearing Bruce’s story, seeks Tony Stark. They are about to call up Captain America on the product placement phone when, oops, Thanos and friends are here. Tony, Strange, and Spider-Man (whose school bus is conveniently enough – ugh – passing by) end up in space in pursuit of Thanos. Meanwhile, the Guardians of the Galaxy pick up Thor, whom then Rocket and Groot follow to seek out Giant Peter Dinklage to create a new weapon, while the rest head off to find the Collector (who has another of those gems).
Meanwhile, Vision and Wanda are having a two-month nookie love thing when they are interrupted by the Black Order, who want that gem of Vision’s, of course. They are rescued by Captain America, Falcon, and Black Widow, and they all then head back to reunite with War Machine and Bruce before going to Wakanda (and reunite with Bucky there) to get that overbearing Shuri to help take out Vision’s gem without killing him, so that they can destroy it without killing Vision. But you know, Thanos isn’t going to let that happen.
As you can see, this movie wisely separate the huge cast into smaller groups so that there is some semblance of coherence here. Also, most of the cast get a chance to shine – especially the ladies, who as usual get their girl-on-girl fight scenes. This means there is sadly no reunion between Tony and Steve – maybe in the next movie – and there is hardly any moment between Natasha and Bruce. However, Wanda and Vision get plenty of romantic pathos here, and I finally warm up to Vision here. While he was a creepy thing in the past, here, he is doing this chivalrous old-fashioned romantic gentleman vibe that I find appealing.
While this script was written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, they tried very hard to channel Joss Whedon, and hence, there are many moments of jarring humor. The Guardians of the Galaxy suffer the most from this, as they are basically incompetent clowns that seem to be chewing scenery rather than being genuine superheroes, while weirdly enough Thor is somewhat redeemed after his painful buttmonkey gig in his last own solo outing. That scene of Thor quietly cracking jokes while he is clearly holding back tears, before saying in resignation that he has nothing more to lose if he fails – Chris Hemsworth is really changing my mind about him being only a pretty face, I tell you. Likewise, Chris Pratt manages to give his character some poignant vulnerability despite the script forcing Star-Lord to be that annoying class clown that just doesn’t know when to stop.
But the real MVP here is Josh Brolin. Thanos is another villain that has some depths for once – he may be a perpetrator of mass genocide, but he believes in his heart that he is actually doing the right thing. Claiming that resources are finite, he descends on a planet when its civilization is at its peak, to decimate half the population in order to allow the survivors to forge a new beginning, without the headache associated with overpopulation such as poverty, et cetera. That or Thanos has played those Mass Effect games too many times and identify with a Reaper. Despite being mostly a big CGI meathead – check out the neck, people – Thanos feels like a real person, with real emotions, and hence, he is the most terrifying kind of villain: one that I can empathize with even if I don’t agree with his actions at all. His relationship with Gamora, especially, can bring on the feels. Although I must confess that I have to snicker when he calls Gamora the “fiercest woman in the galaxy” – that woman has been useless ever since her debut in the Marvel movies, and she is basically a damsel in distress here.
I do like the “risk” the movie takes with the denouement, but the pathos in the final scene is ruined by the fact that there is no way that denouement will stand. There is a time gem in this movie, so I’d wager that Dr Strange will eventually get to reverse time and set things right in the subsequent movie.
Anyway, there really isn’t much else to say about this movie because it is exactly what is stated on the box: a movie made up of non-stop fight scenes featuring superheroes wailing on the bad guys and vice versa. The plot is actually filler material that holds these scenes together, and while Thanos is a well-drawn and well-acted villain, the whole thing is something that falls apart if you think about it even a little. Most of the cast show up just to fight stylishly and make Buffy-style quips, Robert Downey Jr looks like he really wants to call it a day as he goes through the motions of being Tony Stark, and that’s about it.
Is this movie entertaining? Oh yes. But that’s about it, basically. Expect this, and you may get to have fun. Expect more… well, you’re probably bound to be disappointed.