DEFCON 1 Reviews: ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

The Ups, the Downs, and the New King of the Superhero Genre

The+Avengers+Charge+Into+Battle+in+Wakanda

Marvel Studios

The Avengers Charge Into Battle in Wakanda

Exceptional. Avengers: Infinity War is a superhero mega-mashup that has been inching towards us for the past ten years and, after eighteen other films, has finally brought every Avenger together in a masterpiece that I expected (wrongly) to fail. This film has so much personality, so many different characters, and such unequivocal suspense that it surpassed every superhero movie I’ve ever seen. My expectations for Marvel films has skyrocketed since Iron Man (2008), and after Logan (2017), I thought they would never create a better piece. I was wrong. Infinity War is a piece of pure gold in ways that are difficult to have even fathomed before seeing the film as the Russo brothers used the speculation and psyches of the audiences to their own advantage, creating a movie with the suspense of a Magneto-Pulse and the impact of a Unibeam blast.

So as always, let’s start with the good stuff.

Lord of the Rocks

Infinity War has a quality that isn’t usually portrayed in Marvel films, in that it was more of a multi-faceted saga than a single installment. It moved from setting to setting seamlessly, transitioning throughout the universe like a Lord of the Rings movie and then ending in a climactic battle that converges all of the story lines. I predicted that the overwhelming amount of story necessary to fit all of the characters in would make the movie a disorganized cram. I was wrong again. The Russo brothers used their tactics from Civil War (2016) to weave the side plots together perfectly, making Infinity War a powerful, space-bound soap opera.

Earth’s Many-Est Heroes

My #1 suspicion going into Infinity War was that there were simply too many characters. How could all of the Avengers, Spider-Man, the Guardians of the Galaxy, all of Wakanda, the Winter Soldier, two Doctor Strange characters, etc. etc. etc. all come together in a single film? There seemed to be too many characters to allocate fair screen time. Somehow, this was not the case. Each character got at least one epic sequence, and there was a logical place within the plot for every person on screen. Everyone played a different role, and no one was just ‘tacked-on.’ Wondering how Spider-Man joined the team without being an official Avenger? There’s an answer. Wondering where the Guardians of the Galaxy come in? There’s an answer. Every character in Infinity War was justified, and that’s a property that’s never been achieved on such a massive level.

“You’re A Monster… No, You Brought The Monster”

For the past decade, Loki has been the pinnacle of Marvel villains. Tom Hiddleston’s excellent acting and jarring charisma, along with the character’s fantastic writing, have made for a truly deceitful supervillain. Perhaps the best part about him is that you never know whether or not he’s being genuine; as long as he’s on screen, audiences are on the edges of their seats.

Thanos was better. The surprising part about this was how straightforward he was; the guy wanted to kill half of the universe to achieve ‘balance.’ That’s it. Still, his ruthlessness, charisma, and brute strength made him a fantastic villain in a different way than Loki. Loki is a mischief god, a master of deception. Thanos is a Darth Vader; he’s a champion of brute force and has mastered the dramatic entrance. His mere presence causes the lights to dip a little dimmer. Everyone’s thoughts begin to drift to the idea than any character can die at any given moment now. All bets are off. The room silences as the audience begins to pray that Thanos hurries off screen and away from their favorite hero.

That is villainy at its finest; fear for the lives of fictional characters just at the mention of the villain’s name. No cowardice, no fear, no hesitation. Thanos is cold and ruthless,  but not without a soul, and that is the kind of villain that goes down in cinematic history.

Palladium Bonds

With over 60 named characters participating in Infinity War from various different movie series, I was cautiously optimistic about the chemistry that would form between the characters. The film satisfied my every need and more, pulling no punches when it came to the raw personalities of each character. I was a little irritated when Doctor Strange (2016) came out because he seemed a little bit too much like Tony Stark (rich, sarcastic, not the most qualified, cool mustache, etc.). I was promptly relieved of this feeling when the two went head-to-head (arguing, not fighting) in Infinity War, showing that the writers knew these two egotistical playboys would never get along right off the bat.

Another great relationship in Infinity War was the one that formed between Starlord and Thor. Starlord, who’s a bit insecure and has some daddy issues, crossed paths with Thor, the beefcake, Australian Thunder God with no fear and eternal life, and his way of handling this was fantastically written. The first 15 minutes of Infinity War were a bit of a depress-fest, so this sequence was a good mixture of exposition and comic relief at just the right time.

Underoos! (Part 2)

I never in my life thought I would see the Iron-Spider costume on the big screen. It’s a fan favorite from the comics that’s been featured in TV shows, video games, and a whole lot of books, but it’s not a jump I thought Marvel would make. Still, they made it, and they did it with Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, who has portrayed the role excellently in two other films. This made Spider-Man’s sequences both epic and funny, as he did amazing (hehehe) things with his suit while still trying to get the hang of it.

Spider-Man’s character in the film is also worth mentioning. Tom Holland excelled once again, depicting the most lovable and relatable Spider-Man yet. He has a presence on screen that keeps him in character at all times, and I don’t think he had a single poor line in Infinity War. Whether he was swooping down or swimming in quips, Holland’s Spider-Man dominated every sequence with a beautiful, childish ease.

The Iron Ultimatum

Tony Stark’s relationship with moral values has been a rocky one. He began as an arms dealer and grew into a superhero, but his egotistical attitude never wavered. Stark has made plenty of mistakes along the way, to the point where he’s made me madder at him than the actual villain. The great part about Infinity War, though, is that it embraces this. The film changes everything about Iron Man’s predicament, and it brings the first Avenger’s (I don’t care if Captain America #1 is called The First Avenger; 2008 is before 2011, plain and simple) storyline full circle in a way that was perfect and, instead of fulfilling my fan predictions, did just the opposite.

“You Love Nothing….No One”

Actually, I sure love effective cinematic emotional appeal, and boy does Infinity War pull it off. At this point, everybody’s heard that at least one person dies in the film, so that’s no surprise, but it isn’t just death that’s emotional. There are fake-outs, foreshadowings and sudden events towards the second half of Infinity War that make it a true emotional roller coaster. As I said, Thanos is a mortifying enemy, so his mere appearance on screen causes your heart to beat a little faster and your fists to clench a little tighter. I’ve never seen a Marvel film (or superhero film at all for that matter) that goes as far beyond explosions and cool poses as this one does, and I did not leave the movie theater feeling the way I expected to.

Avengers, Assemble (your very meticulous costumes)

My last pro is something that a lot of reviewers take for granted, and I wanted to make sure to shine a light on its importance. Having awesome suits for your awesome heroes is extremely important, and Infinity War’s costuming was the best out of every Marvel film so far for two reasons.

First, the costumes were just great looking. Black Panther, Captain America, Thor, Spider-Man, and a handful of other characters got cool new upgrades that will certainly sell plenty of merchandise. This detail adds greatly to cleanliness and aesthetic value of the overall film, so I’m glad costuming director Alexandra Byrne (she’s in every single Marvel review I do) and her team put forth so much effort.

Secondly, the costumes were important to the plot. Spider-Man obviously got the sick Iron-Spider threads, which advance his storyline. Thor gets his costume from the actual Infinity Gauntlet comic books, which was pretty awesome. Captain America was actually wearing a black suit, making a lot of fans wonder if the writers are going for the “Nomad” comic storyline where he’s been exiled by America (which kinda happened if you think about it). Thinking about the plot in every aspect of a film is the kind of thoroughness I’ve grown to both love and expect from the Russo brothers.

As I transition into the negative part of this review, I think it’s important to say that after seeing this movie twice, it’s still been hard for me to come up with substantial flaws. Now, there were some issues I noticed the second time around when I wasn’t hyped up on adrenaline, but the emotions I felt during the movie the first time were pretty much replicated after the second bout. That, to me, is a sign of the film’s longevity and overall quality.

‘Now Where’d I Put That Time Stone?’

Yo, this movie was dumb long. Now, I understand it had a lot of content to cover, and it did this very well, but the film has too much exposition to be this lengthy. Infinity War is two hours and forty minutes long, and though it didn’t bother me the first time, the second watch definitely had me sitting in the theater waiting for the pace to pick up. I’m glad they gave plenty of backstory (there was a whole lot to go around), but the allocation of exposition and action through the first half of the film was haphazard enough to take away some replay value.

Explain-Os

Ah, the classic villain cliche. As much as I loved watching Josh Brolin’s Thanos on screen, he had the same problem that every antagonist seems to have: boy does he love talking about his past. There were quite a few well-placed flashbacks throughout Infinity War that I didn’t mind, but when you elaborate annoyingly for three whole minutes about your trials and tribulations to several different characters it gets old quick. This may have been the Thanos character’s only writing flaw, but it actually took away from the experience, especially when I watched Infinity War the second time.

Which One of Y’all Has The Mind Stone?

At this point I’m literally nitpicking, this actually irked me a few times. There were some serious inconsistencies about the abilities of the infinity stones throughout this movie. I understand its fantasy sci-fi, but how can a reality stone change reality but only when the plot allows it? There are a few other instances that would be spoilers, so if you haven’t seen Infinity War, I encourage you to look for them when you give it a watch, but there were several instances where I was left thinking ‘umm, don’t you have an infinity stone?’ (and it wasn’t just Thanos).

The Wrap-Up

Avengers: Infinity War is the superhero film of the decade. It’s all been leading up to this, and even though there are going to be two distinct parts, this installment was a finale worth waiting for. As I said in the beginning, I thought that Logan would never be topped by another Marvel movie, but, simply because Infinity War’s villain is better, this is untrue. The amount of content and the number of converging storylines that had to be manipulated to make this film work is almost unthinkable, and it’s something that the Russo brothers executed phenomenally.

I have never seen a Marvel movie that makes me want to chant and cry within the same ten minutes, and the true beauty of Infinity War shines here. The greatest part about this film is that it brings the distinct charisma of every involved universe together in a tapestry of cinema. Guardians of the Galaxy sequences were hilarious and clever. Black Panther sequences were epic and jaw-dropping. Iron Man sequences were a blend of witty and warlike, and the list goes on. Avengers: Infinity War not only ups Marvel’s game further than I would have ever expected, it demands forgiveness for the franchise’s failures (Iron Man 3 [2013] is inexcusable, and we don’t even talk about The Incredible Hulk [2008]). Though it not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, Infinity War is a superhero masterpiece of, well, infinite proportions. All of this assembles (hehehe) at a perfect time; as DC Comics struggles to get their act to the ‘average’ bar, Marvel shows them what it’s like to lose.

Masterpiece