The Reviews are In: Avengers: Infinity War is…

Welcome to my subtle, yet not that subtle, attempt of giving you a bit of a cliffhanger similar to what you’ll experience if you go to see the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s epic saga.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been following the MCU’s meticulous schedule since it began with Iron Man back in 2008. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ve been anxiously awaiting how the powers that be will unfold Thanos’ infinity stone plan in the remaining films. While you get the beginning of this story, you most certainly do not experience the ending.

Nevertheless, in true MCU fashion, the story is delivered with a crazy successful opening day, making over $106 million in the domestic box office on Friday.

NOTE: If you haven’t seen the movie, what follows will contain SPOILERS. So, if you’re not into that, stop reading now, go see the movie, and read it after. 

The movie starts out with a bang, or more accurately, the after-effect of one. Thanos has already found the Power Stone from previous films, and he’s on a quest to find the other five. He begins this film with attempting to steal the Space Stone, which is housed in the Tesseract aboard the Asgardian refugee ship somewhere in space after Loki rescued it from the destroyed Asgard.

From there, the audience is taken on an emotional journey through multiple story lines that join together heroes from all over the MCU.

Instead of giving you a list of major characters in this film, it’s probably easier to list the ones not in the film: Hawkeye and Ant Man and friends, whose absences are explained by “taking a deal” and “being on house arrest” after the fallout from Captain America: Civil War, which was about two years prior to when this film takes place. Also missing was Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, from the last Thor film. She explained her absence via Twitter as being “at the bar,” which is unlikely, but just glib enough to allow us to forgive this oversight.

Regardless, the Russos really did have to battle with the daunting task of balancing dozens of characters (most of whom are protagonists in their own franchise), their development, and their screen time. Given the stakes, I think they did a decent job of ensuring each character had a shining moment at some point in the film. But, personally, I wish some of the banter was featured more dominantly as it has been in other films. It was still present, but with the amount of mythology that needed to be shown, it wasn’t a feature. For me, that made me focus more on the hyper speed at which the mythology was presented, which left me spinning in my seat well after the credits rolled.

One of the things I found to be most interesting and important in this film is the development in Thanos’ character. Instead of being just an evil guy who does evil things, Thanos is given depth. We’re given more background on his relationship with Gamora (how it began and how it has affected both of them), and I think this is something truly unique in the Marvel Universe. Rarely are we given a villain who is “just” anything. You don’t root for them, but you do understand their motives a little more, which I think is essential for any plot in any film. If you don’t understand where a character is coming from, it’s difficult to buy into what is happening.

The one downside for this film, as I’ve alluded to multiple times already, is the pacing of everything. There are moments that it feels rushed. And, yes, I realize there is a time-crunch element embedded in this story, but I found it difficult to invest my emotions in or even attach my emotions to any particular story because the whole film was just go, go, go, go. There’s something to be said about taking a beat or two within the film to appreciate the quiet moments — the stolen looks, the little details, the background — because they not only add to the whole experience, but they also juxtapose the loud action scenes in a stark way that truly emphasizes the stakes for the characters in the film.

Because the point of this film was clearly to set up the epic ending with the heroes at virtual rock bottom (some literally), the quiet moments got lost in the mix. The heroes find themselves working with people they’ve never known before, ending up in settings that are completely unfamiliar, learning to work without powers/people that they’ve always relied on, and actually losing half the universe in the process. The heroes were unprepared, and I think the audience was unprepared as well. I, for one, was not expecting to lose two beloved characters in the first five minutes of the film, and I wasn’t expecting the film to progress as it does.

Nevertheless, there were some surprises in the film that did not disappoint, and no, I won’t spoil those for you. Let’s just say, the cameos were unexpected and the end-credits scene excites me for the future of this universe and its epic ending.

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