EVENTS AND CULTURE EDITOR
In the decade since “Iron Man” released in 2008, Marvel Studios has been crafting one of the largest cinematic universes in silver-screen history. With the epic “Infinity War,” released on Thursday, we now have the archstone in a 19-film collection.
With the number of previous Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies to date, it is unlikely that movie-goers have not yet seen at least one or two before catching an “Infinity War” showing and that is important, as the film is not meant to be enjoyed or understood in a vacuum. It draws on and addresses the events of previous films throughout, and the weight of its events, particularly the ending, is hollow without sufficient MCU chops.
Over the course of its nearly three-hour running time, “Infinity War” largely delivers on what Marvel has been promising fans all these years, since before we even knew there would be an “Infinity War.” As evidenced by the large-scale nature of the film (not just in the story, but in the budget as well), an overwhelming number of MCU characters return in “Infinity War” for a staggeringly large cast. Fortunately, their signature personalities remain present and everyone is given their chance in the spotlight, albeit briefly in some cases, but sacrifices must be made for equitability in the film.
But for all the heroes, “Infinity War” introduces something fresh, a truly grim scenario and seemingly unbeatable odds. While that may seem like a very common superhero movie trope, “Infinity War,” quickly establishes that the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy are entirely outclassed this time around by Thanos, a strikingly imposing villain. I lauded Killmonger from “Black Panther” as a refreshingly real and believable antagonist among the MCU’s villains, and Thanos, played by Josh Brolin, deserves similar praise. The epitome of both brain and brawn, combined with a ruthless, Machiavellian drive, Thanos is the greatest threat the MCU heroes have ever faced.
Disappointingly, the fights with Thanos lacks the degree of creativity I’ve come to hope for from Marvel films. Considering the immense, theoretically unlimited power he comes wield throughout the film, Thanos opts for uber-powered fisticuffs in combat, as opposed to phasing the very space around the heroes out of existence.
Perhaps “Infinity War’s” most notable aspect is its willingness to eschew a happy, heroes-win-and-baddies-lose ending in favor of a cliffhanger, one that I am still thinking about almost a week later. Despite the uncertain fate of the universe and the heroes, the ending is well- executed and oddly satisfying, and yet the untitled “Infinity War” follow-up has the bar set high for it.