‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is a dazzling comic-book spectacle a decade in the making

18 movies. 10 years. After much build-up, pre-release hype, and social-media speculation and guessing games along with every small superhero collaborations and victory, the time finally arrived. Marvel Studios brought all of their heroes together – and they did mean “all” – for a battle for the fate of the universe.

A movie that has had a decade worth of world-building and preparation for the heroes to fight the Big Bad of their world, Avengers: Infinity War is not only a culmination to a long, winding road that started in 2008, but an event unlike any that have come before it on the big screen…and maybe ever again.

The following review will be spoiler-free.

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Directed by Marvel Studios veteran duo Anthony and Joe Russo, two years after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are split apart. When the threat of Thanos (Josh Brolin) comes to Earth in search of the fabled Infinity Stones in order to bring balance to the universe, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and other heroes on Earth and beyond must unite to battle this cosmic threat.

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After years of watching from the shadows, seeing his puppets fail time after time, Thanos has had enough and decided “if you want something done right, do it yourself.” The galactic despot is coming after all of the Infinity Stones in order to bring his own sense of balance to the universe through random, mass genocide.

While the Avengers on Earth only learned of the stones’ existence years ago, they have been entwined with their movies in one way or another. After they become aware of Thanos’ quest, each group of heroes do what they can from their corners of the galaxy in order to stop him. What each team discovers, that task is more than just difficult. Defeating a powerful villain with an iron will is harder than it looks.

Let’s also get this out of the way: Avengers: Infinity War is a movie for the fans. Especially for those fans who have always thought about how it would be to see Chris Hemsworth’s Thor trading jokes with Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, Robert Downey Jr’s snarky billionaire Tony Stark facing off with Cumberbatch’s egotistical Doctor Stephen Strange, or see many of the reunited Avengers hightail it to Wakanda (the film’s first look at the city and the back of Chadwick Boseman’s head got a rousing applause during my Thrusday night showing). While some of these team-ups would be hard to fathom as far as how they worked, they all did in the end.

This super mash-up worked better than expected. From the opening scene to the title card, the film never let up. I barely noticed that the 2 hours and 37 minutes of the film had passed. There are legitimate stakes in this film unlike the previous 18 installments of the MCU. The lack of stakes in some capacity has been a common negative with the films and that’s easily corrected here. It’s corrected enough that the internet nearly melted down underneath the shocking occurrences in this film. I will say that Marvel has a massive set on them, a level of confidence that is not seen from theaters too often. Looking back after seeing the movie two other times after Thursday, I can see why Marvel took the risks they did and I believe they can paid off here and will continue to in next year’s untitled Avengers 4.

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One of the big questions was if Thanos could live up to the hype. After his first appearance where he smirked at the camera after the end of 2012’s The Avengers, we had to wonder if he could. The answer: a resounding YES!

First and foremost, Josh Brolin as Thanos was an incredible villain; one of the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s history. I’ll admit that the MCU has had a villain problem. Outside of Loki and possibly Eric Killmonger, the villains of the MCU has not really posed a grave threat or been fully fleshed out. The movies were more about the heroes and their journey to grow. Thanos was fully fleshed out in a three-dimensional way. The people pulling the strings, including the Russo brothers and veteran writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, know what they were doing.

While you know it is right to hate Thanos and how he goes about completing his goal, you couldn’t help but see his point of view on how to save the universe. Thanos fully believed that he was in the right and he would be seen as a hero for balancing out the universe. Thanos did not care what or who stood in his way, his will and drive unstoppable. In the end, this was Thanos’ movie. That’s not to say that the heroes are taking a backseat in this blockbuster. Each hero has their own moment, something not easily done with this huge ensemble roster. The Russo Brothers accomplished this; balancing out the heroic moments and giving Thanos screen time to build his character while keeping up with the quips and comedic jabs of the heroes when they appeared back on the screen.

Despite the fact that this film is fantastic, there are small issues. While I didn’t have to worry about what was going on with different parts of the universe for long, the editing can get choppy sometimes. Sometimes, the film doesn’t pivot gracefully between scenes of dread and death to quick bits of humor and team building in the subgroups. That could be seen as nitpicking, but sometimes those transitions matter and could affect the overall product. But it didn’t take away from this movie for me.

I saw this movie two other times after Thursday’s premiere and my opinion hasn’t changed. I loved each moment of this film and felt deeply satisfied as a Marvel Studios fan after starting this journey nearly 10 years ago with Iron Man. From the first opening scene that sets the tone of dread and darkness to the post-credits scene that offers that small spark in the dark that Avengers 4 will be another major payoff.

Let the speculation begin. And while you speculate go see this movie! Even more than once!

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