It’s been 10 years since Marvel Studios released its first film and with each new movie the stakes have been raised. First we had Iron Man — a fresh and unusually human brand of superhero that breathed new life into the genre. Then came an even bigger hero in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, before a run of hits culminating in 2012’s The Avengers closed Marvel’s first phase with a bang. Avengers: Infinity War, the 19th entry in the MCU, has been touted by its makers as an earth-shattering finish to phase three. Thankfully, it delivers.
Set immediately after the events of Thor: Ragnarok, Infinity War is more of a Thanos movie than an Avengers movie. His purple, meaty mug gets the most screen time and the supervillain’s character arc dictates the plot. He’s obsessed with obtaining all six infinity stones which will make him the most powerful being in the universe. Then he’ll use them to wipe out half the population so that the others will have enough to eat. The motive’s a little confused but it works, just. After all, aren’t most evil maniacs a bit twisted in their logic? The film climaxes in a breathtaking battle scene that makes Helm’s Deep look like child’s play. There’s intense action, heartbreaking deaths and one of the funniest one-liners in a Marvel script.
Witty and self-aware, humour plays a big part in this sequel. The jokes are perfectly timed and new character combinations (Thor and Rocket; Tony Stark and Doctor Strange) balance the tone nicely. Be aware: this is the darkest episode in the saga so far. But there are lighter moments and things never get too morbid. This is a fun movie as well as thrilling.
In an effort to avoid a slip-up, the Russo Brothers have borrowed from history. Infinity War feels similar to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. While its plot shares ideas with Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers. There’s even a touch of Harry Potter about its epic cliffhanger finale.
There are flaws — a lot happens very quickly and some of the supposed main characters feel like cameos. Infinity War is under pressure to be the most exhilarating experience yet, but it sometimes sacrifices story for spectacle. Even Thanos (Josh Brolin) could do with a few more lines. For the most part though, this bonkers blockbuster is an entertaining and surprisingly emotional flick that will keep everybody happy.