By Billy Jepma ’18
It’s been ten years since Marvel Studios first entered into the Hollywood limelight with “Iron Man,” the film that started what would later become arguably the biggest, most ambitious franchise in movie history.
“Infinity War,” then, had a lot to live up to. It had the monumental task of taking dozens of characters from across the Marvel universe, placing them in a singular conflict, and then giving them tangible stakes and real risk to deal with. No small feat.
For a film that has so many moving parts, it’s a testament to the writing of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and the directing of Anthony and Joe Russo that “Infinity War” feels as cohesive as it does.
That’s not to say that the film isn’t overwhelming, because it often is. However, the interconnecting plot lines, individual character arcs, and frequent action set pieces all converge with glorious aplomb and rarely, if ever, fall flat.
Still, for a movie that runs at almost 3 hours, there are moments where the far-reaching ambition begins to apply a strain on the story. There are very few low points in the film, but when the story is firing on all cylinders from the very first scene all the way to the end, fatigue inevitably begins to settle in.
Thankfully, “Infinity War” is aware of this. When those flashes of fatigue flare up, the script shoots itself to a new scenario and changes things up in an often surprising fashion in order to keep things moving.
This is ultimately the film’s greatest achievement. The way the script juggles so many characters with such a care is remarkable, and there’s really not a single cast member who feels forgotten or misused.
Not everyone is a protagonist, of course, but everyone is handled with respect and care. They act the way they should act, speak the way they should speak, and the moments where the cast gets to play off of each other are some of its best.
As wonderful as the heroes are, however, “Infinity War” is arguably all about Thanos, the cosmic super-being hellbent on the annihilation of half the universe.
For a CGI character, Thanos is evocative, intimidating, and sometimes even heartfelt. The film never hides from the fact that he is a destructive megalomaniac, but it does go to great lengths to give the audience a glimpse as to what drives him to do the things he does.
Thanks to a terrific and stirring performance by Josh Brolin, and a surprisingly nuanced script,
Thanos is a complex villain whose presence acts as the foundation for most of “Infinity War’s” success.
A lot of credit is also owed to the Russo brothers here, whose dynamic direction behind the camera plays an influential role in orchestrating that success.
Every scene of the movie is directed with breathtaking flair, reveling in dramatic wide-shots and intimate close-ups alike. The Russo brothers tease out every ounce of spectacle they can with this movie, and deliver what could be the most visually beautiful Marvel film yet.
Even with an exaggerated runtime and an ending that, while effective, feels more like an ellipsis than a period, “Infinity War” is an astonishing achievement on almost every level. It raises the stakes for the entire MCU, introduces its most viscerally satisfying villain yet, and beautifully sets up what is sure to be an unforgettable climax when the next “Avengers” hits theaters next year.