By Finley Crebolder.
Cast your minds back to last July’s Spiderman: Homecoming, and more specifically, it’s post-credits scene, where Captain America speaks directly to the audience about patience, saying “Sometimes it leads to very little, and seems like its not worth it… and you wonder why you waited so long for something so disappointing…”. Heading into Infinity War, a film that fans have awaited 10 years for, it was hard not to think back to these words and worry. The challenge faced by the Russo Brothers was monumental, could they really live up to the sky-high hopes of the fans, balancing an abundance of characters in the process? To put things simply, yes, yes they could.
And a word of warning, spoilers ahead. Lots and lots of them.
In the build up to this film the Russo Brothers constantly spoke of how this was Thanos’s film, and they weren’t exaggerating. It could even be said that “Thanos; Infinity War” would have been a more appropriate title. The MCU have always had a problem with villains, and right from the off it was made abundantly clear that this was about to change.
How? Well, having him slam about a character we’re used to seeing doing the slamming was harrowing, so harrowing in fact that poor old Hulk was too scarred to come out for the rest of the film. If that wasn’t enough to establish the threat of the Mad Titan, the ease and brutality in which he murdered Loki with Thor watching on helplessly certainly did it.
This set high standards for the Titan to maintain for the rest of the film, but if anything, he just got better and better. The more we learnt about his tragic past, the more we understood his motives, and whilst he is undoubtedly a villain rather than an anti-hero, by the end of the film it was difficult not to emphasise with him. The emotional depth and layers of the character were done so well in fact, that even after he wiped out half of our beloved heroes, I still found myself not entirely hating him. Thanos is not only the best villain the MCU has seen, but one of the best characters.
So, the villain was great, but what about the heroes? Well, it was always going to be difficult to give every single one of them the arc they deserved in this film, meaning that many don’t get the development we would have hoped for, with the most major ones being Captain America, Spider-Man and Black Panther. However, the former is likely to get the spotlight (for the last time) in the next film, whilst the latter two have years ahead of him in this universe.
On a more positive note, Robert Downey Jr was typically brilliant as Tony Stark/Iron Man, being hilarious and heart-breaking in equal measure, whilst a character he spent the entire film with, Doctor Strange, showed that he’s more than capable of taking the mantle of the MCU’s leader heading forward.
The highlight, however, was undoubtedly Thor. The character was always seen as one of the more disappointing Avengers up until November when Taika Waititi gave the character a much-needed revival, and the new and improved Thor was carried over into this film. His interactions with Star Lord when first meeting the Guardians were entertaining, but it was his and Rocket’s relationship that stole the show.
It was much more than just comedy that made Thor the best character of the film though, Thanos aside. After the first ten minutes of the film, he was now in a place where he had lost his mother, father, brother, friends, planet and species, and through Hemsworth’s performance we truly felt the pain he was carrying with him, with his “What more could I lose?” monologue being one of the most emotional moments of the film.
It was also nice to see his awesome godly power shown appropriately at last; his arrival on Wakanda is arguably the greatest moment in the MCU, let alone the film. With Hemsworth’s contract up after Avengers 4 and Thor already having had his standalone trilogy, it looks likely that he’s to bow out next year, but this would be a huge shame following the characters development in his past two films.
Balance was a key theme throughout the film, and it was also exactly why the film worked so well. There was a constant sense of hopelessness throughout, with it at no point feeling like the heroes had the upper hand, but rather that they were simply delaying the inevitable. It would have been easy for this to take the fun out of the film and make it too dark, but this was avoided with well-placed comedy, namely coming from Thor and the Guardians, that didn’t hurt the movies high stakes and often dire situations. Too little comedy and the film could’ve gone the way of a DC movie; too much and it could’ve become too Joss Whedon-y, but the movie, much like the universe, ended up perfectly balanced.
Whilst there were hilarious moments, the more serious, dramatic ones were where the movie thrived. Throughout, characters are constantly forced to decide the fate of their loved ones, whether it be Loki with Thor, Scarlet Witch with Vision, Star Lord with Gamora or Thanos with Gamora. Due to how well these relationships have been developed in both prior films and this one, we felt the emotional struggle of the characters in these moments, with Scarlett Witch’s and Thanos’s decisions to ultimately kill their loved ones being extremely powerful.
These said relationships also made the ending much more effective. Seeing both Cap and Rocket see their best friends die in front of their eyes packed a serious punch, whilst the sheer fear in Peter Parker’s voice as he was wiped away made us feel as broken as his mentor and father figure, “Mr Stark”. The impact of the deaths at the end was however somewhat lessened by the fact that they are all almost certainly going to come back to life, given that almost all of the victims are key players going into Phase Four.
Nevertheless, it was generally a bold and brilliant ending, leaving the good guys in a situation worse than anything they’ve ever faced, whilst, with Doctor Strange’s “It was the only way” line and the arrival of Captain Marvel hinted at in the post-credits scene, leaving us with just about enough hope to carry us through the year.
Looking forward, it’s likely that the next film will be a send off for our original Avengers as they somehow sacrifice themselves to make way for the next generation of MCU heroes (what was that about no trading lives Cap?), and, if it’s anywhere near as exciting, emotional and exhilarating as Infinity War, what a send off it will be.
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