Directed by: Joe and Anthony Russo
Starring: Every major protagonist from all previous Marvel films
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, language and some crude references.
If you’re a fan of the Marvel Studios movies, you have probably already seen “Avengers: Infinity War.” For casual fans, curious non-fans, and general folks who are still deciding: this is not a good introduction to this universe, and it’s not a typical Marvel Studios movie, either. It’s amazing on multiple levels, but it’s also full of more torture and death than the other Marvel movies combined.
“Infinity War” has been in the works for a long time, a massive crossover combining almost every Marvel Studios film to date. We’ve got a suitably daunting villain, the implacable Thanos, who essentially wants to end life as we know it. He needs to gather materials from all over the universe to do so, and as our heroes try to stop him, they all keep crossing paths and must work together to stop him. Thanos himself is increasingly powerful, and he also has massive armies of aliens at his disposal.
The familiar Marvel Studios humor is still here, thankfully, giving us some laughs among the darkness. The more arrogant heroes struggle to work together, unexpected team-ups are both funny and awesome (for example, Bucky and Rocket), and everything is at a break-neck pace to keep the film from being ten hours long.
That alone is a major feat: directors Joe and Anthony Russo keep a lot of balls in the air simultaneously and manage to make the film clear, well-paced, and only two and a half hours long. It’s fun to watch the different heroes interact, and the battles are suitably awe-inspiring. It all gels really well. What they don’t make time for is introductions – if you haven’t seen at least a few of the previous 18 films, most of “Infinity War” will make no sense at all.
(Mild spoilers follow, skip this paragraph to avoid them!) What sets this film apart is its darkness. Marvel has been teasing for months that main characters would die in this one, and they weren’t kidding. There are a lot of deaths, starting in the first scene. Many of them take place in front of the dying character’s loved ones, for additional heartrending effect. Worse, we know that at least a few of these deaths aren’t permanent – there are upcoming films already on the schedule for some of the characters we watch die. Ultimately, the last act of the film feels manipulative and calculated rather than organic and inevitable. Also, we see a lot of protagonist characters immobilized and screaming in pain, which is not going to be okay for everyone.
The biggest reasons to go see “Avengers: Infinity War” are to see it on a big screen and to avoid running into spoilers before you see it. It’s an impressive movie, but it’s hard to describe it as “enjoyable.” If you see it, go in expecting things to be dark. It’s only rated PG-13, but that rating is stretched a lot if you include emotional violence inflicted on the audience.