I was raised on superheroes; on the top shelf of the wardrobe in my bedroom there sits thousands of issues of classic comics, collected by my dad during his youth and devoured by me and my siblings during ours. This, of course, means that the films of the MCU have been consumed religiously and with great joy (bar Iron Man 3 – what a waste of the Mandarin!) by the entire clan. However, the prevailing emotion prior to the screening was one of anxiety—an expectation that there was absolutely no way it could ever do justice to all the beloved history that paved the way.
Infinity War is an astonishing accomplishment, somehow perfectly balanced despite the cacophony of variables to account for. In a film that could have been burdened by the need to develop and justify each hero’s role it astonishingly pivots focus to the villain instead, trusting Thanos (who’s never had more than a minute of screen time) to carry the biggest budget film in history. It’s genius. While he’s established in the opening 10 minutes as a different class of power from previous threats, it’s the film’s investment in his convictions that allows him to drive the narrative so effectively. He is written brilliantly, almost sympathetically, with excellent CGI (for all the memes) enabling a great performance by Josh Brolin. Everything Thanos does feels believable, and he provides the axis around which all the established pieces can rotate.
“Infinity War is an astonishing accomplishment, somehow perfectly balanced despite the cacophony of variables to account for.”
To achieve his goal of universal ‘balance’ Thanos must acquire the 6 infinity stones (5 of which we have encountered in previous MCU instalments). The film sees bands of heroes form, disband and reform throughout the universe as they attempt to thwart him and his ‘children’ in the acquisition of these stones. The result is predictably bonkers – cutting between 3 or 4 intergalactic threads at any given time. That’s all part of the fun though, as are the quips and quibbles that are part and parcel of Marvel’s cinematic work – enabled in a cast this size by the history we’ve already shared with them (Drax, as ever, gets all the best lines). What’s different this time though are the losses and the shocks. Be ready for both. Genuinely rendered agape multiple times, reduced to tears twice, the film somehow manages to navigate these hazardous transitions of tone seamlessly, never feeling clunky or shoehorned. It’s a testament to the Russo brothers’ directorial skill; as is the fact that no single hero feels misplaced or short-changed, more that every moment they do get feels a rich and rewarding component of a stunning collage.
The film delivers on its blockbuster requirements as well: the effects are astonishing in scale and execution; the charisma of its superstars seeps through the screen and the combat is the most breathtaking of any MCU film to date (bar, maybe, Civil War). Let’s be clear though, to extract maximum enjoyment from Infinity War requires all the pre-viewing. The film undoubtedly stands on its own two feet but benefits enormously from a back catalogue that establishes motivations, narrative threads and jokes – thereby slices out the need for fatty exposition (first-timers to the MCU will almost certainly find the plot confusing without any legwork).
“… the charisma of its superstars seeps through the screen and the combat is the most breathtaking of any MCU film to date (bar, maybe, Civil War).”
So those who haven’t, log the goddamn hours. Turn out the lights, close the curtains, and treat yourself to all the films that have led to this point. Make sure when you do go, you’re getting everything you can from it. Infinity War is a masterclass in balance; for something of this scale to come together so effectively is a cinematic miracle, driven by character and conviction. So get out and watch it while you can, you’ll never get a chance to see something like it again.
Not until Part 2 anyway.
PSA: There is a single post-credit scene in the film, at the end of the long credits.
PSA2: An ‘Infinity War Cheat Sheet’ will be dropping via the Gryphon for those seeking all the key info without having to watch (or re-watch) the entire back catalogue.