There are many stories being told within Avengers: Infinity War and I think that happens to be the best way for something of this sort to be shown to the screens because it gives every character what’s needed in order to create an emotional resonance with its viewers. In the past ten years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been telling individual story after another but have always been dependent on one another in order to form something of a larger scope and as all stories come together to form one singular Avengers story. The ambition is clear enough from how all of these characters established by their own entries are coming together once and for all, so the question to be asked is how does the film live up to the scope it promises? It’s a step up from both the last Avengers film and the Russo brothers’ last Marvel film, but I feel hesitant to go beyond saying it pays off completely after the Marvel Cinematic Universe has only recently released their two most interesting films since the first Guardians of the Galaxy.
The first Avengers film was already left with the grand challenge of allowing each character having been established in previous films to spend their own moments to shine because not only are characters from the first two Avengers movies coming back but they have also finally come into contact with the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, and Black Panther. But unlike the distinctly crammed storytelling that bogged down Age of Ultron, the Russo brothers head for a more episodic approach into telling each story one by one – thus allowing the scope of the inevitable doom as prepared by the film’s opening sequence to feel so much more than just present on Earth. It was everything that I would have wanted from the previous Avengers films, because it feels like a proper way in which you can have each character have their story being told whilst feeling the doom building everywhere else. There’s never a moment where it really feels they’re juggling what we know could have been crammed together a la Captain America: Civil War, for they always have enough time to breathe and smaller moments feel bigger.
It’s this impending sense of doom that helps in making yourself feel immersed within the environment of an action scene. This is one factor as to what makes the action scenes more exciting than they could be, because you already have a chance at witnessing the characters coming together in order to face their own fears and thus it makes such sequences feel more tense. The action looks spectacular as it should be when being presented onto the big screen, but because you always feel present within the moment, it feels exciting and the Russo brothers make great use of this. So much of this is also being framed under Thanos’s eyes because rather than just being about the Avengers’ coming together, you feel the presence of a greater danger – and that enough is what shows far more ambition than previous Marvel films. It also helps that Brolin’s performance as Thanos is great, having already been teased his appearance in the first Avengers film and in a small cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy, just the world he created around himself is something that already makes that all pay off.
Sadly with all of this ambition being clear enough, I can’t bring myself to believe that all of it really works. At a running time of 149 minutes including the expected post-credits scene, one can already feel the length of Avengers: Infinity War because it’s also a rather awfully paced film. I knew that this was already coming because of the fact that we would have more characters coming in to form a singular Avengers story in order to connect the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the film’s running time only ever begins to feel really bloated because of that aspect and it doesn’t help when you have the typical Marvel Cinematic Universe humour that ends up distracting from that tension. It’s funny in bits, because Spider-Man’s tendency to bring up pop culture references can be quite entertaining and Chris Pratt is as always, great as Star-Lord, but is this what every Marvel film really needs in order to make themselves feel distinguished?
The one thing that also bothers me though is that despite having some of the best character work that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been able to present as I would have expected from what the Russo brothers have created in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there’s never a moment in which deaths ever feel as impactful as they should be. Out of common courtesy, I will not be spoiling any of these deaths but I think given the grand scope that Avengers: Infinity War would have been aiming for, you can only expect that a death sequence could create an emotional landing the way that a certain sequence from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 did excellently despite my indifference to said film, yet never did I feel any of that here. They never felt earned, but rather bordered towards being too sadistic for their own good – and that seems to be everything that this film boils itself down to especially with its villain’s motivations, which merely come down to simple psychopathy. Which is a shame, because the film builds itself around Brolin’s Thanos so brilliantly and you feel the doomsday of his presence in every scene even where he’s not around, but the actual sequences of him end up diminishing what could have made something greater.
What I did love, however, was the direction in which this film had taken in its second half because that was where a final battle sequence was something with actual stakes – something that I felt had almost seemed rare with the Marvel Cinematic Universe especially when their films had always felt so constricted by a formula that directs their origin and future. It felt nice that I would still have one of these films leaving their own mark inside of my head a while after having seen it in theaters, because that would never be my typical reaction to a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. It felt so energetic and thus the stakes that had been established from reintroducing characters to the screen the way that we remembered them feel as if they are brought up to a maximum – if only the Marvel Cinematic Universe had done this more consistently, then I feel as if more great films under their own name could be coming out more often.
Although I have more optimism for the next Avengers film thanks to this, I feel like a film that makes a presence like it is truly something bigger should actually be that. It never really feels bigger than another Marvel Cinematic Universe film, it is still just another Marvel Cinematic Universe film the way I recognize it will be. And while it may have raised the stakes for what is set to come within the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I do wish that I had actually found myself connecting with it far more than I did for the ending for knowing that it was half of one story being told didn’t help but reinforce my overall disappointment right after watching what felt like some of the best moments that these films could present to their audiences – even with the very way that it ended. Avengers: Infinity War is a film that feels big but never really stretches as far as it should.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo
Screenplay by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, from The Avengers by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee
Produced by Kevin Feige
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Benedict Wong, Vin Diesel, Gwyneth Paltrow, Benicio del Toro, Carrie Coon
Release Year: 2018
Running Time: 149 minutes