While it may be tempting to write about Infinity War loaded with spoilers, we know there are quite a lot of you who have not seen it yet. We realize there are those who want to see the line thin out before heading to theaters. Congratulations for holding out this far!
We’ll reward you with some essentials you need to know before getting your mind blown. Spoiler-free, of course.
ONCE IN A LIFETIME
Despite the best efforts of seemingly every major studio in Hollywood, none of them has come close to duplicating the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). This is the 19th entry in the sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that began with 2008’s Iron Man. Combining the casts of every entry since then, the film represents what could very well be the biggest, most anticipated movie event of all time.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo (Captain America: Civil War) the film is being touted as the finale to the MCU as we know it, with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes going toe to toe with galactic warlord Thanos (Josh Brolin, Deadpool 2). Introduced at the end of The Avengers back in 2012, Thanos is a madman bent on collecting all six Infinity Stones: gems of limitless power that, when combined, would make him invincible.
As the film opens, the Stones of Power, Reality Space, Time, Mind, and Soul are scattered across the galaxy. This puts every living thing in Creation in the line of fire, as Thanos will stop at nothing to collect the six and accomplish his goal of wiping out half the population of the universe.
When the film opens, the Avengers are in a state of disunity, largely estranged from each other following the events of Civil War. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans, Snowpiercer) and his team, consisting of Vision (Paul Bettany, Wimbledon), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen, Godzilla), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson, Her), and Falcon (Anthonie Mackie, The Hurt Locker) are on the run from the authorities, while Tony Stark is happily back together with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow, Cruisin) following a brief separation. Meanwhile, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) and Wong (Benedict Wong) protect reality from their sanctum in Greenwich Village, while the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman, Draft Day) protects his home of nation of Wakanda while his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright, of TV’s Black Mirror) tends to the Winter Soldier’s (Sebastian Stan, The Martian ) recuperation.
Halfway across the universe, the Asgardian survivors of Ragnarok, including Thor (Chris Hemsworth, Heart of the Sea), Loki (Tom Hiddleston, Midnight in Paris), and Heimdall (Idris Elba, Pacific Rim), and Thor’s friend from work, human Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight) have a disastrous first encounter with Thanos, learning firsthand the dangers of going head to head with the Mad Titan.
Finally, even further out into space, the ever-lovable Guardians of the Galaxy, consisting of Chris Pratt, Gamora (Zoe Saldana, Star Trek), Drax (Dave Bautista, Blade Runner 2049), Mantis (Pom Klementieff, Oldboy), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper, American Sniper), and a regenerated Groot (voiced by Riddick’s Vin Diesel) are minding their own mercenary business when they run into trouble.
THE MAD TITAN
As Thanos, Brolin delivers one of the best performances of his career, imbuing the motion-captured character with welcome pathos that his comic book origin was sorely lacking in. Having read the Infinity Gauntlet comics when they were first released, this writer can safely say that he never in a million years thought he would be able to care for Thanos, yet here we are.
While the character’s design caused undue concern in the months preceding the film, Brolin’s portrayal negates any doubt in the artistic direction through a provocative mixture of self-confidence and menace, with more than a touch of sociopathy. Indeed, in Brolin’s hands, Thanos ranks alongside Hiddleston’s Loki and Michael B. Jordan’s (Creed) Killmonger as ranking among the MCU’s best.
CLASH OF SUPER-HEROES
Remember when seeing SIX superheroes in 2012’s The Avengers was a big deal? Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet! The battles that take place here are nothing less than massive (which is expected), but what makes them stand out is the amount of invention involved in their execution. For all the imagination the Russos showed when they had the Avengers all fighting each other in Civil War, there are no words for the level of mayhem they unleash in this one, with Thanos as their avatar. Worlds collide, minds are blown, and knuckles are dusted, as every manner of combat you can think of comes into play. Basically, if the Russos were shooting to capture the feeling of the epic crossovers comic book publishers insist on putting out every year, they have more than succeeded in their task, while somehow never sacrificing the pace – the film is close to three hours long, but it sure as heck doesn’t feel like it.
The story of the MCU has always run parallel to Tony Stark’s growth towards becoming a better person, and on that front, Infinity War is a believable continuation of that arc. From his beginnings as a weapons merchant at the beginning of Iron Man, and attempt at the ultimate sacrifice and subsequent PTSD (The Avengers, Iron Man 3) to (semi-) maturity and role as (reluctant) father-figure to Peter Parker (Spider-Man: Homecoming), where we find Tony here in his personal and public lives makes narrative sense.
However, the same can’t be said for the other Avengers with characters such as Steve Rogers and Black Widow receiving little to do aside from show up for fight scenes. While an attempt is made at subverting audience expectations with some of the Guardians of the Galaxy cast, the fact of the matter is that we don’t have enough of a history with them to care as much as the filmmakers obviously want us to. Hopefully, while one hopes that the next installment will remedy this, the mere fact that they managed to this many actors speaking parts is a minor miracle in and of itself.
By now, you would have heard that things get pretty real, pretty fast in Infinity War, and I promise you, whatever you’re thinking, it’s all that, and more. The scale on display here is downright jaw-dropping, not so much in terms of intergalactic locales and large-scale battles (those are a dime a dozen, these days), but the actual impact of the events taking place. When the House of Mouse said that this film would change the face of the MCU as we know it, they weren’t kidding. The repercussions from what takes place here are HUGE, and it remains to be seen if the Russos will e able to stick the landing with next year’s film.
Which brings us to…
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to spoilers, and living in the age of social media has made it next to impossible to avoid them online, but if you can find it in yourself not to be that jerk who has to dazzle everyone with the mere fact that he saw a piece of mass entertainment before someone else, then, buddy, you need to get a life.
Otherwise, there’s a special place in Hel for you.
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