Avengers: Infinity War (2018) by Anthony and Joe Russo
Review by Courtney Anderson
This review contains mild spoilers for “Avengers: Infinity War”
“None of this even mattered.”
That’s how I felt walking out of the Avengers: Infinity War.
Part of me felt like I was overreacting — part of me still does, actually. Because I really like this movie. I like it a lot.
But that was the only thing I could think when I walked out of the theater, on the ride home and right before I went to bed.
None of this even mattered.
Avengers: Infinity War felt like an amazing, dazzling, super fun exercise in futility.
Let me take a few steps back. In Avengers: Infinity War, nearly every single character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is called to help fight the most powerful being in the universe, an alien called Thanos (Josh Brolin), who seeks to destroy half of the universe, and needs all six Infinity Stones — Reality, Time, Mind, Soul, Space and Power — to do so. Almost every Avenger/Avenger-affiliated being — from Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) — must come together to save the universe.
I have to admit: the movie turned out to be far more complex than what I’d originally assumed. The premise made my eye twitch a little: it sounded like Infinity War would have every problem other MCU movies had — standard action/fight scenes that involve explosions and big things crashing into each other; and a villain who wants to do something as ridiculously big as destroy half the universe.
While it does have the enormous action scenes, I feel as though the Russos managed to use them to explore our many, many heroes and their relationships with one another. Personalities clash just as much as machinery, and who the characters end up teaming up with is just important as the fight itself.
The fact that they managed to use what should’ve been pitfalls for the movie to actually help the story is fascinating to me.
I also have to say, Thanos surprised me as a villain. He could’ve very easily been a stock character — the standard asshole who wants to destroy half the universe just because he’s super buff and super powerful. He actually has a very interesting — if not problematic as hell — motivation behind his desire to wipe out half of the universe's population. Brolin gives an outstanding performance; he’s menacing and merciless, and you get the sense that Thanos is not one to be played with in any way, shape or form. You feel real fear whenever Thanos pops through a portal because you know he won’t hesitate to kick your ass.
Overall, the movie was well on its way to being a fun, competent ride that set up the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But then the ending happened.
It should be no surprise that characters die in Infinity War. It can’t be a war if everyone makes it out alive. But if people are going to die, their death should mean something.
That’s . . . not really what happened.
It’s actually kind of hard to explain. I’m trying to not get too much into it. If I do, I’ll end up writing a much longer, extremely spoilery review for that. All we really know is that one second the characters are on screen, and the next they’ve vanished, and you’re left feeling immense confusion and sadness.
It’s for shock value, mostly; the Russos wanted to punch us in the stomach with emotion. And they accomplished that goal at the moment.
But, the character deaths mostly don’t mean anything because they’re only temporary.
Remember . . . Infinity War is a two-parter. It was originally announced as two-parter, but Marvel Studios and Disney removed the “part 1” from the title. Kevin Feige later said that Avengers 3 and Avengers 4 were “completely different movies.”
For the past year or so, the movie’s just been titled Infinity War, leading some to speculate as to what Avengers 4 was going to be. I’d actually forgotten that it was supposed to be a two-parter, because I was so busy wondering what Avengers 4 would be subtitled.
The final credits of Infinity War are what reminded me that this movie is a cliffhanger, and that Avengers 4 really is Infinity War, part 2 with a different — still unreleased — title.
Which is a bummer.
Because this means they’ll have to spend Avengers 4 reversing the effects of Infinity War. That makes every action taken in Infinity War ultimately pointless. They put us through all that shock and emotional upheaval just to hit rewind a couple of years from now.
Sacrifice was a very prominent theme in this movie. Every character, particularly Thanos, makes a sacrifice that changes the course of the film. I bring this up because the Russos also made a sacrifice when creating this film. They sacrificed this movie’s emotional impact.
Infinity War tells the audience, “Hey, all that stuff that you’re super into and really enjoy? Haha, yeah, we’re gonna dick around with that. But, don’t worry, it’ll be fixed because Marvel’s already got their film schedule for the next 10 years.” It’s hard to really feel something when you remember which characters have sequels and which actors have signed multi-picture deals.
This movie ends up not being about anything. It’s just a pitstop, albeit a long one that overloads your senses.
Infinity War reminds me that all of this really is just a movie that I probably take too seriously. It can be done and undone and redone as many times as the writers and directors and studios want. Nothing even matters.
No matter how much I think about the parts of the film that I enjoyed — that I really, really enjoyed — I can’t get rid of the feeling that I just watched an amazing film that serves no real purpose.
And that makes me a little sad.