Avengers: Infinity War is a film 10 years in the making.

Nothing has permeated modern culture quite like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Right from the very beginning, with Iron Man in 2008, Kevin Feige knew he had to properly commit to a shared cinematic universe for it all to be believable, for his audiences to feel as though they were truly living in a world alongside Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. While it all began with Samuel L. Jackson delivering his ‘there was an idea…’ line, the concept has come further than anyone could have dreamed it would. Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of 10 years of hard work. Of building origin stories and overlaps and relationships between characters that would all eventually come to a head in a fight against Thanos – in two parts, of course. The Russo Brothers have a very clear vision for their superhero films, and it’s obvious they knew where they wanted to take the Infinity Stone arc perhaps even all the way back with Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Avengers: Infinity War follows the events of Captain America: Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther, with the Avengers split down the middle, half the team incarcerated, Thor in space with the Hulk, and Wakanda having just revealed its true nature – and technological prowess – to the world.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) are the first to encounter Thanos (a menacing Josh Brolin), and discover his plan to unite the Infinity Stones and ‘restore balance to the universe’ – by murdering half its population. Banner brings the news back to Earth, replete with the fact that Thanos already has the Power and Space Stones, and it becomes a race against time to protect the Infinity Stones the team has – the Mind Stone (Vision’s forehead) and the Time Stone (Doctor Strange’s Eye of Agamotto) – and get to the others – the Reality Stone (with The Collector) and the Soul Stone (location unknown) – before Thanos.

Half the appeal of Avengers: Infinity War is seeing characters interact with one another that had never met before – and in some cases that didn’t even know each other existed. Watching Iron Man and Doctor Strange exchange quips, and Thor come to terms with his new Guardians friends are but a few highlights – the best of which we won’t spoil here. It doesn’t feel like any one hero is awarded more screentime than any other, either, which has been a major criticism of past Avengers films.

‘It’s all been leading to this’ is the film’s tagline, and those who have waited have been well served. Infinity War is wall-to-wall action, with the opening comic montage – while usually backed by a theme – silent; the sombre, forlorn tone is set, and the Russo brothers let you know what you’re in for from the get-go. Thankfully, there is frequent comic respite, but only just enough for you to catch your breath between the film’s heavier moments.

With Thanos bent on universal domination and so intent on killing people, one would imagine there would be quite a few deaths in Infinity War. And while you’d be crazy not to prepare for that eventuality, the problem that exists with having such a volume of characters lost on the screen in such a short time is that not many are afforded much magnitude; simply passed over as insignificant plot points, rather than be impactful as we know Marvel character deaths can be (Guardians series – we’re looking at you). Thanos’ character and motivations could also do with a bit more fleshing out for those unfamiliar with the comics, but he is allowed a decent amount of backstory nonetheless.

The film falters slightly under the weight of its own expectation and anticipation, but ultimately delivers what it’s promised all along – the culmination of 10 years of movie superheroes forced up against the Mad Titan Thanos in his quest for the Infinity Stones. Avengers: Infinity War is Marvel’s most ambitious film to date, and one full of implications for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the as-yet-unnamed Part 2 scheduled to drop this time next year, what unravels during this monumental battle will leave shockwaves of damage throughout all future MCU films. And, you’d think after 10 years I wouldn’t have to say it anymore, but stay after the credits.

star-4In cinemas: April 25, 2018
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Josh Brolin
Directed by: Anthony & Joe Russo

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