The weight of fan expectations is a terrifying thing. We’ve all been there before – wishing away the years for a highly anticipated film (whether it be sequel, spin-off or one-off), only to find it isn’t the all-conquering masterpiece that we had hoped for.
Avengers: Infinity War has all the trademarks of a potential disappointment. Drawing together story threads and character arcs from ten years worth of movies,whilst simultaneously juggling a colossal cast of characters (including established fan favourites and important newcomers) and spinning it all into an epic, entertaining and accessible blockbuster that still hits all those the sweet fan-pleasing spots – it’s a monumental task that carries with it a weight of expectation almost unparalleled.
The fact that Infinity War knocks it out of the park is no mean feat. In the hands of accomplished creative team consisting of veteran MCU directors Joe and Anthony Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, Infinity War succeeds. Not just as a barnstorming action flick, but equally as an all-out assault on the emotions.
Infinity War picks up where the last few MCU films left off, with the powerful mad Titan known as Thanos (Josh Brolin) heading to earth to find the last of the legendary infinity stones, powerful objects that will bestow upon him the power to wipe out half of the universe, thereby bringing balance to an already overcrowded cosmos. Opening in brutal fashion, the movie makes it’s mission statement clear from the off – no one is safe, and this ain’t gonna be an easygoing romp.
But Infinity War is far more sophisticated then to simply end up as a 150 minute bloodbath. Instead, it’s a titanic action movie, with big, powerful emotions, high stakes and excellent character development at it’s core. It may be a whole lot more darker than previous MCU entries, but it doesn’t go far enough as to alienate itself from the tone of what went before it. For every tragic or devastating moment, there’s a gag or a laugh not far behind to remind us exactly why we love these characters.
Of course, it helps that each of the thirty-plus characters we see here have had a solo appearance or two to establish themselves prior. Infinity War doesn’t have the time or the stamina to serve every character in full, but the script does a fine job of giving everyone a key moment or two. Unlikely character pairings also work in the film’s favour – much of the humour derives from the interactions between characters such as Iron Man and Dr Strange or Rocket Raccoon and Thor, a creative decision the filmmakers also employ for the film’s more sombre moments as well. We won’t list which actors impress the most in the more dramatic scenes for fear of spoiling, but with an A-List cast as large and talented as this one, expect plenty of feels!
One actor who we can certainly mention is Josh Brolin as Thanos. An imposing and threatening presence from the off, Brolin works wonders as the hulking mo-cap villain! The script imbues him with a surprising amount of emotional depth and character development, ratcheting up the drama even more. Thanos could so easily have been just a generic cut-and-paste villain with little motivation beyond simply being pure evil, but the screenwriters clearly know better, thus making for a more rounded and relatable villain then we’d ever have expected.
But beyond all the humour and quieter character beats, this is first-and-foremost an Avengers movie. A cinematic event that ups the ante and justifies the summer blockbuster’s very existence! Jaw dropping action scenes are the order of the day, including some of the best the MCU franchise has ever depicted. The thrill of seeing so many popular characters fighting unbeatable odds en masse is nigh-on cinematic perfection, especially when just a few years ago the idea of seeing even two characters from separate franchises together onscreen was nothing more then a pipe dream!
A culmination of ten years worth of unprecedented world-building, set-ups and running gags, all leading up to a bold, ballsy ending that doesn’t talk down to the audience, Avengers: Infinity War may appear at first glance to be just an almighty superhero slugfest, but from its comic book roots grows a powerful, sophisticated and fun action blockbuster with genuine high stakes and breathless well-earned confidence to boot. The only true disappointment is that it’s a whole year to wait for the no-doubt momentous and emotional conclusion!
Fan expectations? Consider them met.