'Avengers: Infinity War' (Spoiler-Free) Review: I'll Be Damned, The Sons of Bitches Did It
Editor’s Note: This is a 100% spoiler-free review, and we will only allow 100% spoiler-free comments. No spoiler warnings (though spoiler HTML is fine). No vague descriptions. I am 100% not joking when I say that anyone posting spoilers in the comments will get a two-week ban from the site. We have a separate full spoiler post where you are welcome to spoil, speculate, and discuss to your heart’s content.
So here we are at last. The Russo Brothers have been tasked with the seemingly impossible — to direct a film that ties together all of the varied and complicated threads from eighteen different movies, all linked together — sometimes directly, sometimes more obliquely — while somehow giving the appropriate amount of time to the characters, its villain, its story. How is that possible? Avengers: Infinity War is literally a film like no other. It’s not like a Bond film, which focused on a single character throughout its lifespan. It’s not even like a Star Wars film, which while they’ve gotten more scattered in latter years, still focus on a single narrative line. No, Infinity War brings to a head several different stories, characters, and ideas. So much has happened — teams have come together and fallen apart, characters have found love and loss, and we’ve been there to watch it all happen.
And I’ll be damned, the sons of bitches did it. Infinity War is an amazing achievement, both technically and narratively. It brings to bear all of the main characters, while still finding time to give little moments to the lesser ones, so everyone from a bearded, impossibly noble Captain America to the mentally gifted Mantis, from a bewildered, out-of-his-depth Iron Man to the unmistakably brilliant Shuri, from Black Panther to Black Widow … they all get their time to shine. Some more than others, to be certain, but almost no one is left out. And each of those characters does, in fact, shine. Robert Downey Jr. gives some of his best work, as does Chris Evans as Steve Rogers (our audience literally cheered when he first appeared onscreen). Benedict Cumberbatch, after a middling solo Doctor Strange solo film, is fantastic (proving between this and Ragnarok that he may be best used as a supporting character). We’re given wonderful insight into the burgeoning relationship between Peter Quill and Gamora, and I’m pleased to say that Zoe Saldana is finally given the time she deserves.
But perhaps most impressive is Josh Brolin’s performance as Thanos. This isn’t the Mad Titan of the comics, but a more subdued, determined character. A single-minded juggernaut who believes himself to be both a vessel of fate and a savior of the universe, he is determined to gather the Infinity Stones together and use them to wipe out trillions of lives … to save the rest of them. But it’s not played as a megalomaniacal madman. Instead, Thanos is driven, but steady and contemplative. He feels that he must do this, with the delusional resolution of a fanatic who fully believes that his reality is the only reality, the only sane man in a universe filled with madness. And Brolin handles it remarkably, taking Thanos out of the shadows and making him feel real, and even oddly — and terrifyingly — relatable. And while this all coming from a giant purple alien with a weird chin is sometimes hard to reconcile, it works. Thanos can now take a seat next to Killmonger as one of the best villains the MCU has to offer.
Amidst an ocean of strong performances is a movie that is exciting, exhilarating, tragic, hilariously funny at times, and deadly serious. It’s yet another tribute to the Russos that they’ve managed to successfully balance all of those emotions without driving the train off the tracks. The action sequences are vast and feature almost too many moving parts — massive machines and strange monsters and weapons all take to the grassy fields of Wakanda, while wild encounters take place on weird, distant planets. New characters are met in abandoned ships in space, bleak and desolate and yet very real-feeling. The settings feel as multitudinous as the cast, and yet for the most part, it’s woven together seamlessly into a single, cohesive story.
But that’s all you’ll get from me. It’s a film that deserves fresh, unspoiled eyes for its first viewings. You’ll have a space to discuss your theories, to vent your angers, to sing your praises. But for now, in this space, know that the past ten years of films have been worth it. It was brought to a massively satisfying, if complicated and in some ways confusing, conclusion. The landscape of the Marvel Universe is changed in ways we never thought possible, in ways we probably cannot even believe. Yet even in the final moments, as the audience sorts through all of its emotions, it’s hard to forget the long road that brought us here. Ten years ago we’d have thought this moment impossible. Ten years ago this was a dream. It’s not. It happened, and it should be celebrated.