When Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury entered the darkly lit room of Tony Stark in Iron Man, the world was introduced to the then unknown concept of an expansive cinematic universe. From there and over ten years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the MCU has given us mostly impressive films, most noteworthy including The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, and just this year, Black Panther. However, when the credits of Avengers: Infinity War began to roll, that concept of an expansive cinematic universe felt fulfilled due to a stirring, emotional, action-packed adventure that succeeds on its impressive action sequences, almost natural dialogue and banter, and a deep antagonist that almost overturns a key idea in screenwriting.
The key aspect to any film’s success is its screenplay, and Avengers: Infinity War is no exception to this trend. Over the past ten years, the screenplays of this franchise have mostly been excellent with the natural banter and dialogue being a key aspect behind that. This latest film from the Russo Brothers is no exception. While the story may not be the most impressive that this franchise has seen, due to the sheer scale of balancing 26 major characters, the dialogue between each of those characters feels natural and in sync. Key standouts include the dynamic between that of Thor and Rocket whose dynamic turns from more than several one-liners, but turns into a hilarious dynamic that bears some off-putting weight on the story. But something that this screenplay does that sets it distinct from previous films is its characterization of the villain, Thanos played by Josh Brolin. Here, he is given the most amount of screen time out of any other character, and while the attention of the film never shifts off the main heroes, this character is the residue and heart of the film. The screenwriters of this film should be commended for their genius move of weaving these twenty-six heroes together with one central character and his arc. While there may not be much meat to the story of the film other than Thanos’s character arc, what will satisfy the avid fans of the MCU is the sheer amount of surprises within the film. While it may not reach the shock levels of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the Russo brothers come close in that level of awe and mystification. However, the screenplay ultimately isn’t perfect. As stated before, the Russo brothers are attempting to balance 26 major characters in ultimately a film with the running span of two hours and thirty minutes. In various interviews, the two have stated that they made it a key goal for every character to have a moment to shine, but as a result of that, the pacing of the film drags at times, particularly in the second act. It was mostly felt in Thor’s, Rocket’s and Groot’s quest which ultimately felt like an unnecessary detour despite the hilarious gags and dialogue between the trio. It quickly picks up a few scenes after that, but it still caused a good fifteen minutes where I was somewhat bored. This issue became less apparent on my second viewing where I didn’t encounter any boredom and constantly remained interested in the film. Ultimately, the screenplay has a challenge that no other film in cinematic history has encountered: bring together 10 years of films (nearly 20 feature-length films) and tie them all neatly into one cohesive films. The Russo brothers come close to this goal, but ultimately the job isn’t perfect and strains at times during the film.
In addition to a competently written screenplay, the film boasts some powerful performances. Chris Hemsworth and Josh Brolin are the clear stand outs as the Russo Brothers promised. Hemsworth portrays Thor as the middle ground between Watiti’s bold vision in Thor: Ragnarok and that of Kenneth Branagh’s redemptive hero in the original Thor back in 2010. His humor is still intact, but the sense of gravity and stakes are never sacrificed for another joke. Josh Brolin does an astounding job as the Mad Titan, Thanos. In addition to a compelling character arc, he delivers raw emotion and expression in each frame that he occupies. In addition to Hemsworth and Brolin, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, and the iconic Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark also deliver exceptional, noteworthy performances. Certain characters are pushed to the back in this film, making their performances far less memorable. But in the end, each character delivers quality performances with not one mediocre performance noticeable.
Even as a film with a budget as high as five-hundred million dollars, the technicalities behind the film are still astounding. The stand-out is clearly the visual effects. Never before has such an abundance of visual effects been placed on screen with each frame feeling detailed and realistic. The motion capture work on Josh Brolin’s Thanos is impressive, delivering raw emotion fluidly. In addition to visual effects, the soundtrack backing the film is done well. It isn’t particularly memorable and doesn’t bear any new themes. Instead, like the soundtrack from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Dunkirk for instance, the soundtrack is meant to complement the film rather than overshadow the film. Themes from soundtracks such as Star Wars for example often overshadow the film, blaring the speakers with loud orchestras and nostalgic music. In addition, the film is edited well and fit well within its extensive length of over two hours and thirty minutes.
Ultimately, Avengers: Infinity War succeeds due to its natural banter, impressive action sequences, and astounding visual effects. These parts work in sync with each other to create what is objectively the best MCU film of all time. It may have pacing issues and feel overloaded at times, but it is still an enjoyable flick that always kept me entertained and on the edge of my seat.