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Spoiler-free Review Of ‘The Avengers: Infinity War’

Josh Brolin’s Thanos steals the show… and a bunch of Infinity Stones

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Marvel Studios/Walt Disney

Captain America (Chris Evans), flanked by Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Okoye (Danai Gurira) to the left, and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) to the right, prepare to fight off Thanos' army in "The Avengers: Infinity War."

Companion viewing

"Iron Man" (2008)

"Captain American: Winter Soldier" (2014)

"Black Panther" (2018)

Spoiler free review of “The Avengers: Infinity War.” Just to let you know if it’s worth seeing.

Kudos to Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios for masterminding a 19-film universe (with more on the way) with smartly overlapping stories and characters. That’s not an easy task. Of course not all the films have been memorable and some you may never want to watch a second time. But some of the franchise entries, like “Captain America: Winter Soldier,” “Black Panther” and now “The Avengers: Infinity War” do the genre proud.

Marvel films have never been marked by stylish flair. You won’t find Guillermo del Toro lifting any of these comic book movies above their genre roots. The films feel more like products on a studio assembly line that at their best display a fine workmanship. They are kind of no-nonsense comic book movies that occasionally veer off into more humorous terrain as with “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Thor: Ragnarok.”

Although “Infinity War” is by no means the last Marvel film (“Ant-Man and the Wasp,” “Venom” and “Captain Marvel” are just around the corner) it does feel like the culmination of a 10-year build up of origin stories and movies that began with “Iron Man” in 2008.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Marvel

"Thanos: The Infinity Gauntlet" comic by Jim Starlin inspired the film "The Avengers: Infinity War."

Inspired by the “Thanos: The Infinity Gauntlet” storyline in the comics, “Infinity War” brings together almost all the characters that Marvel has carefully been introducing over the decade. It’s impressive that they would choose a decidedly bleak storyline for their massive heading into summer tentpole film. Thanos clearly announces in the trailer, “In time you will know what it feels like to lose …” And he means it.

Sending fans out of the theater with an ending that leaves many of their beloved characters dead (not really a teaser if you know anything about Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet) is something of a risk but the Russo Brothers manage to balance a considerable amount of levity with the downer ending.

I have to confess that I never read the “Infinity Gauntlet” comics but I bought them for my son who loved the storyline and especially the villain Thanos. So I got to enjoy the comic vicariously through him and he made me a fan of Thanos as well. So I was a little saddened to discover that the aspect of his character that most intrigued me — his obsession with Mistress Death and his quest to destroy half the universe to impress her — was gone. The idea that this powerful villain was at heart just a lovesick puppy whose epic attempts to impress Mistress Death go pretty much unnoticed was fascinating. My son even noted that Thanos was particularly irked by Mistress Death’s interest in Deadpool, now that’s a love triangle I’d love to see expanded on.

I understand what the filmmakers left this out. It would require adding a new character that has a very different tone and quality from the existing ones. But I was disappointed. However, Josh Brolin’s performance gives Thanos the gravitas he requires and that air of sadness. This is hands down my favorite Marvel movie villain next to Kilmonger from “Black Panther.”

Clocking in at more than two-and-a-half hours, “Infinity War” never drags. Having multiple characters and storylines to cut back and forth between helps build a sense of pace. The simple driving thrust of the story is that Thanos is collecting the Infinity Stones — that control things like time and reality — and putting them on his Infinity Gauntlet, which will allow him to control the universe. The Avengers, despite some internal problems, are doing everything in their power to stop him.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Marvel Studios/Disney

Josh Brolin stars as Thanos, who wants to randomly destroy fifty percent of the universe in "The Avenger: Infinity War."

“Infinity War” maintains a surprising level of humor across all the character threads despite the fact that Thanos is a villain whose goal is to randomly destroy 50 percent of the universe at the snap of his Infinity Gauntlet fingers. The film lacks the tragic flair of the “Infinity Gauntlet” comic but it gives us superheroes and a villain who are all too human. And that has always been a main part of the appeal of Marvel’s superheroes, they are very human and that makes them easy to empathize with.

And one final note: Buried way deep into the technical credits was mention of who the original creators of all these diverse characters were. It made me wonder, would it have been so difficult to move that up to being the first thing you see after the final fade out? Why not give these comic creators a little more acknowledgment for what they created? But neither Marvel nor DC seems to want to use their big budget films as a means of turning on audiences to the comics that inspired the movies. That just seems a shame and a wasted opportunity.

But I don’t want to end on a negative note, so let me just suggest going out to see “Infinity War” and enjoy what the Marvel Cinematic Universe has built up to at this 10-year mark and then go out and read “Infinity Gauntlet.” I plan to borrow my son’s comics and experience them firsthand.

Spoiler free review of “The Avengers: Infinity War.” Just to let you know if it’s worth seeing and to remind you of the comic it's based on.

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