The 2nd of May marks 10 years since Iron Man, with the first of Marvel’s now-infamous post-credits scenes establishing what was to become known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU. Since then, it has grown into arguably the most ambitious crossover project in cinematic history. Over the past ten years, Marvel Studios have produced 20 films with a plethora of characters popping up all over the joint, and for the most part, it’s worked remarkably well.
What’s particularly impressive is Marvel’s readiness to take risks on B and even C-list comic book franchises and elevate them into mainstream consciousness. When Guardians of the Galaxy rocked up in 2014 they were relatively little known outside of cult status; fast-forward four years and they’re zipping around space with Spider-Man and Thor in tow. As Bruce Banner (aka The Hulk) asks inquisitively: ‘There’s a Spider-Man AND an Ant-Man?’
The general premise of this film is so ridiculous when viewed objectively, but that’s what makes it so much fun. The whole thing harks back to watching Saturday morning cartoons as a child, where it seems like anybody can pop up anywhere at anytime. It should be stupid but it isn’t. If the first Avengers film was a kid’s dream come true, then Avengers: Infinity War is a kid’s all-out-fantasy brought to life.
Stylistically, the film is a mishmash of pretty much every film that’s come before, with the end result often a colourful mess. This lack of constant style doesn’t mean the film isn’t is well-designed and visually impressive though. Whether it’s the vast city of Wakanda or a desolate desert planet, it’s interesting to see the manner in which these worlds can intersect each other alongside their own distinct feels, aided by the soundtrack. It never fails to bring a smile to see Star Lord’s ship jam into frame alongside a blaring rock song, Wakanda’s Tribal African drumming, or the swelling Avengers orchestral theme.
For the number of characters crammed in, nothing ever feels too forced or simply there for the sake of reference. Characters are paired up in a way that, while sometimes unconventional (Teenage Groot and Thor, anyone?), creates interesting dynamics throughout and often rectifies the power imbalance between characters. While the usual Marvel quips and one-liners fall flat here and there, the acting from the main cast holds up nicely, and goes a good way to adding to the believability of the film, if that was ever a concern.
As for the antagonist, Thanos stands firmly as the best MCU villain to date, a nasty piece of work with a genuine complex motive that he believes in. His fresh gang of supervillain henchmen, the Black Order, take little introduction but excel as a varied bunch of bad motherfuckers, with abilities ranging from general thuggishness to full-blown telekinesis keeping the fight scenes (and boy, oh boy are there a lot) varied throughout the film.
Infinity War is not a perfect film. It’s a cheesy mashup of ten years of Marvel Properties. It has moments that feel jarring. Some fans will be disappointed, but that’s to be expected with so much hype. The film is damn good fun and will have fans eagerly awaiting the next installment.