“Dread it. Run from it. Destiny still arrives,” Thanos (Josh Brolin) says early on in “Avengers: Infinity War,” the newest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it has. The two and a half hour-long, super-packed and filled to the brim installment offers nonstop action and new character exchanges that comic book fans could have only dreamt of a decade ago, when Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) first starred as Iron Man.
Thanos and his Black Order have travelled the cosmos in search of the Infinity Stones — the same Infinity Stones that Marvel has spent almost 18 movies introducing slowly across great distances in their many films — and the beginning of his window of opportunity has presented itself in the form of a weak and isolated Thor (Chris Hemsworth), floating through space after the events of “Thor: Ragnarok.” In the first few moments of the film Thanos already has two of the Infinity Stones, the Power and Space Stones — the number of Stones feat we have not seen accomplished by anyone other than Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in the first Avengers film, who possessed both the Tesseract and his scepter, the Mind Stone, as an early envoy of Thanos. Though Loki “lacked conviction,” according to Tony Stark, Thanos is a being truly burdened with glorious purpose, enough to even make the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) cower.
“Avengers: Infinity War” simultaneously feels like a continuation of all of these characters’ stories, a summation of the Marvel universe so far and an ominous tale of what comes next. New lines are drawn, new teams form and all of the character development that this studio has produced for the past ten years is unified in beautiful dialogue and interactions on screen to face the inevitable: Thanos has arrived.
Josh Brolin’s voice, motion capture and overall performance as the mad titan Thanos is captivating. The film is not about Captain America (Chris Evans), Thanos’ favorite daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana) or the living possessor of the Mind Stone, Vision (Paul Bettany). “Avengers: Infinity War” is about Thanos. This is the journey of a man who has placed great weight on his own shoulders in the name of mercy, which he will often remind the heroes he encounters of. He will stop at nothing to collect and unite all six of the Infinity Stones, five of which we have seen up until this point in the MCU, to balance all of existence. Brolin, in his performance, is able to balance the overpowering and mammoth presence of his character with empathy, making it difficult for audiences to hate such a powerful villain completely.
Chris Hemsworth’s Thor received the least screen time of his fellow heroes in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” but makes up for lost time in “Infinity War.” Picking up right where we left off with the Odinson, Thor has lost everything around him and is now facing a threat unlike the ones he’d encountered in all “Avengers” and solo “Thor” films. Thor pushes himself to his limit again this time, and Hemsworth elegantly and accurately conveys his character’s physical, emotional and psychological struggles throughout the movie. Of all the heroes that stand against Thanos in “Avengers: Infinity War,” Thor is most similar to Thanos in their loss-ridden pasts, incredible strength and willpower, and the two duking it out are some of the greatest exchanges on screen.
The colossal budget of this latest installment, close to $400 million, will be made back in its opening weekend easily, but does not take away from how much money was dedicated to this top-secret project. The 20-plus person blockbuster cast of Hollywood superstars make up just as much, if not less, of that number than the production and phenomenal CGI involved. As when any group of incredible characters comes together, there are bound to be moments that absolutely spellbind the viewer. “Infinity War” brings them in full-force in the form of the largest battles we’ve see up to this point in the MCU. It is hard to recall a dull moment in the film, as even when there are brief exchanges or time put aside to catch up in plot, the slew of characters and carefully planned cinematography don’t offer even the briefest moment for a bathroom break. The dark tone of an inevitable defeat that sits around our favorite heroes for portions of the film are cleverly met with brief comedic breaks, but do not assume this is a comedy.
One factor that a project of this caliber had to gamble on was the same that it succeeded in: magnitude. How Marvel would bring together this many people, over so much time and through so many situations almost felt daunting, borderline overwhelming. These fears were often comfortably dismissed with careful, character-true writing and a plot that, like Thanos, continued no matter what came or who was along for the ride.
It is going to be a long wait for Marvel fans until next May, when the untitled part two of “Avengers: Infinity War” is released. This film has answered all the questions that were brought into the theatre, and has thrown (like a moon) even more questions about the future of the MCU at audiences. I give “Avengers: Infinity War” 6/6 infinity stones. Thanos has arrived.