The year 2008 was an interesting time for me. Back then, I had grandiose dreams of managing my own GameStop, convinced that writing wasn’t a real job, so there was no point in giving that lofty idea my all. Now, 10 years later, I’m sitting in my home office where I write for a living, trying to figure out how to put together a spoiler-free review for the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s magnum opus: Avengers: Infinity War.
Don’t worry. There aren’t any spoilers here.
And let me put your minds at ease. The movie is great—like, “spring for a movie theater that lets you drink alcohol in a reclining seat” great. It’s worth all the sold-out tickets and the inevitable discussions about Avengers 4: Insert Subtitle Here. The only reason I’m not trying to rush to 2019 is because I still need to see Deadpool 2: The One with Domino, Hopefully More Negasonic, My Boy Peter, and Is That Terry Crews?!
Full disclosure: I didn’t expect the MCU to come this far—not that I didn’t want it to. Once upon a time, all we had was a billionaire playboy, a Hulk minus the Tyler Durden (you know, ’cause Edward Norton played . . . I’ll see myself out), and the bizarre concept of sitting through the credits for information about an initiative. Now we’ve got an entire record-breaking cinematic universe. I know a lot of folks have been commenting on how the movies have been leading to this moment, but did we really think, back in 2008 when Iron Man came out, that we’d be spending the weekend with a gold-gauntlet-wearing tyrant and a cast of misfit heroes trying to stop him? Come on, y’all, one of those heroes is a back-talking, eye-rolling teenage tree! We did not expect this to be our cinematic future.
I’m not one of those folks who say you have to pick either Marvel or DC and can’t have both, because I’m a greedy black geek girl who wants all of the things, but I will say this. Marvel ain’t come here to play. Starting 2018 in Wakanda and following it up with mutha-flippin’ Infinity War is just plain brilliant. Someone promote whoever came up with that strategy.
Here’s what the movie does right: the characters and their interactions with one another are on point. Not all of them (we’ll get to that later), but there are enough dynamic performances to keep you satisfied. A lot of these heroes are bringing their A-game, which is impressive since some of them have been in this universe for years. I expected great things from newcomers like Spider-Man, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and comedy-revamp Thor. But Iron Man? He’s been in this thing for a decade, and he’s just as charming as he was back in 2008. And when you put him in a room with someone like Peter Quill, I’m sorry, but you’re gonna be that rando in the theater who has to apologize for obnoxious bursts of laughter. Fortunately, you won’t be the only one.
Then there’s the wrinkled-chin, grape-Kool-Aid-skinned menace himself, Thanos.
This is the dude you don’t want to piss off. If you see him on the streets, turn the other way. If you step on his foot, kneel down and get the scuffs out of his shoe. I was worried that he wouldn’t deliver the goods, especially since the MCU’s track record with villains has been spotty at best, save for Killmonger and the “Thor is the odd child out” siblings, Loki and Hela. Fortunately, Thanos is threatening, kicks a considerable amount of ass, and is a tad bit insane with his ideals. He doesn’t sound like it, though: he’s got a car-salesman, timeshare-hawking kind of voice that really just wants to get you on board with this whole destroying half the universe thing.
Now a few things the movie does less right. Again, no spoilers here.
Infinity War does drag in some parts. Not enough to make you look at your phone and count the minutes, but it is noticeable. This is a small complaint, though, as there are a lot of characters to navigate through the Great Infinity Stone Hunt of 2018. It’s surprisingly easy to keep track of who’s doing what, but there are some scenes that feel unnecessary and moments that feel rushed. Some pretty cool adversaries are defeated way too easily for the sake of the plot moving forward. And I’m gonna be honest: the giant battle in Wakanda previewed in the trailers is bad-ass, and I will forever enjoy the barks of the Jibari tribe and our new warrior queen, Okoye, but what they’re up against is kinda cliché.
Oh, and not every battle is created equal. Some fights are stunning, the kind of heavy-hitting orchestras that make you forget to eat that handful of popcorn. Others? Not so much. But, well . . . at least there’s a part two, right?
Also, despite the interactions being great overall, some characters fall flat—whether it’s because they’re only there for half a millisecond or because their development in the story is as bland as toasted bread with no butter or jam. And there are a couple of moments that are extremely predictable. Stuff I saw in the trailers and went, “Well I know how that’s gonna play out.” That’s not to say that they’re god awful, but in a movie where the stakes are higher than the cosmos, you really notice the parts that are just kinda . . . meh.
And then there are characters who just aren’t there, even though they really should be considering where they were the last time we saw them onscreen. Did they just decide to skip out on the whole hero thing? (Can’t say I’d blame them since it is Thanos we’re talking about.) I’m sure some of them will get an explanation in the future, but others? Well, maybe they were in the bathroom during the villain monologue.
Last, there are some dumb decisions made in the movie—like, colossally dumb—and it doesn’t feel like something the characters would do but rather some bonehead move they have to make in order for the plot to keep plotting. What makes Thanos so challenging is that he stops all the well-thought-out plans, so it’s irritating when he bests someone because of their sheer stupidity
Um. Go see it.
And go see it without knowing any spoilers. Then, when it’s released on Blu-ray, analyze the hell out of every second of the movie so we can figure out what the Groot is happening next. If Infinity War and its follow-up are how the MCU finishes off the current phase we’re in, then this is a positive step forward.
Just . . . no more characters making dumb decisions, Marvel. And no more characters being nerfed into clichés for the sake of the story.