Avengers: Infinity War
Released: April 27th, 2018
Intro: The four Avengers movies are all part of the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe, a collection of movies that while they all tell their own stories, are still linked in the same world and tie into each other for one much larger narrative. Infinity War is part one of the biggest event in MCU history; a fight between literally every single MCU hero versus Thanos, the man pulling all the strings from the get-go. Some might even say this event was bigger than Star Wars, but I might get a lot of SW fans throwing things at me. Instead of going through the movie scene by scene, I am just going to briefly talk about my favorite scenes from the movie. There will be spoilers.
Story: The opening scene is the first of my many favorites because it does a great job of setting the stakes because Thanos very easily defeats both Hulk and Thor, two of the strongest Avengers there are, plus he kills Loki, alerting us that all bets are off. We see that Thanos is going to be THE villain of villains, no pushover, no easy feat to beat. In fact, had Heimdall not teleported Hulk away, Thanos might have outright killed all of them. This was such a great way to start this film and it was very intense. I can’t imagine starting it out any other way.
The next scene I liked was the fight in NYC against Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian. Again, we got to see how serious the stakes were and the introduction of some more heroes; namely Iron Man, Dr. Strange, and Spiderman. Besides, any scene with Spiderman in it is going to have some good humor and we are not disappointed. It was also a lot of fun seeing Dr. Strange mocking Ebony Maw as the latter attempted to get the time stone. And yes I literally “LOL’d” when Cull Obsidian got his hand chopped off.
Probably one of my top favorite scenes in the movie is the fight with Wanda Maximoff and Vision against Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive. After a sucker punch from behind, Wanda recovers and knocks them both aside while pulling Vision to safety. She then attempts to heal him with her powers. It was so cool watching Wanda face off with Proxima, showing that Wanda is more than just mind reading and telekinesis. Proxima gets a few good shots in, but ultimately Wanda holds her off and shifts her focus to Vision. After Wanda rescues Vision with a well placed energy bolt and a quip, she single handedly takes flight. Proxima gets a cheap shot but Wanda keeps them both safe with a protective field. She is then about to face off against Proxima and Corvus alone, showing no fear as she manifests her red energy in each hand, staring them both down. I really would love to have seen how that fight played out, but it was interrupted by more heroes. We finally see the introduction of Captain America, Falcon, and Black Widow and it was a welcome entry as they were some of the last of the major heroes to put in an appearance. It was an intense fight but a great way to bring in the other core Avengers.
Next up is the scene with the Guardians fighting Thanos before he captured Gamora. Well, if you want to call it fighting. They pretty much got owned, with a couple reality stone zaps but the performance from Gamora was awesome. She showed it wasn’t as easy to take down an adoptive father as she had first thought. This cuts a little further ahead, but Gamora really came into her own later on when she was on Vormir with Thanos (long after the aforementioned fight scene) and she was so sure he had nothing to love, but the horror on her face as she realized he loved her and intended to kill her. Zoe Saldana owned that entire scene and coupled with the music is one of the most tragic moments of the film until that point.
Another favorite is when Thor took on the force of a star to make his Stormbreaker axe. I mean we all knew he would make it, but it was exciting to see him struggle to make it happen after so much had happened to him already. It was also pretty cool to see Peter Dinklage, an actual dwarf (achondroplasia, if I am not mistaken) to see him tower over a powerful character like Thor.
It is really hard to say which battle was better- the battle of Wakanda or the battle on Titan as they were both extraordinarily well done. There is tension like no other, going back and forth between a small group versus Thanos and then a huge army against the Children of Thanos and their army. Both fights had some excellent standouts. Wanda jumping in to save Black Widow and Okoye was awesome. The way she dropped out of the sky, her eyes glowing and then raising the weird killer vehicles into the sky before dropping them down on some of the enemies was awe inspiring and lent to one of my favorite quotes, mentioned later in the review. It was thrilling to see Iron Man, Spiderman, the Guardians, and Doctor Strange work together to steal the gauntlet and for a minute we think they just might win when Nebula shows up just in time to mention Thanos killed Gamora, causing Starlord tp hit Thanos and bring him out of Mantis’ daze, filling the audience with fury (and earned Chris Pratt the award for most hated Avenger actor, even though he was just following script). Other highlights include the girl-power moment with Black Widow and Okoye facing off against Proxima Midnight and Wanda making that killing blow, so to speak. Thor’s arrival in a fury of lightning was exhilarating and turned the tides again in their favor, plus gave a fresh fanfare of the Avengers theme, along with the return of Rocket Raccoon and Groot. Lastly, Thanos’ defeat of Iron Man was pretty intense and a little unexpected.
The most powerful scenes of the movie (aside from Gamora’s unwilling sacrifice) came from Wanda and Vision. The emotions between the two as Wanda was forced to kill him by destroying the stone, plus Thanos’ advance on them as it happened, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I genuinely thought everything was over and our good guys had won before Thanos cheated with that time stone. Thor’s attack was cool until we realized he didn’t hit the right spot and Thanos survived, after snapping. I loved the silence that came after that as character after beloved character disappeared into dust, the anxiety of seeing who managed to make it and who didn’t was enough to make you want to scream. That eerie lack of sound except for a dead rustling of air really made it hit home that things were over for the worse, that our heroes had lost, and that there was going to be no happy ending.
Altogether the cast did an amazing job of telling the tale. Very few spots felt like they dragged as there was so much to cram into the running time, they didn’t have time to waste on trivial things. Every scene was important with a wonderful balance of action and exposition. While not every character got a lot of screen time, it was still awesome to see most of our heroes put in an appearance. As always, Marvel was spot on with making sure there was just the right amount of humor sprinkled throughout to ease the tension just a little. I think two of my favorites were in Wakanda – one with Shuri teasing Bruce Banner about not building Vision the most efficiently teasing “I’m sure you did your best,” but also Okoye after having been saved by Wanda pointing at her and asking Black Widow “Why was she up there all this time?”. Infinity War had a lot of story to tell, and they pulled it off nicely.
Characters: There were a plethora of characters in this film, and not all of them got equal screen time, but that’s okay. Not every character needed a focus moment to advance the story. They gave the focus to the most important characters of the scene at the time, and that kept it from dragging. Marvel also had the advantage that as Infinity War included characters from 20+ other movies, they didn’t need to waste a lot of time on backstory. We got to see Thanos’ backstory, which was the most important as it clued us in to his motives. We already knew everyone else, they just made sure to add in the bits and pieces that linked Thanos and his plans to the heroes.
Rather than talk about each individual character I will just mention the standout characters for me, including Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, Wanda Maximoff, Vision, Gamora, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Spiderman, and of course Thanos himself. Each of these characters had very important moments whether it was fights or story. Not to say the others didn’t make an impact, but these particular ones I enjoyed more. Starlord made an impact too, but his inability to contain his rage and let Thanos recover long enough to hold onto his gauntlet made me want to jump through the screen.
All in all, Marvel did a good job of showcasing the characters than needed it when they needed it and letting us see little bits of our other favorites peek in from time to time. Had they tried to fit in every single character with a focus moment, it would have been too much and drawn the pacing to a grinding halt.
Visuals: One of the things that Marvel stands out against any other company is their stellar CGI skills. Each and every one of their films has fantastic CGI, and Infinity War is no exception. Characters with CGI-heavy suits such as Iron Man, Spiderman, and Thanos look natural despite being primarily green screen. Creature such as the various Children of Thanos looked like they belonged in the environments they were seen in. Monsters looked real with realistic interactions. The flashy effects such as laser beams, lightning, explosions and so on all look amazing with accurate lighting and effects on the environment and characters. My only real nitpick on the CGI is one that almost every CGI company has issue with – hair. Proxima Midnight is the most noticeable as her hair moves in an unnatural way and is obviously digital. It isn’t as bad as some scenes in Endgame (to be reviewed later), but it still sticks out to me.
Makeup effects are equally impressive. Makeup-heavy characters such as Gamora and Mantis look like they are supposed to really be green skinned or have antennae. Injuries look accurate and painful.
Costumes are another area where the designers excelled. Each character has very specific designs to them, whether it is CGI or practical effects, they all stand out. Some of them look like they jumped right out of the comics while others were given more modern outfits. There is a nice variety of dark, militaristic battlesuits such as Black Widow and extremely colorful culture-wear like the female soldiers of Wakanda in their bright red uniforms. One of the most challenging aspects of translating comic to screen is keeping the characters looking realistic and not cartoony, and they do an excellent job here. For example they use darker hues of colors that in comics or cartoons are very vivid. We still get the visually distinct coloring while keeping the design grounded. Captain America and Iron Man are good examples that could easily have gone wrong if the coloring was too bright. Even more fun is that many characters get original designs that were never in the comics, such as Wanda, who usually has rather sexy tight and bright red suits with capes, but instead we get a much more battle-ready outfit with black underneath a dark red jacket. The billowing flow of the jacket is a good callback to the cape of the original character style as well as the coloring of the garment. Mantis is another who receives a much better costume than her comic counterpart, showing off way less skin and giving her a more ‘praying mantis’ appearance. Gamora also gets a less sexy and more battle-ready outfit with a jacket.
Sound: The last element of a film’s success is the audio. Music as well as sound effects themselves. The orchestrated score is almost perfect for the scenes they are played with. They give tension and emotion at just the right places. One of my absolute favorites is the music played when Gamora dies. It’s hauntingly beautiful and reflects the horror and sadness of the moment. Action scenes are carried with their score as well with amazing build ups and moments of excitement. Lastly there is the eerie silence after the snap that I mentioned before. Sometimes the lack of sound speaks volumes more than earfuls of audio. Simply hearing the empty air with ever slightly blowing wind conveyed so much tension in that end scene. I also love how the MCU movies do not rely on a soundtrack for their films but go the route of an actual orchestral score. It keeps the movie secured in realism.
Sound effects were spot on, with metallic sounding metallic, explosions sounding loud and crashing, and magical elements sounding out of this world. Sometime the effects would be ear splitting and others would be so subtle, but each bit of audio played on cue and sounded just right for their moments.
Overall: Infinity War is probably my favorite of the MCU movies, or at least in the top 3. I get to see all of my favorite characters in their glory, fighting for their lives and the lives of the galaxy against the biggest foe they have come up against thus far. My favorite character gets several focus points as well (three guesses who she is and the first two don’t count!) so on a personal level it catered to me. Infinity War is visually stunning in every way with a story that touches your heart in the right moments and gets your adrenaline pumping in others. Infinity War and Endgame will definitely be two of the films that define comic-book translations for years to come. A definite 5 out of 5.