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'Avengers: Infinity War' dives into the darker side of heroism and humanity, succeeding all the same

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It has all led up to this. Ten years of entertaining films, character development and world-building have culminated in Marvel’s latest addition to their cinematic universe, “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Avoiding potential spoilers, the film takes place roughly two years after the events of “Captain America: Civil War.” “Infinity War” involves a disjointed Avengers team, along with the Guardians of the Galaxy and others, who must band together to stop their most formidable foe yet, Thanos (Josh Brolin).

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo are returning after the success of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Civil War,” with a script penned by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.

A lot is riding on this film, primarily sky-high expectations, but also the structure of dozens of characters on-screen. The juggling of major characters, their motivations and how it all works together scene-to-scene happens to be the primary concern for most fans -- not to mention the introduction of Thanos, someone the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been teasing for over six years. Though much of the film revolves around Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), its main focus is Thanos. Who is he, where did he come from, what does he want?

One thing that is certain about the film is that it will own the box office and maintain its grasp for the coming weeks. It is currently projected to open at nearly $500M worldwide, according to Deadline.

For the most part, this film succeeds in its aspirations and finds a way to reverse the tropes of Marvel’s past. Thanos is likely the scariest villain the Avengers have faced. As a majority of the MCU’s previous antagonists have been regarded as story points rather than actual characters, this is a vast improvement.

Obviously the film highlights some of our favorite heroes more than others, but each character has a nice moment or nod for fans to hold on to without causing any pacing issues. Perhaps the best aspect of the film is the Russo brothers’ ability to manage all the characters in an effective way. Thanks in part to ten years of character building and prior knowledge of the heroes, audience members can simply sit back and enjoy as old relationships shine while other characters meet for the first time.

However, the film does feel as though it’s missing a lead protagonist, someone to guide the narrative besides Thanos -- instead, more of a pointed approach is taken, which leaves a small gray area. Tony Stark fills in for a bit, then it’s Thor (Chris Hemsworth), then it’s the next hero and so on, but “Infinity War” never feels like it's driven by the Avengers.

That being said, each performance is great, particularly Brolin as Thanos, whose performance was relied upon for the film’s success. Another standout was Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man who pulls off one of the best scenes in the entire film with a few short lines of dialogue.

Another major point the film hammers home is the heaviness of the themes involved, going where Marvel has not gone before. It bears importance that a film of such a blockbuster magnitude is willing to cover darker themes of grief and hopelessness.

Still, the film is ripe with laughs and quips that audiences expect and will enjoy just as much as the gargantuan CGI action. However, the film is at its most impactful when its not an action scene, something some may love and others may hate.

There’s a lot to love about “Infinity War,” and while it may not lead to as much discussion as “Black Panther” or as much praise as “Winter Soldier,” it is a worthy culmination of what so many have enjoyed for the past ten years. It opens the door for an interesting follow-up with the currently untitled “Avengers 4” due out May 2019.

You’ve probably already got your tickets or have plans made to go see “Infinity War,” and the only thing you have to do next is enjoy what may be the best blockbuster of 2018.

Grade: A-

draju@theeagleonline.com


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