It’s hard to believe that we started this Marvel Cinematic Universe journey ten years ago. When the road its first brick in with “Iron Man”, everyone from studio heads to die-hard fans had high hopes that it would lead somewhere that we had never been before. Creating an interconnected story with so many moving parts and multiple characters coming together in a massive team-up in 2012’s “Avengers”. To say it was a massive success would be understating things, but magic could not seem to be duplicated when it returned with “Avengers: Age of Ultron”. With a story that lacked the same amount of punch and sparkle of the previous, there was some speculation on where they could go from there. Now, director of those films, Joss Whedon, has moved on, and Anthony and Joe Russo have taken over after turning in two hits in the “Captain America” franchise with “The Winter Soldier” and “Civil War” (which many would consider “Avengers 2.5”), and given the overwhelming level of expectation for source material considered one of the greatest stories in comic history, it’s time to talk “Avengers: Infinity War”.
Thanos (Josh Brolin) is bent on collecting the Infinity Stones in order to complete the Infinity Gauntlet, an all-powerful armored glove that when assembled gives its bearer the abilities of a god. Given the utter gravity of this threat, the previously feuding factions from “Civil War” must put aside their differences and join forces once again with the Guardians of the Galaxy to engage Thanos and his henchmen, the Black Order. On multiple fronts and locations, our heroes find themselves scattered all over the universe in order to stop The Mad Titan from completing his grim task to prevent mass genocide on a scale never seen before.
I think I can safely assume that the audience for this film is going to be divided on a few fronts. Some are going to love the sheer scope and magnitude of the story, enthralled by the interaction of characters they have dreamed seeing together on the screen since the MCU began, while others will probably be put off by the long runtime and multiple plot threads that will just confuse and overwhelm them. Another section of the fan base will be dissatisfied with the “liberties” taken with the characters they grew up with and feel like they’ve been slighted in some way because it didn’t live up to their expectations. As a film critic that’s been on board this ride since the beginning with comic book ink running through my veins with a sometimes short attention span, I could easily go either way. However, I absolutely LOVED it! It comes off as “The Empire Strikes Back” of the MCU with a clever script that never gets dull and simply doesn’t let up: jaw dropping moment after jaw dropping moment and emotional highs and lows. I know when I initially reviewed “Age Of Ultron” I heaped a large amount of praise on it (which I later regretted, as it just didn’t hold up as well after multiple viewings like the original “Avengers” does), but this film left me absolutely begging for more even after a two-hour and forty-five minute runtime, ending on a cliffhanger that will have people talking for months. It may always be darkest before the dawn, but given the large shadow “Infinity War” is going to cast, the dawn is going to be incredibly bright.