Sitting here in 2018 it’s hard to believe that the release of Iron Man was considered a gigantic risk for Marvel ten years ago. We live in a world where heroes like Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, and Thor have all become household names, but it wasn’t always this way. In 2008, when the original Iron Man was released kick-starting the MCU, Iron Man wasn’t the massively popular hero that he is now. Comic book fans were well aware of who Tony Stark was having read popular stories like “Demon In A Bottle” and “The Armor Wars” but the average moviegoer wasn’t well versed in Iron Man. He didn’t have the sexiness of a Spider-Man or the edginess of the X-Men, to the general public Iron Man was kind of an unknown quantity.
Enter Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Junior and suddenly that narrative changes, and quickly. The world couldn’t get enough of the first Iron Man. It was something different and unique, and quickly took storm of the box office. Marvel had something here with its slick action, charismatic lead, fun, and promise to something more. Try and think back to the first time you watched the post credit scene in Iron Man. Think of the excitement you felt when Nick Fury mentioned the “Avengers Initiative”. I remember thinking, “man, that would be something seeing all these characters together”. I was instantly brought back to being a kid and playing with my action figures. The ability to form any super team I wanted and the idea of seeing that play out on the big screen seemed more like a dream than a possibility. Yet here was Iron Man whispering a promise. Planting the seed in our ears. The Avengers Initiative… wouldn’t that be something cool.
Fast forward to 2018, Marvel has since released eighteen other films including three and a half Avengers movies (come on, Civil War is Avengers 2.5) and this dream isn’t just a reality it’s genre-defying. In the history of cinema there has never been anything like this before. What Marvel and the MCU have done with storytelling and universe building is nothing like we’ve ever seen and might not ever see again. Just look at rival DC who has tried to capture that Marvel formula but has failed pretty spectacularly. Everyone wants that established universe now failing to understand that Marvel took ten years to bring us to here. To bring us to Infinity War.
Infinity War is more than just an Avengers sequel. It’s more than just a comic book movie. Infinity War is a master achievement in cinematic storytelling and it’s more than just a movie… this is an event, and it works so brilliantly it makes my heart weak. With the scope and scale of Infinity War, it would have been easy to believe that the film would be a bloated, overpacked, mess. An excuse to cram as many characters into one film as possible, sacrifice on story, and just cash in. We should know by now that that’s not the Marvel way. Everything Marvel has done has lead us to this point. Nothing in this universe has been accidental. There was a clear vision that started with Nick Fury discussing the Avengers Initiative back in 2008 and picking up steam with our first glance of Thanos in the post credit scene of Avengers.
Infinity War is a movie that is filled with humor, it’s funnier than you would expect, and rooted in the history of the MCU and emotion. This is an emotional movie make no mistake about it. For many, there’s the emotion of seeing all these characters in one place. As a comic book fan, it plays out as spectacular event series. One of those epic stories that bring everyone together. As much as the industry suffers from “event fatigue” readers can’t deny that it’s an aspect of storytelling that they enjoy. When characters they love meet and work together for the first time it feels special, and Infinity War has plenty of that. From Thor meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy to Tony Stark meeting Doctor Strange to a countless amount of character combos that will leave you giggling with delight. Infinity War takes that crossover mentality and delivers a movie carefully balanced to allow every character to have a moment.
Infinity War knows you’re invested in this universe and these characters. There’s no need for the exploitation of who they are. There’s no “Oh, it’s Peter Parker the boy bit by a spider and now has the powers of one”. The Russo Brothers assume you know who you’re dealing with which allows the audience to focus on the story they’re trying to tell. A story that will have massive ramifications for the MCU going forward, but a story that is deeply personal and emotional considering the scope of the movie. We know that Thanos is looking for the Infinity Stones, we’ve known that for a few years now, what we don’t know is what he’ll do if he manages to collect them all. As a matter of fact, we don’t really know just who Thanos is. For years we’ve been told he’s this big bad but have been given no inclination as to why. Until now.
As great as the Marvel movies have been there’s no denying that they’ve had a bit of a villain problem. Outside of Killmonger and Loki there really hasn’t been a villain to truly shake the foundation of the universe, and many lack the depth to make them compelling. Intriguing? Sure. Compelling? Not very often. Villains like Kaecilius, Yellowjacket, and Malekith all come from the cookie cutter school of villains and quickly become forgettable. Then here comes Thanos to shake everything up. The Russo Brothers take a character we’ve only met three times prior to this and establish him not only as Marvel’s biggest villain but give him the emotional depth that allows him to resonate with the audience. Josh Brolin gives a tremendous performance as the Mad Titan and instantly becomes the monster the MCU has needed. Thanos is more than the guy who wears a shiny glove and wants to rule the world. He’s on a mission that is rooted in principle and his philosophies are terrifying. There’s a realness in the depth given to Thanos and he quickly becomes the star of the movie. Yes, this movie is about the heroes but it’s Thanos who shines the brightest.
At the end of the day, Infinity War delivers what may be considered the greatest comic book movie spectacle of all time. From the minute the movie opens all the way to the final post-credit scene the film feels massive and important like you’re watching something profoundly epic. Infinity War is an event. A celebration. While we can discuss the ending at another time (Thanos still demands silence) there’s no denying that the film is fun, Drax alone is worth the price of admission, while being rooted with real stakes. There are consequences. There are casualties. There are surprises. There are laughs and tears. In the end, it’s the best of Marvel and it reminds us that this ten-year journey has been worth every. Single. Step.
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