Movie Review: Universal consequences

‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is grand in scope, and will reward fans who have followed Marvel Studios for 10 years.

It all comes down to this.

Say what you will about the influx of superhero movies crowding cinema screens, but there’s never been anything like Avengers: Infinity War in movie history. It’s the result of 10 years and almost 20 movies culminating into one enormous, galaxy-trotting adventure.

It’s impossible to talk about the movie without sounding like you’re nerding out, because it’s possibly the nerdiest movie ever made. But nerd culture is the dominating force in pop culture now — that’s how we got a movie about wizards, scientists, gods, super soldiers and more teaming up to fight (another) army of aliens and defend the universe.

This time around the big bad is Thanos (Josh Brolin), who actually feels like a threat to the characters despite his grapefruit-resemblant chin. The purple tyrant is collecting six Infinity Stones scattered around the galaxy, and when he wields them all he’ll be able to end half of life in the universe with just a snap of his fingers.

So, it’s up to the Avengers to stop him. You know who they are by now, and if you don’t, you’re probably not reading this review. Across its many installments, Marvel Studios has created a formidable roster of characters, almost all of whom show up and get a moment to shine.

Back when the first Avengers released in 2012, people wondered how they would cram six heroes into one movie. Six years later, we have almost 30 top-billed actors suiting up, and somehow the movie feels well-balanced and is easy to follow. It takes place on no less than five different planets and three different spaceships.

For that reason, full enjoyment does require some homework. You’d have to see at least a couple Marvel movies to understand why Benedict Cumberbatch’s wizard cape seems to have full control over itself, or why a witch with energy manipulation abilities (Elizabeth Olsen) is having a romantic getaway with a humanoid computer named Vision (Paul Bettany).

It’s a weird, sometimes erratic movie, but every story beat is earned. The series started fairly grounded in realism — Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark invents a metal suit to fight his way out of a hostage situation, and thus Iron Man is born. Since then, the franchise has trickled in magic, super serums, aliens, and everything in between to make everything digestible.

For those who have been keeping up, this movie is the ultimate reward.

There’s enough eye-candy action spectacle to go around for those only vaguely familiar with the characters. If you aren’t tempted by the notion of seeing Tom Holland’s Spider-Man fighting alongside the alien cowboy group Guardians of the Galaxy, you’re a liar. Or no fun.

Marvel movies are usually light in tone and stakes. Here, from the opening musical notes, there’s a creeping sense of dread throughout the whole thing. Marvel’s at the finish line for its first phase of movies (of course there will be more after this, going by the box office), but it’s still taking risks. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo, who previously directed the latter two Captain America films, hold nothing back here.

I’ll go out on a limb here and say this — the plot twist that takes place in the third act will be talked about as one of the biggest twists in movie history.

Fitting, because this is one of the biggest blockbusters in history. ••