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– by Joseph Jammer Medina

This is it. This is the film that audiences have been waiting for ever since Tony Stark met Nick Fury at the end of that first Iron Man film. Back then, anything that could reach the level of Avengers: Infinity War it was just a pipe dream, but when that first Avengers film hit, Marvel Studios realized they had the potential to pull off something that had never been done before — and something that could potentially never be pulled off as successfully again.

In Avengers: Infinity War, we are finally introduced to the Mad Titan Thanos. For some time now, he has been in search of the mysterious Infinity Stones. When he collects all six and places them into the Infinity Gauntlet, he’ll have the ability to eliminate half of the inhabitants of the universe. Why, you ask? Well, apparently, the resources in the universe are finite, and the only way ensure its continued survival is to completely eliminate half of everyone from existence — it’s a comic book movie, so no need to think too hard about how that actually works.

Needless to say, our heroes on Earth (The Avengers) and throughout the galaxy (Thor and the Guardians) aren’t too happy with this arrangement. As Thanos collects these Infinity Stones, the Avengers and Guardians find themselves on the opposing side of this behemoth force that is Thanos.

Without a doubt, directors Joe and Anthony Russo had a gargantuan task on their hands with this film. How could they possibly handle upwards of 23 superheroes in a single film? It’s a question that’s plagued other films for decades, and unless the perfect balance is struck, it’s easy to feel underwhelmed. Luckily, they have frequent collaborators Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely behind the script, and on the whole, I think they succeed.

 

The way they manage to have each character sort of get their moment without getting lost in the shuffle is an obvious, tried-and-true one — split them up. This film is most ambitious in that regard, as it doesn’t really follow any one particular Avenger, but is rather more of a tapestry of tales. Each group has a specific narrative goal, and we pretty much follow them in said goal (notice I’m being super vague about everything — no spoilers, I promise!). Luckily for us, all of their goals are interesting and engaging, so I was never disappointed when we dropped one group to follow another. However, this all had a predictable effect.

Because this story is more of a tapestry and ensemble than standalone film, it lacks a coherent narrative drive. Many folks joke that Captain America: Civil War was actually Avengers 2.5, and while that film may have around a dozen heroes, it has a single focal point — Captain America. That fact helped to give the movie an extra added emotional weight that would have otherwise been difficult to achieve. So what does that mean for Infinity War, a film that doesn’t have that focal point? While the overall storytelling here is about as strong as those past two films, because it lacks a real focal character, its overall impact, to me, was a bit muted. It did slightly suffer from its lack of a real lead and emotional throughline.

The directors and producer Kevin Feige have said on multiple occasions that Thanos could perhaps be seen as the focal point of the film. Yes, I will say there is a good amount of screen time spent on the character. We get to know his motivations, and I think he is up there in terms of overall strong villains (I still don’t think he beats out Loki and Killmonger though, personally), but at the end of the day he is still very much the antagonist of the story. He doesn’t quite have enough pull for me to consider him the backbone of the flick.

This was a fun experiment of a story that they spun here with Avengers: Infinity War, and while I think it’s mostly a success, I also think there will be some fans out there who are underwhelmed by what it has to offer. At the end of the day, it feels like the film was a series of action scenes. I was always entertained, but the lack of a real spine at the front really did make it that even the most prominent of characters felt underutilized.

There are a handful of other important aspects that I can’t get into it without spoiling it, but it’s because of those aspects that I’m having such a hard time pinning this film down. It’s a solid flick, no doubt. It’s no Avengers: Age of Ultron in terms of disappointment, but I don’t think it’ll bring the same excitement as the first Avengers did (though that’s admittedly an unfair comparison). Though because of those aforementioned “important aspects,” it’s almost impossible to actually pin down a review score that I’ll feel comfortable sticking with. When asked in person how I felt, I emphasize that it’s “good.” It isn’t as fulfilling as I wanted it to be, for the reasons I said above, but it wasn’t disappointing, either. It was still an exciting, nail-biting ride — and one that was entertaining throughout (I was never bored), and I think my wishy-washiness on the subject is something many audiences will understand once they have seen the film.

I’ve never done this before, but for now, I’m going to give the film a B-, with the option to raise it or lower it depending on how I feel after seeing one or two more times.

Grade: B-

Will you be checking out Avengers: Infinity War when it comes out this weekend? Let me know your thoughts down below!

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Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.