Summer arrives early in the frenetic first chapter of Marvel’s cross-franchise concoction
Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War combines the casts of The Avengers, Black Panther, Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy – and probably sounded like a genius idea to studio bosses.
But in practice, it results in a stream of in-fighting with everyone trying to make their cameos stick. ‘There’s an ant man and a spider-man?’ asks Mark Ruffalo’s exasperated Bruce Banner – and that’s before you’ve made him Hulk-angry.
The nearly three-hour Infinity War pours on the action – some of it grandly operatic, some of it breezy and fun – but mainly, it’s about a big purple goon on a bling quest.
Thanos (Josh Brolin, ready to grumble) hopes to collect six Infinity Stones for his Pandora bracelet and enact a purge of “half of humanity”.
Helpfully, the script does this for him: Empty New York City streets and the grasslands of fictional Wakanda are perfect settings for battles with zero collateral damage — and zero human emotional stakes.
In their place, we get showdowns over tactics: Asgardian bro (Chris Hemsworth) versus Star-Lordian bro (Chris Pratt); arrogant billionaire (Robert Downey Jr.) versus arrogant dark-arts beardo (Benedict Cumberbatch).
When Peter Dinklage shows up as a lumbering giant with a smeltery, it feels like the movie has suddenly been whisked away by Terry Gilliam (if only).
You’ll cheer the arrival of your favourite characters (our biggest whoo-hoo came with Black Panther’s ever-furious warrior woman Okoye, played by Danai Gurira).
Yet the final moments of Infinity War are disquieting: Suddenly, a film that, mathematically speaking, has only been about addition learns how to divide.
Inevitably, some of these Avengers are going to be swept into the dustbin, and many of them are.
No spoilers here, but all it takes is a peek at forthcoming sequels to know that death is temporary. Only franchise-building is infinite.
Avengers: Infinity War
Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr.
Avengers: Infinity War
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