Anthony and Joe Russo juggle a galaxy of superheroes in interesting and dramatic ways
Technically speaking, Avengers: Infinity War is the third in a series of four planned Avengers films, and part of an ever-expanding universe of Marvel films thats seemingly infinite. Call it the Marvel industrial complex. Its easy to be cynical about the mechanics of the cash-cow franchise, which trades on cliffhangers and the knowledge that its ticket-buying (and merchandise-buying) audience is guaranteed, even if the quality of its films isnt.
This chaotic but surprisingly nimble instalment, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, brings together an eye-popping ensemble cast of A-listers (imagine the table read!) and pushes them into playful new configurations. Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), is paired with Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland); Thor (Chris Hemsworth) buddies up with the Guardians of the Galaxy (including a teenage Groot); Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America (Chris Evans), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) pick up Vision (Paul Bettany) and Wanda Maximoff, AKA Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and seek refuge in Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman)s Wakanda. Gamora (Zoe Saldana, who receives the films fullest emotional arc) goes it alone.
All are united in their goal to stop Josh Brolins Thanos (CGI-ed into a hulking purple brute with a corrugated chin, like a fluted French madeleine), from acquiring the full set of Infinity Stones, with which hed have the power to end, or at least irrevocably alter, the universe.
The films strength is dramatic stakes for its complicated, easy-to-love characters, which renders the downbeat ending genuinely audacious. For this viewer, who is only nominally interested in the Marvel universe (Ive seen and liked some, switched off during others) and without a comprehensive understanding of each comics intricate, Magnolia-esque web of interconnected backstories, it still worked. For a fan? I imagine its magic.
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