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Review: ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ (Spoilers)

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Review: ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ (Spoilers)

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Warning: this review contains spoilers

One of the first dates I wrote in my agenda at the beginning of the school year was the date of the Infinity War premier (adjusted later thanks to Robert Downey Jr.). I grew up reading the comics and watching the cheesy 1990s cartoons of Marvel. The first modern Marvel movie I saw in theaters was the first “The Avengers.” I saw it three times in a week. I was hooked. It seemed so strange that this film was finally here, after so much waiting, so many theories, and so much anticipation. Marvel delivered, almost too well.

“Infinity War” is what it promised to be: a film almost bursting with stars and heroes, a culmination of ten years of storytelling and character development. A film that would delight fans with hero interactions and humor, but break our hearts as well.

The quips and one-liners returned in full force. I couldn’t help but smile as I saw the different teams and franchises collide, watching Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) meet Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) meet Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), and of course, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) meet Groot (Vin Diesel) in one of the most wholesome scenes I have ever had the pleasure to witness. Marvel could have coasted on this alone, the coming together, some humor, a few great fight scenes. But all the assembling brought another feeling: a dreadful apprehension.

Josh Brolin shines as Thanos. He makes the years of after credits scenes and easter eggs worth it. He is ominous. Seeing him in full, not eclipsed in shadow, is startling. He truly is a main character with complicated motivation that could almost be understood and sympathized with, if he, you know, wasn’t destroying your childhood in real time.  He’s not an “evil for the sake of evil” villian, a model Marvel often resorts too. His slow, steady seizure of the infinity stones across gorgeously rendered planets and his gradual increase in power builds anxiety until the very end.

I confess, Marvel knows its audience. They knew we were ready to let go. To watch Steve hand the shield to Bucky, to watch Tony will his tech to Peter Parker, to watch T’Challa open Wakanda and lead the new Avengers into a new era. So Marvel took the new heroes from us in one of the most emotional scenes in cinema. The slow disappearing, the faint last words, and Peter Parker, the geeky and naive Spider-Man we’ve always wanted dying in Tony’s arms, gave the film a devastating solemnity. Captain America’s confusion and despair as he realizes that our heroes have lost, really lost, for the first time and the soft, tones of the original theme song cut deeply. Marvel built a universe for us and then destroyed it with a snap of their fingers, literally.

The dark tones of the franchise started in “Captain America: Civil War” intensified, almost to a fault. The loss of characters and the team losing is important. The ending speaks with candor about the role and failings of heroes and most likely leads quite well into the the next movie, but the cliffhanger is close to cruel. I also hoped for a final coming together of the two remaining groups at the end, and yes, a reunion of Steve and Tony with closure to the events of “Civil War.” The struggle to keep the narrative together and united was thus always lurking beneath the surface, but the Russo brothers persevered.

Despite needing the box of tissues I smuggled in in my purse, it truly was a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience. “Infinity War” is truly a precedent setting film. It was true to the characters we love and heartbreaking for that very reason. It deserves an A.

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