TEN years. Nineteen films. One massive culmination. Avengers: Infinity War has finally arrived.
Never, in the history of film, have we seen a franchise like the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). All 19 films, the standalone and the Avengers group outings, have led to this point. Every action, every plot point has had a meaning beyond the confines of its own film. It is extraordinary.
The skill to weave such an intricate web has tasked a multitude of writers and directors, each bringing something unique yet with commonality. Not only this, but the film brings together a rumoured 70-plus characters. Now that really is a marvel.
It is no secret that I am a Marvel fan. I have loved the comics and characters for more years than I can remember. So this film is something I have eagerly anticipated, and also feared. Not all of these characters we have come to love will make it out alive, or so we have been led to believe.
And then comes the other issue, an open letter from the directors, Joe and Anthony Russo, to fans and critics, asking us all not to mar this film. To allow fans to watch it and enjoy it free of spoilers.
So here it is, a spoiler-free review — or as close as I can get to it. To do this, I am not going to make reference to all of the characters who appear in the film. Some are obvious from the trailers, others are a bit more of a surprise.
To know Avengers: Infinity War is to know the MCU history. We need to remember that following the events of Captain America: Civil War our heroes are disbanded. Some, like Steve ‘Captain America’ Rogers (Chris Evans) are now outlaws for refusing to sign an international superhero registration act. No one knows where Rogers is, other than those who remain loyal to him.
Tony ‘Ironman’ Stark (Robert Downey Jr), on the other hand, signed the act and is now responsible for overseeing the duties and training of the superheroes who fell in line with the registration. His protegee Peter ‘Spiderman’ Parker (Tom Holland) is struggling to balance being a teenager and a burgeoning superhero.
When we last saw Thor (Chris Hemsworth) he was fleeing the ruins of his home world with the last remaining citizens. On a ship bound for Earth with his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Bruce ‘The Hulk’ Banner (Mark Ruffalo), they have encountered Thanos (Josh Brolin), an enemy who has haunted them for many years.
Thanos is travelling the universe on a quest to find the Infinity stones. Each contains great power, and together they will make their owner unstoppable.
One stone resides in the body of Vision (Paul Bettany), another has been hidden by Loki.
Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is the keeper of one stone. He lives on earth and goes to Stark to warn him of the great danger that Thanos presents, not just to Earth but to all worlds.
The whereabouts of another stone is only known to one of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Groot (Vin Diesel) and Mantra (Pom Klementieff) are about to find out that they are not the only kickass heroes trying to save the universe.
We cannot forget Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and the people of Wakanda. He was the last Marvel hero to have his own film and some might remember that a certain ‘old friend’ of Captain America has been sheltering in Wakanda for some time. They will all have a part to play.
The simple story is this: each group will be affected by Thanos, each will have to work together if they want Earth to survive this mighty threat.
Marvel promised something special with this film and they have not failed us. It is a triumph. It meshes together countless plots and dozens of characters in a seamless fashion.
Each character gets time to shine, their storylines brought together in an explosive manner but also an emotional one.
Despite arguments and time apart, the thing that has always drawn these characters together is the heart and friendship that exists between them. This is a strong reminder of that.
This is a terrific culmination. At times hilariously funny and at times heartbreaking, it is a heart-stopping, edge of the seat whirlwind that holds its momentum marvellously.
* Rating: Five stars