My first take on the film is that I loved it. Everyone who I have talked to has loved it, and several are planning to watch it again in theaters. For such a large cast and zealous project, I feel that it was incredibly well done, and is a spectacle in its own right. I am going to try to avoid spoilers just below and will mention when there are some.
In terms of bringing the story arcs together, I think that there weren’t any real weak points and each of the actors ran with their moment in the spotlight. It’s hard to narrow it down to just a handful of favorites, but I would like to name a few.
Zoe Saldana as Gamora has established herself as this generation’s leading sci-fi actress in my opinion. She gave what I would argue is the strongest performance in a film with many. Just as she is the glue of the Guardians franchise, she was the glue of this third Avengers entry as well.
Josh Brolin as Thanos was probably the best motion-capped performance that I’ve seen outside of Andy Serkis as Gollum. It’s very impressive that as a new character, he was able to steal the screen ahead of so many already fleshed-out characters. Thanos was easily the most powerful force in the Marvel universe and his motives were believable and judicious. His drive and conviction poked and prodded the heroes in ways yet to be seen. And even though he was very powerful, he did have flaws that aren’t often seen with almighty antagonists.
I also thought that this was Robert Downey Jr’s best performance as Tony Stark/Iron Man. With every new entry, his role as this character is becoming more and more iconic. His relationship with Tom Holland’s Peter Parker has really evolved over their three shared films, and they have excellent chemistry. I look forward to the continuation of that relationship.
Cumberbatch, Hemsworth, and Pratt all did well in their roles, too. Doctor Strange was the brains of the film, Thor was the humanity of it, and Star-Lord was the raw emotion. All three of the cosmic heroes stood out more than the rest of their ‘grounded’ counterparts for me.
Moving on from my immediate thoughts on individual performances, I want to dispel some misunderstandings about Infinity War that I have seen written as plot holes or goofs. I’m not going to defend this film to the death, since every film has flaws, but I have been seeing a lot of pieces on major sites miss or ignore obvious plot points in criticizing the film. So the next few paragraphs will have spoilers.
First, I feel like a lot of people are blaming Peter Quill for being emotional immediately after finding out that the person closest to him in the galaxy had died, to the point of calling him dumb and being the catalyst for all things bad. He responded exactly in the manner that Doctor Strange had intended, setting up the events of the one timeline where Thanos can be defeated. Despite ample opportunity to stop him, Doctor Strange (easily the most powerful hero in the MCU at present) allowed everything to happen exactly as it did after traveling to millions of timelines. And Quill responded exactly as you would expect him to given the of external stimuli. He even acted similarly in his last film appearance. In Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, despite being under celestial mind-control, Quill is broken out of it and rampages when he finds out Ego (his long-lost father who he was very much enamored with) kills his mother. So, I really don’t see a problem here with the motives or actions of the heroes on Titan.
Second, I have been reading that Gamora leading the Guardians to Thanos on Knowhere is somehow a plothole. The people writing this don’t know the difference between a plothole and a character making a poor or risky decision based on their established personalities. Thanos is already the most powerful being in the universe, and with each passing second he is getting stronger, Soul Stone or not. (I think the rise and fall in villainy in the MCU is directly tied with Odin) With the six infinity stones, we know Thanos can take out half of the universe with a snap. With two, three, four, or five he can and would still commit genocide, just not with a snap. They explain it in the film, even. Gamora felt as if she was equipped to stop him, especially if she was first to the Reality Stone. It was a gamble, and a reasonable one, but one that she lost. This is like blaming Luke Skywalker for going to fight Vader woefully unprepared to save his friends. It’s a risk, and also one that raises the stakes. You don’t always punt on 4th down. (Especially if you are a Guardian)
Third, I have read that Thanos’ ultimate solution of destroying half of the universe is nonsensical, as he could just make everyone’s lives better instead. Okay people, he’s an antagonist, so his motives are going to be a little unsettling. Let’s not forget the type of people driven to this type of power in our own existence. They’re all mad dictators who have committed genocide while thinking they were doing the right thing. And, if you take the Bubonic Plague as an example from our own history, you could argue that life got better for most afterwards. Given that it happened to him on Titan, you could see how he set laser-sights on proving himself during the events of this film. He’s mad, and justifies his motives as villains do. It doesn’t make him right, but it does justify his actions. You could very much make a ‘greater good’ argument if you do not value individuality as much as the collective course of events. And what’s to say that using the Infinity Gauntlet doesn’t have unintended effects if he seeks to feed all people or some other altruism. This is Genie in a Bottle 101.
Moving on from tackling some criticisms of the film, I was really moved by what I saw. The trademark MCU humor was present, and the choreography and new powers displayed were a treat. The Red Skull reappearance was one I asked for earlier, and was shocked to actually see him there again. The stakes felt very real and you didn’t feel like characters were escaping this one with a brush of the shoulder. Lives were lost and mistakes were made. On top of another perfect entry by the Russos, Silvestri created an amazing score, and the choice to go with silence during the final scenes was a powerful move. The last few minutes of the film were dead silence in my theater, and the ending had me almost begging not to see characters fade away. Much like the Infinity Gauntlet arc in the comics was at the peak of quality for comic books, Infinity War was at the peak of quality for comic book movies.
Before I go, let’s take a look at user scores and box office results after the first weekend:
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Box Office (To Date): $258 Million (Domestic) $641 Million (Worldwide)
It shattered the record for the highest overall opening weekend, and amassed the highest domestic opening weekend ever. (Of all films, not just the MCU). It has already grossed more than six of the nineteen films in their entire runs. It remains to be seen if Infinity War will be the highest-grossing film of all time, but it is the fastest to $150, $200, and $250 million domestically and had the highest international opening weekend despite not including China. After this weekend it looks very possible.
In terms of how it has been received by movie-goers, it’s currently sitting in the Top 10 of IMDB ratings with a 9.0. In the MCU, it’s ahead of Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers who both rest at 8.1. Surely it will drop from 9.0 over time, but I don’t think it will drop over a point to stand below the other films. It also currently sits at a 93% fan score on Rotten Tomatoes, 1 point ahead of both Captain America: Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy. As for Metacritic user scores, it has the highest of the MCU with an 8.8, ahead of Guardians of the Galaxy at 8.6.
Infinity War is liked by the general public, despite critics not frothing at the mouth over it like they did Star Wars: The Last Jedi (for reasons unknown to anyone with a set of eyes and a brain). It has middling scores from critics on Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes from critics, sitting at 9th (RT) and 10th (MC) respectively. This is a strong example of how critics can collectively be out of touch with films in an established series. Many critics judged it as a standalone film, and harshly at that. I just don’t think you can objectively remove this film from the larger story being told, and I think it is unfair to do so in any case without fair acknowledgement. Fans aren’t going in with a mindset of forgetting the last ten years of events leading to this film, and even casual movie-goers will have a decent idea of what has happened.
Film critics have recently ignored prior installments in a series when it’s convenient to their viewpoints, ultimately making sites like Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes less useful for the cinema-goer. They certainly are for me, now that I attend the cinema less often. It’s a disservice to their readers and poor journalism when these critic reviews are less useful than fan reviews on message boards, which come out immediately after the fact. Surely Return of the King was not judged as a discrete entry when it won Best Picture. How could you separate it from the prior two? Conversely, critics seem oblivious to what makes fans upset when recent entries of established franchises just miss the mark. Sure they’re just opinions, but they’re hard to respect when they are so warped. I digress. Diversity is the spice of life. This has little to do with Infinity War, except that I feel that critics were unjustly harsh on it.
Where does it rank for me? It’s among the cream of the crop. It sits level with my three other favorites, which are the Guardians films and Winter Soldier. There’s not much difference between the four for me, and in some ways Infinity War excels past the others. For such an ambitious crossover, it came together better than I could have dreamed. After Ant-Man & Wasp in July, it’s going to be a long wait for me and other Marvel fans, with Captain Marvel and Avengers Part 4 coming out next spring.