Avengers Infinity War Is Breaking Box Office Records But... Is It Any Good?
Is Marvel's latest superhero smash-up a celebration of a decade or just a cash grab?
It's no small claim to say Marvel's latest film, Avengers: Infinity War, is a massive success. The film has landed the biggest box office opening of ALL TIME, beating Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Fate of the Furious for global and domestic box office records.
The film boasts an enormous cast bringing together most of Earth's mightiest heroes for an incredibly ambitious culmination of a decade of Marvel's Cinematic Universe. Bringing together The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and almost all the properties Marvel has been building up over the last 10 years to face their biggest foe yet.
Infinity War sees the long-hyped villain of Thanos finally making his arrival as he attempts to collect six powerful gems, the Infinity Stones, which are scattered across the universe. Thanos' ultimate plan is to adorn a glove, the Infinity Gauntlet, to wipe out half the universe. Yep, his plan is to get some gorgeous jewels to adorn his stunning golden glove. It’s called fashion hunny, look it up.
The film is getting mixed reviews, and for good reason. The filmmakers, the Russo brothers, asked audiences and critics not to spoil the ending of the film, or any of the surprises contained therein, because so much of the film relies on the element of honest surprise.
It's making an absolute ton of money, and it has everyone talking... but, again, IS it actually a good film?
It really depends. Many critics are calling it a cash-grab, criticising the film for being all sizzle and no sausage, a tease to the currently untitled Avengers 4.
Infinity War ends on a cliff-hanger of mega proportions that makes its massive two hours and 40-minute run-time seem like a messy, extended trailer for the next film. At the same time, anyone who had read the comic or paid any attention to the marketing for the film would have seen it coming. The entire film was a tense build-up to one moment, a snap decision.
There’s also the handling of the cast, with a huge ensemble featuring performances from Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Chadwick Boseman, Chris Pratt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Ruffalo, Elisabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Tom Holland, Zoe Saldana, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Tom Hiddleston, Pom Klementieff and Josh Brolin. That's not even the full cast!!! It’s barely scratching the surface.
Most characters aren’t even introduced, it’s assumed you’ve seen them in their previous films, to introduce each character would probably add another hour to the marathon runtime.
Some parts of the film just don't work, there's clunky dialogue, Peter Dinklage does a really terrible accent and for a Marvel film there’s barely any gratuitous male shirtlessness. It's not a perfect film and it might not stand up to a repeated watch when not showing on a gigantic screen. Scaling the film down would quite likely take away the urgency and tension out of the most affecting moments.
So sure, it’s not necessarily a perfect film, it has pros and cons going for it, but there has to be some credit where credit is due.
Interestingly one of the film's biggest critics right before it opened was filmmaker James Cameron. Cameron was quoted as saying he hoped audiences started to get tired of Marvel's films.
"Not that I don't love the movies," the filmmaker said, "It's just, come on guys, there are other stories to tell..."
Okay, completely skipping over the irony that James Cameron is saying there are other stories to tell while also hyping up his plans for FOUR follow-ups to his 2009 film Avatar, it's also curious that Cameron refuses to acknowledge what Marvel and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige are accomplishing.
When Cameron released Avatar he was slammed for the film's completely unoriginal plot. There were comparisons to Pocahontas, Fern Gully, Dances with Wolves and many, many other films and books. What Cameron WAS doing was implementing 3D filmmaking in a totally new way, and it caught the curiosity and wonder of audiences. Avatar wasn’t a revolution in storytelling but was an important step in filmmaking. Essentially, Infinity War can be viewed in a similar way.
After 10 years of successfully building a cinematic universe the comic book studio has woven a mythology and structure to their films. Though historically formulaic Marvel has recently started to play with these standalone films, allowing stronger directorial voices into the fray resulting in films like Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok and Ryan Coogler's Black Panther.
What Infinity War did incredibly well was capitalise on this decade everything that Marvel had set up and essentially begin to deconstruct it. Infinity War isn't just the third Avengers film, but it also wrangles, responds and engages with every other film before it. It's a new kind of storytelling, one that hasn't been implemented in this scale.
Marvel have been at the forefront of crafting a new distribution model for films. No other studio has ever crafted such an integrated “universe”. After ten years of building this world Marvel are now ready to turn things on their heads, and Infinity War is a brilliant first step.
Avengers: Infinity War is in cinemas now.