If the first “Avengers” movie felt like a convergence, the point toward which years of disparate superhero film franchises had been building, then the third, “Avengers: Infinity Wars,” is the beginning of the end times.
I don’t say that to mean superhero flicks are on their way out. Anything but. You can take a look at the box office tallies for this movie, “Black Panther” and other recent iterations from the Marvel Comics Universe and know they’re going to keep making them until people stop going.
But my take is that in the hereafter fans of these movies will refer to the genre in terms of “before AIW” and “after AIW.”
This is a game-changing film that takes all our hopes and dreams bound up with the modern mythology of superheroes, and dashes them against the wall. The story arc of dozens of future movies will hinge upon this movie and its sequel, due out next May.
I won’t give anything away for the few people who haven’t seen it, but before “Avengers: Infinity War” came out it was a common parlor game to guess how many characters would die in it, and choose which ones. Afterward… let’s just say a lot of people making picks were right.
You know the story. World-beater Thanos (Josh Brolin) is coming to Earth to claim the last of the Infinity Stones, which will essentially render him all-powerful. His goal: to eradicate half the living beings in the cosmos so the others can prosper on the remaining resources.
This is more than just an Avengers movie, as almost every single hero of all the Marvel franchises make appearances -- the Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man, and so on. There’s too many characters to list, but Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) are the most pivotal.
The plot lines move through a number of smaller battles, culminating in a massive one in the hidden nation of Wakanda. On a number of occasions the heroes have a chance to sacrifice one of the Stones in order to prevent Thanos from collecting them all, and decide that the principle of protecting one life is more important than emulating their enemy’s behavior.
We’ll see how that works out for them.
“Avengers: Infinity War” is the culmination of the superhero cinematic adventure that’s been growing for more than two decades. Where things go from here, I can only wait to see.
Bonus features are good, not great. There’s a feature length commentary track by directors Anthony and Joe Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely; a gag reel; four production documentary shorts totaling about a half-hour; and deleted and extended scenes adding another 10 minutes of footage.