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It's all very simple, really: Thanos, one of the most powerful villains in the Marvel universe (think Darkseid, you DC fans), has come up with a cool new way to cut down on universal overpopulation: Kill overpopulation. Literally.
Like any good villain, Thanos (remarkably played as a kinda/sorta normal guy by Josh Brolin) doesn't think he's a villain at all. In fact, over the course of Avengers: Infinity War we learn his reasoning, and he's actually pretty sincere, for a murderous egomaniac.
Lined up against him, and equally sincere: Every single character EVER to appear in a Marvel superhero movie.
Okay, maybe not every one. I'd have loved to see Martin Freeman's CIA agent character from Black Panther, if only long enough for him to encounter Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange in passing. (They have history, you see.) There are a few notable absences, three I could think of off the top of my head, two I could think of off the bottom, and one who gets a first ever movie mention. Otherwise ... well, otherwise just about everyone is there--according to one count, 76 good and bad guys transplanted from the comics and previous movies.
|Let's see: one, two, three ... oh, never mind.|
Holy cow, Batman. (Batman doesn't appear, but believe it or not, there is one DC related mention.)
So, does this movie have a plot, or do they just walk by one after another and wave to the camera? In other words, how in the world can they pull this off?
The answer to that, as it turns out, is that they can pull it off very well. Very well, indeed.
Thanos is on the hunt to collect the six Infinity Stones, artifacts from the beginning of the universe. When put together into the Infinity Gauntlet, they would give him unimaginable power, to do such things as, say, wipe out out overpopulation, not to mention population. Viewers of previous Marvel movies already know where some of the stones are, and as the movie opens we find Thanos collecting one. But during that opening battle one of the opposing heroes gets sent to Earth, where he warns Earth's mightiest heroes that they might have to, you know, Avenge those Thanos has already killed.
|Cool bling, dude.|
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo and writers Chrstopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (there are sixteen credited writers, including character creators) come into their own here, and the first thing they do is shake things up by dividing the various teams involved. Some of the Avengers stay on Earth, others go into space; the ones in space find themselves teamed with various members of the Guardians of the Galaxy. For many of our heroes, it all culminates in an epic conflict in the African nation of Wakanda, where we encounter our favorites from Black Panther.
It could so easily have been an overwhelming mess. Instead, it's incredible. So many characters get their own arc, yet the movie isn't confusing or overwhelming, even in some giant battle sequences. There's the humor we've come to expect from Marvel, but also a sense of the incredible stakes. There are call-outs to previous movies, and new team-ups that will make fans joyful. My two favorite new pairs were ... fun. (Spoilers!) It's a long movie, but it has to be--and it's worth every minute.
|Go look up the video. You kinda have to be there.|
Entertainment value: 5 out of 4 M&M's, the good brown ones. That's right: Avengers: Infinity War is better than perfect. In fact, I only had one issue, which stemmed from the fact that I didn't know something about Marvel's future plans, and that's all I can say about it.
Oscar potential: 4 out of 4 M&M's. Oh, that doesn't mean they'll actually see a nomination. But to put that many characters together, pulling in details from so many other movies, and have it not only make sense but be great--incredible.