Peter Parker: Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good.
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
For such a long time throughout the MCU, the impending arrival of Thanos was hyped. He was hyped up for so long that people almost got skeptical of him. Well in 2018 we finally got the big purple giant himself in all his glory in this movie. And it proves to be one heck of a ride from beginning to end.
The story involves the villainous Thanos (Josh Brolin) who has taken over and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki’s (Tom Hiddelston) ship, destroyed everyone on it, and subdues Thor, kills Loki, and even takes down the Hulk. Hulk however makes his way to Earth reverting back to Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) in the process and informs the other heroes that Thanos is coming. Thanos sends out his minions to find the other Infinity Stones so he can put them all on the Infinity Gauntlet to wipe out half of humanity believing that when a population gets too big they can also get too dangerous and thus wiping them out randomly will bring balance to the world. Thus all the heroes must find the stones before Thanos and stop him.
What would have been really bad in any other movie is made really good in this one. This movie has to juggle so many superheroes. In fact there are only two superheroes we know that are actually absent in all this. But the movie manages to give every character we know and love in this movie something to do even if the appearance is just a cameo. There is no introduction to any of these characters. There’s no time given to talk about the characters’ emotions or backstories of the sort. All the heroes are pretty much going headfirst into the action. But we’ve had so many movies to learn about these characters that we want to see the interactions off one another when they come together. The more the Avengers try to come together the further they are split apart due to the stones being spread far across the galaxy. And this results in not only classic interactions with the characters which are as fun as ever but also some enjoyable new ones as well such as Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) meeting Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy, etc. Both Iron Man and Dr. Strange have often been described as similar to one another which results in them not getting along, Thor and Star-Lord are confident fighters and try to outdo one another, Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) often looks for Stark’s approval which results in a father-son connection between the two. Even though these characters are fighting among each other and never stay in the same place very long, there’s just enough time to make a connection and the interactions use the right words to establish likable relationships. Even through the fighting, these characters are so well defined that there is a legitimate charm. Even when the heroes don’t get along, they are set up so well and are still funny with their quips. All the cast members do a wonderful job and even though some characters like Ned and Red Skull don’t say or do much in this movie, they are still nice to see and actually are doing to play to the plot, which serves as a testament to how well defined this universe is.
Whereas the past Avengers movies have ended on a happy note in some way or other, this went out on quite a chilling note. Thanos actually succeeds in completing the Infinity Gauntlet and wiping out half the population including some of the heroes. Even though we know these guys aren’t going to stay dead forever, it still makes an impact in how disturbing it is. There’s no music, screams, or attempt to fight it. All the heroes die in silent sadness or just as confused as the survivors. The only exception to this is Peter’s death as he actually knows what’s happening thanks to his spider-sense, is suffering through the pain of it, trying his hardest to fight it with his super strength, but ultimately failing. Tom Holland’s performance is amazing as it once again captures the fact that Peter is just a kid and he is just terrified of his death and breaks down into Stark’s arms and apologizes repeatedly before turning into dust like the others.
Ross Marquand as Red Skull in particular despite being a replacement for Hugo Weaving as the character, still did well in capturing the character. It was to a point that it wasn’t until I watched the credits that I realized they had used a different actor.
The strongest part of this movie however, lies in the character of Thanos. Josh Brolin looks great with some incredible motion-capture. The MCU has been setting this guy up as a big deal since 2012 and it would have been horrible had the movie made him another disposable villain like Yellowjacket. But the movie really gives a frightening image to this guy in just how powerful he is with and without the gauntlet and makes him an interesting character by taking the time to dive into his twisted relationship with his daughters Gamora and Nebula as well as the things that go in his mind, the things he cares about, his motives and how he carries them out.
The action is grand and well executed, particularly in the final battle but it’s mostly what we’ve all seen before with the Avengers battling a cannon fodder army and the movie doesn’t do much new with it. And the Russo brothers have shown they’ve been able to do unique and exceptional action sequences in the Winter Soldier and Civil War making it a tad upsetting that they weren’t able to do the same with this final battle. The one battle that does stick out is Dr. Strange, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man, and Iron Man vs. Thanos and it felt crafted out of a comic book in all the right ways. You see the Avengers combining and playing on their gimmicks and it’s legitimately entertaining and greatly choreographed. Only problem was that it was only for a couple of minutes before they subdue him and Quill does the thing that pretty much caused a huge amount of the fandom to turn on him.
In any case, this movie was well worth the wait. It manages to balance out so many characters and has a lot of big effects, story, characters, and battles. The weight of all the past films comes on this one and because of it the impact of it all is so big. The greatest strength of Marvel is that it knows just how much to keep and just how much to change up and that was sharply embodied in this movie. With Endgame nearing upon us, no doubt there will be several changes that will shake up the MCU and its fanbase.