The trailers for Marvel’s “The Avengers: Infinity War” were underwhelming. A plotline in which two dozen characters are thrown into a rapid series of scenes seemed similar to the Transformers series: action-packed with disorienting camerawork that tries to distract from the poorly fleshed-out plot.
But that’s not how “Infinity War” turned out. Yes, there are plenty of action scenes, and some of them were gratuitous, but that’s to be expected from a superhero film – especially one with a roughly $300 million budget.
Infinity War is really about its villain, Thanos. He’s shown in past Avengers movies with a reputation for being one of the most powerful characters in the series, but he isn’t fully developed as a character until “Infinity War.” His motivation, while extreme, is almost sympathetic.
When his home planet of Titan suffers from a lack of resources, Thanos constructs a random 50/50 drawing of the population to determine who would live and who would die. After surviving the drawing, he sets out to enact this balance across the universe by collecting six infinity stones – ancient gems with unique powers to alter concepts like reality and time – which would give him the power to wipe out half of life in the universe with a literal snap of his fingers.
The plot is cohesive, starting when Thanos acquires two of the stones, which sets a clear direction for the film, and it tactfully combines action with humor. As the heroes are warned of Thanos’s motivations and consider the few possible ways they have to stop him, they are brought together in a way that highlights their individual idiosyncrasies and talents.
It was a reminder of how Marvel has turned comic book superhero films into a billion-dollar industry over the last decade. Even intense moments of tragedy and tension are balanced with the humor that makes comic books and characters lovable.
The main issue with “Infinity War” wasn’t the plot, the corny name of the “infinity stones” or the fact that Thanos’s purple head looks like a poorly maintained big toenail. The problem is that there are so many core characters. Viewers need to have an understanding of past movies to fully appreciate “Infinity War.”
To be fair, it’s almost impossible to make such a massive film like this without assuming viewers are familiar with the characters. To try to reintroduce every single character would be taxing and repetitive. It would ruin the film, and that’s why every major character in the film was introduced beforehand in separate movies.
For the casual viewer, it’s confusing to see so many unknown characters, and the only alternative is to watch hours of sequels and other movies to understand who everyone is.
But the movie was still enjoyable without character background information, because their actions follow an understandable line of logic, and they make decisions that fall in line with their personalities.
“Infinity War” is not predictable, and it brings the audience close to characters and their motivations. Thanos’s desire for destruction is complex and sympathetic, and the ending is unexpected because it isn’t shocking just for the sake of shock value.