Marvel have planned this film for 10 years over seventeen movies. Creating the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), by slowly re/gaining the rights to characters, allowing them to create their own movie studio in charge of their own destiny.
This represents the ultimate mash up movie, incorporating many comic book favourite characters into one film, all joining together to fight the ultimate universe destroying villain “Thanos” (Josh Brolin).
The plot revolves around Thanos attempting to find all six “Infinity Stones” (Movie McGuffin, designed to drive a plot forward). This would enable him to complete his stated genocidal quest, to solve the Universe’s resource problem.
This is a dark place to start a comic book mega movie, which at times appears to endorse an “ends justify the means” world view.
The film commences with some “sacred cows” being “de-emphasised” and without being plot spoilerly, this continues later in the film.
With this many characters on the screen, it would be easy for the film to become an incoherent mess. Joint directors Anthony Russo, Joe Russo have done a superb job keeping the film together, yet allowing individual superheroes to shine.
The Guardians Of The Galaxy team (Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper & Chris Pratt) get to join the established gang, arguably bringing the best comedy, character development and fun to the film. Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) gets plenty to do, “Thor” (Chris Hemsworth) gets some of the best lines, renaming Rocket as “Rabbit” and Groot “Tree”, easy mistakes to make.
“Tony Stark” (Robert Downey Jr.) is as usual a bit more po-faced and continues his father/son dynamic with the young “Spiderman” (Tom Holland). “Black Widow” (Scarlett Johansson) and “Captain America” (Chris Evans) eventually get roped in, as usual Evans walking off with the acting honours.
“The Hulk” (Mark Ruffalo) has a lesser role and somehow feels a bit diminished as he struggles to get angry when the moment requires it, a sort of superhero “Performance Anxiety” if you will. We also get to see the newest successful spin off character “Black Panther” (Chadwick Boseman) and one key sequence is located within the fictional “Wakanda”
Technically the film is well put together, seemingly employing earth’s entire VFX houses and artists, if the credits are to be believed. All the $200m plus budget is there on the screen to behold, it does not disappoint from a spectacle point of view.
Arguably the most fun sequence is with Thor, Rocket and Groot and their attempts to locate and forge a Thanos killing weapon, with the help of “Eitri” presumably ironically portrayed by Peter Dinklage.
Of course everyone only wants to talk about the ending, which we will not spoiler here, the post credit sting points to a continuation in the next movie “Avengers 4”, which is when some of the main character actors contracts are allegedly “up”.
Emotional for comic book geeks perhaps but arguably difficult for a more casual viewer to get engaged, without knowing whether any event is real and final.
Safe to say that Marvel, Disney and their announced scheduling, coupled with real word economics might suggest things are not always what they seem, with some endings fixed and some merely dust on the wind.
Highly enjoyable and better than you might have feared, this is a true movie event, which is both coherent and great fun, presumably concluding next May in “Avengers 4”
Whether this represents the end, the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning or any other variation thereof remains to be seen.