I think I can safely say that this is the biggest cinematic crossover ever. What even comes close? The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? The Monster Squad? Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Okay, that last one is a strong contender, but I digress. After 10 years of setting up characters and stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it all comes together with Avengers: Infinity War. We’re in the endgame of MCU March, so heads up: a LOT happens so the review section is going to be a bit long.
Opening immediately after the end of Thor: Ragnarok, Thanos and his henchmen, the Black Order, have attacked the Asgardian ship in search of the Tesseract, AKA the Space Stone. Thanos already has the Power Stone after destroying the Nova Corp (last seen in Guardians of the Galaxy) between movies. Thanos takes the second Infinity Stone, kills Loki, and beats the fuck out of the Hulk before Heimdall teleports the jade giant away. Hulk, transforming back into Bruce Banner, crash lands in Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, warning that Thanos is coming. Strange collects Iron Man, but the gathering is interrupted by the arrival of two Black Order members–Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian–seeking Strange’s Time Stone. Spider-Man joins the fight but Doctor Strange is captured. Iron Man and Spider-Man sneak aboard the departing alien spaceship to try and save the wizard.
Out in space, the Guardians of the Galaxy (now with Mantis, who joined in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) come across the ruined Asgardian ship and a still living Thor. While talking about the Infinity Stones, he mentions no one knows where the Soul Stone is, but a look on Gamora’s face says that’s wrong. Thor, Rocket, and Teen Groot go to get the God of Thunder a new weapon (after Mjolnir was destroyed in Thor: Ragnarok), while Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, and Mantis try to beat Thanos to the Reality Stone, held by the Collector in Knowhere (given to him in Thor: The Dark World).
Meanwhile, Wanda and Vision are having a secret romantic rendezvous (remember, they were on opposite sides during Captain America: Civil War) when two more Black Order Members–Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive–attack them, seeking Vision’s Mind Stone (bestowed to him in Avengers: Age of Ultron). Captain America and his band of renegades drive them off, and that group heads to Wakanda (last seen in Black Panther) to figure out how to remove the Infinity Stone while keeping Vision alive.
At Knowhere, half of the Guardians find that Thanos has the Reality Stone and and can’t stop him as he escapes with Gamora. He tortures Nebula in front of his favorite daughter until she reveals the location of the Soul Stone. Traveling to Vormir, Thanos and Gamora encounter the Soul Stone’s guardian, the man once known as the Red Skull (last seen in Captain America: The First Avenger and since recast with Mr. Ross Marquand). One must sacrifice something they love to get the Stone, and Thanos sacrifices Gamora. Four Stones down, two to go.
Doctor Strange, Iron Man, and Spider-Man meet up with Star-Lord, Drax, and Mantis on Thanos’ homeworld of Titan (extra Fun Fact, Thanos is from Saturn’s moon Titan in the comics) and plan on ambushing Thanos when he comes for the Time Stone. The plan almost works, but Star-Lord fucks it up when he finds out Thanos killed Gamora. Doctor Strange gives Thanos the Time Stone in order to save Iron Man’s life, indicating that this is all a part of the only way to defeat Thanos (and he should know since he looked at 14 million possible outcomes). In Wakanda, Shuri works on backing up Vision’s entire essence while the present Avengers, along with Black Panther, War Machine, and Bucky, fight off Proxima, Cull, and their seemingly endless horde of monster minions. Thor gets his new hammer, Stormbreaker, and uses its connection to the Bifrost to teleport himself, Rocket, and Groot to Wakanda to help out. Realizing they’re out of time, Wanda destroys the Mind Stone, killing Vision but foiling Thanos. Too bad he has the Time Stone, undoes that heroic sacrifice, and gets the last stone by killing Vision.
Thor misses a killing blow, and Thanos snaps his gauntleted fingers. He teleports away as half of all live in the universe turns to dust. That includes Black Panther, Bucky, Doctor Strange, Drax, Falcon, Groot, Mantis, Shuri, Spider-Man, Star-Lord, and Wanda, as well as other characters we’ll get to tomorrow. The movie ends with the remaining Avengers realizing they’ve lost, while Thanos retires to a farm planet, having accomplished his mission.
The post-credits scene shows Maria Hill and Nick Fury reacting to the sudden disappearances before disappearing themselves. But not before Fury sends off a message via a pager, something that gets fully explained in Captain Marvel.
The point of a movie like this is the spectacle. Holy shit, you got all these different characters, built up between 18 movies, and threw them together! This is a treat for your nerd brain, but it’s my nerd brain that can’t help but pick at a few points that stand out to me. After getting beaten by Thanos, Bruce Banner is unable to transform into the Hulk. Why? Well, if you read interviews with directors Anthony & Joe Russo, they’ll say that the Hulk is fed up with Banner not respecting him, a plot thread coming straight from Thor: Ragnarok. Does that come across in the movie? No, not really. That interview was designed to put to bed the theory that the Hulk was afraid of Thanos and that’s why he avoiding fighting. But again, that’s information presented outside the film itself. If you wanted us to know that point, make it clear in your movie! You can say whatever you want, but I’m going to keep believing that Hulk was afraid of facing a second beatdown.
Also the directors said in another interview that if Star-Lord hadn’t freaked out on Thanos, the Mad Titan would have been defeated. Considering Doctor Strange looked at 14 million possible outcomes and only one of them worked–the path the heroes will take in Avengers: Endgame–he either never looked at the possibility of Star-Lord not fucking things up, or Star-Lord was always destined to make things worse. Either way, not your best moment, dude.
COMIC BOOK FUN FACT! Thanos’ motivations in the comics, as told during the Infinity Gauntlet 6-part series (1991), are simpler: he wants to fuck the personification of Death. She’s upset that more people are alive today than have ever died–a claim so bonkers I had to read it three times before it made any sense–so Thanos, having already acquired the Infinity Gems during The Thanos Quest #1-2 (1990), snaps away half of all life in the universe. While the surviving Earth heroes deal with the aftermath, Thanos gets pissy that Death is still ignoring him so he does mature things like throw a temper tantrum that knocks Earth off it’s axis and creates his own waifu, Terraxia. No, I’m not kidding. Meanwhile, the heroes are gathered together by Adam Warlock (a character hinted at in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2). While just about every hero left rushes to fight Thanos head on, Adam reveals to the Silver Surfer that they’re all going to die because Thanos is utterly unstoppable. Oh, and Nebula is there next to Thanos, that’ll be important later. What happens next? Find out in the Avengers: Endgame Comic Book Fun Fact!
Also, in issue #2 a Trump casino gets destroyed by a tidal wave a quarter of a mile high, so that’s fun.
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