Ten years is a long time for most of us. For Marvel Studios, ten years means millions of dollars made worldwide off of 18 of the most successful movies ever made. That decade of creating an entire cinematic universe culminates in two films, the first of which is Avengers: Infinity War, directed by brothers Joe and Anthony Russo.
When we last saw brothers Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) last year's Thor: Ragnarok, their realm of Asgard had been torn asunder and Thor had assumed the role of king of the remaining Asgardians as they embarked on a journey through space. This film picks up from there, however, as the mad Titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) is laying waste to their ship. The brothers, as well as the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), are no match for Thanos when he seeks to complete the all-powerful Infinity Stones and unite them in his Infinity Gauntlet. Thanos plans to decimate half of the universe's population because, in his mind, it is the only way for his vision of the universe to survive. This plan brings Thanos into direct conflict with Thor's fellow Avengers, leading the genocidal madman to Earth, where several other Infinity Stones are hidden.
While heroes like Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) are the first to meet Thanos' minions, the Black Order, they realize that they need help, even from heroes that they have been estranged from. Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), The Vision (Paul Bettany) and the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) have been fragmented since Captain America: Civil War, but such is the threat of Thanos that all disagreements need to be cast aside to battle him. Even heroes in deep space such as the Guardians of the Galaxy and the isolationist country of Wakanda ruled by the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) are called on, but can even this assemblage of heroes be enough to sway Thanos from his ultimate goal?
Based mostly off of two major Marvel Comics mini-series, namely Jim Starlin, George Perez and Ron Lim's 1991 epic The Infinity Gauntlet; and Jonathan Hickman, Jim Cheung, Jerome Opena, and Dustin Weaver's 2013 series Infinity, it was no small feat for the Russo Brothers to bring Avengers: Infinity War to the big screen. The sheer size of the cast, most of whom have starred in their own respective superhero films, is daunting. Still, the Russos were able to somehow find a way to give each hero the spotlight while keeping Thanos and his quest for the Infinity Stones at the center of this two and a half hour-long motion picture.
Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe was formally launched with Downey's turn in Iron Man, the concept of an interconnected motion picture universe with each chapter following the next has continued to grow. Avengers: Infinity War represents the first of what is possibly the end of these films, at least for the near future. After all, Downey isn't getting any younger and Evans has already indicated that he's close to leaving his star-spangled shield behind.
With such a large cast and so many seemingly huge storyarcs coming together, it would be easy to be overwhelmed by Avengers: Infinity War. Credit has to be given to the Russos not just for bringing these characters together, they also manage to keep the different tones of each group separate yet blend them masterfully, whether it be the light and trippy James Gunn-tone for Guardians of the Galaxy, the otherworldly mood set by Taika Waititi in Thor: Ragnarok, or the majesty of Africa in Ryan Coogler's Black Panther. As the first of a two-part epic, however, the end of the film will definitely leave you wanting for more, even as the promise of something even bigger and, as hard as it may be to believe after watching this, something even more explosive lined up for next year.