Wow ... just … need a minute … All right, ready.
It’s the end of an era. Twenty-two movies led to a finale that still has my mind and likely other Marvel fans' heads spinning. This film had to do it all: deliver an action-packed story, provide closure to the dark and ashen ending of the last movie, and tidy up all the individual character storylines that have been built in over a decade with Marvel Studio magic. Boy did it do it, again marking the end of an era of superheroes with all the pomp and circumstance worthy of the genre.
Before I continue, I warn there are spoilers ahead. If you have not seen “Avengers: Infinity War” do not read on.
Picking up directly after the events of last summer’s “Infinity War,” the Avengers and the universe are reeling from the actions of the Titan Thanos (Josh Brolin). Fifty percent of life in the universe was wiped out with a snap of the fingers, just as Thanos promised. Though the team manages to find him and the infinity stones (stones of power created at the beginning of the universe) he used, the hunt is in vain since the villain has destroyed the stones, thus making the effects permanent.
Five years after “The Snap” the world is still coming to terms with events. Captain America (Chris Evans) is trying to help people cope with the changed world, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is keeping the team together as best she can while some are lightyears away, and Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downy Jr.) wants nothing to do with the events that lead to both his greatest failure and his second chance. It is all so wonderfully gloomy with scenes that twist the knife into the wound to remind people that yes, the Avengers did indeed lose.
But they are not ready to give up. Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) proposes a plan that just might work: Reverse “The Snap” by going back in time and grab the infinity stones before Thanos begins his destructive hunt. It is far-fetched, stretching our and Tony Stark’s belief of reality, but honestly does it well.
The resulting time-traveling odyssey takes the audience through scenes and characters that are both familiar and new. Some walk through memories, others through places they have never been, some even meet past selves and familiar faces, but all have different views that are fun to see pan out from different perspectives. Although slow at times, they are all a pleasure to watch.
There are scenes that are just uncannily silent, soft moments of emotion that these characters convey without sound that are more powerful than any punch they could throw. Most of the movie is made of these soft scenes that build up the sense of loss that transitions to the “We’ll do whatever it takes” actions in the middle and end. And can I just gush about a couple of these characters? Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, who has REALLY let himself go these past five years, steals just about every scene he is in with his belly scratching, Big Lebowski-esque presence. Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner/Hulk is adorably dorky as a merged version of the scientist with the brute. And Clint Barton/Hawkeye's (Jeremy Renner) tragic loss right at the beginning marks a dark turn for the hero that makes you desperately hope to heaven it all works out for him.
Are there characters who could’ve had more screen time? Of course. But they do get small chances to shine in short, happy bursts of "Oh look, it's him/her!"
All this leads up to a finale that has been 11 years in the making that quite frankly goes by too quickly to watch just once. Cameos, references, they are all there to delight fans as well as give this world a send-off that is larger than life.
Marvel has given the Avengers a conclusion worthy of the build-up the studio started with “Iron Man”back in 2008. Hats off to the Russo brothers for bringing this massive crossover to an end with a crescendo that leaves fans screaming in glee and shedding bittersweet tears. What comes next? Only time will tell.