Avengers: Infinity War is essentially the same as the previous two Avengers films, just bigger. Consequently, it makes the strengths and weaknesses of the previous films more extreme.
The Avengers and almost every superhero introduced thus far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe must defend the Infinity Stones from Thanos. Each Infinity Stone is imbued with a specific power, but if all six of the stones are harnessed in the Infinity Gauntlet, it would give its wielder unstoppable power.
Each new Avengers film just tries to top the previous Avengers films. It adds more characters, it makes a more powerful villain, it widens the scope, and it heightens the stakes. Because of this, Avengers: Infinity War builds upon the strengths of the previous films, but falls victim in a magnified way to the previous films’ weaknesses.
With Phase Three, the MCU has tried to step away from its plain “superhero movie” origins. Many of the recent films have tried to explore new genres and new tones with great success. However, Avengers: Infinity War is everything the MCU used to be.
It is not that typical superhero movies are bad, as many of the Phase One and Two films are excellent as well. But rather, the MCU has shown so much growth and potential that Avengers: Infinity War is disappointing.
In every Marvel movie, the characters are filled with life and personality. It is because of this that the Avengers movies are so exciting, as it is incredibly rewarding to see these characters interact. With so many characters present in Avengers: Infinity War this is by far the greatest strength of the film.
The characters are effectively divided across the film to heighten the comedy. Different combinations arise throughout the film as to allow for new comedic situations, and new interesting ways for the various powers to interact. There are multiple different types of superpowers present in the MCU, from scientifically based to purely magic, so it does feel fresh and exciting to see these contrasting powers work side by side.
This cast has such wonderful chemistry that most of this movie is incredibly fulfilling to watch. Marvel’s legendary brand of witty banter is able to sustain almost two full hours as Thanos is on his quest. Unfortunately, the film is almost completely bereft of any depth. With so many characters and such a powerful villain, the story is consequently weak and there is hardly any character development.
One should not really expect character development from a film as ambitious as this, but Avengers: Infinity War hits a new low in this respect. The standalone films exist to strengthen the audience’s emotional connection to the characters.
The previous Avengers movies generally maintain this connection with even less featured characters, but Avengers: Infinity War does not. This is largely because many of the characters, including some of the most significant and favorite characters in the MCU, are relegated to a glorified cameo with less than ten minutes of screen time.
While character development is weak in the previous Avengers movies, it still exists. Even though there are so many characters in this film, there is no real character, and the film feels hollow. This is especially problematic because Avengers: Infinity War takes some courageous choices with its characters, but it just feels insincere.
That being said, Thanos is an effective villain. He is simultaneously both outrageous and grounded. Granted, his depth is used mostly for a plot device, but at least there is depth and it feels genuine. However, his minions are just frustrating and they are present in the film as much as Thanos is. They exist only as distractions and are generally uninteresting.
Avengers: Infinity War’s story is far too weak to warrant a more than a two-and-a-half-hour runtime. There really is not enough story to fill that time, and any plot progression could have been boiled down to less than an hour. This creates a strange trade-off.
The character interactions are by far the most entertaining parts of the movie, but most of that is unnecessary to the plot. The plot itself is linear and conventional, of Thanos’s quest for the Infinity Stones.
The movie feels even like it divides into two distinct movies, the first being the exposition, and the second being the final battle. This is not an uncommon occurrence for movies of this type, but it is particularly problematic here because it is one of the worst final battles in the MCU, which ruins the overall experience of the film.
Marvel has struggled with their final battles, as do most other blockbuster franchises, but they have stepped up their game in recent years. Avengers: Infinity War is such a step back from this progress.
In Avengers: Infinity War there is very little dialogue during the battle. At least in previous Avengers films, the Avengers are able to maintain their banter as they fight, allowing some character to peek through the tedium.
Additionally, each character is only featured for a few seconds during the final battle in Avengers: Infinity War and there is just too much happening. This makes it difficult, nearly impossible, to keep track of the characters, therefore making it difficult to care about their well-being.
Further, the army that they fight is dull, one–dimensional, unimaginative, and a disappointment. The final battle is ultimately not a complete waste, but there are long stretches that are frustratingly boring, more so than in previous Marvel films.
Avengers: Infinity War feels more like a stepping stone to the fourth Avengers film, than an outright story of its own. The characters and their humor ultimately save the film, but the most interesting thing about the movie is where the story leads, as opposed to the story itself.