Image courtesy of Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios

Avengers: Infinity War

| published May 17, 2018 |

By Cameron Dale,
Thursday Review contributor

Avengers Infinity War may yet top the total box office power of Black Panther, as true and ringing an indication of just how potent the superhero franchises have become within Hollywood. Some film industry analysts and movie historians have suggested that in fact without the vast cash machine created by Marvel Studios (along with Walt Disney, DC Comics, etc), Hollywood would in fact be otherwise floundering with few, if any, original stories to tell and promote. In reality, at least as far as the movie theaters are concerned, most movies piggyback upon the financial success of the likes of Iron Man, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Wolverine, Han Solo, you name it.

Black Panther shattered a half dozen box office records earlier this year, and it now looks as if this newest Avengers installment might just topple some of those only recently minted high water marks. According to some film industry websites and news services, Infinity War has already become the second biggest cash earner this year—after the aforementioned Black Panther—and the 45th highest grossing movie of all time, still climbing steadily.

Its producers at Marvel Studios, and its distributors at Walt Disney, better hope that Infinity War makes it quickly into the top 20 all-time box office winners: Avengers Infinity War cost just over $320 million to produce, making it one of the ten most expensive films of all time. That places it in infamous territory (recall that 1963’s Cleopatra nearly crushed 20th Century Fox, and 1980’s Heaven’s Gate very nearly sank United Artists into bankruptcy). Still, if you are queasy about Infinity War’s atmospheric budget, prepare for more numerical queasiness: Avengers Infinity War has already earned over $908 million, meaning that by the end of the week it could surpass a billion (yes, that's a billion with a B).

In theaters for only about three weeks (I just got around to seeing it), Avengers Infinity War also has the distinction of an epic plot which, for the common good, marshals together more superheroes, mega-minds, and good guy mutants under one cinematic umbrella than any other film previously attempted—a fact not lost on the realities of the cost of the film. The high-dollar cast includes most of the Marvel’s Universe of beloved and not-so-beloved people-of-unique power: Robert Downey, Jr (Tony Stark/Iron Man); Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk); Chris Hemsworth (Thor); Scarlett Johansson (Natasha/Black Widow); Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America); Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa/Black Panther); Benedict Cumberbatch (Stephen Strange/Dr. Strange); Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch); Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon); Tom Holland (Peter Parker/Spiderman); well, you get the point.

They are all here, a dozen more which I have not named, and still more when you count the crew from Guardians of the Galaxy, all characters which are reprised by the same cast last seen less than two years ago in the hugely successful reboot/revamp titled Volume 2. This means the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, along with Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Chris Pratt, etc. On and on it goes.

One could go to see this movie just for the fun of identifying the stars as they appear in rapid succession on the screen. Then there is this story’s central villain: Thanos. Played by Josh Brolin, Thanos is the reason for the season. The Marvel Galaxy’s bad-guy-to-trump-all-bad-guys, Thanos drops in from his exile on Titan to basically collect all debts, corral all souls, settle all old scores, subdue all do-gooders and would-be heroes, enforce his every will, and wrap space and time and history around his little (well, enormous) finger. In addition to his overarching evil plan, his also wants even more unlimited power by locating and collecting the all-critical Infinity Stones, which, we understand, will extend his powers to just about every corner of the known universe, along with some parts unknown.

Thus you have the plot in a nutshell, with all the usual fun and thrills, the core of which is how all the heroes and superheroes and anti-superheroes combine their great collected but diverse skillset to overcome this most existential of threats humanity. And since the threat extends far beyond Earth as well, this means the Guardians must also intervene.

Without resorting to spoilers for our readers—just go to Wikipedia if you want more details on how this whole superhero versus super villain thing ends—I will say that Infinity War offers every known form of large screen fun and visual extravagance. This means I highly endorse coughing up the cash to see it while it remains in theaters, which, if the box office take remains sturdy, means you could still see this epic adventure many weeks from now. Normally, I equivocate at this juncture to offer the alternative view that you could save the cash and catch it on Blu-ray or DVD this summer, but why squander the chance to enjoy the sort of Marvel extravaganza tailored for the biggest of the big screen possibilities.

One minor complaint: despite the fact that I like the generally pleasing reboot casting, too much of a good thing can sometimes diffuse the overall effect. This may be one of those classic examples of less might have meant more. With so many stars in so many central roles, all competing for screen time, almost everyone gets a little lost in the hubbub. This has happened to a milder degree in the past, but Infinity War—because it is so obviously crowded with A-list faces in their superhero garb—very nearly deconstructs itself unintentionally but inevitably. Surely a minor complaint for most fans of Marvel, who just want maximum bang for their buck.

In short, if you are deeply into the Marvel universe as I am, go see it while it is on the big screen. You won’t waste your time or your money.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Spiderman: Homecoming; Cameron Dale; Thursday Review; July 29, 2017.

Superman The Movie at 40: How it Changed Our View of Super Heroes; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; March 1, 2018.