by Caelan Conran

“Avengers: Infinity War” manages to meet and exceed the high bar set by its preceding movies, and is quite possibly the greatest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to date.

There are two considerations within the movie that must be taken into account before watching it. One is that a newcomer to Marvel would be left confused throughout. The movie is clearly made for the longtime fans of the franchise, and takes no time to set up characters for new viewers. Instead, characters are introduced as they were at the end of their own personal movies. This is similar to the original “Avengers” in 2012, however it must be said that there are many more movies to know now than there were back then. However, seeing as the preceding movies are treats of their own, this is hardly a major flaw on the part of the creators, as they have a target audience and they are sticking to them.

The second issue, if it can be called that, is that the story is not yet finished. There is a currently unnamed sequel in the works to wrap up the story completely, but that’s still around a year off. The movie did end on a cliffhanger, but fortunately, it’s the sort that causes the viewer to ask, “What happens next?” rather than “What just happened?” It’s clear that the events of this movie will need to be cleared up before more entries to Marvel’s franchise can be made, (with the exception of the upcoming Antman movie) but not in the sort of way that will leave viewers feeling cheated. The movie can absolutely be judged on its own without the second half, as it manages to wrap up many of the threads it introduced throughout the movie, while still leaving several openings for the sequel.

If a viewer has kept up to date with the MCU and is fine with watching just the first installment, they’ll find that every note is hit almost perfectly. Pacing, humor, visual spectacle, and character consistency start off stunning and remain impressive throughout. There were doubts that the movie could possibly live up to the high expectations surrounding it, but instead of crumbling, “Infinity War” manages to soar above and away from any doubts of overambition or clutter.

There is no weak link to be found with any of the movie’s characters. While watching, the viewer never gets the sense that a character is only helping because they’re expected to. Of course, because the characters are all heroes, many of their actions are primarily the result of a driving need to serve the greater good. However, it should be noted that the greater good is never the only reason for them to do what they do.

Seeing as the movie is packed with characters upon characters all helping in equal measure, a common fear was that the movie would feel either bloated or unfocused, complaints which are also lodged against rival comic book company DC’s recent movies with similar ambitions, “Suicide Squad” and “Justice League”. However, “Infinity War” managed to again rise above the naysayers. Even though the movie is absolutely packed full of action, the care and attention from all involved in its production shows. All progression in the movie feels organic, and every scene seems to lead naturally to the next, even if it jumps from Earth to different characters on the opposite end of the galaxy. There’s never a moment where characters are involved only for the sake of screen time; they’re always solving a problem which will directly contribute to the main plot, smoothly and organically.

The movie also strikes a healthy balance between comedy and drama. Each character or group in the movie maintains their type of humor from their individual movies, meaning that there will probably be something for everyone, with the sheer amount of personalities on display. The Guardians of the Galaxy maintain their almost constant banter, Doctor Strange and Iron Man maintain their dry wit, and Spiderman continues to be the excitable kid quipping almost out of reflex. However, despite jokes being made almost every other minute, it cannot be said that Marvel has made a comedy. The narrative is serious, the world presented is bleak, and poignant moments are left to stew in the viewer’s mind, rather than be constantly undercut by punchlines.

A review of this movie could not be complete without mentioning the characters. Each and every character’s behavior remains consistent with their established characters, and the differences between heroes, small and large alike, shine like they never have before. The villain, too, is a surprisingly strong character. Rather than being a purely evil space monster bent on defacing all that the heroes hold dear, Thanos instead works around a (admittedly skewed) moral compass, with a clear goal and a clear reason to pursue the goal. In addition, even though not every hero is as strong as every other, no hero’s strength seems to be artificially raised or lowered to better fit the group. Every character contributes in a significant way to the progression of the plot, and even if they can’t fight just as well as their allies around them, they’ll maintain an important and believable role in fights nonetheless.

Marvel has struck gold with “Infinity War”, and it would be a good fit for any fan of the MCU up to this point, if they are willing to entertain a darker narrative than other MCU films.