Marvel nails the landing of its most ambitious and highly-anticipated blockbuster yet
'No resurrections this time,' intones Thanos near the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War. The über-villain, who has been teased in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2012's The Avengers, dominates the first of this two-part superhero mash-up. Brilliantly played via motion capture by Josh Brolin, it is Thanos' quest to collect the six infinity stones and become all-powerful that drives Anthony and Joe Russo's stupendous comic-book blockbuster.
Ten years, 18 movies and three MCU phases have led to this phenomenal canvas, and it doesn't disappoint. Offering up an enormous emotional payoff, as Thanos hints, resurrections will be wanting and death, destruction, torture and sacrifice are the order of the day. Somehow, the Russos – master jugglers in the greatest comic-book circus you will ever see – keep all the balls in the air. It's a remarkable feat of narrative engineering, sublimely edited and paced.
It begins as Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) arrives back on Earth with the warning 'Thanos is coming', and the story draws together characters from The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther and more. Much of the film's fun comes from seeing heroes who have never previously met colliding, whether it's Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) butting egos with Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) or Thor (Chris Hemsworth) patronizing the Guardians' Star-Lord (Chris Pratt).
From Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlett Witch and Paul Bettany's Vision, arm-in-arm on the cobbled streets of Edinburgh, to Tom Holland's sweet-natured Spider-Man tagging along for the ride, everyone gets multiple moments in the spotlight. Fleshed out with the usual Marvel humour – references to Kevin Bacon and Footloose abound, Guardians fans – the action is as jaw-dropping as you might expect. This is a space opera on a grand scale; tragedy mixed with pathos in a blockbuster to beat them all. If you've followed the MCU across a decade, this is your just reward.
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt
UK release: 26 April 2018
Thanos (Brolin) aims to become all-powerful, in the first part of this two-part superhero mash-up. Death, destruction, torture and sacrifice are the order of the day, in a grand space opera that mixes tragedy with pathos, fleshed out with the usual Marvel humour. Truly remarkable.