Marvel has done it. They have spectacularly delivered the BIGGEST superhero movie in history as promised. Before we go gaga over the screenplay which enabled this epic to work, we need to take a look at how the two major flaws of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), villains and stakes, were ironed out. Traditionally, Marvel’s villains are barely memorable, except for Loki (thanks to Tom Hiddleston) and Black Panther’s Killmonger, and we all know there are barely any stakes in any film as our heroes will come through the film safely or maybe lose an eye (Thor: Ragnarok).
Enter Thanos. The madman from Titan only featured in brief cameos over the past six years and the makers of this film did the best possible thing to rectify their flaws – make him the focal point of the story. Yes, in Infinity War, screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely invert the usual superhero trope by making us spend the most amount of time with the film’s motion-capture villain, played to perfection by Josh Brolin. The story revolves around his quest to retrieve the six Infinity Stones to wipe out half of the universe’s population (stakes).
Now, this is great storytelling, because we have already spent enough time with our heroes over 18 films and Thanos needs time to be built and shown as a fully-fleshed character who thoroughly believes he is making the entire universe better with his goal. In order to do this while pulling off the biggest crossover event in the history of cinema with more than two dozen important characters explains the enormity of the challenge.
Enter the Russo brothers. The sibling directors first came into the Marvel fold with Captain America:Winter Soldier and did a mini-test of the crossover with Captain America: Civil War. Now, the duo not only executed the constantly-engaging screenplay to the dot but also stayed true to the tonality of the different universes these heroes operate in. The result is a seamless transition while the protagonists literally travel to different planets and the interactions are as fun as ever.
Every hero gets to shine with the big three of Captain America, Iron Man and Chris Hemsworth getting their special focus as one would expect. Only Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is underutilized while the biggest stars for the next phase, Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange, and Tom Holland’s Spiderman get ample time to leave an impact. Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther contributes more as Wakanda than as the King, which is still a win.
The background score by Alan Silvestri deserves a special mention as he mixes the theme songs effortlessly, elevating the big moments, especially those involving Thanos. In the end, the trick of making this crossover work is making the little moments count, be it banter or display of new powers, and the timing is everything. The makers have ensured Thanos’ story is sandwiched with splendid action sequences and irrespective of whichever hero is your favourite, you will leave the theatre satisfied.
While that is enough for the movie to become a superhit, Marvel takes a bold decision at the end to push the ceiling and stun the fanbase. While the impact could be short-term in hindsight, it is another brilliant piece of storytelling for the same reason. There are several memorable points that will thrill fans throughout the fan and those should be saved for another article.
Finally, if you have not watched the film yet, better late than never.