For more than a decade the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has branded 19 films in total that have completely merged together in what's guaranteed to be this summer's most lucrative blockbuster, Avengers: Infinity War. Now, we've been down similar roads before with Marvel's first ambitious multi-hero collaboration, The Avengers, and with both the film's sequel, Age of Ultron, and the third Captain America installment, Civil War. The success of these grandiose endeavors have been met with varying levels of success, casting a huge question-mark over the MCU's newest title. But allow me to wash away any worries you may have by fearlessly labeling Infinity War as one of the top films to-date in Marvel's ever-expanding universe.
Despite their conflicting opinions regarding oversight of their Earth-protecting superhero group "The Avengers", Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) must put their differences aside and get the old team back together when they learn of a cosmic villain named Thanos (Josh Brolin) who's en route to their home planet. Thanos is on a mission to collect all six infinity stones, hidden artifacts that possess unimaginable power, and he pinpoints a pair of them located on Earth where he'll stop at nothing to acquire them and bring balance to the galaxy. And with the fate of humanity on the line, Marvel's greatest superheroes must confront their most powerful foe yet.
Prior to Infinity War, little was known about the film's primary antagonist, Thanos. And although this approach is a foreign concept within the familiar formulaic structure that's helped mold the MCU into an unstoppable machine, the character of Thanos is met with bold originality that makes Infinity War "his" film. Rarely is a villain gifted such an enormous responsibility, but Thanos makes the most of his opportunity and commands the viewer's sympathy with a unique perspective to what's perceived by The Avengers as an evil plot. Both his character and his mission are propelled by surprising depth that will make the audience question their own ethical beliefs. With Infinity War, sibling directors Joe and Anthony Russo create a moral dilemma in which there may be no right or wrong answer, but instead resolve must come from a desperate battle for survival between Thanos and Marvel's assorted collection of superheroes. Yet, while the film's story is as compelling as its uptempo action and finely-tuned pacing, Infinity War does sour with overly sappy dramatics that artificially attempt to raise the emotional stakes. Nevertheless, these cheaply constructed moments take a backseat to Infinity War's cerebral and multi-dimensional tale that culminates with a cliff-hanging finale guaranteed to keep you longing for the next chapter in Marvel's elaborate cinematic universe.