There’s a long-standing tradition in the comic book medium of assuming that every comic book is some reader’s first. Because of that, the storytellers felt responsible for making that particular issue as accessible as possible, even if it was the fifth “chapter” in an ongoing story. This accessibility was usually achieved through basic exposition or narrative caption boxes. It’s only been in the last few years that comics, mostly thanks to decompression, have abandoned this practice.
Avengers: Infinity War doesn’t really care if it’s your first Avengers movie. And rightly so. You can catch most of the Marvel movies on basic cable on almost any weekend (thanks to FX and SyFy and TNT). And that’s perfectly fine, really. The movie has a lot of ground to cover. And beyond one brief “retelling” of the origin of the Infinity Stones, there’s no narration or exposition to be found.
It’s difficult to say anything about the movie without giving anything away. So here are a few general comments:
- The Russo brothers balance the immense number of characters well. Throughout my particular screening of the movie, multiple characters got multiple cheers (and multiple gasps).
- Much like classic comic book “team” stories, the movie does a great mix-and-match of characters from various “franchises.” And those interactions are seamless, really.
- The stakes are very high. And the stakes are very personal. And that works greatly to the story’s advantage.
- The effects are wonderful. Thanos is probably the best rendering of a CGI character since Gollum. Thanos’s “children” are also very well-done.
- In its own weird way, the story told in the movie is complete. There’s an immediate full-circle aspect to the movie. There’s also something wonderfully full circle that this movie does for the whole franchise.
- One gets the sense that the cast really enjoyed making this movie.
Two other observations that are interesting to me:
- There is a sense of many unresolved things. You might get some allusive dialogue. But some things are left hanging, partly for momentum’s sake, but also because maybe things and characters will come into play later?
- On the same note, it is clear that the Russo brothers are obviously withholding certain things. Which would be frustrating if they didn’t give you half-a-dozen other things that you really wanted but were too afraid to ask for.
Finally: the movie is visually stunning, both in its wide vistas and in the rendering of action. It actually, I think, demands to be seen in 3D.
Don’t get me wrong: the movie is a different beast compared to pretty much every Marvel movie (and each of the previous Avengers movies). But ten years of solid storytelling have afforded Marvel the opportunity to do this. Beyond that, it sets up the next year of stories quite well.
(image from wegotthiscovered.com)