We may be in the height of the dry season in Cape Town but you probably wouldn’t have guessed by looking at the dam…
Avengers: Infinity War is out, and you’re giddy. We get it. You should be. You also probably have questions, tons of questions. But thankfully, we have the answers to most of them.
Trust us, we’re still trying to wrap our heads around this one.
Without turning Disney’s latest money grabber into a spoiler-spoiled Apple launch, we answer the things you’re too shy to ask or just have to know before hitting the cinemas come Friday.
Everyone, please remain quiet as Thanos enters stage left.
Who is Thanos?
If you hadn’t heard or felt those footsteps, Thanos is a supreme being with a concrete mission: gather all the infinity stones — this movie’s MacGuffin — and harness their universe “cleansing” powers.
Now, that may sound like every super villain motivation ever: acquire thing that makes you mad powerful, and use said power to wreak havoc. Maybe knock down your neighbour’s mailbox while you’re at it. And in return, you don’t get your own superhero movie. Simple.
But that formula is absent in Infinity War.
For all his tortoise thick skin and menacing, raspy voice, Thanos is a complex bundle of motion-captured pixels.
He sees the universe as a realm in need of correction, and intends to be its gravity. Whether that means killing, stealing or destroying entire planets, he doesn’t waiver from this motive. And it’s incredible to watch Josh Brolin extract Thanos’ essence — both his moments of pain and sheer anger — in this performance.
Like a Shakespearean anti-hero, you’ll be hard pressed not to feel a smidgen of emotion for the character.
Is he a badass?
But yes, he’s still pretty damn evil.
Appropriately, the Russo brothers use his immense screen presence and centre the entire plot around him. His physical stature’s magnified by simple juxtapositions, like another character’s seemingly tiny head or a minuscule bowl of soup.
And it’s fitting. He’s the centre of the universe in more ways than one.
He kills. He feels. But ultimately, he never deviates from the mantra that the universe’s broken, and someone needs to fit it. Why not him?
What happened to the Avengers?
If you haven’t seen Captain America: Civil War, rent it today and absorb it. It, at least before Infinity War, was debatably Marvel’s most entertaining action movie ever, but it lays much of the groundwork for its sequel’s events.
But if you simply don’t have the time, let me compress the Avengers’ saga into a Doctor Phil byline.
Steve “Captain America” Rogers and Tony “Iron Man” Stark had a tiff which subsequently left both of their friends worse off. Rhodes was left unable to use his legs, while Bucky couldn’t use his killing arm.
This spat, in turn, had political implications which left Vision exiled and the Avengers just a cool name in a history book.
However, when aliens rock up, who has time for politics? All these characters have an important role to play in Infinity War. Some more than others.
Is this movie better than Black Panther?
Black Panther itself was a complex movie, addressing issues of politics, culture and power. The movie also neatly tied up every quarrel into three distinct shots, and at the end provided a healthy dose of closure as chaser.
Avengers: Infinity War, however, lives up to its name. It’s filled with thrills, and not because of loud noises or expensive pixels. Dealing with a being like Thanos, every fight could end in genuine death for every character. That’s a feeling you don’t harbour when watching superhero movies.
Black Panther was also celebration of Africa in many ways, although Wakanda isn’t a real place. The set design, actors and language used hailed from or was inspired by African cultures and heritage. Infinity War is a celebration of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole.
In an odd way, this movie’s a brief sequel to Black Panther, with T’Challa playing an integral part in the story, and Wakanda setting the stage for the crescendo.
Is there an end credits scene?
Yes. But you’re going to have to sit through about seven minutes of scrolling text to see it.
Also, keep an eye out for the sneakiest Easter egg product placement grab you’ll ever see. Everyone loves a good pun.
Which Marvel heroes aren’t in the movie?
I noticed two in absentia who appeared in previous Marvel flicks, or their own movie entirely.
Firstly, Hawkeye. Wait, who?
Secondly, Ant Man. If you were a Russo and happened to co-direct this film, you could argue that he was there, all along, but you just couldn’t see him. Although he’s mentioned — twice if I recall correctly — Paul Rudd’s little hero doesn’t share any of the actual spotlight.
Who gets the most on-screen time?
That’s a toss up between Iron Man, Cap, Thanos and Thor. Fittingly, two of those are top billed. But the Russo brothers are so adept at juggling screen time per hero that each moment feels weighty and plot critical. If you had a look at the cast list, you’d think it easy to neglect a hero or two, but there’s no feeling of this at all.
While Bruce Banner is used as a comic relief pinata for much of the flick, and other characters acting as fuel to the plot’s fire, no moment feels wasted. It’s remarkably compact for a movie with a runtime of nearly two and a half hours.
Should I watch it?
The big question, isn’t it?
The answer is yes. Absolutely.
Avengers: Infinity War is the first (Deadpool free) movie I’ve seen in a good while that lives up to its pre-launch hype. And for good reason. It’s a stunner, both visually and narratively.
The action begins in media res and continues that pace for the duration of the movie. There are moment of intense implications, serious scowls and dark decisions, but they’re perfectly balanced with spurts of humour.
At the time of writing, Infinity War has a score of 9.3/10 on IMDb. I’m not quite sure why it’s so low.