The 19th film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Avengers: Infinity War” packs in every superhero to show his or her face on film in the MCU, either personally or at least referenced to. And it actually works, well, mostly works. If you’re a fan of the Marvel films, “Infinity War” is definitely worth seeing. If you’re not, then don’t make this movie your first excursion into the MCU because there’s too much backstory and you’ll be scratching your head for the whole run time.
Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely manage to pull off a story that holds together and directors Anthony and Joe Russo weave the various segments together in a semi-understandable narrative. I’ll say at the outset that it helps to remember that “Infinity War” is Part One of two and Part Two releases around this time next year. There is no nice, neat bow tied up at the end of this 2-hour, 29-minute, one-battle-after-another romp.
The greatest strength of the film is actually its villain, Thanos from Titan, voiced and motion captured by Josh Brolin. Thanos’s beef with the state of the universe is simple: there are just too many people around that are sucking the universe dry by using up all its resources. His unconventional solution: kill half of the population, both on Earth and all over the universe, so that the other half can live quality lives. But Thanos is more rounded as a character than most villains. He’s thought a lot about his plan and he feels like he’s doing the right thing. He’s even willing to sacrifice what is most dear to him in order to do it.
The first order of business, however, is for Thanos to collect the six infinity stones (Mind, Soul, Time, Power, Space, and Reality), which will give him unlimited power. The trouble is, they’re literally scattered all over the universe.
And this is where things get confusing. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) teams up with Star Lord (Chris Pratt) and the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy, eventually going off with Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) who he calls “The Rabbit” and teenage Groot (Vin Diesel). Much banter ensues. Meanwhile, Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), and Peter Parker/Spider Man (Tom Holland) try to protect Vision (Paul Bettany), who has one of the infitity stones in his forehead but they end up on one of Thanos’s spaceships, auto-piloted straight for Titan. More banter ensues, especially between Strange and Stark, which gives the movie many of its lighter moments.
If you remember in “Captain America: Civil War,” Stark and Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) had a huge falling out but Banner gets the team back together and they end up in Wakanda, home of T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), together with Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Vision, Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie), James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle), and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), battling Thanos’s minions.
The film, despite its long running time, goes by in a flash if you can keep the various groups of superheroes doing battle at all ends of the universe straight in your head. Thanks to the superb visual effects, the film is truly a work of art, even if it tries to pack in just a little too much, making some characters more like afterthoughts rather than integral to the plot.
Looking at the film as a person of faith, I thought of the cliché that says, “power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Thanos wanted to possess all the infinity stones in order to have the power to wipe out half of the people in the universe. Even dreaming of that absolute power, led him to do terrible things, which the superheroes of the MCU worked to stop. Jesus had absolute power but did not flaunt it. St. Paul reminds us that Jesus “who, though he was in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to hold on to” (Philippians 2:6). We are followers of Jesus and do not seek power, but holiness. Yet, we are not powerless. We have the power granted to us in Baptism, which is grace in our lives. We have the power of prayer, knowing that God hears us and lovingly provides for our good. We don’t need any infinity stones to harness our power, but we humbly enter into relationship with our Savior and Redeemer, giving Him the power to transform our lives for our good and the good of others.