I don’t know if there’s a film I can think of for which my hopes were quite as high as this one. Maybe Jurassic Park (which, while a good film, was nonetheless a disappointment, because that novel was amazing). Maybe Ghostbusters 2, which was a bigger disappointment.
But this one was weighted down with so much sheer backstory. There were 18 MCU films before this one. And not one of them sucked. (Really. They’re all good. It’s just that there are a few which aren’t very good.)
It’s still early, so I won’t be doing anything spoilery with this review, so read on with no fear.
No surprise, this is a good film. I think it’s a great one. It’s funny and exciting and amazing to look at. There are even some deeper themes that are worth digging into. Themes about responsibility and sacrifice. I won’t discuss that further, for spoiler’s sake.
But the real worry about this film wasn’t if Tony Stark’s one-liners would be funny. The real worry was if it would topple from being so heavy with characters that deserve their own story lines. Remember how we were worried about the first Avengers film? There were four heroes! (Plus Nick Fury and Black Widow.) Well, that worked like gangbusters, except that poor Hawkeye was without agency for 80% of the film. Then Civil War came along, and it was even crazier. It had (by my count) 13 characters from previous films, plus it introduced us to even more. I can’t say that film really expanded my knowledge of, say, Falcon. But no one was sidelined. Everyone had, at the very least, a moment or two.
Now what are we looking at? There are 35 characters in this film we’ve seen in previous films. 35. That’s just nuts. And every one of them gets at the very least a moment. Some get fewer than others. Black Widow and Captain America probably get the least to do among the major players. And Thor is off in his own little movie for most of the runtime. Black Panther doesn’t get to do too much either. But, for all that, some of the characters really shine. Watching Doctor Strange facing off with Tony Stark was cinema gold. Then throwing Star-Lord into the mix? What did I ever do to deserve such riches?
This wouldn’t be a complete review if I didn’t mention Thanos. He doesn’t have the nastiness of Red Skull, or the charisma of Loki, but as Marvel villains go, he’s definitely up there. He’s menacing. He had me tense and worried in the opening scene. That feeling didn’t let up throughout the film. For something this funny and action-packed, it really played like a thriller for me, because I knew that anything Thanos got was something I didn’t want him to have.
True to my word, I won’t discuss the ending. But it’s a doozy.