2. Avengers Infinity War
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that we’re currently living in a Golden Age of Superhero movies. Studios are shelling out big bucks to bring superhero properties to the big screen in ways many of us never thought would be possible. Aquaman just made a billion dollars. Black Panther got a Best Picture nomination. 2019 currently has a Shazam movie, a Captain Marvel movie, an Avengers movie, Dark Phoenix, The New Mutants (theoretically) and a Joker standalone film all scheduled. And, just to put it all in context, in 2008, the idea of just a Captain America movie ever being seriously made was thoroughly laughable. Oh how things have changed. And as far as I’m concerned, there are two properties almost single-handedly responsible for that change.
The Nolan Batman movies and the MCU.
Now, anyone who knows me even slightly or have read any of my previous articles, posts or whatever else on the subject know that I freaking love the MCU. I love it to bits. What Kevin Feige and his team have managed to pull off is nothing short of miraculous. To create dozens of varied superhero stories and franchises, almost each of which on their own would be tricky to pull of, and then combine them into one cohesive universe? It was something that for so long was considered only the stuff of fanboys wet dreams. And yet didn’t just pull it off. They made a freaking phenomenon out of it, creating a franchise that at its worse was still perfectly enjoyable and at its best hit the peaks of quality blockbusterdom.
With that said though, I will admit to being skeptical about Avengers: Infinity War. The first Avengers has always been my favourite MCU film and, for the longest time ever, I didn’t think it would ever be topped, either in quality or in success. And while I loved Winter Soldier and Civil War, I wasn’t sure how well the Russo Bros would handle a larger-scale space-based movie, especially considering how underwhelming Thanos had been in his brief cameos prior to this. Heck, I wasn’t even too confident in Josh Brolin’s casting, since as much as I like the guy, he was fairly underwhelming in GOTG. I wasn’t necessarily expecting Infinity War to be bad, but it felt like the sort of movie that could so very easily topple under its own weight.
Still, I knew I was going to see it one way or another, so I went to the midnight screening, with a teeming theatre packed with cosplaying fans to sit down, watch the movie and see whether or not the film could- Fuck it, do I even need to say it? It took my expectations and blew them out of the fucking water.
Seriously, this movie felt like 2012’s The Avengers all over again. Everything was riding on it, the entire culmination of the Marvel Cinematic universe up to that point, and it had to juggle so many different characters and storylines and tones with the knowledge that if even one element was out of place or dislodged, the entire thing could come tumbling down like a house of cards. But they not only pulled it off, they fucking knocked out of the park with reckless abandon.
The movie is outstanding. It juggles every character, every plotline, every action and plot beat nearly perfectly. The relationships, the dynamics, the sheer pulpy craziness of the fight scenes, it all clicks into place. And all centered on Thanos himself, a character who at one point was considered one of the weakest points of the MCU, suddenly transformed into one of its best. It wasn’t afraid to take risks with its plotting and fully utilized its existence as part of the modern cinematic universe to tell its story. And it all just worked. So. Damn. Well.
Needless to say, I was giddy when I walked out of the theatre. And, while it’s probably fairly cliche to say at this point, it really did feel the MCU’s Empire Strikes Back. It was bigger, bolder, darker (while still maintaining the tone that made the previous films so great) and wasn’t afraid to take risks. And, for all that people whine about Marvel movies being ‘safe’ and ‘formulaic’, that is what they do. They take risks. Iron Man was a risk. Thor was a risk. Captain America was a risk. The Avengers were a risk. Guardians of the Galaxy was one hell of a risk. And this movie, with its outright downer ending and infinite moving parts, so easy to screw up and overcomplicate, it was a risk. And Marvel pulled it off all the same.
For the longest time, it really did seem like this was going to be my Number One for the year, just for being a sheer culmination of everything that I loved and still love about the MCU, flaws and all. And it certainly would’ve been a worthy winner in my eyes. But, in true underdog fashion, a last minute contender managed to climb its way up the ladder and sneaked in front at the last second. And no surprise for guessing which movie it is…