by Hunter Johnson
The first Captain America film had just one superhero. Then the second Captain America film, directed by the Russo brothers, came along and starred Cap alongside three other heroes. The Russo brothers then returned for the third Captain America film, taking the character count to a whole new level at a whopping twelve protagonists, all with fully fleshed-out stories and roles.
Nearly seven years after the first Captain America film, the Russo brothers return to create something unprecedented. They made a film that not only features the villain as the main character, but also stars nearly 30 superhero protagonists. That film is “Avengers: Infinity War.”
Directed by the Russo brothers and written by the writers of all three Captain America films (Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely), “Avengers: Infinity War” is the 19th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film follows the story of the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy as they defend the universe against the Mad Titan Thanos.
Ever since Thanos’ cameo appearance at the end of the first Avengers film in 2012, Marvel has been sprinkling references and Thanos cameos in many films as a buildup to this eventual conclusion to an incredibly grand story. And that is not an understatement.
This film not only succeeds in telling a coherent story about 30 different superheroes and their own individual stories and arcs. But the film also succeeds in connecting this entire universe together. It’s not confusing, messy or even tonally inconsistent. It just wants to tell a story. And it just so happens to be that the story features an overwhelming amount of characters.
One could make an argument that there is no protagonist to this film, that it is a true ensemble piece with many characters together forming the protagonist. Another argument could be made that the true protagonist of the film is the antagonist: Thanos.
With the exceptions of Loki from the Thor movies and Killmonger from Black Panther, Marvel has a reputation for creating poorly fleshed-out villains. Their movies have generally kept all the focus on the heroes and very little focus on the villains, and that format has worked out pretty well for Marvel thus far. But the Russo brothers clearly had something else in mind when they made this film.
Thanos is one of the best villains to come from the MCU yet. He’s complicated and dramatic, and Josh Brolin’s acting steals the whole show. The audience truly feels for him and understands his motives. Making Thanos the main character was probably the best decision made in the creative process of this film.
Some of the other greatest characters and performances from this film include Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Tom Holland as Spider-Man, Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, Chris Pratt as Star-Lord and Zoe Saldana as Gamora. And that’s just scratching the surface on what is an enormous cast of fantastic performances.
Another fantastic decision on Marvel’s part was bringing back Alan Silvestri to score the music for this film. He wrote the score for the first Captain America film as well as the first Avengers film and he created a beautiful score this time around as well. The music brings back the original Avengers theme from the first film and has a consistently ominous tone that contributes heavily to the film as a whole.
Overall, this movie is one of the biggest achievements in cinematic history. Not only does it succeed in having a staggering amount of characters and still being coherent, but it’s also an enjoyable movie, filled with humor, heart, fan-service, and emotional moments that have been built up over the last ten years of these films. Marvel has created a new standard for both ensemble and superhero filmmaking.
Hunter Johnson is a freshman theatre major and an arts and entertainment writer for Cedars. He spends his time acting on stage, reading and watching Star Wars, and occasionally doing homework.