AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR
OUT 3 SEPTEMBER DVD, BD, 3D BD, 4K Ultra HD, Digital HD extras Intro, Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted scenes, Gag reel (all BD)
Do the home entertainment extras provide ANY answers? What do you think…?
Well, you can’t fault Kevin Feige and his team for ambition. Infinity War is the big one, the culmination of a decade-long plan that’s revolutionised the way we think about blockbuster cinema. Judged as a standalone film, it arguably makes zero sense, but as a reward to loyal audiences, it takes some beating as a feast of storytelling. Viewed as a cinematic season finale, the risk-taking is audacious. This is boxset Hollywood at its best.
Look how far Marvel has come since Avengers Assemble. When that came out in 2012, everybody applauded the studio for bringing together four major superheroes and assorted supporting players, without screwing it up. The steady escalation of world-building since then means there are around a dozen or more key players in Infinity War who weren’t even introduced six years ago. And, somehow, they still haven’t screwed it up.
Here, the dare seems to be to throw together the most random encounters to generate new gags and set-pieces. Iron Man and Doctor Strange bickering over tactics, pitting Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch (aka Sherlock and Sherlock) against each other? Why not? Rocket and Groot heading off on a mission with Thor to meet a gargantuan Peter Dinklage? Sure. This is testament to how broad the MCU has become, but also a matter of logistics. At times, the film resembles the great WW2 epics like
A Bridge Too Far, which carved equally impressive ensembles into digestible chunks, based as much on the actors’ availability as narrative purpose.
TITAN WITH A PLAN
It also changes the stakes. We know the Avengers can work together. Here, the question is can they even get together? What’s surprising – at least, until that ending makes sense of it – is that the core unit of Stark, Rogers, Banner, Romanoff and Thor doesn’t really take centre-stage. Captain America, in particular, gets relatively scant screen time, despite being the lead in the Russo brothers’ previous Marvel outings.
Instead, the focus is on the new kids who have dominated subsequent phases of the MCU (Strange, Peter Parker, Black Panther, the Guardians of the Galaxy), which makes this a fitting season finale to this period of the series. Given freedom by Captain America: Civil War (which
was essentially a quasi-threequel to the previous Avengers films) this one has the remit to explore.
It’s the Guardians who get the best out of the deal. With the gang splitting into two, there’s a considerable chunk of the action spent in space, as Thanos (Josh Brolin) methodically goes about his plan to complete the Infinity Gauntlet. It’s a smart move. The biggest weakness of Avengers Assemble was the anonymity of its alien attackers, but here Thanos is a formidable foe with an unusually detailed, psychologically plausible plan – to wipe out half of the universe and give the survivors a fresh start. Even behind his souped-up size and purple skin, Josh Brolin creates that rarity: a Marvel villain of emotional nuance and depth, who defines the film’s operatic scale and tragic heft.
And it’s this through-line, more than any of the stories involving the Avengers, that gives the film its coherence. As the dust settles following the climactic battles, the story regroups around the core Avengers, setting up next year’s sequel but also reinforcing the power of the brand that Feige has created. It’s the equivalent of a football manager resting his core players for the opening leg of a two-way tie, but it means the big guns will be out for the return fixture. Can Marvel meet its own challenge and outdo even this film? It’s time to pick up the gauntlet.
GOAT OF CONFIDENCE
Unsurprisingly, there’s no Avengers 4 sneak peek in the extras, which are modest for a film of this size. The featurettes get off to a disappointing start; both Strange Alchemy (about the vast cast) and The Mad Titan (Thanos) play like pre-release promos, all clips and soundbites and stuff you already know. But the next two - respectively covering battles in Wakanda and on Titan – take things up a gear. We see key moments being rehearsed/filmed (with Brolin acting beneath a giant cardboard Thanos head); learn that the weather just wouldn’t play ball in Wakanda (actually Georgia, with shipped-in African foliage); and see Thor diss Cap (“Evans was a bit off,” joshes Chris Hemsworth after one take).
The four deleted scenes neatly divide into two dramatic moments, two comedic. Best of the bunch is a classic bout of Guardians bantz that’s too long to work in context but great as a standalone. By contrast, the obligatory gag reel is sensibly short (and stolen by a goat). The four-way commentary – Anthony and Joe Russo plus writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely – flags Easter eggs, parallels and symmetries while dropping the odd sly tease (“Thor could have a lot of guilt about his actions…”). It’s worth listening to the very end – not for any great revelations about the post-credits sting but for a nice behind-theswears anecdote. Simon Kinnear
‘at times, the film resembles the great ww2 epics’
No one could decide on the theme of the street party, but it was going to be wild.