Avengers: Infinity War
I saw this a few times in the theater, but as always with these movies, I bring so much expectation and fret too much over whether they're getting it right. Tonight, just watching it as a movie and as a culmination of the journeys of all these characters (so far), I was nearly dumbstruck by how good it was.
Of course, what has always made the Marvel movies work even when they don't is the characters. Some of that is writing, and some of it is acting, but the thing that cannot be overlooked is casting. Hemsworth, Evans, and Downey, obviously, but also Johansson (she may not be the Black Widow a lot of people were looking for, but she has made the character), Tom Holland, Bradley Cooper (making possibly the hardest character for the audience to buy one of the most fun), Saldana (man does she move me in this), Bettany and Olsen, Boseman (so regal), of course Hiddleston, Pratt... I mean, it's really astonishing the people they have gotten and how perfectly they have used them. I mean, Pom Klementieff? Where the hell did she come from? But she's so perfect for the way they've written Mantis. They just do it over and over again. M'Baku could have been a total throwaway character but no, they got Winston Duke and now there's another powerful presence on the screen with all these others. I was stuck tonight by how powerful this is for the movies and especially this one.
But I'm not sure they've ever nailed it so hard as they did with Josh Brolin as Thanos. It's just unbelievable. He's so goddamn good. For my money, he may be the best cinematic villain of the 21st Century.
And it's not just the casting in this case, to be sure, it's that they understood two things: Marvel has had a bit of a villain problem (until recently, I guess, since we got Hela, Killmonger, and Thanos back-to-back-to-back) and movies with villains are only as good as their villains and they've been building this movie for a decade, so Thanos must not only be a great villain but a great character. And he is. He is so compelling and he works on so many levels, as a threat, as a deliverer of awesome villain-dialogue, but most importantly as sympathetic, damn-near bordering on anti-hero.
And with all these great characters and actors, they are able to deliver credible emotional moments that have weight and are genuinely moving. Man, I almost lost my shit in the theater at the moment of Gamora's realization, but here on fourth viewing, it's every bit as powerful, if not more so.
Anyway, I thought it was as good a fantasy epic as I've seen since probably The Fellowship Of The Ring.