Note: There are no spoilers in this article beyond what has already been shown or referenced in trailers, ads, and merchandise. There are, however, spoilers for previous Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films.
1. How good is it?
The best way I can describe the quality of Avengers: Infinity War is to say that it’s as good a movie as it could be given the story it has to tell. Joe and Anthony Russo, the film’s directors, had the unenviable tasks of wrapping up all 18 previous MCU films, giving meaningful screen time to a veritable galaxy of stars, providing enough humor and action sequences to keep the audience entertained, and doing all of that in two hours and 40 minutes. So the fact that they didn’t create this generation’s Godfather or Shawshank Redemption shouldn’t be held against them; rather, they should be celebrated for having avoided creating this generation’s Ghostbusters II or Star Trek V.
Let me put it this way: I sat down in the theater expecting a lot of explosions, punches, and super powers. I expected brief scenes for each of the various heroes, a whole lot of extras and secondary characters dying at Thanos’ hand (literally), with a couple of the heroes thrown into that mix, and generally a by-the-numbers plot wrap-up merging all those 18 movies’ stories into one enormous conclusion. My expectations were to some degree met, and very excellently crushed and mangled in a few ways that I can’t elaborate on without violating my no-spoilers promise. It delivers on multiple levels, manages not to have too many plot points hinge on smart people doing stupid things (as so many action movies do), and is very entertaining on the whole.
Also, I really want a spinoff movie series or TV show starring Thor, Rocket, and teenage Groot. You’ll understand after you see the movie.
(Since the trailers show Thor meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s my judgment that mentioning this group of heroes isn’t a spoiler. I apologize if you disagree.)
2. Should I bring my kids to see it?
Maybe. I usually don’t suggest too much caution in answers to this question, but in the case of Infinity War I’m making an exception. If you have a child who’s 12 or younger, or who is older than 12 but has some sensitivity issues, I strongly suggest that you see the film without them before deciding if they can handle it. If you can’t afford the time and/or money to do that, I’d say the most recent film with a similar level of intensity would be Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: If your kids could handle that, they can probably handle Infinity War. There is one crucial difference, though, which is that in Infinity War the characters are already well-known to most of the audience before the movie even starts.
If you have specific questions with probably-spoileriffic answers, please email me (matt at geekdad dot com) and I will reply as soon as I can.
3. Which previous MCU movies should I have seen recently in order to understand the new one?
The “Phase III” movies are by far the most important, with the exception of Spider-Man: Homecoming. While that’s a really good film, and Spider-Man does appear in Infinity War, as long as you have a basic understanding of the character, you’ll be OK. The other Phase III movies are, in descending order of importance to the new film: Thor: Ragnarok, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Black Panther, and Captain America: Civil War. It would also be really good to have seen the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, as the character of Thanos is the central focus of Infinity War.
4. When’s a good time for a bathroom break?
This is a tough question, because it’s a long movie and there’s so much story there’s very little untrimmed fat. There isn’t a good time to duck out, but I think the best bad time is probably when Thor, Rocket, and teenage Groot arrive at their initial destination.
5. Is it worth paying more to see it in 3D and/or IMAX?
Revised 4/29/2018: It’s really unusual for me to say this, but yes, it definitely is worth it. Avengers: Infinity War is the first major motion picture to have been filmed entirely with IMAX cameras. Having now seen the movie in regular 2D and in IMAX 3D, I was blown away by the difference. The 3D didn’t add much, but the immersiveness of the IMAX experience is completely worth the extra money. If you can handle 3D, you will not be sorry you saw it in IMAX.
The preview screening I attended was the normal 2D version, and it was absolutely fine. Without having seen it in either I can’t be sure, but I suspect that it loses something to 3D because a lot of scenes are already pretty (literally) dark, so in 3D they may be difficult to make out. And IMAX might not be the best idea because there’s so much action that the bigger screen might make it a little hard to follow. Again, those are just my suspicions; all I can say for sure is that in normal 2D it didn’t feel at all like anything was missing, visually speaking.
6. I’ve heard that Peter Dinklage is in Infinity War. Can you say anything about his part without spoiling anything?
I can say that none of the articles I read online speculating as to what character he might be were right. I was pleasantly surprised at his involvement in the movie: I’d expected just a quick cameo, but his role turned out to be unexpectedly big.
7. In the trailers, Thanos looks like he’s almost lilac-colored. Does the CGI get in the way of enjoying the film?
It really doesn’t. I sat down to watch the movie expecting uncanny valley CGI for Thanos, and probably some of his minions, too. I was very pleasantly proved wrong: It’s almost scary how easy it was to forget that I was watching human beings acting via computer. Thanos especially looks amazing; there’s one scene in particular that was so perfectly real that even in my memory of watching it I can’t see it as computer-generated. (I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the scene I mention is in the part of the film involving the Soul Stone, and that you’ll know it when you see it.)
8. Do I have to stay through the end credits for an extra scene?
I wasn’t at all sure they were going to have one this time, but they did, as usual. It’s just one scene, at the very end of the credits, and it’s there both to shock you and set up Captain Marvel, which is set to come out in March of next year. Ant Man and the Wasp, which is the next MCU movie (hitting theaters this July), is referenced in the movie itself, but not really set up in any meaningful way.
Disclosure: I was invited to a free press screening of Avengers: Infinity War. All opinions expressed here are my own.