Avengers: Infinity War ★★★★

I was pretty worried that this movie would turn out to be a complete mess. As much as I was excited for the spectacle, I couldn’t see how Marvel would possibly juggle so many leading characters without turning the whole thing into a disorienting mess. I’m so happy to be wrong.

This movie deftly handles its approximately 37,000 characters, making some really smart choices about who to pair up with who. Rather than jumping back and forth between different characters every minute, Marvel lets the movie breathe a bit with a narrative structure that treats each group of heroes like a little episodic mini-movie. Eventually, the narratives obviously start to converge and overlap, and by the time the movie reaches its climax, it really does feel like most characters have gotten much more development and screen time than you’d expect given the movie’s runtime.

As a villain, Thanos is great. The movie gives him reasonably-compelling motivation (certainly better than the “I’m in love with Death, so I will kill lots of people to impress her” motivation he has in the comics), and Josh Brolin turns in a solid performance. Thanos isn’t the most interesting, complex character ever written, but he’s a huge step up in terms of MCU villains (where the strong contenders are pretty much Loki, and… um… Loki).

After a decade of buildup, it’s super-entertaining to see it all pay off.