to infinity and beyond

A look at what has fueled the Avengers: Infinity War explosion

A look at what has fueled the Avengers: Infinity War explosion

Avengers: Infinity War movie still
Avengers: Infinity War promises to be the shining star of the Marvel universe.  Courtesy photo

In 1996, Marvel filed for bankruptcy. The company owed nearly $2 billion to, ironically, Disney (which now owns Marvel Studios). To pay off their debts, Marvel sold Spider-Man to Sony; The X-Men franchise to Fox. In 2000, X-Men grossed nearly $300 million and in 2002, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man grossed $821 million.

In the same year, Robert Downey Jr. was arrested for possession of heroin, cocaine, and an unloaded gun while speeding down Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles. This was first in a long string of arrests come until the early to mid-2000s.
Fast forward 22 years: Marvel Studios was sold to Disney for $4 billion in 2008, Marvel Studios has grossed nearly $6 billion dollars in the box office (18 movies), and Robert Downey Jr. is reportedly worth $260 million.

How did we get here?

Both Marvel and Downey Jr. got their acts together. Marvel leveraged six franchises to get funding for an expanded universe, New Line Cinema let their Iron Man rights expire back to Marvel, and Robert Downey Jr. entered rehab and finally became sober. RDJ worked his way back into Hollywood and in 2008, Iron Man was released, grossing Marvel nearly $600 million.

The culmination of Marvel Studios and Robert Downey Jr. is here. Avengers: Infinity War may have been a film 10 years in the making, but this goes beyond that: It’s 22 years of fight, struggle, and triumph. Infinity War is a celebration. You’ll see almost every favorite Avenger in this must-see movie. Tony Stark and company battle a foe  they may be unable to overcome.

The film picks up very quickly and doesn’t skip a beat from the end of Thor: Ragnarok. We get introduced to Thanos and his children (The Black Order). We get a clear message that Thanos (Josh Brolin) is looking for the Infinity Stones and will do anything to gather all six of them. Each one of the stones possesses certain powers. The Power Stone (on Xandar)  gives the possessor the ability to manipulate energy and even destroy planets, the Space Stone (Loki) lets you go from place to place by opening up portals, The Mind Stone (Vision’s forehead) can be used to manipulate someone’s mind and will, the Reality Stone (The Collector) can bend and alter reality, the Time Stone (Dr. Strange) lets you go back and forward in time and the Soul Stone (whereabouts unknown) collects souls. What Thanos wants to do is to balance the universe.

Infinity War has been marketed as an Avengers movie, but it is just as much a Thanos movie. If you’re a big reader of Marvel Comics, it will feel a lot like Thanos Quest and Infinity Gauntlet. Thanos is the centerpiece of this movie and rightfully so. Brolin does a good job portraying the Mad Titan. We clearly get his motivation and understand why his goal is the balance the universe.

As for your favorite Avengers, they’re where you last left them. Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) are on the Asgardian ship, Team Iron Man from Captain America: Civil War have gone back to their usual lives, Team Captain America is all scattered over Earth and the Guardians are still roaming in space. They all quickly assemble as the universe is threatened by Thanos.

The strengths of this film are plentiful. The action is fast and nonstop, you get all your classic one-liners, the acting is great, and the use of music is on point. Thanos is one of the best villains Marvel has had, behind The Vulture (Michael Keaton) and Killmonger (Michael B Jordan). Take what you normally get from a Marvel Studios movie and amplify it by 10 — it’s on that scale, which is also a complaint I have:

Pacing of the film makes it seem like you’re constantly on a roller coaster. There’s no slow ramp-up. The movie starts at a 100 and never really goes lower than a 70. There are no dull moments. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo did as good as a job as one could have hoped for as they were in charge of juggling 30 plus characters. The Russos consistently give you a cool-off period after every battle scene, and they do a magnificent job teaming up characters we’ve never scene on the same screen together. The last weakness of the film is Thanos’s children. The Black Order should be a group that should be reckon with but they’re really blah.

Avengers: Infinity War is an epic movie that has set a new standard for a summer blockbuster. I highly recommend you watch it in IMAX. Don’t be surprised if this movie hits $2 billion. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and RDJ can sit back and laugh, as their 10-year story is coming to an prosperous end.


ESPN97.5's Jong Lee co-hosts the popular podcast, Comicast.