The non-Marvel fans will call Avengers: Infinity War bloated. They will say there are to0 many characters or that it is an assault of the senses. The true "film critics" will see it as little more than a popcorn flick. That's okay. It's not for them.
Avengers: Infinity War, the 18th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is for fans. It's made for the fans that will immediately recognize that Red Skull is the villain from Captain America: The First Avenger. It's for the fans who remember that epic fight between the Hulk and the Hulkbuster armor in Avengers: Age of Ultron. It's for every fan who went to the midnight showing and stayed after the credits before it was cool.
Everything about Avengers: Infinity War is a "Thank You" note to the fans who made the Marvel Cinematic Universe one of the most successful franchises of all time. Infinity War is officially Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, Marvel fans will clearly see the influence of Black Panther director Ryan Coogler when the team heads to Wakanda for the final battle. Whether it's the Guardians of The Galaxy or Thor, all of the characters are exactly what a Marvel fan would expect. And that is what makes it glorious.
When Marvel started its Cinematic Universe on May 2, 2008 with Iron Man, who knew we'd eventually have 18 films that span across 10 years. Even Kevin Feige didn't expect it. Though Infinity War is only the first part of the conclusion, it is a fitting start. Marvel is bidding adeiu to all of the heroes that made the MCU what it is. Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) are all facing annihilation from Thanos (Josh Brolin) in the movies and ending contracts in the real world.
Now it's time to say goodbye. And, since it is the end for them, Marvel is going to make it an amazing goodbye.
Case in point: the death of Spider-man. As spider-man (Tom Holland) evaporates to dust in the arms Tony Stark, you can't help but think of the symbolism behind it. The Avenger who is destined to start phase 4 of Marvel's master plan dies in the arms of the one who started the first phase. Conventional wisdom would say that the opposite should happen. But Marvel didn't get anywhere by doing what people expect.
Instead, the Russo brother's and Marvel choose to tell a good story, and that's exactly what Infinity War is. I don't know a single commentator who expected Thanos to get his wish to gain all Infinity Stones and annihilate half of the universe in the first film. Marvel took what could have been a simple "Thanos only needs one more infinity stone" storyline and they turned it on its head.
By giving Thanos everything he wants, the Russo brother's continued the one thing that has made The MCU so dominant. They made a movie that stands completely on its own and yet, fits perfectly into a larger universe. That is what made the MCU so successful and that is what will carry it to a new generation of fans.
Here's what we know: Thanos has all of the stones and appears to be invincible. Half of the Avengers are dead, despite those real-world contracts. For those who doubt those deaths, remember that several Marvel characters are replaced in the comics. For example, Miles Morales eventually takes up the mantle as Spider-Man. There is nothing stopping Marvel from taking that same path, including a studio-friendly contract.
In addition, we know that Marvel will give us one more chapter of Ant-Man in July and introduce us to Captain Marvel in 2019. We also know that Captain Marvel must be incredibly powerful since Nick Fury calls on her in the post-credits scene.
My personal theory is that the Soul Stone will be the key to the next film. Red Skull appearing wasn't just an accident and Dr. Strange knew that the only way to defeat Thanos was to give him the time stone. Dr. Strange's meditation into the future may be the only advantage that the Avengers have. Of course, I'm sure our heroes will eventually come out on top, but Marvel could surprise me. Thanos could be the invisible force in the sky moving forward and that's fine by my. After 10 years, I'm just happy to still be on the ride.