The past few weeks has seen those of us interested in playing ‘guess the box office’ trying to figure out how much money Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War would make on its opening weekend. It turns out to be all the money.
While confidence seemed high on the film’s success and no one really thought it would bomb, few could have guessed it would smash two records.
Domestically, in the U.S.A., the film has romped past the previous record holder, fellow Disney stablemate Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which landed $247.9 million in 2015. The Marvel epic has brought home a comfortable $250 million, making it the new all-time opening weekend box office winner.
Internationally, it’s an even more impressive haul. 2017’s The Fate of the Furious pulled in $543 million, while Thanos and his quest for the Infinity Stones has sailed past to a breathtaking $630 million, setting another all-time record (even without opening in China and Russia, while Fate did, making it all the more impressive).
This is a truly astonishing feat for what amounts to the 19th film in an inter-connected series of franchises known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As part of the pre-release hype for the film, Marvel launched the hashtag #ThanosDemandsYourSilence to head off potential spoilers for this bravely bleak blockbuster. Maybe it should have said #ThanosDemandsYourMoney
The Marvel films have always struggled with villains, it’s a frequently heard complaint that few villains beyond Loki and, arguably, Erik Killmonger, have left too much of an impression. So let’s get this right out there – not only was Thanos worth waiting for, but he instantly ranks at the top of the hall of infamy.
There was concern that the Mad Titan would be a let down, that he couldn’t possibly live up to the almost ten-year build which has led us to this point. But the combination of a wonderfully layered performance from Josh Brolin and superlative animation effects work brings Jim Starlin’s deranged creation to full, terrifying life in Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War.
This feat is even more impressive in a film which (as I’m sure you know from the hype) brings together all the expected characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and perhaps even some unexpected ones).
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo (and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely) do a splendid job of pulling together an increasingly active number of franchises, giving most characters a neat arc and/or several great moments, though there are exceptions, inevitable even with a two-hour forty minute running time, and a certain amount of shorthand is definitely at play. That they manage this without spending an hour on exposition is a minor miracle, and a testament to deft storytelling (and the good will engendered by eighteen previous films).
There’s an undeniable frisson of excitement (especially for a Marvel geek like me) to see new combinations of characters, having Spider-Man and Doctor Strange interact left me with the biggest grin on my face, but the filmmakers know they need more than just a Marvel Team-Up to make a satisfying film.
There are real stakes here, literally the fate of the universe (or half of it… you’ll see…) hangs in the balance, with a number of different strands occurring in different locations on different worlds, and the action feels all the more vital because Marvel have taken the time to build these worlds and make us care for the characters. And it’s no spoiler to say your emotions will really be put through the wringer – I wept a solitary, manly tear on more than one occasion.
But don’t think the threat of the universe coming to an end or talk of tears means it’s all doom and gloom: this is a thrill-a-minute adventure that hits the ground running and barely lets up on the action, but as usual it’s mixed in with some fabulous and funny character interplay – Thor with Peter Quill and Doctor Strange with Tony Stark bring unexpected delights.
There’s also a distinct feel here of the beginning of a changing of the guard – the first ten years of Marvel movies has seen a very definite roster of characters and Infinity War shows us that the company’s willingness to shake things up is part of what makes them so successful, and which lends even more weight to the story, of course. Even the obligatory post-credit scene nods in that direction (it’s a nod that literally made me whoop in the cinema).
Is there a downside to all this? I suspect that a casual filmgoer would be rather lost but y’know in that case, get with the Marvel game like the rest of the population, I guess.
Avengers: Infinity War is a huge, and hugely exciting, comic book, sci-fi epic that really sees the gutsy long-game approach taken by Marvel pay off, giving us the Empire Strikes Back of their bold, long form narrative, and finally giving the Marvel Cinematic Universe its own Darth Vader, a cosmic villain with a welcome emotional core.
And really, so as not to wander into the spoiler zone, that’s about all I can say, except that this is the huge Marvel adventure we’ve been waiting for.
This is the end*… but bring on May 3, 2019 and Avengers 4 as soon as possible please, I only have so many fingernails left to chew through.
*Speaking of the end, you KNOW to stay right through to the very end of the credits, right…!?
Disney have just dropped the full-length trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story and, well, it’s pretty good.
Take a look and see what you think…
So the main take here is that we actually get a little more of Alden Ehrenreich’s performance as Han Solo, in the unenviable position of taking over from screen legend, Harrison Ford. While this trailer still doesn’t sell me completely, I have to admit he’s looking a little more promising. It seems to be an approximation of Ford’s swagger without being a slavish imitation.
The main problem is that Donald Glover (taking over Lando Calrissian from Billy Dee Williams) absolutely steals every shot he’s in, leading me to wonder why this film isn’t actually called Lando. Still, there’s the added value of Woody Harrelson, and that’s never a bad thing.
Will Solo overcome its highly troubled production problems and give us the high-spirited heist movie the trailer promises? And will Ehrenreich win us over as our beloved rogue? We’ll find out in just over six weeks. Meanwhile, sound off in the comments below with your thoughts on the trailer…
Solo: A Star Wars Story punches its way into cinemas on May 25th.