|Director||Anthony Russo, Joe Russo|
|Starring||Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Josh Brolin, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Karen Gillan, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Holland, Zoe Saldana, Chadwick Boseman|
|Release||27 APR (US) 26 APR (UK) Certificate 12A|
This very idea of balance is a theme that runs throughout, both on the surface and as a model for the movie. After some initial disjointed introductions, the crossover starts working as a cohesive whole, never feeling out of step with the varied styles that have come before it. As fun comedy sits comfortably alongside epic stakes, daft interactions next to money-shot blockbusting, everyone is given equal value. And, while the most obvious criticism for the movie is that there’s no time for any of these heroes to have any particular arcs or journeys beyond the physical - this is, after all, a story told at breakneck pace - it can be forgiven here, because that time has already been put in with previous instalments.
What that means is that the film gets to focus not just on its own ultimate team-up (most of the fun here is in these franchise stars meeting each other for the first time), but in the connections they have each made along the way. Vision and Scarlet Witch, Star Lord and Gamora, Gamora and Nebula, Thor and Loki, Banner And Black Widow, even Tony Stark and Pepper... these relationships are given due prominence as the film frequently returns to the idea of sacrifice, of dying to protect loved ones, even in spite of Captain America’s early assertion that "trading lives" is not an option.
It works because we can see that these characters are invested in each other as much as we are invested in them, and not only does this give the movie’s more powerful moments real impact, but it creates a neat through-line to the first Avengers movie in which Cap accuses Stark of not being "the guy to make the sacrifice play", only for Stark to ultimately prove him wrong. This is how heroism is defined in the MCU, so it makes sense that, when faced against their most powerful villain yet, the idea of this sacrifice play would be so prevalent.
Overall, it’s a masterful accomplishment and it’s difficult to think of anywhere that the film puts a foot wrong, barring perhaps Peter Dinklage’s slightly odd performance in what is the film’s only unfortunately static subplot. At the same time though, the movie surprises, shocks and delights. It offers comedy, welcomes tragedy, and delivers more payoffs than the accounting books of a Trump lawyer. In a film that should, by nature, be overcrowded to the point of self-destruction, it somehow achieves what has been Thanos’ goal all along: perfect balance.