“Avengers: Infinity War” — is it really the best MCU movie?

Avengers: Infinity War dir. Anthony and Joe Russo 2018

Avengers: Endgame may soon take the crown but is Avengers: Endgame actually the best MCU instalment?

Last year, Avengers: Infinity War blew audiences away. Thanos came and conquered and the Russo brothers allowed us no time to mourn our fallen heroes. The shocking conclusion hit like a sledgehammer and the closing credits masked us in darkness, desperate to see what happens next. It was an incredibly bold move for Marvel Studios, but one that unquestionably paid off. Fast forward to the present and its sequel - Avengers: Endgame - is the most anticipated movie event of 2019. 

In preparation for the fourth instalment and phase three finale, many of us have been returning to previous entries. Upon reflection, it becomes immediately apparent just how much superhero cinema has dominated over the last decade. There have been many highlights across the MCU, but most believe that Avengers: Infinity War has been the best of a great bunch. Perhaps this is only the popular belief because it's still very recent in our minds, as Endgame will likely become champion once it's released. 

So, what is the best? Is our judgement shrouded by Avengers hype? The MCU began in 2008 with Iron Man, which is definitely one of the franchise's highlights. Robert Downey Jr. did such a fantastic job as Tony Stark and remains a fan-favourite to this day for very good reason. Although a wonderful effort, this was only the start; the series accelerated its ambition swiftly after. 

The studio spent some time finding their feet, so understandably not all of their ventures paid off. They followed Iron Man up with The Incredible Hulk, which is largely considered the weakest instalment of the MCU. Mark Ruffalo was later recast in the part, replacing Edward Norton (Fight Club). Sure, the film does have its admirers, but it's clearly not even close to breaking into this competition. Iron Man probably remains the most satisfying origin story across the MCU, but it's the crossover instalments which really raised the stakes. 

Phase two ushered in some particularly striking films. Guardians of the Galaxy is generally considered one of the best Marvel films yet, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier innovatively reevaluated what a superhero movie can be. Since the latter, we have had the likes of Thor: Ragnarok and Captain America: Civil War further pushing the boundaries of the genre. These are all great MCU entries, but realistically, when we're talking about the very best, Avengers: Infinity War ticks so many boxes. 

First of all, it's the most ambitious. So many characters that we have gotten to know over the last decade are here and yet none of them feels shoehorned in; they're all given equal precedence over the narrative events, of which are incredibly engaging. Thanos provided the MCU's most memorable and complex villain, the spectacle was jaw-dropping and the Russo's juggled so many tones without us ever feeling conflicted, flitting to and fro between humour, heart and horror seamlessly. If Avengers: Endgame delivers more of the same, these two Avengers films will stand might proud amongst the greatest comic book adaptations ever made. 

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