Will Thanos overwhelm the Avengers? Probably notMarvel Entertainment YouTube

Rarely does one witness an audience so invested in a movie as this. Several moments were met with enthusiastic whooping and a smattering of side-splitting laughs; one scene apparently warranted a standing ovation. Evidently Marvel’s menagerie of overpowered supers has stolen our hearts, somehow convincing us to take countless hours out of our busy schedules every year to cheer at the big screen, knowing that neither our heroes nor the day will go unsaved. The thought that a bulked-up lilac Bruce Willis-lookalike could stop their collective force seems like an underlying punchline to Phase Three.

Alack, we come to this. It is surely not a spoiler by this stage to say that people die in Infinity War – that would be an understatement of cosmic proportions. The beauty of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that we do not need character development this time round, in the same way that a season finale does not begin its epic conclusion from scratch. It is perhaps why Captain America: Civil War was so mind-numbingly shambolic, throwing hero against hero while attempting to establish Spiderman and Black Panther for some extra marketing material. Well, that and the disturbing Peggy-Carter’s-granddaughter-on-Steve-Rogers action that our lives were so much better without.

By contrast, Infinity War derives its originality from pairing up the most unlikely combinations and letting their differences, and surprising similarities, fly. Who would have imagined Rocket and Thor getting on like old chums, or Peter Parker saving Doctor Strange with his knowledge of Aliens? Nothing, it would seem, is off the Russo Brothers’ table, dismantling the superhero formula to craft something remarkably unpredictable. By bringing heroes together through interrelated vignettes and then dispersing them across the cosmos, the film is able to draw on the sumptuous visuals of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and the mindboggling effects of Doctor Strange in a seamless tapestry. Actually, it is more a hodgepodge mosaic of cinematic tesserae, scattered and then somehow recombined in perfectly glorious form.

“Caught between the audience’s expressions of joviality were screams and gasps of horror”

Needless to say, the most raucous romp so far needs its dark side, a counterbalance embodied in the tyranny of Thanos. Succeeding the unintimidating tin can that was Ultron, Josh Brolin’s purple menace is one that has even Loki quaking in his boots. Previously detached from the scene on his floaty chair, here we see a disarmingly human character – a drop of blood and a tear on his cheek are enough to affirm our fears that this is not another emotionless android. Nothing seen in the franchise so far has prepared audiences for his all-consuming megalomania that shatters expectation in the wake of its wrath. Caught between the expressions of joviality were screams and gasps of horror, with the final moments of silence rendering everyone speechless.

Infinity War Trailer

Infinity War delivers everything one might expect – hilariously tongue-in-cheek self-mockery, rousing Alan Silvestri fanfares, and jaw-dropping CGI. But it throws something new into Stan Lee’s glossy two-dimensional world, using its 149-minute runtime to explore every genre it dares. It makes the first Avengers look like a starry tea party, as Marvel and the Russos drive us head first into the perilous pandemonium of their go-for-broke orgy of unadulterated pleasure… and apparently this is just part one.