After making our way through 18 movies in the connected universe – through both good and bad – the payoff to Marvel’s setup is finally here. Theater chains have been reporting new pre-sale records, wisely leaving only a couple of indie releases that dare debut opposite it.
It’s as if Marvel Studios is finally addressing all of the complaints that fans have been groaning about for the last several entries in the Cinematic Universe. “The villains suck.” “They play it too safe.” “Less comedy and more quality, please.” And so on. None of those common gripes apply to ‘Avengers: Infinity War‘, the franchise’s third official Avengers movie and 19th installment overall.
All of the MCU’s superheroes – even those who have yet to meet – join together with a common goal: stop Thanos (a hulk-sized CGI villain voiced by Josh Brolin) from gathering the six infinity stones and destroying the universe. If you sum them up, we’re talking about dozens of characters here. Over time, superhero movies with multiple villains give you pause. If you’re worried about a character pile-up in ‘Infinity War’, relax. The Russo brothers (who directed the Captain America movies ‘The Winter Soldier‘ and ‘Civil War‘) and a team of writers put together an excellent picture that combines them naturally and gives us the goods we deserve.
Given my track record with this franchise, you probably thought I was going to crap all over it, didn’t you? If Marvel Studios has the stones (pun intended) to follow through with what gets set up in ‘Infinity War’ (filmed back-to-back, the next yet-to-be-titled Avengers installment opens next summer), these are bound to be the very best entries of the MCU.
Meanwhile, two notable indie releases also open this weekend. The first is ‘Disobedience‘. Based on the news spreading about it, I can’t tell if the movie’s actually supposed to be good, or if it’s just being hyped for its steamy scenes. From the acclaimed director of ‘A Fantastic Woman’, the film stars Rachel Weisz as a woman who returns to the small home town that rejected her in her youth for having a same-sex attraction to her best friend (Rachel McAdams). Upon her return, the two are just as attracted to one another as they were in their youth. This potentially sounds like it could play in the same league as ‘Brokeback Mountain’ (which is excellent), but with so much of the buzz focused solely on the sexual chemistry between Weisz and McAdams, I worry that there’s nothing more to it.
The other notable indie title is ‘Kings‘. Set in Southern California during the racially tense early 1990s (think of the Rodney King riots), it tells the story of a good woman (Halle Berry) who not only tries to raise her kids well, but the children of her disadvantaged friends. Daniel Craig plays a curmudgeonly neighbor who comes around and offers help. Technically a French/Belgian film, ‘Kings’ debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last year.